June 29 – July 5, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON… Stop the garage, save the library, keep the farmer’s market. GREENSITE…will be back July 4. KROHN…will also be back July 4. STEINBRUNER…Supes and measure G and grand jury, Cal Fire volunteers and CZU fire issues, Pajaro Valley Health trust hiring?, County Supe analyst conflict, new Aptos library. HAYES…Land Ethic. PATTON…”Originalism” (Roe v. Wade) MATLOCK… Women’s rights supremely trampled upon by robed vigilantes. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS pick of the week… that massive asteroid…QUOTES…”ABORTION”

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DEPOT PARK, SANTA CRUZ 1964. Greyhound buses handled so much of our traveling back in the day. This one was bound for San Francisco and was more than comfortable. Where are they now that we need them?

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE June 27 

STOP THE GARAGE, SAVE THE LIBRARY, KEEP THE FARMER’S MARKET.

John Hall the co-chair of Our Downtown Our Future sent this notice (6/27)… 

“It’s official! On June 28, the City Council will receive the City Clerk’s statement of verification for the Our Downtown Our Future signature petition and vote on putting the measure on the ballot. This is agenda item #41, likely to be heard around 4.30 or 4.45pm. 

You can take part in the meeting in person or by zoom. Most important, you can make a public comment about why you support the ODOF ballot measure. You can also ask the council to direct its consultants’ impact analysis to consider the impact of the ODOF measure not passing: building a carbon-intensive parking garage, risking City finances on a project with an unfunded parking garage, displacing the Farmers’ Market, preventing the establishment of a public plaza that will be a magnet to downtown for the community and visitors alike, and so on.

To see the agenda and how to make a comment by zoom or phone, go here.

I hope you will help us take this important step!

Also, please plan to join us to help ODOF move ahead and to raise funds for the campaign with “A Night at the Movies,” including a great series of short local activist films, a silent auction, and food and drinkThursday, June 30th at 6pm • Vets Hall, 846 Front Street, Santa CruzClick here for details!

Connect with and learn more about Our Downtown Our Future! Website: ourdowntownourfuture.org Email: ourdowntownourfuture@gmail.com 

MORE ABOUT SAVE THE LIBRARY. Jean Brocklebank prime mover of DON’T BURY THE LIBRARY team sent this note with more details…

“At Tuesday’s meeting (6/28), the Board of Supervisors is going to weigh in on the downtown library by passing a resolution opposing the ballot initiative (for November) that would, in part, require the existing downtown library to be renovated/renewed/rebuilt. This resolution is by Supervisor Ryan Coonerty.

The Board has no business doing this because the downtown library branch is the jurisdiction of the City of Santa Cruz. The Board never butted in with the City of Scotts Valley’s branch plans. Never butted in with the City of Capitola’s branch plans. Nor did the Board pass any resolution concerning the City of Santa Cruz’s other two branches (Branciforte and Garfield).

Everyone who cares about revitalizing our existing downtown branch must send a comment to the Board ASAP and oppose this resolution as completely inappropriate. The County has no business doing this. 

The following was contained in Supervisor Koenig’s newsletter. One may click on the agenda 41 link and get the full information. On that web page there is a way to type in a comment that will go to the full Board.  If that does not work for you, then send an email comment copied to all supervisors (Manu Koenig manu.koenig@santacruzcounty.us“>, Zach Friend Zach.Friend@santacruzcounty.us“>, Ryan Coonerty ryan.coonerty@santacruzcounty.us“>, Greg Caput greg.caput@santacruzcounty.us“>, Bruce McPherson bruce.mcpherson@santacruzcounty.us“>).

Please, take action now! If you can’t do so electronically, then plan to attend the Board meeting on Tuesday and speak directly to the supervisors”.

BECKY STEINBRUNER WINS AWARD. It was only by luck this week that I learned from a Facebook note that Becky Steinbruner won the “Lion of the Year” award from the Cabrillo Host Lions Club. The Lions Club states… “The Lion of the Year Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Club upon one of our members”. She adds so much to our community and to BrattonOnline!! Big Congrats.

QUESTION OF THE DECADE. Shouldn’t we be calling it… WOE V RAID?

I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange. 

ELVIS. (DEL MAR THEATRE). This is an artistic, dramatic version of Elvis’ life, not a documentary. Director Baz Luhrmann, who did Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, made Tom Hanks into an impossible phony character just like Colonel Tom Parker really was. Austin Butler as Elvis is over-the-top-believable and does an excellent job. I didn’t realize that Elvis made over 30 movies and I can’t remember seeing more than 2. Elvis also sold more hit records than any solo artist in history.

HUSTLE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). Adam Sandler plays a basketball league scout and wears a phony beard that is as believable as the boring plot in this no slam dunk of a movie. Queen Latifah hams her way through a doubtful role and they even stood 91 year old Robert Duvall in a doorway and had him say a few lines. It’s a trashy attempt at making basketball into a dramatic sport.

LOOT. (APPLE TV SERIES) (5.7IMDB). Former UCSC student Maya Rudolph is the main star and former Santa Cruzan Adam Scott is in two of the Loot episodes. She inherits billions of dollars and tries to get laughs as she attempts to lead a normal life. I couldn’t take more than 2 episodes before it became unwatchable.

THE OLD MAN. (HULU SERIES) (8.6 IMDB). Jeff Bridges and John Lithgow had a secret partnership during the Russian-Afghan war. Now they are opposite official sides (like the FBI and the CIA) and carry out a complex never ending chase adventure. The first two episodes are well done, exciting, and nicely carried out….highly recommended. 

THE TAKEDOWN. Omar Sy plays the smart cop and Laurent Lafitte is his odd and mismatched partner who reunite and try to figure out who not just murdered but cut the corpse in half. Many racial jokes, lots of really well done chase scenes, and fine photography throughout. But there are few valid reasons to watch this….we’ve seen it all before…many, many times.

IRMA VEP. (HBO MAX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). If you’ve watched and enjoyed the new version of Irma Vep starring Alicia Vikander you’ll enjoy it even more if you watch the original Irma Vep filmed in 1996. It stars Maggie Cheung a beautiful Chinese actress who speaks no French hired by the French group trying to remake a silent film about Vampires. It’s really a brilliant attempt at criticizing the French Cinema during the 1950s. There are many themes and none of them very deep and the film itself is a showpiece of cinema techniques. Well worth watching.

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.  

GOOD LUCK TO YOU LEO GRANDE. (HULU MOVIE) (7.1IMDB) Emma Thompson bares it all many times in this “comedy” about a 63 year old woman who, two years after her husband’s death, decides to hire a handsome 30-year-old sex worker. It’s a deep, many sided take on women’s sexuality and aging. Definitely worth everyone’s time to see and feel our repressed beliefs not just on sex but on communicating.

BRIAN AND CHARLES. (Del Mar Theatre) (7.2IMDB). This is billed as a comedy from Wales near England’s west shore. It’s a looney, hard to understand that Welsh dialect, movie about a lonely guy who creates a 7 foot robot named Charles out of washing machine parts. They become friends and have dozens of scenes with area locals and work hard to get laughs. It was dull, dry and impossible to enjoy at any level. 

KEEP SWEET: PRAY AND OBEY. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.4 IMDB) A documentary focusing on the old and also present practices of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints branch of the Mormon church. They believe in the plural marriages of old men (like in their 80’s marrying several teen age and younger girls and raising their children. It exists in Arizona, Utah and Texas. It centers on Warren Jeffs the leader of the FLDS and how he rose to power. Sickening, shocking and another example of inequality against women. Definitely worth watching and learning from.  

SPIDERHEAD. (NETFLIX MOVIE) Chris Hemsworth is the heavy lead in this flimsy sci- fi flop of a movie. He’s the secret owner of a pharmaceutical company who forces drugs on and into special prisoners in a remote and confined prison. Miles Teller is the victim who works hard to escape the drugs and Hemsworth’s control. Poor script, bad acting, and zero plausibility make this a very forgettable movie. 

NO TIME TO DIE. (PRIME MOVIE) (7.3 IMDB). It’s been 60 years since Sean Connery played James Bond in Dr. No. And there have been 25 Bond films. Daniel Craig has played Bond in 5 films, and now that No Time To Die is streaming and has lost more than 100 million dollars at the box office he states that he won’t be doing any more Bond films. That’s a good thing ….for sure he’s no Sean Connery. This movie has almost no plot and its two hours and 45 minutes long. It really doesn’t spoil things by revealing that James Bond dies at the end.

BEN & JODY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.4 IMDB). It takes place in Jakarta/Indonesia and deals with illegal loggers who kill and rob locals of their coffee producing land. According to the critics there have been two other earlier episodes to this story. It’s terribly corny, hammy acting and some of the worst faked fight scenes ever filmed. Do not watch.

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SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. Present their rescheduled concert “Gabriel Fauré and His Circle of Influence, Part II”. Playing those dates will be the Nisene Ensemble. The Nisene Ensemble are: Cynthia Baehr-Williams, Concert Director and Violin, Chad Kaltinger, Viola, Kristin Garbeff, Cello and Kumi Uyeda on Piano. The dates are Sat, Jul 9, 7:30 PM, and Sun. Jul 10, 3PM.at the Christ Lutheran Church • Aptos, CA. Go here for tickets and details…

CABRILHO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts on July 24-August 7. Yes, Cristian Macelaru the music director is returning and will be conducting. The concerts will include three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie‘s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States. Tickets are on sale now!! 

39th ANNUAL MUSICAL SAW FESTIVAL. The 39th Annual Musical Saw Festival will be on Sunday August 14 from 10:00 am to 5pm at Roaring Camp in Felton. The world’s greatest saw players come out of the woodwork to join other acoustic musicians in a variety of musical performances. You’ll hear bluegrass, country, folk, gospel, blues, classical, and even show tunes (believe it or not, no heavy metal) throughout the day. Festivities start at 10:00 AM, with spontaneous acoustic jams throughout the day. There’s a Saw-Off competition from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and a Chorus of the Saws at 3:45 PM, with up to 50 saw players trying to play in unison. And for those who want to learn how to play music that really has some teeth in it, there’s a free Musical Saw Workshop at 4:00 PM. The entire event is free, and fun for the whole family. For more information, check out www.sawplayers.org , or  www.roaringcamp.com . Held by the International Musical Saw Association. 

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June 27

Gillian will return next week.

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  http://darksky.org    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

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June 27

Chris will return next week.

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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June 27

COUNTY GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION DETERMINES BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WERE NOT TRANSPARENT WITH MEASURE G INITIATIVE BALLOT LANGUAGE AND CONTINUE TO LACK TRANSPARENCY WITH EXPENDITURES

I was shocked to learn from the Secretary of State that voter initiatives do not have to be truthful or accurate. 

The Santa Cruz County Grand Jury just released “Words Matter: Did Measure G Mislead Voters?” examining the issues and does an excellent job of analyzing the deception the Board of Supervisors and County Administrative Office built into Measure G in 2018, basing their ballot narrative on survey language, and adding other elements to promote likelihood of voter approval.  County Counsel’s “Impartial Analysis” likewise aided in the deception by failing to explain what “citizen oversight” actually meant…or not.

The Grand Jury did an excellent job not only comparing Measure G’s half-cent sales tax increase with the 2016 Measure D half-cent sales tax increase, but also with similar ballot initiatives written by the cities of Sacramento and Milpitas that provided clearer information to their voters.

The Report further discusses that the 2022-2023 County Budget tool makes it even more difficult than before for the public to find information about how Measure G revenues are actually being spent.  It also raises the very real problem that Measure G was limited to 12 years in order to increase the odds of getting voter approval, yet over 50% of the money is being spent on employee salaries that will only increase, causing impending County budget deficits unless yet another sales tax measure is approved.

Recently the Board of Supervisors put Measure B on the June 7 ballot to increase Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) to supplement County staff costs, although that narrative, like Measure G, included a laundry list of things the County might fund with the tax increase.  However, as the Grand Jury report explains, the County does not have to do what it said it would do, because of a catch phrase “…and other essential services”.  That is the vague signal of a general purpose tax that requires a much lower voter approval threshold, while letting the County off the hook for spending the money on any of the laundry list items that people like and need…fire, road repairs, etc.

Below are a few gems from the Report, but I urge you to read this well-researched and well-written report

The Board of Supervisor, County Administrative Office and County Counsel are all required to respond by September 19, 2022 regarding the Grand Jury’s findings.  Let’s hope that they will take the opportunity to improve transparency and accountability to the people.

Many thanks to the Grand Jury.  Watch for more reports due out soon.

2021-2022 Grand Jury Reports and Responses

2021-2022 Grand Jury Reports and Responses

“The County’s ballot consultant recommended including a fixed time limit on the collection of Measure G revenue to make the tax measure more likely to pass. There are significant ramifications to this decision. The first section of the Measure G Financial Summary, called Measure G funded programs (Figure 2), indicates that over 50 percent of Measure G funds ($4,534,818) are projected to be spent on salaries for “essential county services” staff. Salaries are an ongoing expense. Unless voters permanently extend the sales tax increase, a financial risk looms for Santa Cruz County residents.”

“There is no guarantee that future voters will be inclined to renew the tax. Political winds often blow in unexpected directions. Based on our analysis, Santa Cruz County’s structural deficit will persist, and is currently the justification of yet another general revenue measure that was put before the voters in the unincorporated Santa Cruz County in June 2022, Measure B—the TOT Ballot Measure.[43] The TOT Ballot Measure does not include an audit, citizens oversight, or an expiration date. “

“As the Grand Jury was processing this report, County Government introduced its proposed FY 2022–23 Budget[44] through an online budget tool that the County claimed will provide greater transparency. The Grand Jury examined the tool in light of the issues raised in this report. We found that the tool offers less transparency for citizens oversight as to how the County Government proposes to spend Measure G revenues. The Measure G Financial Summary shown in Figure 2 is absent. All general fund revenues are grouped together for the purpose of showing expenditures. The tool misstates Measure G as a “one-quarter cent” sales tax, but eventually you can navigate to see Measure G projected revenues. However, the navigation path was convoluted and difficult to repeat. Citizens will be less informed about proposed Measure G revenues and expenditures under this budget tool.”  

IS CAL FIRE ACTING TO ELIMINATE FIRE VOLUNTEERS WHO QUESTIONED WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CZU FIRE?

Correspondence #af on the June 28, 2022 Board of Supervisor agenda from a County Fire Dept. volunteer makes it known that CAL FIRE is dismissing the volunteers or causing them to resign over the odd and unreasonable orders issued during the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire.  Volunteers were ordered to stand down…to NOT protect their communities.  Some of those volunteers who ignored the unreasonable CAL FIRE order were terminated afterward.  Those volunteers, such as Mr. Mathew Kaufman who wrote the Board of Supervisors on June 9, 2022, who openly continue to question the CAL FIRE administrative policies and unfair practices are summarily dismissed at a time when fire season is a threat to public safety and all hands are needed.

[County of Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors
Regular Meeting 6/28/2022
]

What is going on?  Why didn’t CAL FIRE ever conduct a meaningful After Action Review of the CZU Fire?  Why hasn’t the County of Santa Cruz conducted an operational After Action Review of the interactions and logistics, including questionable backfires that were used, that occurred between the County Fire Dept. volunteers, other local fire agencies and CAL FIRE?

The purpose of such reviews is to identify what changes need to be made in planning and logistics for future disasters.  Why isn’t the County or CAL FIRE doing this?  Why is CAL FIRE effectively removing the County Fire volunteers who simply question and have become more vocal about their questioning because they are ignored or treated poorly?  CAL FIRE/County Fire Chief Nate Armstrong continually wonders at County Fire Dept. Advisory Commission meetings how to retain or attract volunteer emergency and fire responders???

Please write the County Board of Supervisors, the decision-making body of County Fire Dept., and demand an investigation right away.  We saw that it was the volunteers who stayed behind, sometimes working with other residents who chose not to evacuate, that saved many homes in their communities when CAL FIRE “simply did not have the resources” and was nowhere to be seen.

Email Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors at boardofsupervisors@santacruzcounty.us>  

 or call 831-454-2200.  Hold them accountable for protecting public safety…their primary responsibility as our elected public servants.

WHAT WILL A 400′-WIDE FUEL BREAK ALONG WARRENELLA  ROAD ACCOMPLISH AT A COST OF $3 MILLION?

During the CZU Fire in 2020, CAL FIRE crews sat back and basically let the Warrenella Road fires burn.  Maybe they thought the 150′ wide shaded fuel reduction project the Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council had just done would stop the fire.  It didn’t.  

Now, Assemblyman Mark Stone has managed to get $3 million in State funds for expanding the fuel break to  200′ on both sides of the road (400′ wide total) and to improve Warrenella Road itself to be passable for year-round emergency use.  

Adopt resolution accepting unanticipated revenue in the amount of $3,000,000 and approve expenditure agreement with Peninsula Open Space Trust in the amount of $3,000,000 for installation of a shaded fuel break and emergency access project in the San 

Will this help?  What will the area look like and how will it handle future intense winter storms?

Learnings from the CZU Fire: Now Is the Time to Act  

Who knows?  And besides, there is no description of what “road improvements” entail, but anyone still living on Warrenella (and hopefully those who are rebuilding) will find out very soon.  The work will start this summer and be completed before winter rains return.  That’s a big project.

WHO CARES IF THE PAJARO VALLEY HEALTH TRUST BREAKS THE LAW, AS LONG AS THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AGREES?

The Pajaro Valley Health Care District wants to hire Ms. Beatriz Flores, the recently-retired Watsonville City Clerk, and is asking the County Board of Supervisors this Tuesday (6/28) to waive any legal requirements that would normally preclude them from doing so.  Wow.

See Regular Agenda item #12

The California Public Employees Pension Reform Act (PEPRA), effective January 1, 2013, requires that public employees who retire from a job with Cal PERS pension benefits must wait at least 180 days before returning to a job providing CalPERS benefits.  Also, under the “Anti-revolving Door Rules”, local government officials are banned for one year from taking a non-governmental job with duties similar to those they performed before retiring. (Government Code 87406.3)

[Public Officials and Employees Leaving Local Government Service]

CAO Carlos Palacios’ rush is feverish to shove through the County’s  purchase of the Watsonville Hospital, demanding the County go into $30 million additional debt to buy it, and now commanding the Board of Supervisors to approve a waiver of the law and hire Ms. Flores without regard to laws that would prevent her from accepting the job.

“…a management team must be in place to seamlessly assume ownership and operations. Given the tight timelines, with a transfer and assumption of ownership to occur within about 90 days, additional interim administrative staff are required to support the work of the administrative team. Beatriz Flores, recently retired as the City Clerk for the City of Watsonville, has special expertise and skills, and her knowledge of the hospital project’s participants and needs of the community make her especially qualified.

Financial Impact

There is no new financial impact. Appropriations to cover extra help costs are included in the County Administrative Office budget.”

Undoubtedly, Carlos Palacios worked with Ms. Flores when he was the Watsonville City Manager, so he is only too happy to add her to his budget payroll.

Here is the CalPERS Complaint Contact

THE CAO WANTS TO THROW THE BUDGET DEEP INTO THE RED 

CAO Carlos Palacios is intent on driving Santa Cruz County finances deeper into debt by asking the Board to approve $30 million in loans that will cost County taxpayers $111,000 to process and attach the following debt that the Hospital District may repay. 

Financial Impact

Based on current market conditions and the $20 million par amount of the Revenue Notes, the annualized interest rate on the taxable Revenue Notes and GAN is expected to be 4.25%. The interest rate will be based on the final maturity of June 30, 2023, even though it will be redeemed early when the Grant is received. A deposit of four months interest on the GAN with the Authority will require an estimated $285,000 (GL Key 369301/GL Object 74310), or $71,250 per month if the Grant is for $20 million and $425,000 or $106,250 per month if the Grant is for $30 million. Any amount not needed to pay interest on the Revenue Notes due to an early redemption will be refunded the County. If the Grant is not received until June 30, 2023, the maximum interest would be estimated at $780,000 for a $20 million Grant and $1,170,000 for a $30 million Grant.

Interest (which could be as high as 5%) on the Notes will be taxable, not tax-exempt, due to the various ownership layers involved in the purchase and operation of the hospital.

Take a look at Item #11 on the June 28 Board agenda

Contact the Board and urge them to slow down and think rationally about the debt that CAO Palacios is feverishly pursuing without any real business plan intact.

Email Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors boardofsupervisors@santacruzcounty.us or call 831-454-2200.  

SHOULD COUNTY SUPERVISOR ANALYSTS BE ALLOWED TO SERVE ON CITIZEN COMMISSIONS ADVISING THE BOARD?

Second District Supervisor Zach Friend has chosen one of his analysts, Allyson Violante, to serve as the Planning Commissioner for his District.  Does it make sense to you that Supervisors rob the abilities of having their constituents advise them instead of someone who works under them as a paid employee of the County, potentially just extending the opinion and strengthening the vote in favor of the Supervisor?

  • Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s analyst, Ms. Rachel Dann, also serves on the County Planning Commission.
  • Supervisor Greg Caput’s analyst, Tony Gregorio, serves as an alternate on the Commission for the Environment.
  • Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s analyst, Andy Schiffrin, serves on the Housing Authority Commission
  • Supervisor Bruce McPherson’s analyst, J.M Brown, served on the Housing Advisory Commission until recently.

[Commissions, Committees, Advisory Bodies]

I see this happening more and more, and I think it is wrong.  The Planning Commission By-Laws are silent on this (pdf), however, the Commissions are supposed to reflect the broad diversity of those in the Districts.

I do not think appointing District Supervisor analysts to Commissions serves the public interest or necessarily meets the intent of Santa Cruz County Code 2.38.080(D):

  1. D)    Department Advisory Group Representation. The agency or department head selecting the members of a department advisory group shall ensure that a broad range of qualified members of the public are provided an opportunity to request selection to the group. Persons meeting the minimum qualifications for service on the department advisory group shall, as much as possible, also be generally representative of the diverse skills, backgrounds, interests, and demography of persons residing in the County. [Ord. 4573 § 1, 1999; Ord. 3305 § 1, 1982; Ord. 2971, 1980; Ord. 2390, 1977; Ord. 2218, 1975; Ord. 2173, 1975; Ord. 2130, 1975; Ord. 2078, 1974; prior code § 3.01.060].

See Item #37 on the June 28 Board Consent Agenda:

Approve appointment of Allyson Violante as the Second District Regular Member of the Planning Commission, for a term to expire January 4, 2025, as recommended by Supervisor Friend – Santa Cruz County, CA

NEW APTOS LIBRARY DUE BY NEXT SUMMER

The recent groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new Aptos Library triggers a contract agreement that in one year, the project will be completed.  It will be interesting to watch this magic happen.  For now, massive excavation is occurring, removing 1,760 cubic yards of soil, and bringing back in 275 cubic yards of rock fill material. I do worry that I never see an archaeologist or Native American observer at the excavation site, which has now cut down into the native slope by about 8′.

Here are the plans for this new 12,490SF single-story library.

I am glad there will be solar panels on the roof, making the new facility a net-zero energy demand, according to Librarian Heather Periera when we spoke at the groundbreaking event on June 9.  The parking lot will now include four electric vehicle charging stations.

MELVIN WILDER’S HAM RADIO CALL SIGN BACK ON THE AIR FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1941

In 1941, the US government ordered all Ham radio operators to become silent, due to fear of spy activity during WWII.  Melvin Wilder, a Ham radio operator with the unique identifier of “W6CEH”, at the Wilder Dairy Ranch in Santa Cruz was one of hundreds who stopped all radio communications.   Melvin (“Mel”) did not live to see the return of government authorization for amateur radio operation in 1945.   No one has used his W6CEH identifier on the radio air waves since.

However recently, on June 18, for the first time since 1941, Mel’s “W6CEH” call sign identifier was activated again at Wilder Ranch State Park by the charter members of the “Wilder Radio Club” during State Park Week, having conversations with other Ham radio operators in Nevada and Northern California.

If you have ever visited Wilder Ranch State Park, you know that the Wilder family was extremely innovative, using the Pelton Wheel and water sources to bring electricity to the farm. What you might not know is that Mel Wilder was one of the first Ham radio operators in Santa Cruz County and served as President of the nascent Santa Cruz County Amateur Radio Club at a time when the new technology was helping people speak with each other over the air hundreds and hundreds of miles away.  

Even though W6CEH has been silent all these years, Mel’s identifier is once again alive and active at Wilder Ranch State Park.  I am sure Mel would be pleased.

Many thanks to Mr. Richard Adams, seated here before a much smaller radio than what Mel Wilder would have used, for forming the Wilder Radio Club, and rekindling “W6CEH” activity on the air waves from Wilder Ranch State Park.

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  READ THE CONSTITUTION AND CELEBRATE JULY 4 WITH THANKS TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIVES TO CREATE AND SUPPORT OUR GREAT COUNTRY.

MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK AND JUST DO SOMETHING.

Happy Independence Day,

Becky

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. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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June 26

LAND ETHIC

Have you formed ethical standards for your relationship with Earth? Most people teach ethical standards to children in what behaviors are ‘right’ and how best to treat other people. As we grow, we learn through experience how to build on those ethical standards to be good people. But, few people I’ve met have taught their children the ethics of their relationship outside of the human world. How would you answer questions about how to act ethically with the natural world?

Aldo Leopold wrote possibly the most influential modern treatise on this subject, which was published in his Sand County Almanac and entitled The Land Ethic. I suggest you read that 14 page essay first and this second, as I supply a framework for how his thoughts apply in our shared place, the central coast of California.

We Hold These Truths…

Are these statements true to you?

  • Our food, air, and water are products of Nature
  • Nature is very, very complex: there is wisdom in considering the precautionary principle when considering impacts to the natural world
  • As citizens of this particularly ecologically rich place, we have a particularly high level of responsibility for nature conservation.

Land as Economic 

As Leopold suggested was normal throughout the USA in 1949, so it is today…we citizens of central California are continuing to commodify nature. We treat our agricultural lands as short-term profit-making properties; most are barely cover cropped so that soil is washing away at tremendous rates, many agricultural properties are awash with fertilizer and chemical pesticides that have had too little human health and environmental impact study. Our conversations around property circle around what ‘rights’ we are afforded, not what duties we have: even knowledgeable people lack the information to well manage private property. Land Trusts commodify land that they hold, managing negatively impactful agriculture, grazing, and other uses and expanding recreational use with little idea of its impacts. Public parks are even more guilty of commodifying nature for highly exploitive, barely planned/monitored recreational uses that are rife with negative impacts on soil and wildlife. Economic interests drive these types of nature commodification, those interests are embedded in even local politics, yet few people vote for candidates based on these types of issues.

Aldo’s Land Ethic

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
~Aldo Leopold

What would happen if we all used Leopold’s land ethic when weighing proposals on natural lands around the Central Coast? For instance, how would application of that ethic affect how you feel about the development of the Homeless Garden Project in the middle of Pogonip Greenbelt’s main meadow? What about the way proposals have been made for the new trails at Cotoni Coast Dairies? What would you think about the plans for post-fire re-building of Big Basin State Park’s visitor center?  How do your feelings on those proposals compare with how you think about applying Leopold’s Land Ethic to the planned wildlife tunnel under Highway 17…to restoring the Scott Creek Marsh on the North Coast?

Is Education Enough?

Most people with whom I discuss the Land Ethic emphasize a problem Leopold anticipated: they focus on a perceived need for more education before it will be possible to apply the Land Ethic. I have spoken with leaders and practitioners of environmental education around the Monterey Bay, and they all reiterate the primary need for education until a more ethical approach to Nature can take hold. And yet, almost none of these educators are familiar with well-established tools to change human behavior towards the environment. I wonder how many would be able to help others by describing what a Land Ethic might be?

The same goes for most staff whose jobs entail environmental protection. Parks law enforcement staff rarely give tickets for environmental destruction, preferring ‘education.’ Municipal planning agency personnel rely almost entirely on education in hopes that it will serve to protect nature in the Central Coast. The personnel responsible for protecting whales and other marine mammals in the Monterey Bay also entirely rely on education to accomplish their mission. With the many interactions I’ve witnessed with these individuals, none have ever tried to help elevate awareness of the ethics of caring for Nature. I have heard political decision makers cite anything like the Land Ethic very, very few times.

The Central Coast has a large variety of environmental organizations focused on environmental education. I hope that they will incorporate the Land Ethic in their curricula, including the many available local case studies to further illustrate lessons.

A Place for Science?

We are lucky to have the California Environmental Quality Act (aka CEQA) as a potential to start the conversation about portions of Leopold’s suggested Land Ethic. For instance, lead agencies using CEQA might ask ‘How does the proposed project affect the integrity of the biotic community?’ What if this question were posed about the numerous wetlands that will be obliterated along the proposed Rail Trail on the North Coast? I would anticipate that the lead agency would pick scientist-consultants to outline a restoration program somewhere along the coast that would ‘improve’ the integrity of wetlands in the project vicinity…checking that box in CEQA…and proceeding with the project. The ‘improved’ wetlands would likely have some attention for restoration for 3 years, but with no long term proposal for management or monitoring. It is very likely that the more correct answer to the Land Ethic-informed question would be ‘the proposed project negatively affects the integrity of the biotic community.’ But, even in the unlikely possibility that the lead agency received that answer from their paid consultants, they would likely proceed with a “statement of overriding considerations” and proceed anyway…because there is no chance that anyone would be held accountable during their election to political office. In short, there is a lot of demand for consultant-scientists to create plans that appear to address the Land Ethic but which in fact are just the excuse a project proponent needed to proceed with their destruction of Nature.

The Solution?

Any decision maker in our region whose work impacts the environment should have access to the smartest ecologists around, so that they receive the best information possible to make excellent decisions to conserve nature. For a while, this happened in the Santa Cruz County Planning office. That model could expand. There are certainly a very many well respected biologists in our region who we might learn from!

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net

Email Grey at coastalprairie@aol.com

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June 24

#175 / Originalism? 

 

As has been expected, we now have a final Supreme Court decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This is a case in which the petitioners have asked the Supreme Court of the United States to overrule the Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade and the Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey

In both Roe v. Wade and Casey, the Supreme Court held, definitively, that women have a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. The Court has now reversed those prior holdings – and this has required the Court to overrule and repudiate its own precedents. Now, each one of the fifty states can make up its own rules about abortions. There is now no “right,” based on the United States Constitution that would override what a state legislature might decide. Some states, like California, will continue to provide women with the right to obtain an abortion. Other states will declare abortions unlawful and illegal. In fact, some states have already done that.

As I am sure everyone remembers, we saw a “leaked” version of a draft decision in the Dobbs case. This “leaked” decision may, or may not, be what the Court has decided, ultimately, to publish (I have not yet had a chance to do a comparison reading). It is probably pretty safe to say, though, that the reversal of the Court’s longstanding precedent in Roe v. Wade, and in Casey, is premised upon what is popularly called the doctrine of “originalism.”

Now, I have read the original words of the Constitution many times, including all those words found in the first ten amendments, which are most commonly known as the “Bill of Rights.” I have to confess that there is no statement in the Constitution, as originally promulgated, that mentions abortion, or that provides a right to obtain an abortion. There is also no language in the original Constitution that provides us with a right of “privacy,” although the Supreme Court held in Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision, that “the Constitution does provide us just such a right. 

Roe was significantly based on Griswold, so if the Court now decides that the protections provided by the Constitution are limited to those that are explicitly found in the words of the “original” Constitution, then we should be prepared to say “goodbye” to the right of privacy, too, in all of its manifestations.

We are told not to worry about that, though! Justice Alito, himself, tells us not to worry, in the “leaked” draft – he knew we would be worrying! According to Alito, the right for a woman to have an abortion is something quite different from the right to have sexual relations with someone of the same sex, or the right to marry someone of a different race. The Supreme Court, in the past, has validated those “rights,” not spelled out in the text of the “original” Constitution, largely based on the decision in the Griswold case. But don’t worry, says Justice Alito, the Supreme Court isn’t coming after those “rights,” even though they are not spelled out in the words of the “original” Constitution. 

You can think about this more, if you want to, by reading an opinion piece that David J. Garrow wrote for The Wall Street Journal. Garrow seems to be delighted with the “leaked” decision in Dobbs:

Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization represents the auspicious culmination of the conservative legal movement, which has fundamentally transformed U.S. constitutional interpretation over the past quarter-century.

Garrow professes no significant worries about what this “fundamental transformation” of the Constitution really means, and what it might portend. My own evaluation? This “fundamental transformation”  means real trouble!

Now, I have my own theory about why we do, in fact, have a Constitutional “right to privacy,” and all those other allied rights that the Supreme Court has recognized, including the right, provided to women, to decide to have an abortion. My theory is based on words that are absolutely present in the “original” Constitution, which includes the Bill of Rights. Here is my theory, explained succinctly: 

The Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution (part of that Bill of Rights) is absolutely intended to make sure that the text of the “original” Constitution is never read as a “limitation” on the rights that the Constitution protects. Read the text of the Ninth Amendment for yourself: 

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

 As you can see, the Ninth Amendment specifically says that the people retain rights not “enumerated” in the “original” text of the Constitution, i.e., not spelled out in the “original” text. What kind of “rights” might those be? 

 Let me refer you, please, to the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution must be seen as the way that Americans of our revolutionary generation decided to “institutionalize” their independence, and the Declaration of Independence says this straight out. Hopefully, the following words from the Declaration don’t come as a news flash to anyone:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness [and] That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted … 

 Assuming that we should take the Declaration of Independence seriously, as a statement of what the government we instituted (in the Constitution) is all about, we will see that our government was formed in order to “secure” rights that are “unalienable,” and that among these rights are “life,” “liberty,” and the “pursuit of happiness.” 

Life, liberty, and “the pursuit of happiness” are commonly encompassed in a word that has been beloved by Americans over hundreds of years: “Freedom.”

The “original” Constitution is dedicated to the proposition that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – human freedom – will not be foreclosed by the national government, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution makes abundantly clear that these protections must be provided by the state governments, too, not just the national government. 

That “leaked” opinion? 

That “leaked” opinion is the opposite of “originalism,” because it defiles and denies the “original” idea of what this country is all about.

As I noted before, in a blog posting that appeared shortly after that “leaked” opinion surfaced, all of us – those of us who are true “patriots,” and who love this country because of its dedication to human freedom – must now be energized to make good on what both the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution say. We must engage in the political struggles that are the way – the only way, and the right way – we can demonstrate our commitment to all those who live and seek shelter in this “land of the free,” this “home of the brave.”

Gary Patton 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 www.gapatton.net

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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June 27

WOMEN’S RIGHTS SUPREMELY TRAMPLED UPON BY ROBED VIGILANTES

Last week was one for the history books with the rapid-fire sequence of events from Washington, D.C. For starters, we had the two noteworthy sessions of the House Select J6 Committee hearings providing more clarity into the snake pit of the Trump Fascist Group’s efforts to overthrow Biden’s election to the office of the presidency. The coup plotters attempted to influence state officials into cooperating by altering vote counts or appointing Electoral College delegates favoring Trump, even as they tried to convince the Justice Department to declare a fraudulent election, after which Trump maintained that he and “the Republicans would take it from there.” State election officials were harassed and attacked in devious ways, resulting in many departments being depleted by resignations out of fear for their safety and that of their families. This works perfectly toward setting up new election boards for the mid-term and 2024 elections who will favor Trump and his henchmen…no surprises here…they’ve told us WHAT the plan is, and HOW they will accomplish it. And, thanks to complacency, it’s gonna come to fruition! 

Raising its ugly head for the first time in the week, the Supreme Court struck down with a 6-3 ruling, a 1911 New York law which restricted concealed carry of weapons, as a violation of the Second Amendment. The state’s requirement to obtain a license with ‘proper cause’ to do so, was a hill too far for acceptance by the frontier-justice-minded men in black (+ one black-robed handmaiden), while leaving eight other states and the District of Columbia with similar laws in a quandary. Writer of the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas, said the New York law violated the Fourteenth Amendment“equal protection under the law” – because it “prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary ‘self-defense needs’ from exercising their right to keep and bear arms” as authorized by the Second Amendment‘self-defense needs’ necessitated by NRA and gun lobby money floated for years around Washington

As a result of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, the Senate’s bi-partisan cooperation managed to finally come up with a modicum of gun control in a bill which sailed through the House, being quickly signed by President Biden. While disappointing to many who believed it lacked the teeth necessary to be totally effective, it was accepted as a beginning. And, likely a ‘red meat beginning’ for Justice Thomas and the O.K. Corral denizens for their next act. 

But the topper was Friday’s overturning of women’s Constitutional rights over her own body…”Evangelical Christian Nationalism forced on women,” as termed by Texas Paul on YouTube, and making it “OUR fight, shoulder-to-shoulder, against a life sentence brought about by rape!” The high-court’s overturning of the decades-old Roe v. Wade ruling, a protection favored by over 69% of the populace, is a landmark decision that was met with immediate protests at the Supreme Court, and at court houses and government facilities across the country. The word on the street – “Set your clocks back 50 years tonight, or flip the calendar back 300 years in the case of Justice Alito…Justice Thomas is only willing to reverse to 1865!” 

The manly attributes and partisan hackery of the court decision (including charismatic Christian movement’s People of Praise handmaid and Catholic, Amy Coney Barrett), will force women who have been sexually assaulted, perhaps carrying an abnormal fetus; perhaps endangered by a health situation, who might be in school, or too poor to support a child; with an abusive partner or otherwise lacking nurturing support, not being ready, or not wanting a child – to endure a terrifying pregnancy and a loss of freedom. Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson refused to comment further when asked if a thirteen year-old rape victim would be forced to deliver a child in his state, only saying, “If a mother’s life is endangered” would there be an intervention. Just cinch up your burkha and shut up! It’s whatever the powerful, the white, and the male wish it to be.

Glenn Kirschner, of Justice Matters, on YouTube calls the Justices Supreme outright liars, in particular psychopaths Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Barrett when they implied that Roe v. Wade was settled in their confirmation hearings. Senators Collins and Manchin complained that they were misled in interviewing the court candidates, expecting Roe to remain untouched…c’mon, get real, you saw who you were dealing with – you had to know! Trump and McConnell are the champs in this field – they knew who they were nominating! Kirschner goes on to say that Articles of Impeachment should be drafted by the House against those justices, followed by a vote, which is likely to fail. But then he says, “Who knows where the House Select Committee J6 investigation is going, with the seriousness of DJT and his associates attempting to overthrow democracy?” It is his contention that an impeachment hearing could be as important as the J6 Hearings in getting voters to the polls – a Democratic super-majority being necessary to codify women’s rights into law. Last month, Senate Democrats attempted to codify Roe’s protections into law with a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, but Republicans blocked legislation, with the help of Democrat Joe Manchin

Amy Coney Barrett said, in her confirmation hearing, “What I will commit to is that I will obey all the rules of ‘stare decisis’,…I’ll follow the law.” Brett Kavanaugh declined to directly answer whether the Roe decision was “correct law, but an important precedent of the Supreme Court that has been reaffirmed many times.” Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first court appointee, refused to say how he would rule on abortion,” but it was a precedent which has been reaffirmed, worthy of treatment of precedent like any other.” Samuel Alito, in 2006, said he would approach the issue of abortion with an open mind. “Roe v. Wade is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. It was decided in 1973, so it has been on the books for a long time,” he said. “If settled means it can’t be reexamined, then that’s one thing. If settled means that it is a precedent that is entitled to respect as ‘stare decisis’, and all of the factors that I’ve mentioned come into play, including the reaffirmation…then it is a precedent that is protected, entitled to respect under the doctrine of ‘stare decisis’ in that way.” Clarence Thomas appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, sidestepped declaring his views on abortion, declining to state if Roe had been properly decided, and is only now attempting to define President Clinton’s meaning of the word ‘is.’

Justice Alito, in his majority opinion, wrote, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start, its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences…it is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” And why, Mr. Alito, do women need an elected representative to decide how to govern their bodies? Brett Kavanaugh wrote, “neither pro-life nor pro-choice” but neutral, and that the court’s decision “today properly returns the Court to a position of neutrality” and lets Americans decide the issue through the democratic process. He further notes “the decision “does not outlaw abortion” throughout the country, and that a state cannot bar a resident from “traveling to another State to obtain an abortion,” or “retroactively impose liability or punishment for an abortion that occurred before today’s decision.” Justice Roberts, former ‘Chief’, who has lost his position and status within the court, didn’t join his colleagues in overturning Roe, and felt there was no need to do so; however, he did rule in favor of Mississippi’s abortion law which was at issue in the case. Justice Thomas was the most militant of all regarding Roe, and laid the groundwork for taking up contraceptives, gay sex, same-sex marriage, declaring, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents.” No mention of miscegenation or mixed-race unions, however. 

Notable is Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s vow that if the GOP wins back power, DAY ONE will see action on a federal abortion ban. Former VP Pence echoes this call for a nationwide ban, a likely plank in his efforts to become a viable 2024 presidential candidate. Former Trump Gang member and J6 conspirator, Rudy Giuliani was accosted with a slap on the back and called a ‘scumbag’, by a Staten Island grocery store employee, as the former NYC mayor campaigned for his son who is running for the New York governorship. Giuliani claims the attacker referenced Roe v. Wade, and referred to him as a “killer of women.” In his political heyday, the mayor had a checkered-past regarding abortion depending on the political climate; however, he once signed a proclamation celebrating a Roe v. Wade anniversary and has made donations to Planned Parenthood. He now affirms a transformation after a “torturous intellectual and emotional and moral” approach to abortion. He should have used that same approach in his ill-advised association with, and loyalty to, the coup plotters of the Washington riot…oh, wait, maybe he did! 

The joint dissenters in the Roe decision, Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, wrote, “From the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs…with sorrow – for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection – we dissent.” 

Justice Alito has said that nothing is mentioned in the Constitution about abortion, a document written in 1787 by fifty-five white men, and on this Jill Lepore, in the New Yorker, writes that in the fundamental law document, there is no mention of pregnancy, uteruses, vaginas, fetuses, placentas, menstrual blood, breasts, or mother’s milk…no women, or people of color, were part of the political community or a part of “We the People.” Please note, Mr. Alito, that they also ignored such subjects as diesel engines, space travel, radar, internet, computers, television/radio, shopping malls, Pokémon, atomic energy, or Uzis, just to name a few.

The court’s decision is a culmination, the crowning achievement, of a white, Christian Talibangelist, nationalist movement of peeping-Toms that has come to dominate domestic politics, especially within the Trump world. Though a minority factor in the big picture, it holds a majority within the Supreme Court and legislatures in Red States, which seeks to impose punitive measures against reproductive rights, while deputizing neighbors, friends, and family as bounty hunters to report ‘criminal’ activity. Their tactics, as indicated by Justice Thomas, will eventually endeavor to punish the LGBTQ community, parents of trans-kids, same-sex marriages, or use of contraceptives in defense of what they see as Biblical values of a supposed Christian nation. Justice Alito mischaracterizes what he calls “an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment from the earliest days of common law until 1973,” when Roe unceremoniously upset the apple cart. History shows us that through the eighteenth-century, into the nineteenth-century, American common law permitted abortions before ‘quickening’, the point at which a fetus’s movements could be felt. Alito spends too much time on English common law, citing a legal treatise from the 13th century, when women could be burned at the stake for ‘witchcraft,’ a practice that seemed to find some favor for a time on our shores in Salem, Massachusetts. So, Mr. Alito, to you and your cohorts, the women say, “There are three branches in our federal government – not one of them is your church, mosque, synagogue, or temple. Get over it, and get your theology out of my biology!”

Many states stand ready to assist women in reproductive health crises, with 22 states banning or restricting access to abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights research organization. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C. have laws in place to protect women. Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, a state with extremely punitive laws, says they are putting resources in front of women in need, and will walk alongside them in getting healthcare, mental health counseling and other necessary services. Sounds good, but previous safety nets have been quick to develop gaping holes. One is again reminded of the old two-panel Jules Pfeiffer cartoon where in panel one, a woman is being encouraged to carry a fetus to term with soothing words of encouragement, and offerings of assistance, and how wonderful having a child will be, only to be shrieked at as a ‘whore’ and the child rudely pointed to as a ‘bastard’ in the second panel, post-child birth. 

A Saturday rally in Illinois for Trump’s appearance has likely provided more clarity than was intended. Representative Mary Miller, in introducing the former president, credited him for appointing a Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, calling it a “victory for white life.” Oops…she later claimed that she misread the scripted remarks, “right to life.” Maybe…but the words that came across flowed quite effortlessly from your lips, Mary! And, The Donald smilingly applauded, along with the enthusiastic crowd, so no harm done in that setting…frightening to see where we really are now as the lowered masks reveal the true character of the power elite in our Gilead

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email: cornerspot14@yahoo.com

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog

    “ABORTION”

“I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard”.       
~Hillary Rodham Clinton

 “Abortion is health care. Abortion is freedom. Abortion is bodily autonomy. A country without this human right is not a free country.”
~H.R. Bellicosa

   “No law, no piece of paper that is hundreds of years old, will ever have me believe what is right or wrong about what choices I make with my body. My body, my choice.”
~Thalia  

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“The dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid.” We’ve all heard that, but have you ever actually imagined what a cataclysmic event that must have been? This animation shows what happened after the asteroid struck earth, and it’s fascinating!


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! 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!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!
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June 22 – 28, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Taxing empty Homes tax, reading BrattonOnline on your phone, streamers, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…on Downtown Expansion hearing. KROHN…will be back July 4th. STEINBRUNER…County and Hospital buy out, water rights, water conservation, fire protection, no more gas cars? HAYES…Wind. PATTON…Cancel that Graduation? MATLOCK…Looney lies and conspiracy theories continued. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS PICK OF THE WEEK: about manipulative language …QUOTES…”SUMMER”

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GOING UP FRONT STREET TO SUNSHINE VILLA 1910. Beach Hill in all its glory days. Note the two way “traffic” passing on the way up.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE June 20

TAXING SANTA CRUZ EMPTY HOMES. Santa Cruz Local “printed” an excellent summary of the empty home tax that we voters will probably be seeing on our November ballots. Go here to read all of it…

It states…” Santa Cruz city voters are likely to see a question on the November ballot on whether to add a tax on homeowners who leave homes vacant for most of the year. The potential tax has two aims: to incentivize owners to rent or live in vacant homes, and to raise money for affordable housing projects for lower-income residents who struggle with the region’s rising rents and lack of housing.

The city of Santa Cruz has about 24,000 housing units, according to the 2020 census. Cyndi Dawson estimated the city has “over 1,000, probably closer to 2,000 empty homes.”

  • From 2015 to 2020, Census Bureau surveys suggest that 1,806 homes in the city of Santa Cruz were vacant. That roughly 7.5% vacancy rate includes second homes, some homes under construction and about 582 homes used “seasonally or for recreation.”
  • In the 2020 census, about 9.5% of homes in the city of Santa Cruz were considered vacant. However, travel restrictions and online education at UC Santa Cruz may have skewed rental and vacancy rates in Santa Cruz in 2020, some empty-home tax opponents have said.
  • In 2021, the California Dept. of Finance found a 9% vacancy rate for the city of Santa Cruz. It used state data to refine and update Census information.

Dawson said that taxing those homes could generate millions of dollars for affordable housing efforts. But opponents are skeptical that the tax will be an effective response to the city’s housing shortage. 

EMPTY HOME TAX CONTINUED. The local organization of Democratic Socialists of America Santa Cruz Chapter (DSA) sent this notice to members….and it makes sense!

Empty Home Tax update and call for action: TELL THE CITY COUNCIL TO ADOPT EMPTY HOME TAX NOW! The community-driven Empty Home Tax turned in over 6000 signatures from residents that want to create an annual funding source to create affordable housing. The Council must either adopt the ordinance at their June 28th meeting or call for an election. We need to turn up at the meeting and let the City Council know that they can and should adopt the Empty Home Tax NOW. We don’t need to wait for the November election. Every second we delay puts creating more affordable housing further out in the future. We need to flood the council member’s inboxes and need your help. Go to this link and send an email to the all the council members with one click. (PLEASE share link widely). The link includes an email template to send as is or modify with your personal story, suggested talking points also included. Many thanks! 

READING “BRATTON ONLINE” ON YOUR iPhone. We’ve had some questions recently about reading BrattonOnline on iPhones. After looking into that problem and asking an Apple employee (daughter Hillary Bratton) how to reply, she had a very logical and somewhat surprising comment, “Seems that those folks don’t realize that by turning your phone sideways or horizontally, it enlarges the screen and you can adjust the font size to an easy-to-read level.”

I’ve been doing that since we started, and even with my aging eyes it’s easy to view. Try flipping your phone and let us know if that solves the problem….thanks! [Webmistress note: This works with Android phones as well, just make sure you have screen rotation enabled.]

I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange. 

GOOD LUCK TO YOU LEO GRANDE. (HULU MOVIE) (7.1IMDB) Emma Thompson bares it all many times in this “comedy” about a 63 year old woman whose husband died two years before and then decides to hire a handsome 30 year old sex worker. It’s a deep, many sided take on women’s sexuality and aging. Definitely worth everyone’s time to see and feel our repressed beliefs not just on sex but on communicating.

BRIAN AND CHARLES. (Del Mar Theatre) (7.2IMDB). This is billed as a comedy from Wales near England’s west shore. It’s a looney, hard to understand that Welsh dialect, movie about a lonely guy who creates a 7 foot robot named Charles out of washing machine parts. They become friends and have dozens of scenes with area locals and work hard to get laughs. It was dull, dry and impossible to enjoy at any level. 

KEEP SWEET: PRAY AND OBEY. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.4 IMDB) A documentary focusing on the old and also present practices of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints branch of the Mormon church. They believe in the plural marriages of old men (like in their 80’s marrying several teen age and younger girls and raising their children. It exists in Arizona, Utah and Texas. It centers on Warren Jeffs the leader of the FLDS and how he rose to power. Sickening, shocking and another example of inequality against women. Definitely worth watching and learning from.  

SPIDERHEAD. (NETFLIX MOVIE) Chris Hemsworth is the heavy lead in this flimsy sci- fi flop of a movie. He’s the secret owner of a pharmaceutical company who forces drugs on and into special prisoners in a remote and confined prison. Miles Teller is the victim who works hard to escape the drugs and Hemsworth’s control. Poor script, bad acting, and zero plausibility make this a very forgettable movie. 

NO TIME TO DIE. (PRIME MOVIE) (7.3 IMDB). It’s been 60 years since Sean Connery played James Bond in Dr. No. And there have been 25 Bond films. Daniel Craig has played Bond in 5 films, and now that No Time To Die is streaming and has lost more than 100 million dollars at the box office he states that he won’t be doing any more Bond films. That’s a good thing ….for sure he’s no Sean Connery. This movie has almost no plot and its two hours and 45 minutes long. It really doesn’t spoil things by revealing that James Bond dies at the end.

BEN & JODY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.4 IMDB). It takes place in Jakarta/Indonesia and deals with illegal loggers who kill and rob locals of their coffee producing land. According to the critics there have been two other earlier episodes to this story. It’s terribly corny, hammy acting and some of the worst faked fight scenes ever filmed. Do not watch.

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.  

A CHIARA. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (7.1 IMDB)  An absolutely brilliant Cannes Film Fest Award winner that is one of the finest films I’ve seen in six months. A 15 year old girl in Calabria which is “in the toe of the Italian Boot” has a special heartwarming relationship with her father. This story is so heartwarming and sensitive I don’t want to give away the plot. It’s filmed and directed in such a creative way you’ll be stunned and completely absorbed. 

THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN. (HULU MOVIE). (7.0 IMDB) Based on a true story this man agrees to have a noted artist tattoo a VISA on his back so that he can travel to another country to see his girlfriend. The tattoo is a work of art and he gets paid heavily to go sit in museums and display his back. He’s a Syrian refugee and Visas are part of his life. It’s curious, weird, and was filmed in Tunisia. Go for it, it’s rare and unusual.

JURASSIC PARK DOMINION. (Del Mar Theatre) (6.0 IMDB) No they don’t go back to the old Jurassic Park but all the dinosaurs you’ve ever read about all are alive and devastating our earth. Laura Dern, Chris Pratt, Sam Neil, and good old and sneaky Jeff Goldblum are back. It’s an absolute mess of killing, eating, chases and its 2 ½ hours long. Because the dinos must face our terrible modern lifestyles and inventions we end up rooting more for them than the poorly characterized humans. Don’t go.

INTIMACY/ INTIMIDAD. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.4 IMDB).  A Spanish series centering on four women and their hopes, dreams and the prejudice they face coming from so many directions. There’s a video sex tape that gets leaked, a murder that goes unsolved, campaign for Mayor and a sneaky lawyer. Worth some of your time, and not a monument to cinema by any means.

DNA.(NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.9 IMDB) The old Algerian grandfather dies and the entire film focuses on how the family deals with his previous stay at the old folks home, then his funeral, his casket, and even deeper diggings into family differences. It’s not fun to watch and will have you plotting how you want your passing to be handled

AMSTERDAM. (HBO MAX SERIES) (7.2 IMDB) Billed as a comedy but hardly a laugh it’s about a couple who adopt a stray dog named Amsterdam in the historic part of Mexico City. I didn’t find any funny scenes, no jokes, and a bit more than pleasant to watch. I only could take two episodes. There’s another new Amsterdam movie streaming now with Anya Taylor-Joy which I can’t stream yet.

IRMA VEP.(HBO MAX SERIES) (7.4 IMDB). Alicia Vikander is totally absorbing and believable in her title role. It’s a remake of an earlier version all about and American young woman going to France to remake a silent film focusing on vampires. It has fine, delicate moments of comedy and some deeper connections that will play out in later episodes.

THE THAW. (HBO MAX SERIES). (6.7 IMDB). A Polish movie which usually means great details, fine filming, and good effects, and this one sure qualifies. A woman detective with many, many memories of her own works against most of her fellow police to solve. A woman drowned and was murdered and she also had just given birth so the task is to find the newborn baby before it too dies. Well worth watching. 

WITHOUT SAYING GOODBYE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB) Also known as Backpackers for some reason. It’s a Peruvian movie in Spanish about a rich developer who comes to a beautiful beach town just like Santa Cruz and wants to build a seven story hotel and demolish an historical few buildings just to make a buck…just like Santa Cruz. He falls in love with a beautiful local woman and it’s all about will she convince him and his rich powerful father to give up their plans. The ending is sappy but there’s a fine tour of Machu Pichu. Chalk it up as cute, traditional, and pleasant and don’t cancel anything important to watch it. 

HEARTBEAT. (NETFLIX MOVIE)  An Indonesian movie about a new doctor coming to a village and the many disappearances that happen. Turns out he’s a genuine sicko/psycho who collects hearts from live patients and keeps them alive in jars in his room. He seems cool friendly and handsome. It’s corny, predictable and has a lot of excellent traditional dancing. You’ll appreciate Alfred Hitchcock much more after being led through this predictable mess. 

GODSPEED. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.6 IMDB). This Turkish movie focuses on war and the terrible and deep cost in human lives. It’s about a guy with a prosthetic leg AND PTSD! He and a buddy rob a house and do off balance actions over and over. Poor acting, lousy photography, miserable script make this a flop.

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SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. Present their rescheduled concert “Gabriel Fauré and His Circle of Influence, Part II”. Playing those dates will be the Nisene Ensemble. The Nisene Ensemble are: Cynthia Baehr-Williams, Concert Director and Violin, Chad Kaltinger, Viola, Kristin Garbeff, Cello and Kumi Uyeda on Piano. The dates are Sat, Jul 9, 7:30 PM, and Sun. Jul 10, 3PM.at the Christ Lutheran Church • Aptos, CA. Go here for tickets and details…

CABRILHO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts on July 24-August 7. Yes, Cristian Macelaru the music director is returning and will be conducting. The concerts will include three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie‘s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States. Tickets are on sale now!! 

39th ANNUAL MUSICAL SAW FESTIVAL. The 39th  Annual Musical Saw Festival will be on Sunday August 14 from 10:00 am to 5pm at Roaring Camp in Felton. The world’s greatest saw players come out of the woodwork to join other acoustic musicians in a variety of musical performances. You’ll hear bluegrass, country, folk, gospel, blues, classical, and even show tunes (believe it or not, no heavy metal) throughout the day. Festivities start at 10:00 AM, with spontaneous acoustic jams throughout the day. There’s a Saw-Off competition from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and a Chorus of the Saws at 3:45 PM, with up to 50 saw players trying to play in unison. And for those who want to learn how to play music that really has some teeth in it, there’s a free Musical Saw Workshop at 4:00 PM. The entire event is free, and fun for the whole family. For more information, check out www.sawplayers.org , or  www.roaringcamp.com . Held by the International Musical Saw Association. 

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June 20

THE FUTURE OF SANTA CRUZ: WHO DECIDES?

What you are viewing above is a schematic of the new extended downtown as envisioned by staff and consultants and given the green light by the city council majority at its June 14th meeting to move forward for environmental review and design. For scale, the lower buildings on the far right include the 8-story new building under construction at Laurel, Pacific, and Front Streets in the Downtown. The tallest buildings depicted above, in the extended downtown are 20 stories, or 220 feet, tall enough to block the views of those who live on Beach Hill and double the height of the Dream Inn. The final vote was to lower the maximum heights to 175 feet or 17 stories with the rest at 150 feet or 15 stories. For a quick scale comparison, the Double Shot ride at the Boardwalk is 125 feet.

The main driver of this project with its unprecedented heights is the Santa Cruz Warriors. As explained by staff, to fund a new stadium, the Warriors will develop the high-rise apartments plus retail and use the profits to build a new stadium. The Santa Cruz Warriors are very popular as evidenced by the parade of past Mayors and past council members who called in to express their unwavering support for the G team and by extension, for the project. 

A total of 1600 units of housing will be crammed into this 29-acre site. For anyone who has swallowed the line that “we need more housing” this jaw-dropping departure from the community’s preference for preserving the character and scale of Santa Cruz is probably acceptable. However, we haven’t yet seen what an 8- story complex will look and feel like until the project at Laurel, Pacific, and Front is completed. The tallest building downtown, apart from the historic El Palomar is 6 stories at 1010 Pacific. Incidentally, when that project was before council in 2004 for approval, the developers assured council it was workforce housing for teachers, police, and firefighters. That didn’t happen. It is largely student housing.

For those who end their thinking at the “we need more housing” mantra, or who like to say that we are in this “dire” situation because we haven’t built any housing, please study the table below. You will see that since 2015, there has been a total of 1,177 units of housing built in the city of Santa Cruz and we have doubled the number of Above Moderate- Income level units required under the Regional Housing Numbers Allocation (RHNA). The only income category not exceeded is Very Low Income and that category is expected to be reached before the end of the cycle. That the next RHNA cycle involves over 5 times the number of required housing units at 3800 as compared with 700 this last cycle could and should have generated vigorous opposition and appeal as is being done by other cities. 

It appears our city staff and city council majority are gung- ho to build baby build. That the Santa Cruz Warriors will need profits from the new housing and retail to build their much larger stadium suggests that it will be a battle to enforce even the minimum of below market rate housing in the final project. Council member Justin Cummings with support from council member Sandy Brown tried to incorporate a 25% “affordable” level into the motion. This was unsupported by the other five council members.

It seems the only people being considered by senior Planning staff are those who do not yet live in Santa Cruz: those who would like a second home by the sea, those seeking speculation property or those in the market for a party venue for events at the Stadium. This unconcern for current residents was evidenced by the lack of notice for the project’s hearing given to Beach Hill residents and lack of notice in Spanish to the low-income Spanish-speaking residents in the nearby neighborhood who will be displaced by the new high rises. The fact that state law requires them to be relocated may check a certain box in Planning but how would you feel if you got a notice saying you will be relocated from a place you have called home for decades?  

The team of consultants, senior planners, enthusiastic council members and business interests have a different feel for Santa Cruz than I have, and I suspect many of you have.  A senior planner described excitedly that these 20 story buildings will finally give Santa Cruz a skyline, something it currently lacks. I was champing at the bit waiting on the phone line for a chance to speak and when it was my turn I retorted, “Santa Cruz has a skyline. It is the beautiful cliffs, trees and sunsets.”

The future of Santa Cruz depends on whether urban high-rise skylines, light shows, “activating” the river, commercial expansion, and displacement of Spanish speaking working families with wealthy newcomers will predominate. Right now, we are playing catch up. There is time but not if we sit this one out.

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  http://darksky.org    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

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June 20

Chris will be back July 4th.

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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June 20

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPES WANTS TO GO $20 MILLION IN DEBT TO FUND HOSPITAL BUY-OUT?

The Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal at a June 28 Special Board meeting to approve the County to go $20 million in debt to fund the gap needed to buy the Watsonville Hospital.  At a time when the economy is beginning to turn downward, the County Administrative Officer is ramping up County debt??

Here is the argument CAO Carlos Palacios is making to the Board:

 Setting a public hearing regarding the financing is requested for June 28, 2022 in accordance with Section 6586 of the California Government Code.

Background/Analysis

Time is of the essence for funding the purchase of the Hospital. The deadline for purchase has been set by the bankruptcy court as August 31, 2022. The County anticipates that the State Legislature may provide up to $20 million to fund a portion of the purchase price, as part of the 2022-2023 State Budget. However, if granted, this funding is not anticipated to be disbursed by the State in time to meet the court-mandated deadline for the purchase. The County is therefore proposing to provide interim funding to the Hospital by August 31, 2022, which will then be reimbursed when the grant is received from the State.

Schedule a public hearing for June 28, 2022, to consider the approval of the grant anticipation notes by the Santa Cruz County Capital Financing Authority (Authority) in order to provide interim financing for the Pajaro Valley Health Care District i

Can the County taxpayers afford this huge gambling debt?

Write the Board with your thoughts: Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors boardofsupervisors@santacruzcounty.us

LAW MAKERS MAY BUY OUT FARMERS SENIOR WATER RIGHTS FOR CONSERVATION

What if the fertile Central Valley farmers sold the state government all water rights that enable them to grow food for the nation and export, effectively relinquishing their ability to farm?  That is a $1.5 billion- plan now under legislative discussion, brought about by the State budget’s $100 billion current budget surplus, and the strong desire to curtail expensive water law suits.

California Lawmakers Consider Buying Out Farmers To Save Water

Will California Buy Out Farmers to Save Water? Lawmakers Mull the Possibility

The legislature is discussing the option of either buying the farm land directly, thereby controlling the water rights, or simply purchasing the water rights from the farmers.  Water rights in California is an interesting issue that merits taking time to read and understand:

California Water Rights – A Breakdown Of The State’s Water Rights System

Wouldn’t it be better to spend the $1.5 billion taxpayer money to provide water-saving procedures and recycled irrigation water for farmers, especially small farmers, and to support groundwater recharge projects, especially in areas that are seeing subsidence?

I found it shocking that the average cost/acre for irrigation water is $7,500.  Why is it so expensive?  That is comparable to the costs of highly-energy-dependent recycled and desalination water supplies quoted at the City of Santa Cruz Water Commission recently.

Do you think the State government would support farming if it owned the farmland or senior water rights to the farmland?   Is this a good way to spend $1.5 billion in taxpayer money?    I don’t.

 What are your thoughts?  Please let your State elected representatives know:

  Senator John Laird

  Assemblyman Mark Stone   

CITY OF SANTA CRUZ IS EXEMPT FROM STATE WATER CONSERVATION MANDATES

It was refreshing to learn that the State Water Resources Control Board agreed that the City of Santa Cruz is not mandated to follow strict State water conservation mandates because customers are already using less water per-capita than is mandated.  

Finally, a State agency understood that “one size does not fit all”, and recognized the City of Santa Cruz water customers using 45 gallons/person is already lower than the newly-mandated 55 gallons/person, and that the Loch Lomond primary source is not in emergency status by being nearly 90% full.

California exempts Santa Cruz from emergency water use restrictions

I think, however, that it would have been wise for the announcement to continue to urge all Santa Cruz County residents to practice water conservation. Even though the State website claims Santa Cruz County per capita water use averages 54 gallons, the site also states: 

Factors that affect Per Capita Water Use

It is not appropriate to use Residential Gallons Per Capita Day (R-GPCD) water use data for comparisons across water suppliers, unless all relevant factors are accounted for.

Here is a link to those factors: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/drought/docs/factors.pdf

Think about how much more water you and your family might use if you lived where the summer temperatures are over 100 degrees daily.

PAYING FOR WATER IN CALIFORNIA

As water becomes more expensive across the board in California, how will people on fixed incomes afford it?  How might the State invest in water infrastructure to help lessen the cost of water service?

Here is an interesting analysis of that issue.  Although a bit dated (2014), the information is worth reading.

“The overall funding gap …is on the order of $2 billion to $3 billion annually: $30 million to $160 million to provide safe drinking water in small, disadvantaged rural communities; $800 million to $1 billion for floods; $500 million to $800 million for stormwater management; $400 million to $700 million for http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Paying for Water in California 3 ecosystem support for endangered species; and $200 million to $300 million for integrated water management. Although filling this gap may seem daunting—particularly to cash-strapped program managers—it is not large relative to the sums California is already spending on water services. In other words, this is a fixable problem. “

“Proposition 218’s rigid requirement that fees must be specifically linked to the services for each property jeopardizes the implementation of conservation-oriented programs and the development of nontraditional sources of water supply. This requirement also limits water utilities’ ability to provide “lifeline” discounts to low-income households, an important equity-oriented feature of most energy billing systems.”

[Paying for Water in California (pdf)]

RATES GOING UP FOR SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION BUT WITH VIRTUALLY NO PUBLIC NOTICE

It really pays to read the Legal Ads in the Classified section of the newspapers.  That is how I learned about a public hearing on June 28 divulging that if you live in the rural areas of the County not served by municipal fire departments, you likely are paying into County Service Area (CSA) 48 for County Fire Department emergency response.  

CSA 48 property owners will see an increase from $83.81/fire flow unit to $86.49/fire flow unit, and each structure is somehow assessed TWO fire flow units. 

CSA 48 property owners will also see an increase in the additional Special Benefit Assessment tax (added on in 2020) to increase from $151.24 per single family residence to $156.08.

 The County Board of Supervisors will review the increases at a public hearing on June 28.

There is NO notice of this public hearing on the County Fire Dept. website.

None of this even acknowledges the potentially illegal Special Benefit Assessment that County Fire Dept. added, despite Government Code Section 50078.2(b):

A benefit assessment shall not be levied for wildland or watershed fire suppression on land located in a state responsibility area as defined in Section 4102 of the Public Resources Code.

All of CSA 48 is in the State Responsibility Area (see yellow areas on this map):

ArcGIS Web Application

It also ignores the fact that the Board of Supervisors lied to the voters in 2018 with Ballot Initiative Measure G, imposing a new half-cent sales tax to pay for “fire” response, among other “critical unmet needs”….yet the Board has allocated ZERO dollars from this money pot to fund “fire”.

AND, the Board of Supervisors continually starves fire funding of any State Prop. 172 monies, a statewide permanent half-cent sales tax earmarked for emergency response.  California Proposition 172, Sales Tax Increase (1993)

Last year, none of the $20+ million the County received went to fund fire protection.

You can verify this in the proposed 2022-2023 County Fire Budget…$0 from General Fund contributions

Please let the Board of Supervisors know your thoughts about this:

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors  boardofsupervisors@santacruzcounty.us

WADE THROUGH THE PROPOSED COUNTY BUDGET DURING HEARINGS THIS WEEK

Follow the money.  Where is the County spending your tax dollars?

Take a moment to look

How come the CAO budget is increasing 13% at a time when other departments are seeing only a 3% CIP increase?  Carlos Palacios is the highest-paid County employee, with a salary + benefits of $427,308.64 in 2020 (when many lost their jobs due to COVID)

Here is the Budget summary

Expenditures

The Proposed Budget expenditure decrease of $19,870,980 results primarily from the one-time increase in 2021-22 of contributions and transfers of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding as well as financings to support the CZU Lightning Complex Fire response and debris removal. In addition, there is an increase in Intra-Fund Transfers In of $2,532,722 for increased County reimbursements and estimated budget to actual savings.

Revenues

The Proposed Budget revenue decrease of $11,467,729 is impacted by the reduction for 2022-23 from the one-time ARPA funding received in the 2021-22 budget ($26.5 million). The total tax growth in 2022-23 is projected to be $14,726,165 over the 2021-22 budget, led by the return to a pre-pandemic sales tax projection level.

For the 2021-22 sales tax projections, they were heavily influenced downward in the spring of 2021 by the ongoing negative economic impacts from the Pandemic. For 2022-23, sales tax is projected to return to its pre-pandemic base and exceed the 2021-22 budget by $5,527,878 or 27.8%, albeit with some modest reductions in growth due to concerns of an economic slowdown.

Property taxes are anticipated to increase by 5.6% or $3,822,370, as the 2021-22 projection was reduced from the risk of the CZU Lightning Complex Fires reducing assessed valuations.

Anticipated increases in Transient Occupancy Tax of $4,606,914 or 49.6% over the 2021-22 projection are due to the same pandemic influenced compressed prior year projections.

Although a smaller revenue stream, Cannabis Business Tax revenue is trending down due to market changes, resulting in a decrease of $1,526,380 or 28.4%. Deed Transfer Tax is expected to grow $1,030,157 or 36.2% over 2021-22 also due to compressed prior year projections.

Sales tax is one of the best early indicators of changes in economic spending, and the County Administrative Office will be closely monitored as there are considerable signs pointing to an economic slowdown, that could occur in the next 12 to 18 months.

Financial Impact

The General County Revenues Proposed Budget with supplemental requests includes ($3,945,761) in expenditures, $178,814,037 in revenues and provide $182,759,798 towards other departmental General Fund contributions, reflecting a total increase in available contributions of $8,403,251 from the 2021-22 Adopted Budget.

Take time to participate in the County Budget hearings this week, with the final budget hearing on Tuesday, June 28

NO MORE GAS-POWERED CAR SALES IN CALIFORNIA BY 2035?

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is expected to finalize a new rule by the end of this year that will require by 2035 that 100% of all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in the state to be electric.  Imagine that impact.  By 2026, it would require 35% of all new vehicle sales be electric.  Right now, 16% of all new car sales are voluntarily electric. 

The CARB held the first of two hearings on June 9 to receive public comment on the proposed Advanced Clean Cars II regulation. 

Unlike Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-79-20 that also sets a goal of 100% electric vehicle sale by 2035, the CARB regulations would be binding and have regulatory legal weight that would impose enforcement actions on auto sales businesses in the state.

According to the CARB analysis, a total transition to electric cars would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California by 50% by 2040, because transportation is the largest contributor.

Here is a link to an article published in the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) newsletter.

Here is a link to the CARB site, where you can find more information about the propose Rule.

Note that the second public hearing will be in August.

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  SIT IN ON THE COUNTY HYBRID BUDGET HEARINGS AS MUCH AS YOU ARE ABLE.
MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING SOMETHING.

Cheers,

Becky

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. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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June 19

Wind

This is an invitation to appreciate the role of wind more deeply, more often. Stepping outside, we feel the wind on our cheeks, sniff a scent from far away on the air and adjust to the temperature of the breeze. A gust ruffles our hair, makes trees noisily rustle, blows leaves scattering downwind. Along its trajectory, wind is doing so much for our world, and we hardly appreciate it. But we can appreciate that change is in the air. 

Year-by-year California’s coastal wind is getting stronger. Climate change is increasing the heat on land and the ocean is slower to warm – the temperature differential makes for stronger wind.  How will stronger wind change the world around us?

Critters of the Wind

Many animal friends around here depend on wind.

For instance, wind is crucial in creating certain types of bird habitat. Marbled murrelets are creatures of wind: tops of trees must get broken off (probably by wind, maybe by lightning) to make a redwood or Douglas fir create thicker side branches where this rare seabird can nest. Wind also makes sand dunes, and the foredunes are the favorite place for snowy plover nesting.

Condors and turkey vultures wouldn’t be around if there weren’t the right types of breezes to hold them aloft as they soar long distances in search of food. The wealth of marine mammals in the Monterey Bay is due to wind-driven oceanic upwelling of nutrients that drives a rich food chain. Migrating spiders, birds, and termites all take advantage of wind to get where they want to go. And, sometimes wind drives migrating birds off course, making it possible to study birds from far away without traveling. 

Change is in the Air

Wind carries news. Some of us recall the dense rain of charbroiled leaves carried by the headwind of the 2020 fires: that news sure had an impact on those of us nearby. Sometimes you can smell or see smoke from far away fires. City folk are happy when a fresh breeze carries away air pollution and change their habits when there is a ‘spare the air’ day declared around the Bay Area. That air pollution goes ‘away’ – downwind. In each case – with fire or urban air pollution – particulates eventually fall out of the wind somewhere, spreading chemicals, toxins, and nutrients: bad news!

(Come to think of it, doesn’t it seem like too long since we were alerted to likely pathways of nuclear fallout from the more likely areas to be targeted by nuclear bombs? Too much of a drag to think about that…too bad of news!)

Wind-borne nutrients due to air pollution are depositing into ecosystems around our area, providing unwelcome fertilizer creating more weedy grasslands, greater plant productivity, and higher fire danger. No doubt that wildfire smoke and ash is also contributing to these problems. 

Wind Transported Soil

Certain soils are classified as “eolian” in origin, meaning that they were carried by the wind. Large areas of the central USA are sandy soils blown around due to periodic drought – think largescale repeats of the early 1900 “Dustbowl” repeated over the last many hundreds of years. There are also eolian soils near Santa Cruz. For instance, much of Fort Ord is ancient eolian sand dunes, now home to a plethora of species that specialize on just that habitat. But, blowing soil is still happening in an expedited way due to our management. 

Pick a windy day and you can watch tons of soil blowing “away” off bare soiled agricultural fields, even on publicly owned, State Park land of the North Coast. What soil doesn’t wash away from the bare soil in the winter gets a chance at airborne migration in the spring before planting.  Soon, there will be no topsoil to support plant life! The unvegetated Sahara Desert routinely drops soil downwind onto North America…these dust clouds cause problems for airplanes, covid-like symptoms in humans, and pollution problems in Caribbean coral reefs.

Fire Wind

Wind blows fire and fire makes wind. One of the main ingredients for wildfire is wind. Many of us are more alert to wind, on edge even, due to our history with fire. In Southern California, the Santa Ana wind blows from the south and east pushing hot air, creating the most dangerous wildfire conditions. Here, strong wind from the north has traditionally carried the biggest fires.

Once a wildfire starts moving, it creates its own wind. During the 2020 fire, I was momentarily relieved to feel a cool wind at my back as I watched the fire slowly approach my home. The wind was blowing towards the fire! It felt moist and cool, coming in from the ocean. I felt so lucky, so relieved. Then, the spot fires behind me got going and the wind shifted…a wall of flames came roaring at me. Fire sucks. Fire sucks air massively, creating its own wind patterns depending on where the flames are spreading. 

During the previous fire, in 2009, someone reported seeing flaming tornadoes spreading the fire from one chaparral-covered ridge to the next across the North Coast.

Wind Driven Fog

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the gentle fog-laden breezes of the summer do much to cool and moisten our landscape. Redwood trees and rooftops drip, drip, drip in the early morning. For firephobes, the fog is most welcome. For plants, even more so: many coastal plant species require those moist breezes to make it through the dry summer. The architecture of redwood needles is perfect for capturing the moisture out of foggy breezes.

Wind vs. Tree

The wind rocks trees. They sway back and forth magnificently in the highest winds. It is amazing more trees don’t fall. But, fall they do, and when they fall they open up a gap in the forest canopy. That gap portends much. 

A forest gap allows sunlight into the understory and a place for smaller plants and new trees to establish. The trees around that gap grew depending on the tree there to help shelter neighbors from the wind….the wind has more purchase now, and the gap might grow. More trees slow the wind, slowing the drying forces of wind, and maintaining moisture longer into our dry season. A hole in the forest canopy causes more heat and dryness…

The Future

I hope you will more appreciate the present wind, and the future of wind, around the Central Coast. I’m sure we will be working together to steward a world sheltered from increasingly damaging wind, to protect soil from blowing away, and to better prepare for fire wind. Meanwhile, I invite you to notice the quality of the wind on your cheeks…and to wonder what is being carried by that breeze.

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net

Email Grey at coastalprairie@aol.com

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June 20

#171 / Cancel That Graduation

A story from yesterday’s newspaper (6/19) pretty much floored me. Since I am teaching, nowadays, at the University of California campus located in Santa Cruz, I know just how much UCSC students (and their families) look forward to graduation day. The same thing is true, of course, at other UC campuses, including the UC campus located in Davis, California. 

What I learned from that article in the Sunday, June 19, 2022, edition of The Mercury News was that this year’s graduation ceremonies at UC Davis were simply cancelled, right in the middle of the proceedings. Students were dressed in their robes. Parents and friends had come from all over the state. The ceremonies were being conducted outdoors, and “excessive heat…sickened dozens of people… There were 35 heat-related medical calls and seven people were hospitalized.”

As people started keeling over from the heat, the administration simply pulled the plug on the ceremonies. They just stopped them, right in the middle. This may well have been a reasonable and responsible course of action, considering what was happening. Heat shock can become heat death, after all. The students may not have been able to “walk the stage,” as the expression goes, but at least their parents and grandparents survived the non-ceremony. 

What was so shocking to me was how vividly this truncated graduation ceremony makes clear the realities of global warming. We can no longer take anything for granted. What we have assumed is a world we can rely on is not a world we can rely on, anymore – not even for something so traditional as a college graduation ceremony. 

Another story in the paper reported on massive damage at Yellowstone National Park, caused by flooding. About one billion dollars will be needed to repair the damage. This, too, like the story of birds falling out of the sky in Kuwait, killed by heat, is a consequence of global warming. 

A student entering college during the coming Fall Quarter would normally expect to be graduating four years later. 

If we want that student to graduate (if we want the world we have relied upon to continue to exist) we can’t wait another four years to start making changes in what we do. 

BIG changes!

Gary Patton 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 www.gapatton.net

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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June 20

 LOONY LIES AND CONSPIRACY THEORIES CONTINUED

Even though the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 coup attempt in our Capitol has released a massive amount of recorded testimony, with personal interviews and videos, and has provided live-televised questioning of individuals connected to the Trump Crime Syndicate‘s thrust to overthrow an election outcome, that undercurrent still roils the waters to take down our democracy. Those implicated by the committee have their excuses, reasoning for their actions, with finger-pointing and lashing criticisms of the House panel, but most are silently ‘lawyering-up’ to prepare for possible court action. Even Peter Navarro’s indignant, hostile attack on the legitimacy of the investigation, has led him to hire a defense attorney, even though initially, he belligerently claimed he could defend himself. Trump attorney, John Eastman (credits for Juris Doctor Degree, Trump University, defunct, class of ’10) who in his videoed testimony took the Fifth Amendment about 100 times to avoid self-incrimination, only invited a deeper examination of his flawed plan to have VP Pence disrupt the Electoral College results. No word on whether or not Rudy Giuliani has accepted Eastman’s plea for aid in future court appearances. 

Last week, Benedict Donald released a twelve-page ‘defense’ of sorts, still claiming election fraud prevented his 2020 election victory, and that he had a ‘right‘ to pursue any means necessary to prove his ‘landslide’ defeat of Biden. Looks like he’s getting a bit fearful, however, and well he should, with some former staff reporting that he initially admitted his defeat, and John Eastman‘s half-hearted admission to him that their tactics were unlawful, but ‘let’s do it anyway.‘ So, with the Trumpmeister‘s continued insistence about election flaws, his co-conspirators, fellow-travelers and other swamp denizens, slowly but surely, move the former Republican party toward the unreality of Strength in Ignorance is Power. 

In recently held primaries, Trump-endorsed candidates have had notable successes, as well as some rejections, pointing to the divisions and confusion within the electorate, as the party elite refuse to confront their leader’s lies, allowing him to evade personal responsibility. Consequently, the insurrectionists are still on the prowl to continue their efforts. The planners are only emboldened; the J6 ‘failure’ was only a practice session; and the hesitation and timidity of the courts, law enforcement, and ordinary citizens to demand accountability only provide cover and a way forward for the undercurrent to overwhelm our democracy. Perhaps the word ‘cover’ is misleading, because we know by their words and actions that the coup is still the goal. The MAGAts in Congress have shrewdly been building their strength, recruiting radicals in their districts, followed by endorsements and campaign support, sometimes campaigning against their own associates. 

A recent Time Magazine article by Molly Ball, has Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene crowing about how much power they have over House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy. They both feel that his kowtowing to them punctuates his desire and need for their support if he is to take Nancy Pelosi’s spot as Speaker in the event of a Republican victory after the mid-term elections. Greene states that his success will be through her and her allies, while Gaetz feels McCarthy has become more responsive to the far-right contingent of the party as it shows its muscle. Humorist Dave Barry calls the duo, “Trump’s inner circle of trusted wack jobs,” an apt description since the two regularly appear on each other’s podcasts; indeed, Greene calls it “torching the news cycle,” as they spew their outrageous theories, praise white nationalists, and in general show their looniness with lies and conspiracy concepts, unnerving many in their party.

The J6 Committee was planning to eventually turn results of their investigations over to the Department of Justice, but DOJ has asked for much to be submitted sooner rather than later, to aid them in their own efforts at examining the Capitol riot…an encouraging sign that their slow, meticulous trek toward justice may soon bear fruit. Constitutional expert and attorney, Lawrence Tribe, had previously expressed his skepticism about Trump being charged and prosecuted, but with the Committee’s revelations and DOJ raising its head, he now thinks AG Garland will pursue prosecution of the former president. Questions remain about the end result of any court action against Trump, an action which would be history-making, and possibly earth-shaking in light of the fanatical intensity of the far-right. The chances of bloodshed loom large, with some raising the specter of a civil war. Comparisons have been made between the Insurrection and Nixon‘s Watergate, but with the tenor of the times, says one pundit, “this makes Watergate look like the Brady Bunch.” Prosecuting a former president and his henchmen would be an extraordinary step, but an important one to restore our faith in the rule of law. 

Despite the recent showing of testimonies of former AG Bill Barr and daughter Ivanka Trump, many supporters of former president Trump believe he has it right about the ‘Big Steal.’ Bill Barr is accused of accepting bribes from Dominion Voting Systems to uphold the integrity of their voting machines, even though that rumor has been dispelled…he received payment from power and heat provider, Dominion Energy, for services rendered. Ivanka supposedly is taking orders from Daddy, who advised her to testify before the Committee, just to “mess with their heads.” And, besides, it’s all just a Hollywood production, not real, using stand-ins for the actual people…Ivanka looks so different it must be CGI! Syracuse University professor, Jennifer Stromer-Galley calls this phenomenon, “cognitive dissonance” – if you are a Trump-believer and Bill and Ivanka are saying ‘alternate truths’, it leaves a crack in your belief system that must be filled. Bill Barr has a pretty good idea of how we can fill those cracks! Just bring plenty of shovels…we’ll have to double-team Ginni Thomas!

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email: cornerspot14@yahoo.com

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EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog

“SUMMER”

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
~John Steinbeck 

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” 
~Henry James 

“One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”  
~Aristotle

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I am fascinated with language and what we do with it. Check this video out, these 5 phrases aren’t all ones I necessarily would have thought of as manipulative, per se.


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