February 7 – 13, 2024

Highlights this week:

Bratton…more throwback Greensite on a wild adventure!.. Steinbruner…Measure M, Pdestrian/cyclist bridge in Aptos?. Hayes…on senate candidates… Patton…Crypto is a scam!… Matlock…Garbage in, garbage out… Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week. Quotes….”Delay”

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BEACH BOARDWALK AND TRAIN MEETS BUS. This happened back on August 16, 1954. I never noticed before but permanently painted on the side of both buses it says “Oakland – Santa Cruz Beach”.                                                         

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection. Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

DATELINE February 7, 2024

MEA CULPA! This week’s quotes are on “Delay”, because I got so very delayed getting this column up and posted. I vastly over-estimated my access to electricity on my yearly trip to Lake Havasu in Arizona, where this year the 35th annual Western Winter Blast was held at the race track. 4 days of fireworks, with pyrotechnics enthusiasts and pros from all over! I thought I’d be able to do the column from the road, but I was sadly mistaken. I’m catching up with the next column in a couple of days.

More archive diving, but I hear Bruce is doing better!

//Gunilla//


DATELINE FEBRUARY 2016

CRUSADING FOR CORRIDORS. Just like using the term “auxiliary lanes” as a coverup for Widening Highway 1 developers and pro-growth politicians are claiming that building clumps of 3 and 4 story high rises along our most heavily used streets is environmentally OK. By claiming that we’ll use fewer gas miles by walking (or biking) from these ugly dwellings to shop. These money-minded developers know damned well that in our spread out county (and cities) few if any, would or could walk from COSTCO to their Doctors, or from TARGET to their Dentists, or from the movies to their car repair place. Think about how “thin” our County is because of the mountains and the coast line. Think about how ugly the new PAMF (Palo Alto Medical Facility) on Mission (Highway 1) is and how it’s built right up to the sidewalk. The approaches and major streets in our county are ugly enough…stop the corridor push.

AUXILIARY LANES…A WIDER VIEW. It took me awhile but after hearing about the concept of “auxiliary lanes” as somehow being different or environmentally better than “Widening Highway One” the dawn came!! Look at the stretches on Hwy 1 that have had “Auxiliary  Lanes” added…it’s just a sneakier way of widening a stretch at a time. Don’t fall for it…keep attached to The Campaign For Sensible Transportationwebsite…they’re on top of this battle to stop the drive to have that $$$ 450 Million Dollar $$$ Transportation Tax happen in November. sensibletransportation.org [wayback machine version of the website, URL has since been hijacked]

[BACK TO THE CURRENT TIMELINE They’re still messing with that dang freeway… -Webmistress]

Bruce will be back with movie reviews as soon as he’s had a chance to write more!

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February 5th 2024

A Wild Adventure

Waking up on Sunday morning, February 4th. you didn’t need a weather forecast to know it was blowing a gale. Trees strained the limits of flexibility, their branches thrashing wildly in the wind.

The city issued a severe storm warning, urging people to avoid all travel and stay indoors. Good advice except I had a ticket for an elephant seal fundraising event at Ano Nuevo State Reserve.

It seemed most people followed the city’s advice. There were few cars on Highway 1 as I headed out of town. Small signs warning of flooding seemed a bit overstated until I hit a body of water that proved their point. The cliffs at Rancho del Oso were spectacular with waterfalls cascading from the bluff tops, the water carried away in the high winds like smoke from a fire. I had left plenty of time for the short trip. About a mile from Ano Nuevo, I was just congratulating myself on good planning when I saw a line of cars ahead stopped. A police vehicle blocked cars travelling south while a ranger’s vehicle blocked cars travelling north. With my car’s engine turned off and no forward momentum the severity of the storm became more apparent. The wind buffeted the car, the power lines swayed, and I had stopped in the direct line of a big pine tree thrashing about on the ocean side of the road. More than a few folks would get a laugh if I met my demise from a falling tree, even more so if it were a eucalyptus. I can see the humor in that except when it looks like a distinct possibility.

Of course, no official walked up the line of cars to let us know what was happening. That helpful task seems to be missing from the job description. Were we in for an hour’s wait? Four hours? Was it wise to turn back? Only the howling wind answered that line of thinking. A few intrepid souls ventured from their cars and approached the scene of the problem, so I called out, asking what was the story? Apparently, it was two downed lines, one a PG&E line and the other, an unknown. Now, PG&E isn’t popular these days, however when their truck finally appeared on the scene they were greeted with a small round of applause. A while later we all crept past the source of the incident and were on our way. I picked up a couple who had left their car to walk the mile into Ano Nuevo and although we were quite late, the docents knew what had happened and gave us a warm welcome. Those power lines had apparently been down for five hours.

Ano Nuevo is lovely enough on a calm day. With wind gusts of 50 miles an hour and foam from the waves whipping across the sand dunes it was fiercely dramatic. The ocean was a cauldron of white-topped waves. Small clusters of docents were in specific locations to answer our every question. Some had drawn the short straw and were on the unprotected shoreline, others secured the more sheltered spot behind a sand dune. One who had a long history as a docent at Ano Nuevo said he had never experienced weather this extreme. I believed him.

The star attractions of course ignored the howling wind and lay around as if it were a balmy day. Since we had about three hours to observe their behavior, we did see far more action than their lounging around. The fundraiser is a special annual event, so it allows for closer viewing and more personal interactions with the docents than does a regular group tour.

I’ll share only one piece of information about these unique mammals, and it has more to do with human behavior than with theirs.  As you may know, in the early 1800’s there were hundreds of thousands of elephant seals in existence. By the late 1800’s they had become almost extinct, hunted for their blubber that produced valuable oil. There were tiny groups of them left on Guadalupe Island off the coast of Baja Mexico. By 1892, only nine were still found on Guadalupe Island of which seven were killed for the collection at the Smithsonian Institute. In 1922 the Mexican government finally outlawed all hunting, making Guadalupe Island a biological reserve, protecting the elephant seals with armed guards. The 160,000 elephant seals that exist today are a direct result of the Mexican government’s protections.

Next time you visit Ano Nuevo, voice a well-deserved “muchas gracias” to the Mexican government.

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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MEASURE M DEBATE IS STRONG
Many are debating the citizen initiative Measure M…isn’t it a good idea to allow the people affected in a Community to have a voice in what happens there?  YES! Can we trust our local elected representatives will listen to us when we speak up?  NO.  Therein lies the problem that brought about the amazing effort of many people who really care about the City of Santa Cruz to gather over 6,000 qualified voter signatures to get Measure M on the March 5 ballot.

There are many public debate forums…

For everyone who missed the excellent recent Measure M virtual debate sponsored by Our Downtown, Our Future, it was just posted on YouTube.  Here is the link:
Santa Cruz Measure M Forum — Hosted by Our Downtown, Our Future

Santa Cruz Lookout scheduled one for February 5 that may also soon be available as a recording:
Meet the candidates: Lookout’s primary election forums are here

Here is a link to a recent Santa Cruz Lookout article: Measure M — Santa Cruz’s height limitation and affordability measure — is the Measure of Much Debate, Many Questions and Murky Answers

This affects everyone…and could really shape the look and feel of the Santa Cruz we love.  Will the new City Council pay attention?

NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT???
The County of Santa Cruz, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) and CalTrans are partnering for the Project that will vastly reduce parking for Aptos Village businesses while adding bike and pedestrian bridges adjacent to the railroad bridges, some of which will be demolished.   The Project’s Highway One areas between State Park Drive and Freedom Boulevard will require the towering redwood trees alongside the road be axed.

However,  the Final Environment Impact Report that just became available from Caltrans claims the Project will have no significant impact, but does acknowledge (and ignores) the significant and unavoidable impact of tree loss.
EIR Hwy 1 from State Park Dr to Freedom Blvrd, and Coastal Rail Trail Segment 12

In a nutshell, here is what the Project involves:

 “Construct a new trail bridge crossings of State Route 1 at two locations and adjacent to the existing railroad bridges at Soquel Drive/Aptos Creek, and Valencia Creek would be constructed. New at-grade trail crossings would be constructed at Aptos Creek Drive, Parade Street, and Trout Gulch Road. An at-grade trail connection from the new trail to the Aptos Village County Park between Aptos Creek and Aptos Creek Road would be constructed. Under the optional first phase being considered, the two existing railroad bridges over State Route 1 would be removed and two new trail overcrossings over State Route 1 would be constructed in their place. The existing railroad bridges at Aptos Creek and Valencia Creek/Soquel Drive (south) would be repurposed for the new trail by removing the railroad decking and replacing with a new trail deck and railing system. The existing single span railroad bridge superstructure over Soquel Drive (north) would be removed and replaced with a new trail deck and railing system.
 
…the trail along the existing railroad track alignment would need to be removed, a trail would be constructed adjacent to the tracks as described by the proposed ultimate trail project, and the railroad tracks re-installed in their approximate existing location. At-grade railroad crossings of Aptos Creek Drive, Parade Street, and Trout Gulch Road would need to be reconstructed.” (Summary pages S-3 and S-4)

It seems a done-deal, but write to Lara Bertaina, Senior Environmental Planner, at (805) 779-0792 or
lara.bertaina@dot.ca.gov and voice your concerns if you have them.

I would also be interested in your thoughts on this Final EIR.

SURVEY FOR NEW PEDESTRIAN/ CYCLIST BRIDGE DESIGN IN APTOS VILLAGE
The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) has big plans for Aptos Village that are couched in the Segment 12 Rail Trail Project.
RTC Seeking Input on Bridge Design Options for Coastal Rail Trail Bridge in Aptos

RTC OPEN HOUSES FOR ZERO EMISSION RAIL AND TRAIL IMPROVEMENT PRELIMINARY PURPOSE AND NEED STUDY
Will there ever be electric passenger rail service in Santa Cruz County, or will the possibility suffer death by permanent study?

Last Thursday’s RTC meeting featured a discussion of this Study of Zero Emission Rail and Trail Improvements that lasted for nearly two hours.

What I want to know is why the proposed electric passenger rail service study would stop the service at Santa Cruz, and does not include Davenport or  North Coast areas.

The Commission received a presentation on the Zero Emission Passenger Rail and Trail Project’s Preliminary Purpose and Need Statement, and received public comments and provided input on the item. The project proposes new high-capacity passenger rail service and stations on approximately 22 miles of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line from the City of Santa Cruz to Pajaro, as well as 12 miles of Coastal Rail Trail from Rio Del Mar Boulevard through the community of La Selva Beach and the City of Watsonville, as well as the Capitola Trestle section. 

The Project’s Purpose and Need Statement identifies and documents the needs and constraints that drive the development of transportation improvements in the Project study area and further outlines the opportunities to address these needs through the project’s fundamental purpose.

There will be two Open Houses for you to see what THIS study involves:
February 12  6-7:30pm  Ramsey Park Family Center, Watsonville
February 13, 6-7:30pm Live Oak Grange (1900 17th Avenue)

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE REDWOOD FORESTS
If you appreciate the wonderful Redwood forests, consider learning more about them here: Under The Redwoods – Sempervirens Fund

REST IN PEACE BARBARA CHAMBERLAIN
Barbara Chamberlain lived in Aptos for decades, and was a driving force behind the Cabrillo Host Lions Club work to improve the local Community with projects such as building the permanent restrooms, perimeter walking path  and benches in Polo Grounds County Park, Veterans Memorial benches in Aptos Village Park, and the WWI Monument Garden on Freedom Boulevard in Aptos.  She was also instrumental in organizing the library at Bradley Elementary School in Corralitos, and was an award-winning author and Life Member of the American Pen Women.
Barbara Chamberlain Obituary

She and her late husband, Dr. Dave Chamberlain (second dentist to come to the Aptos Village) cared deeply about the Aptos Community, and always tried to help those in need.  Dave was a Charter Member of the Cabrillo Host Lions Club, and Barbara served as District Governor for the service club.

We will miss her energy, story telling, and kind smile.  Rest in peace, Barbara.

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A PUBLIC DEBATE OR HEARING.
DO ONE THING THIS WEEK, AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

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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February 5

Which Senate Candidate will be Best for the Earth?
Will you vote in March for Nature? How? It is a good time to do some research, ask some questions of candidates, and prepare to be an informed citizen when you cast your vote.

Situation Description – The Upcoming Election
There is a wide field of candidates running to be our Federal Senate representative. Senators are a Big Deal. Once elected, they can stay a long time in the office and there are many fewer of them than House representatives, so they are more powerful as individuals. As I often say in this column: I hope you cast your vote with careful consideration of the environmental platform of the candidates.

Three candidates stand out as particularly interesting in the lineup: Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff. Things are a little odd this election because we are voting twice for this same Senate seat.  The first vote is the PRIMARY for the full, 6-year term for senator. The top two vote getters will be the ones we get to choose between in November. The second vote we cast for senator is for someone to serve just until January 3, 2025, when Diane Feinstein’s term would have ended. They say that these types of things cause voter confusion and errors. Seems simple enough…

A Brief History
The seat up for election is the seat that Diane Feinstein had held for 31 years until her death while in office, 1992-2023. After Senator Feinstein died, Governor Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to the position; Senator Butler is not running this election for that seat. This is the first time that the seat has been opened for an election since 1982, when Pete Wilson won it from Mill Valley’s Samuel Hayakawa. Pete, you’ll recall, went on to become the State’s Governor, setting up a situation that made it possible for Diane Feinstein to win the special election to finish his term. Once ensconced, it is difficult to unseat a Senator. (Some argue for term limits, but I can’t agree, preferring folks who get good at their work to stay put and do that well-practiced job even better for those they represent.)

Vote for the Environment!
Ask yourself if you know one single thing about the environmental voting record of…Diane Feinstein….Adam Schiff….Barbara Lee….or Katie Butler. I highly recommend the VoteSmart website to examine environmental voting records, endorsement ratings (many years back), and records of top funders. In short, Diane Feinstein scores higher than any other candidate trying to take her place on environmental issues, and she had a long record to chart.

When you examine ratings by the various environmental groups, think about who they are. I look to two organizations in particular: the Center for Biological Diversity Fund and the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. These two organizations have not been corrupted by the Outdoor Industry Association and their ilk, as have so many other so-called environmental organizations. Too many ‘environmental’ groups are professing tha all of nature’s problems are best solved by e-bikes and unbridled public access to every square inch of conservation land; the passionate people in these movements frequently overlook the central importance of species conservation to life on Earth.

A Common Voter Conundrum
We often look to polls to determine who is the ‘most electable’ before casting our vote. We want to be on the winning side. The problem is that even those who are being polled are influenced by the media portrayal of who is most electable, but where does the media get that information? Inch by inch, voters gravitate towards who they feel others would vote for, not who they prefer. The result is that people get elected who weren’t the heartfelt choice of the majority of voters. How sad!

Environmental Records, Compared
Of the three candidates I’m discussing, Adam Schiff’s environmental voting record is the worst, Barbara Lee’s the best, and Katie Porter in between. Adam Schiff’s environmental voting record is different from the other two candidates with one recent vote in particular: he voted ‘no’ on legislation (Save Oak Flat from Foreign Mining Act) that would have blocked a Trump-era midnight deal that transferred sacred Native American land from the US Forest Service to a foreign-owned mining corporation. Why Representative Schiff thought it was a good idea to vote in favor of one of Trump’s corporate, anti-nature blunders is dumbfounding. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter both knew better.

However, all three candidates refused to co-sponsor the Keep it in the Ground Act of 2021. That legislation would prohibit further oil exploration of the outer continental shelf and would stop our friends at BLM from issuing, renewing, reinstating, or extending any onshore fossil fuel leases that are not now productive. So, you can see that all three candidates are somehow firmly in the court of the Oilogarchy, as are so many politicians….all of whom are driving species to extinction by heating the planet.

The Endorsements That Matter
The Center for Biological Diversity and its associated Action Fund align fairly well with my values, and their website has easy-to-navigate comparisons of the candidates, so that you can see why the Center endorses Barbara Lee and not the other two.

Other endorsements are interesting. For instance, it is very interesting, given the contrasts that I outlined above, that the Sierra Club has failed to endorse one of the candidates for this Senate seat. Another group I follow is the League of Conservation Voters; again, given the contrasting votes outlined above, it is interesting to see that the three candidates are given pretty much identical scorecards.

Ask! Look!
What they say is as important as what they don’t say. Check out Adam Schiff’s website and you’ll see in BIG BOLD LETTERS the heading “PROTECTING WILDERNESS LANDS AND PRESERVING ENDANGERED WILDLIFE” – and then a big fat nothing about endangered species in the words below. You must dig a lot to find something, anywhere with anything he has done to protect endangered wildlife. Good luck finding any legislation that he originated that addresses the many shortfalls of species protection. Barbara Lee’s website contains this statement in favor of keeping the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as it is, which harkens back to the first answer I ever got from a candidate on this subject. When I asked their campaigns about their endangered species platforms, Obama’s staff wrote back to me that he wanted to keep the ESA as it was whereas Hillary Clinton’s staff wrote me and said merely that she opposed drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Barbara Lee’s website mentions the problematic theme that she “is committed to protecting endangered animals and preserving and increasing public access to our national parks and public lands.” Increasing access??!! That’s a coded nod to the Outdoor Industry Association and their lackies who are trying to turn our parks into playgrounds to the detriment of wildlife.

You can view a moving video of Katie Porter speaking eloquently about the need to pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act of 2023; Ms. Porter is on the House Natural Resources Committee, which suggests her passion for, and knowledge about, environmental matters.

I hope you’ll spend a little bit of time following this course of questioning and even drop a line to the Senatorial candidates asking them about their positions on the environment, and species conservation specifically. Those things make a difference. And, hopefully, you’ll be casting your vote for the environment in this coming election!

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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I have already said this! More than once! Click right here for a link that will provide you with access to my many statements to the following effect:

“Crypto Is A Scam*”

Why should I send out a warning, one more time? I guess I am easily triggered by the thought that various people (even my own children, and their friends) might take real money, money belonging to them, and lose it all by “investing” it in cryptocurrencies.

My father’s admonitions come back to me. He bought me a book on the topic of how humans continue to be taken in by scams, and he gave it to me with the warning that I should pay attention. I think this was when I was in high school. That book is still in print. Check it out: Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay. It’s a fun read, besides being true.

If you don’t think I know what I am talking about (and if you never met my father, so you have no real reason to believe that he knew what he was talking about, either), you might want to read a fairly recent article in The New York Times. The article was titled, “The Crypto Power Vacuum,” and quoted Hilary Allen, a law professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, and an “expert on financial regulation.”

Here is what Allen said about cryptocurrencies, in that New York Times‘ article:

There is no intrinsic value to any of this…. The only hope is to have more money sloshing around, and more people willing to buy into it to create demand….. Crypto isn’t disrupting Wall Street; it’s merging with it….. It’s fairly obvious — they think they can make some money here (emphasis added).

So (one more time): Don’t let the crypto-hucksters make their money at your expense! Don’t bite!

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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February 5

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT ON A FOOL’S ERRAND

Recent polls released by Bloomberg and Morning Consult indicate that Donald Trump is not immune to public disfavor should he be convicted in any of the remaining criminal trials he faces, with 53% of voters in seven key states stating a refusal to vote for him in that eventuality. And, should a prison sentence be a result, that percentage would rise by two percentage points…WHAT? Only two points…what’s wrong with a 47% spike, people? We know he’s a crook…he’s either purposely or inadvertently confessed to every wrongful action of which he’s been accused! “The preponderance of polling out there shows that there is a chunk of Republican voters who say a felony conviction would be a bridge too far,” says GOP strategist Dan Judy“Does that mean that Trump still gets 80 to 85 percent of Republican voters, rather than 90 or 95 percent? Probably. But that could easily be the election right there.”

With the Bloomberg poll showing Trump up by six points with registered voters in the battleground states, the question is: would those figures be borne out in the general election? Some aggrieved voters typically look past any misgivings and vote for that candidate who echoes their own views. Case in point being the Access Hollywood tape where Trump disparages women, yet went on to being victorious. The four indictments with a total of 91 criminal charges only served to strengthen his hold onto the MAGAt base, rallying them with each new announcement targeting their Golden Jesus. An Economist/YouGov poll indicates a favorability of 79% within the GOP, but only 40% in the general public. While Trump asserts his innocence of all charges, the trials lie ahead, as does the onslaught of the Biden campaign and his supporters, both within the Democratic Party and its fringes.

At this juncture, it appears the lesser of the charges – the Stormy Daniels bribery case – will see the light of day before the other, more serious cases are brought to the fore, simply because the Supreme Court is wrestling with whether or not a president has immunity from prosecution…which brings up the question of whether Trump would see a boost resulting from any acquittal. Dan Judy tosses in, “As people always say, the most valuable resource you have as a candidate is time. The more time he is spending, and his people are spending, trying to keep him out of court and out of prison, the less he is spending out on the campaign trail trying to fire up his base, or persuade the few persuadable voters in this country.” Judy, known as a Trump cynic, realizes that any prediction regarding the former prez’s fate has often proven to be a fool’s errand. “As with so many things with him over the years, there is no history to fall back on here. There is nowhere to go to say, ‘This is what happened in the past in a similar situation.’ There is no way to know for sure,” he cautions.

Leaks from within Trump’s circle indicate that he believes he will be convicted of attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in his upcoming trial, as Axios reports. He fully expects a DC jury will find him guilty of conspiring to defraud the American people on four charges that carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a verdict which would send his attempt to retake the White House into complete shambles, even as he plans to attend every proceeding of the trial to prove that a corrupt system is seeking his destruction. In the Georgia elections interference case, Trump is pointing at DA Fani Willis’s relationship with the chief lawyer in the case, Nathan Wade, as evidence of corruption, undermining the charges against him as Wade is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in “this scam for her lover.” Willis admits to the relationship and says there are no grounds to dismiss the case or remove her from the prosecution.

Bocha Blue in a Palmer Report post says, “Trump wants to be seen as a Viking god, bold and proud in the spirit of an Achilles, never feeling fear. But that’s wrong. No Achilles’ heel for him. Donald Trump is lying. He’s lying to you, he’s lying to me. He’s lying to himself. Donald Trump is one of the most fearful little humans on the planet. He fears the unknown; he fears the known. He fears anything that will take away his pride, money or ability to win elections. And he is very scared of being found guilty in one of his criminal cases. To that, I say, of course he will be found guilty, but apparently, this is just making its way into Donald Trump’s consciousness, and it’s causing him a great deal of fear.”

It happened at the Colorado Republican primary debate, a long night under the hot lights with nine candidates, appearing before a large, attentive crowd eager to hear their spiels. All evening they had been asked to answer questions individually, but out of the crowd came a question addressed to the lot of them…“How many of you have been arrested? Let’s see a show of hands.” Six hands shot into the air…Lauren Low-Rent Boebert being one of those…six out of nine in the Wild New West! So, how did the crowd react? “Yeahhhhh!!!!,” accompanied by wild applause…their kind of folks, politicians proud of their arrests! Bocha Blue says, “Stupidity lives everywhere, even in the beauty of the sweeping mountains. These people are the party who says they ‘back the blue.’ This is the supposed party of law and order. Take a good look at ’em…you may not be able to for long, as they head for Whig territory. Six in nine! Boebert humiliated herself by not even making it into the top three in the straw poll. We should be grateful, perhaps, that it was not ALL of them with raised hands.” Reminds one of folkie Arlo Guthrie’s recording of ‘Alice’s Restaruant,’ where he tells of reporting for the military draft after being arrested earlier for dumping garbage for the restaurant. One of the sergeants asks him if he had ever been arrested and if he had gone to court, both answers being in the positive, which required him to go sit on The Group W bench, along with others who may not be moral enough to be in the Army. When the ‘meanest guy of all’ asks him, “Kid, whad’ya get?” And upon answering, “I didn’t get nothing. I had to pay $50 and pick up the garbage.” When the Group W bunch found he had been arrested for littering, they all moved away from him until he added, “And creating a nuisance,” bringing them all back to shake his hand while having a great time sitting on their bench.

Bad news for Trump in the action he filed in the UK over the ‘Steele dossier,’ which contained allegations that he took part in “perverted” sex acts and gave bribes to Russian officials – the High Court judge dismissed the case he brought against Orbis Business Intelligence, founded by MI6 officer, Christopher Steele. Steele was the author of the dossier which contained the allegations that Trump had been “compromised” by FSB, the Russian security service, at which time The Don reportedly participated in “sex parties” in St. Petersburg, and consorted with prostitutes in Moscow. In her judgement, Mrs. Justice Karen Steyn said, “In my view, there are no compelling reasons to allow the claim to proceed to trial in circumstances where, whatever the merits of the allegation that the personal data are inaccurate may be, the claim for compensation and/or damage…is bound to fail. In reality, the claimant is seeking court findings to vindicate his reputation in circumstances where he has not been able to formulate any viable remedy which he would have a real prospect of obtaining, or which would itself be of any utility; and having chosen  to allow so many years to elapse – without any attempt to vindicate his reputation in this jurisdiction – since he was first made aware of the dossier, including the memorandum, on 6 January 2017.”

Orbis produced the dozen memos in the dossier in 2016, but Trump was sworn in as president in 2017 when material was then published by BuzzFeed. During the court hearing, Antony White KC, for the consultancy, said the case had been brought to pursue a “vendetta” against Orbis and the former MI6 officer, saying,“The claimant has a deep and intense animus against Mr. Steele and Orbis, which is reflected in numerous vituperative public statements which he has made since it was made public by BuzzFeed. Mr. Trump has a long history of repeatedly bringing frivolous, meritless and vexatious claims for the purpose of vexing and harassing perceived enemies and others against whom he bears a grudge.” The charges of Trump/Russia collusion in the dossier were accorded some plausibility based on Steele’s reputation, but have been discredited over the years, with Steele himself saying the claims were unverified tips that warranted further investigation, and not for release to the public, but he stands by the work, the sources, and the professionalism applied. Back to you, Donny!

Narcissism or dementia…you decide! Trump posted a question on his Truth Social site, along with a photo of half his face spliced with a photo of Elvis Presley, with the query, “For so many years, people have been saying that Elvis and I look alike. Now that this pic has been going all over the place, what do you think?” Maybe the new Taylor Swift competition brought this on; obviously, she needs to start paying attention! His previous attempts to liken himself to Nelson MandelaAbraham Lincoln and the Mona Lisa got him nowhere, so why not try Elvis? Or as one responder suggested, “Fat Elvis!” Close enough for you, DonnyboyBen Meiselas of Meidas Touch said that Trump’s recent behavior “has people finally seeing just how delusional, cognitively impaired, and utterly weird Trump’s campaign is.” President Biden remarks, “This is the weirdest campaign I’ve ever been engaged in,” and rival Nikki Haley has used the former prez’s prominent public blunders to ramp up her attacks on his cognitive abilities.

Curmudgeon, political writer and painter, Robert Harrington, who lives in England, posts on the Palmer Report that a scene in the 1987 Charles Bukowski movie, ‘Barfly,’ has the male lead hooting with laughter, as the female lead from the next room asks him, “What is it?” His answer, as he listens to a drunken couple’s brawling in the next room, “It’s hatred, the only thing that lasts.” Harrington is not so sure about that, but says it has staying power and motivating power, which drew him into political writing. He calls Eisenhower the last decent Republican president, and only had pity for Nixon, never noticing Ford. He vaguely disliked the Reagan/Bush duo, with George W’s martial rhetoric mildly repellant. But, hate for Trump is real, visceral, with abhorrent loathing as for a worst enemy, with his having transformed the mother country into a place of strife and division. As a Never-Trumper he has a core hatred. He quotes Brian Beutler of Substack’s ‘Off Message’ who says, “Never-Trumpers comprise a majority of the country. It suggests that anti-Trumpism is the most powerful force in American politics, and it husbanded well [it will make] an insurmountable obstacle to his hold on power.” Harrington believes this hate guarantees our win against Trump, a huge motivator to get voters to the polls, resulting in a crushing, unprecedented defeat. He always ends his posts with, “And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.”

Trump continues to claim that the Constitution gives him the right to do as he chooses as president, and even as not-president, it seems. But he probably is confusing Article 2 with Article 8, which says once a man is elected president he is immune from prosecution for anything he did before, during and after the term is up, as long as his name is Trump. Plus, Article 9 says that this former president, if he so chooses, has the ability to return, re-write the Constitution and make himself King of the USA. Dream on, Donnyboy! Those articles don’t exist…yet!

Musician, song-writer and poet, Patti Smith says, “In art and dream you may proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.” So, let’s don our combat sneakers and join Robert Harrington to rid our country of this divisive enemy of democracy to restore our balance and safety! And as author Kurt Vonnegut advised, “And how should we behave during this Apocalypse? We should be unusually kind to one another, certainly. But we should stop being so serious. Jokes help a lot. And get a dog, if you don’t already have one.”

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.

“Delay”

“Delay is preferable to error.”
~Thomas Jefferson

“In Washington, ‘delay’ is too often code for ‘derail.’ Wink, wink.”
~Peter Welch

“Delay is the enemy of progress.”
~Eliot Spitzer

“Delay in justice is injustice.”
~Walter Savage Landor

“At times it is folly to hasten at other times, to delay. The wise do everything in its proper time.”
~Ovid

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[this is a throwback of mine, because it was so good!]

“Sweden has distributed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminist manifesto, “We Should All Be Feminists,” to every 16-year-old student in the country.” The essay is an adaptation of the TEDx talk below. When you have a half hour, watching this video is an awesome way to spend it.


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!!
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
Cell phone: 831 212-3273
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com
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January 31 – February 6, 2024

Highlights this week:

Bratton…more throwback Greensite…on new development: losing our way… Steinbruner…reminder: protest the Soquel Creek Water District rate hike, and County Fair . Hayes…on stuff… Patton…book recommendation… Matlock…bad to the bone… Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week. Quotes….”Rain”

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UCSC STUDENT VIGIL AGAINST TUITION May 18, 1967. Sure, that’s then California Governor Ronald Reagan visiting the UCSC campus. I’m betting that is Vernon Berlin who started KSCO radio holding the microphone on the left. History knows what Reagan thought of students.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.
Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE January 31, 2024

UPDATE ON BRUCE Bruce is still on the mend. For more details, or to just say hi and get better, you can email him at bratton@cruzio.com. I think he has a tablet so he can read email.
[Note: broken email link should be fixed, copy and paste if it still doesn’t work -Webmistress]

The archives are rich with material, so I went in and grabbed some more.

//Gunilla//


[Dateline MARCH 2015]

HIGHWAY 17 SIX, part 2. One thing we can agree on is that Governor Jerry Brown, the UC Regents and UC president Janet Napolitano won’t change tuition by one cent for months. Even then, it may increase.The HIGHWAY 17 SIX are receiving tremendous support for their blocking of Highway 17 protest. They have a Civil Rights attorney Dan Siegel who used to be legal advisor to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. He resigned from that office because of her use of police against the Occupy Oakland Movement. We should all agree that our California education system is terrible and ranks near the bottom of most lists. We should also agree that more than ever we need to provide our kids with better and better education….just to compete on the career/ job market. We need to agree that a $5000 top is a sufficient tuition for any California resident. Those Highway 17 Six fought hard, gave up a lot and are being incredibly brave for their cause of fighting the UC tuition increase and police violence. Back in the day (1957-65) when I was a UC Berkeley student and card carrying member of SLATE at the UC Berkeley Campus and later sat inside UC Berkeley’s Sproul Hall with Joan Baez and Tom Luddy who showed his collection of silent films on the hallway walls, we heard Mario Savio say, “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” It was 1965 when Martin Luther King Jr. said, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” I think those brave Highway 17 Six and thousands of University of California students need to think bigger.

[BACK TO THE CURRENT TIMELINE What happened with this? As far as I know, the Hwy 17 Six got 6-month jail sentences. -Webmistress ]

KEEPING THIS HERE TO REMIND YOU TO VOTE YES ON MEASURE M…PLEASE DONATE NOW!!
There is still time to donate, funds are needed by Febrary 10, 2024 In short, if enacted by the voters, Measure M will accomplish TWO simple things:

#1.) Require the city to get voter approval before height limits can be raised to allow oversized, high-rise developments anywhere in the city, downtown or in our neighborhoods.

#2.) Increase the number of affordable housing units that big developers must provide, from 20% to 25% for projects of over 30 units, as the City Planning Commission researched and recommended.

Measure M is facing enormous and well-funded opposition from out-of-town developers and their allies.  We NEED your financial assistance now to run a successful campaign. With only 60 days left before we vote on March 5, 2024, the sooner you donate the better. Another incentive to donate soon is we have matching funds.

Our fundraising goal is $50,000. This money will be used for our online presence, campaign materials, advertising, professional assistance and to rally residents to vote.

Make as generous a contribution as you possibly can to help pass Measure M and be part of the future design of Santa Cruz!  
TWO ways to donate:

  1. Online with the DONATE button on:  Yes-on-M.org
  1. Or Write a check to: “Yes on M”, and call us to pick it up 831-471-7822 or send the check before Feb. 10 to:  
    Yes on M, PO Box 2191, Santa Cruz, Ca. 95063

Partial List of Supporters:

Gary Patton, Former County Supervisor, Environmental Attorney
Katherine Beiers, Former Mayor
Jane Weed-Pomerantz, Former Mayor
Nell Newman, Founder, Newman’s Own Organics, Environmentalist & Biologist
Rick Longinotti, Author, Right to Vote on Desal Initiative
Joseph S. Quigg, Affordable and Market-rate Housing Developer
Frank Barron, Retired Urban Planner
Keresha Durham-Tamba, Bilingual Educator, Environmental-Climate Activist
Hector Marin-Castro, Santa Cruz City Teacher’s Aid and Service Worker
Susan Monheit, Retired State Water Regulator, Environmental Scientist
Steve Bare, Retired High School Teacher, Military Veteran
Laura Lee, Retired Teacher, Corporate Trainer & Facilitator

Bruce will be back with movie reviews as soon as he’s had a chance to write more!

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January 29th 2024

Losing Our Way

Photo by Katie C.

Driving to meet a friend for dinner at a downtown restaurant on a recent Saturday evening, I followed a familiar route. It was raining heavily; visibility was poor, and I missed the Cedar Street left turn off Laurel. “Never mind I’ll turn at Pacific” I thought. What happened next was a strange, disorienting experience. With that new tall, block-length building looming ahead through the rain and glare of headlights, I did not recognize where I was. My brain tried to make sense of the unfamiliar surroundings with one part knowing it should be Pacific Avenue and another part rejecting that fact. The familiar Liquor store sign and low-rise Pacific Avenue landmarks were lost in the mass of the new high-rise. I turned left, still unsure where I was. Such is the loss of a sense of place, what writer Rebecca Solnit calls a sixth sense.

Urban planner Edward T. McMahon writes: “A sense of place is a unique collection of qualities and characteristics – visual, cultural, social, and environmental – that provide meaning to a location. Sense of place is what makes one city or town different from another, but sense of place is also what makes our physical surroundings worth caring about.”

He adds, “If I have learned anything from my career in urban planning, it is this: a community’s appeal drives economic prosperity. I have also learned that, while change is inevitable, the destruction of a community’s unique character and identity is not. Progress does not demand degraded surroundings. Communities can grow without destroying the things that people love.” Edward T. McMahon, UrbanLand April 4, 2012.

Granted, few would defend the former Taco Bell and Bonesio’s Liquor Store as “charming”. Nonetheless they are/were a familiar part of the fabric of our town. For those who have lived here for a while, they embodied the same character as the Broken Egg and the Fun Spot, both razed for a parking garage and a parking lot respectively, hardly pluses on the “charming” scale.  While a Taco Bell is not unique, it was at least on the working-class end of the gentrification scale. Not only are we losing a sense of place, we are losing the working class character of Santa Cruz along with the working class itself. This class shift is readily seen on the far west side of town. It will soon become evident along Water Street and Soquel on the Eastside as older low-rise long-time businesses are bulldozed, replaced with new, mixed-use high-rise generics, eradicating the last remnants of character and familiarity, let alone the businesses themselves. I can hear the scoffing from some newbies who either profit from this transformation or have no internalized sense of place. That, or they have swallowed the party line of “we need more housing” without examining the class impacts of just adding a bigger supply of mostly market-rate housing.

Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to read the Mayor’s Message in last Sunday’s Sentinel. Randy Johnson is the Mayor of Scotts Valley. His words are the first I’ve heard from a local politician that are overtly critical of the heavy hand of the state dictating to local communities just what they shall build with no leeway for local control. Sure, we have heard other local politicians tell us that we have no more local land-use control due to state mandates, but it is spoken in the tone of resignation, never as push-back. In contrast, Mayor Johnson is outspoken and sticks up for his town. In response to an out-of-state developer who informed Johnson that he, the developer intended to use the “builder’s remedy” to build a multi-level 200-plus unit project on a small city lot, Mayor Johnson writes, “So the outcome of the State’s housing directive is that a Midwest Company, a thousand miles away has more control over our city’s future than its citizens do. That’s wrong.” The mayor continues, “I would propose a ‘city’s remedy’ where the state rethinks its ‘one-size-fits-all’ position on how to meet the state’s housing needs. Every community is unique. The integrity of local control must be trusted. We should work in a spirit of cooperation and find balanced and workable solutions that set up cities and counties for success. To do otherwise condemns us to a path of confusion, skepticism, and distrust that serves no-one and compromises our future.” There is more but you get the picture. A political leader fighting for the character and identity of his city. How inspiring!

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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PROTEST SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT DRASTIC RATE CHANGES
Last Thursday, the District held a Rate Study webinar that was a repeat of what the Raftelis consultants had presented to the Board in December to convince them to approve the drastic changes to fixed service fees and rates over the next four years.

 Customers can  send written protest to be received by February 20 but not once did any of the District staff say that people could protest and how to do that.  The District rate increase mailer gave very little fine-print space to that either.
Here is where to learn more about protesting these drastic rate changes that are really going to hit the low water users the hardest.

The consultant had been running the meeting, but General Manager Ron Duncan took over to try to answer the good questions that people were posting in the chat box.  He took alot of time saying very  little before turning the questions over to Ms. Strohm or Ms. Schumacher, the new Assistant Manager.

The shocking thing that he did say is that “everybody’s water rates go up because people conserve.”

He must have been referencing the claim at the October 17, 2023 Board meeting by Finance Director Leslie Strohm that “we’re in this situation due to a  $11,000,000 shortfall in water sales revenues.”

The truth is  the cost of the PureWater Soquel Project has ballooned and even the $95million received in grants is not enough to pay the actual $200,000,000 construction cost or the projected annual operating cost of the treatment facility that has doubled to $5,500,000 annually.

The extravagant $1000/month bonus for Ms. Strohm that the Board approved at behest of General Manager Ron Duncan, made retroactive to when the Project began and that will continue until it is completed, certainly has not helped the financial health of the District.  Melanie Schmacher, the Project’s outreach coordinator (recently made Assistant Manager) gets a $1,600/month bonus, and Taj DuFour, Engineering Director, gets $1,000/month bonus.

Now, with the impending rate changes, most low-water users will see their bills increase by about $30/month while those who use alot of water may see decreases.  Does that make sense?

Ms. Schumacher answered one such question last Thursday.

When the PureWater Soquel Project was getting started in 2019, the District was not sure it would get grants to fund construction, so the Tier 2 rate were made five times higher than Tier 2 to pay for it.  Now that the Project is close to becoming operational (maybe this fall), everybody will benefit by the protection to the groundwater basin by injecting 1500 AcreFeet of treated sewage water annually into the groundwater, so everybody must pay their fair share.

At that point, the Raftelis rate consultant jumped in and assured the audience that the current rate changes and tier restructuring “will have a smoothing effect” over what the last rate changes caused.

Hmmm……

The District has removed the video links to the rate increase discussions the Board had with Raftelis rate consultants on November 6, 2018 (the same meeting where they approved the Twin Lakes Church injection well project before the EIR for the PureWater Soquel Project was even certified).

The last time the Board raised rates, Ms. Strohm recommended that the Board review District revenues and expenses annually to determine if the rate increases were still necessary.  That has never happened.

Former Director Bruce Daniels even publicly stated that if the District were awarded the anticipated $50 million grant for the PureWater Soquel Project, the Board would lower the rates.  Well, the District staff purports to have gotten about $95 million, but the rates never were adjusted, and are now drastically going up 10% this year, and 12% annually thereafter for three years.

If you or anyone you know is a customer of Soquel Creek Water District,  and do not agree with the proposed dramatic rate changes, please send written protest.  It must be received by the February 20 public hearing.

You can find the protest template here

FREE RENT FOR THE FAIRGROUNDS FOUNDATION AT SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS?
Last Tuesday, the Fairgrounds Board met to approve a number of things the new CEO has put before them.  That included a Contract with the Fairgrounds Foundation that will provide FREE RENT for that less-than transparent fundraising group’s office and storage.

Hmmm…can the State gift that to a non-profit?

Take a look at the murky deal the new CEO made with the Fairgrounds Foundation, and that somehow did not even raise an eyebrow by the Fair Board members (some were missing) before approval.

There is NO list of “Assets” that the State-owned Fairgrounds will be paying $12 to rent, and in exchange, allow the Fairgrounds Foundation a gift of free office and storage space on the grounds:

3. Rent. 
In consideration of the lease of the Assets as provided herein, Fairgrounds agrees to pay the Foundation an annual rental amount of Twelve Dollars($12.00) due and payable on the first day of each calendar year during the Lease term, commencing on January 1st, 2024.

4. Use of Grounds. 
In consideration of the lease of the Assets outlined herein, Fairgrounds commits to furnishing the Foundation with office and storage space. The extent and placement of the provided space will be determined solely by Fairgrounds.
(page 209)

This is not transparent.  No list of “Assets” the State is renting from the Foundation, no explanation of the $12 rent amount the State is paying to the Foundation, and no value provided for the office and storage space the State is providing the Foundation for free.

All this, after a State audit in 2022 that uncovered many significant and troubling financial and policy matters that led to then-CEO Dave Kegebein getting fired.

But wait….it gets worse…..

EX-FAIRGROUNDS CEO NOW IN CHARGE OF THE AG HISTORY PROJECT AT THE FAIRGROUNDS
It was shocking to me last Tuesday to hear Ms. Kitiyama report to the Fair Board on behalf of the Ag History Project that Dave Kegebein is the organization’s new Executive Director.

This is the same Dave Kegebein who the Fair Board fired in October, 2022 for embezzling alot of money and many other concerning actions.   This is the same person who now continues to arrogantly command other tenants at the Fairgrounds to do his bidding.

Take a look at the Compliance Audit and ask yourself if you would trust to allow such a person around and be actively involved in major financial and policy issues:

The new CEO is seemingly a puppet for all of this….so nothing has changed.  In fact, in my opinion, transparency is worse.  And the Fair Board asks virtually no questions.

2024 SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FAIR THEME
Also reported at last Tuesday’s Fair Board meeting was that an unknown group decided this year’s September 11-15 Fair theme will be “Pioneer Days and Modern Ways”.

There will be a 200-drone light show each night, with tickets sold to those who want seats in the grandstand to watch it and listen to the musical accompaniment.

Parking fees are going up $5/vehicle, but you might get a deal if you carpool with others.  Those details are still being worked out.

Stay tuned.

SWENSON’S APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT STORMWATER NOW DRAINING INTO APTOS CREEK
Last week, Swenson crews connected the large stormwater drain pipe up in the Aptos Village Park so that all the parking lot, street and rooftop stormwater will now flow into Aptos Creek.

I wonder how this will affect the water quality for those steelhead and coho salmon trying to make their way back upstream to spawn?  Do you think California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife have approved this?

Write and ask: Wesley Stokes <wesley.stokes@wildlife.ca.gov> and Serena Stumpf <serena.stumpf@wildlife.ca.gov>

Take a look at the hillside disturbance and pipe that is above ground in Aptos Village Park below.

Digging up the road in Aptos Village Park for the stormwater drain pipe.

PHASE 2 OF SWENSON’S APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT IS TOWERING
It is amazing to see the construction moving along on towering mixed use subdivision of Aptos Village Project Phase 2.  The buildings will be three-stories tall, and seemingly with minimal setbacks from the hazardously-narrow Aptos Village Way.

The last amended design I saw was to minimize or eliminate landscaping and space between the structures, and parking was seemingly inadequate.  All parking on Aptos Village Way for businesses in the Phase 1 area is now prohibited, due to construction traffic…or something.

This towering construction is happening on both sides of Aptos Village Way and all parking is prohibited.  Swenson promised the public there would be parking for Nisene Marks Park users…but where?

The parking study for the Project was inaccurate, to say the least.  But it doesn’t matter now…most of the office and retail spaces are vacant.

GOOD NEWS!  APTOS LIBRARY TO OPEN FEBRUARY 5
According to librarians at the Capitola Library, the newly-constructed Aptos Library is due to open February 5.

It is good to see the construction chainlink fencing gone, and the lights on inside.

WRITE ON LETTER TO THE EDITOR.  MAKE ONE CALL TO AN ELECTED OFFICIAL ABOUT SOMETHING THAT CONCERNS YOU.  ATTEND A CANDIDATE FORUM IF YOU CAN FIND ONE.

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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Appreciate Your Stuff, and Get Less of It

After reading this sentence, look around and ask yourself: where did all this stuff come from? We surround ourselves with stuff. A significant part of some people’s mental focus is about acquiring more stuff, comparing prices of stuff, comparing their stuff to other people’s stuff, and figuring out how to get rid of their old, broken, or worn-out stuff.  Stuff is both underappreciated and overconsumed.

The Story of Stuff

If you haven’t watched it yet, or if it’s been a while, I urge you to take 7 minutes out of your day, right now, and watch Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff. It is brilliant and hopefully will inspire you to change your relationship with stuff. Here’s a funny question to ask your friends or family members: “Do you like stuff?” It is a worthy question. Some people unabashedly exclaim “YES!” Others not so much. Some people deny liking stuff altogether.

House Stuff

There is a lot of important stuff around you. Housing is critical for everyone. A house is where people put their stuff and it is where they gain shelter from the elements, safety from other people, wild animals, unleashed dogs, etc. Most people around here who live in homes live in a ‘stick built’ house that is sheathed inside with drywall and outside with plywood then something else over that. I once had visitors from France who watched a renovation next door and awkwardly asked, “Is that a historic home that they are renovating?” I said, “No, that’s how we build things.” They laughed a bunch saying that in France they never build with wood, only metal framing, which lasts so much longer and doesn’t burn. They were incredulous. Wood is grown. Metal is mined. Construction wood is sequestered carbon. Metal is high energy carbon release. Metal lasts longer and is recyclable. The trade-offs between those two types of stuff are interesting when considering building. Where did the wood in your home come from? If it is an old home, perhaps it is old growth redwood from these very mountains. If it is newer, the lumber probably came from clear cut forests in the pacific northwest or Canada. Where did your drywall come from? It was mined. Check out this big hole in the California desert where gypsum is mined and then turned into drywall. This giant mine is appropriately named ‘Plaster City, California‘ and makes more than half the drywall in the country. Most people who build houses don’t ask many questions about the ecological footprint of their house ingredients. Do you want an affordable home, or not? Asking for more sustainable products is going to cost you more! By building affordable homes that are built with traditional products, we are passing on some enormous costs to future generations. Poor forest management is filling streams with sediment, destroying fisheries, causing life threatening landslides, destabilizing economies and communities built around more sustainable forest management. Gypsum mining has caused surface- and groundwater contamination, erosion, and permanently removes wildlife habitat.

Other Stuff

Outside of the bones and skin of your home, there’s lots of stuff inside the house: where did it come from, how long will it last, what happens to it when it gets old and breaks? So much around us is made of fiber. Carpets, towels, furniture coverings, sheets, curtains, clothes…woven and stitched together fibers. How many of us consider the source of those fibers? Personally, I like my fibers to be biodegradable and organically grown, but I have paid a lot for that choice, and it has not always possible to find. Cotton that is not organically grown is a synthetic fertilizer and pesticide-intensive crop…not something I want to support or surround my body with either with clothes or in sheets and towels. When such things wear out, it used to be that Goodwill would take the worn-out stuff and sell it as rag cloth, which was recycled. I’m not sure that occurs anymore. One could compost pure cotton cloth after it has outlived its value as rags. Rag cotton has at times been recycled as insulation for homes, a replacement for (mined) fiberglass insulation. Wool is another natural fiber. Watch carefully when selecting natural fibers because too often they are augmented with various plastic fibers, which degrade into microplastics and are barely if at all recyclable. What does one do with those plastic fibers and the myriad of plastics found in other stuff which is similarly not recyclable?

Away

A friend suggests visiting “away.” One “away” is at the end of Dimeo Lane on the North Coast of Santa Cruz County. When you throw things ‘away’ the place it goes is actually a landfill. Interesting word, ‘landfill.’ Like it was empty before? Sacrifice zone is one way to put it. “Drainage basin destroying, methane belching, seemingly contained long-term pollutant blob requiring intergenerational expense allocation” is the more honest thing to call it. That’s where your old stuff goes. As Annie Leonard points out in the film I linked you to above, most ‘stuff’ has been carefully planned for obsolescence. In other words, it breaks according to plan. And, when most stuff breaks, there is nothing to be done with it except throwing it ‘away.’ Most stuff is such an amalgamation of materials that it is impossible under the current regulatory environment to recycle. That’s our fault: we don’t care enough to vote for people who prioritize solutions to this problem.

Solutions

Until policies require that all ‘stuff’ lasts longer and is completely recyclable, the solution to the problem of stuff is to buy less of it, focusing on buying only the stuff that we need, and making sure that what we buy isn’t bad stuff…it lasts, its creation hasn’t poisoned the environment, its obsolescence is appropriately long, and its disposal creates life instead of death. In the 1980’s someone figured that the transaction cost of exchanging a dollar bill in purchase burned a liter of crude oil, so just plain spending less is a good thing for the planet. Saving money is good: few people appreciate that their money is their time and that we don’t really have that much time…for our loved ones…for our own enjoyment. When considering buying something, ask yourself: do I really need this? Like 3 times. If we really need something, then we must ask ourselves ‘is this bad stuff?’ Like 3 times. The specific questions to determine if something is Bad Stuff are: How was it made, what’s it made of, how long will it last, where will it end up when it’s no longer useful? Maybe we should carry a card with these questions to take out and read before our purchases. Oh, that’s no fun! (can you imagine yourself or your shopping partner saying that?). Is shopping fun? It will be a deeper kind of fun with this line of questioning. We are changing the world when we avoid buying stuff and when we only buy Good Stuff. Be that change.

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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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2024
#33 / Is Our Land A Beast To Be Bought And Sold?

Trudy Wischemann, who sometimes goes by “woodworker,” writes columns for a couple of newspapers published in California’s Central Valley, The Foothills Sun-Gazette and The Mid-Valley Times. Her thoughts come to the public under the title, “Notes From Home,” and I recommend them to you.

Thanks to Wischemann, I have become acquainted with Gerald Haslam, who is pictured above. Haslam was a  writer, and he was also an emeritus professor of literature at Sonoma State University. He died in 2021. Clicking the next link will take you to Wikipedia page devoted to Haslam.

And let me give you another link to click, as well. Clicking on the following link will take you to a website maintained by the University of Nevada Press, and give you an opportunity to buy this book by Haslam:

I am recommending you do that – or that you hunt the book down in your local library and read about the Central Valley, and about the people who have lived there in the past, and who live there now.

When I worked for the Planning and Conservation League, based in Sacramento, I traveled through the Central Valley on a weekly basis, commuting to and from “home,” in Santa Cruz, California, on the coast. I learned very little about the Central Valley as I passed through it. Haslam’s book has helped increase my understanding.

This specific blog posting, coming to you in early February 2024, was stimulated by a particular line in one of the essays contained in The Other California, a book I finished reading right before the end of last year.

The familiar vista of the Sacramento Valley from an airplane reveals more than a physical contrast. Obvious are roads, canals and fence lines slashing below, straight and measured geometry assignments. Equally obvious is the lurching course of a great river, feeder streams squiggling into it like a mad artist’s doodling.

Less obvious when viewing those features from above is that they represent opposing visions of the place. The canals, the roads, the fence lines are proprietary, profane reflections of contemporary American beliefs; the streams are familiar and sacred reflections of Native American assumptions.

In what sense profane? The Valley was not the ancestral home of Europeans; they had no enduring link to it, so it was in no way sacrosanct. Moreover, they assumed theologically that nature was somehow the enemy of people – a beast to be domesticated, bought and sold (emphasis added).

Those of us who have been concerned by what is sometimes called “land use,” will understand what Haslam is talking about, suggesting that the lands we inhabit can be seen as “a beast to be bought and sold.” Haslam’s writings celebrate both of the realities he urges us to consider – the “sacrosanct” reality of the natural world and the “profane” reality of the “human world” we have carved out from the “world of nature.” Haslam’s writings, which are poetically expressed, teach us about the right relationship of these “two worlds” that we call home.

The words you are reading here – for anyone who is reading them – are posted to a blog that I maintain, “We Live In A Political World.” Each daily entry in that blog is preceded by this introduction:

We live, simultaneously, in two different worlds. Ultimately, we live in the World of Nature, a world that we did not create and the world upon which all life depends. Most immediately, we inhabit a “human world” that we create ourselves. Because our human world is the result of our own choices and actions, we can say, quite properly, that we live, most immediately, in a “political world.” In this blog, I hope to explore the interaction of these two worlds that we call home.

For those, like me, who were born in California, who call California “home,” Haslam’s writings are essential. They speak to all of us who want thoughtfully to consider what it means to live here, and to take seriously our obligations to this place, and to those who live here with us.

While Haslam does call us to our obligations, he reminds us, also, how right it is joyously to celebrate the good fortune that has called us to be alive, right here, in California, right now.

Gerald Haslam: recommended!

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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TAKING BAD TO THE BONE TO THE BONEPILE

Money, money, money problems seem to be raising ugliness within the GOP ranks of late. It’s reported that the Biden campaign has been out-raising the Trump campaign, and the DNC has raised massive amounts of cash compared to the RNC, much of which is rumored to be going into Trump’s coffers toward his legal woes. As the RNC heads toward the bottom, a vote is to be held to authorize a line of credit, thanks to Citizen Trump, who is tanking this major political party’s funds. Totally apropos, since he has tanked almost everything in his own business history before running the nation aground during his term in office. The Grand Old Party won’t see the light of day again with his involvement, and to paraphrase Hillary Clinton“Trump has written several books, but they all seem to end with Chapter Eleven!” Last one out the door, please turn out the lights!

The nonchalance over funds seems to have the GOP approaching the nation’s budgetary impasse with the same stubborn laxity, with House Speaker Johnson relinquishing control of the House Clown Car to the Talibangelicals. They cancelled votes on two party-line funding bills, a transportation bill was pulled due to resistance to cuts to he Amtrak budget, and a financials services bill was wrenched thanks to the MAGAts attempts to pack it with anti-abortion legislation. “I don’t think the Lord Jesus himself could manage this group,” groused Texas Representative Troy Nehls“We’re ungovernable.” The Republicans spent days in finally selecting Speaker Johnson, but it brings them no closer to a cohesive majority, and the DNC is having a field day gleaning ammo for the upcoming campaign ads. This looks like a job for fund-raiser extraordinaire/high-wire artist George Santos…or, Kevin McCarthy, who at least proved his worth in that capacity before being run out of town.

GOPers need not look to our former prez, Donald Trump, for any assistance at refilling the coffers with his online grifting expected to edge into constant begging for his base to buoy up this poor, Constitiution-battered billionaire(?)/millionaire(?)/average joe(?) victim of Biden’s DOJ. It should take only a century or two to save his butt at the rate the meter is adding with each court appearance. Trump’s bragging during his deposition in the bank fraud trial came back to haunt him in the E. Jean Carroll defamation suit, as Carroll’s attorney made good use of the information he blurted at that time to inflate his net worth, his words used to convince the 9-member jury that he could afford to be penalized heavily to put a stop to his slandering of Carroll. Trump, in comparing his brand’s worth to that of Coca-Cola, said with puffed chest and Mussolini chin jut, “In my case, I know it’s billions and billions and billions of dollars, with the brand name alone valued at $2.9B or even $3B. I wrote a book recently and it sold through the roof! It’s all brand value. We have a lot of cash, we have great assets.”  At one point he gloated about the secondary market for his ‘collectible’ digital trading cards, “some selling for $82K apiece.” He also claimed that the Mar-a-Lago estate could be worth as much as $1.5B, but Palm Beach property appraisers give it a range of $1.8- to $28-million. It likely will be worth more upon change of the name to Carroll-a-Lago. Circulating on the internet currently is a Photo-shopped image of Trump Tower with new shiny gold letters reading E. Jean Carroll Tower…let’s run that one by Mr. T!

Journalist David Cay Johnston, author of the 2016 biography entitled ‘The Making of Donald Trump,’ feels that Trump’s mouth could never back off attacking E. Jean in hopes of a gigantic jury award in order to complain to his base that, “It’s a New York jury”, code for un-Christian and non-White, which his base will eat right up but will not serve to reach the supporters he really needs. Last year’s sexual abuse and defaming verdict against Trump resulted in a $5M award, which Johnston says he never expects to pay, but he also doesn’t believe he will ever see the inside of prison cell. The Don’s Truth Social network had postings critical of Carroll all during the second trial, and along with his Bad Boy immaturity during his presence in court, he was assured of a massive penalty by the observant jurors. Now, he’s faced with another quandary…$83.3M worth. Beyond criticizing the outcome of the trial, Truth Social has gone silent about E. Jean, likely because his caretakers have wrested his cell phone away from him. Bill Palmer on his The Palmer Report, asks, “Did his handlers take his account away from him? Is he passed out face down in a bowl of Cheeto dust? If Trump decides to keep attacking Carroll, it’s just going to cost him even more money…she can circle back for additional damages and sanctions if Trump can’t stop himself.”

Palmer accuses the media of trying to decipher whatever new move Trump makes, analyzing what, and why, it’s being done, when it has no coherency…only sheer stupidity. Then, as they peer into the dark hole which this stable genius has dug himself into, they ooh! and aah! that Trump finally has us right where he wants us. Flaunting his invincibility throughout the Carroll trial proved to be his downfall with the nine jurors, and perhaps it will stifle complaints that ‘Trump gets away with everything.’ Had he been gagged and tied to his chair, perhaps the new award simply would have been another $5M forfeiture. No doubt, Trump’s keepers told him to cease running his mouth following his first loss, but he’s either too far gone cognitively to understand how much harm he was doing to himself by continuing to attack, or he’s too far gone psychologically to care how much harm he was inviting to himself. In either case, he continues hiring the worst attorneys while insisting on defense schemes that are guaranteed to fail, all the while attacking judges, their staffs, and the court system in its entirety.

Posting a bond of $5M to file an appeal on the first trial occurred with minimum whining, but how does he post $83.3M to appeal the second verdict? It’s debatable whether or not he has that much cash on hand, and his PAC is stretched from paying his legal fees, at least the bills that even get paid. Absent an appeal, he must pay Carroll, a lengthy process involving having assets taken from him – a procedure that he is unable to prevent. Carroll was only interested in vindication, not money, and she has proven her patience in the years-long process to see justice. Trump stands to lose another $370M resulting from the New York civil fraud trial…ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching! Trump’s assets have wings! And, before we forget, a New York state judge recently ordered Trump to pay nearly $400K in legal fees to The New York Times and three Times reporters after dismissal of a suit he brought in 2021, an “insidious plot” to obtain his tax records he charged. Revelations that he wasn’t the self-made billionaire he claimed to be, that most of his wealth was derived from his parents or from tax-dodging, even as his businesses bled money. State Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed ruled that Trump’s claims “fail as a matter of constitutional law.” Hey, don’t that judge know the Orangeman don’t need no stinkin’ constitution?

Judge Arthur Engoron, in the New York civil fraud case against Trump, has new information to consider in his decision about financial penalties to be levied, regarding a $50M mystery debt related to the Trump Organization’s Chicago tower and an intercompany loan. Former federal judge Barbara Jones, the court-appointed monitor in the Trump fraud case, provided information that indicates the former president lied knowingly and repeatedly on his federal financial disclosures about a major loan that never existed, evading a possible $48M in income. Her information in a letter to Engoron says the filings contain inconsistencies and errors, but the company has been cooperative in the investigation. “When I inquired about this loan, I was informed that there are no loan agreements that memorialize the loan, but that it was a loan that was believed to be between Donald J. Trump , individually, and Chicago Unit Acquisition for $48M,” Jones wrote in reference to the name of Trump’s LLC holding the debt. She added, “In recent discussions with the Trump Organization, it indicated that it has determined that this loan never existed and would be removed from any upcoming forms submitted to the Office of Government Ethics, and would be removed from subsequent versions of the firm’s financial statements.”

Alan Garten, chief legal counsel for the Trump Organization, told The Daily Beast that her claim is inaccurate and the loan did in fact exist, which will be addressed in court. Garten insists that not only does the loan exist, but that it is money owed to Trump after a loan to the LLC. However, in an October filing, it was stated that Trump owes the LLC upwards of $50M, in the form of a ‘springing loan,’ a loan with unfavorable terms to the borrower. In 2016, Trump confirmed this arrangement to The New York Times, having bought back the loan form a “group of banks several years ago,” and that he had preferred to keep the debt on the books, while paying interest to himself from a practically worthless LLC. In the interview, Trump said, “We don’t assess any value to it because we don’t care. I have the mortgage. That is all there is…very simple…I am the bank.” It seems that a ‘practically worthless’ LLC with a $50M credit on its books would be worth at least that much! Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in D.C. remarked, “Assuming the court filing is correct, Trump would appear to have intentionally and repeatedly broken the law. Personal financial disclosures attest under penalty of law that information submitted is true…Trump had to know that the Chicago business never loaned him the money.” The Trumpmeister will surely be blaming the accountants and attorneys and others for any blunders. Watch out, EricJunior and Ivanka!

In a January 26 bankruptcy filing, former Trump attorney, Rudy Giuliani, listed a claim against his former boss over unpaid legal fees, stating the amount as “undetermined.” The initial December ’23 bankruptcy filing came after a federal judge ordered him to “immediately” pay more than $148M to defamed election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. In a series of unsuccessful lawsuits, Giuliani attempted to contest, and overturn, the 2020 election results in favor of Trump. The New York Times reported in August 2023 that, “Mr. Trump has never explicitly told Mr. Giuliani why he is effectively stiffing him, but the former president has pointed out that he lost the cases related to the election.” Also reported is that the Trumpster told his aides that he didn’t wish to see Giuliani get “a dime” unless he succeeded, and noted that $340K had previously been paid by the Save America PAC to assist with some of Rudy’s debt. Giuliani’s new filing also lists an “undetermined” amount owed him under “Joseph Biden Defamation Action,” a suit filed in October when Biden used the term “Russian pawn” in reference to the former NYC mayor…supposedly costing him “millions and millions of dollars” in lost clientele. In the category ‘tax refunds owed to you’ is listed “Overpayment of taxes from The Mask Singer” in 2022 amounting to over $10K, when he appeared on the TV show, The Masked Singer while singing ‘Bad to the Bone.’ The Donald probably smirked dramatically over that telecast.

While Giuliani managed to raise over $700K from just 13 donors , per an FEC filing, to help with legal fees after the court ruling, he was left with about $180K cash on hand after settling a half-million dollars of his legal fees. Rudy has always insinuated that he has “insurance” against Trump when the need arises, so does he have the courage to actually pull that trigger, now that he is in such dire straits? He once referenced that he and Trump would go down together, spurring Trump to host a too-little-too-late fundraiser, but with this new bankruptcy filing, he is hoping those who have claims against him will now go after Trump. This is an unlikely scenario, since The Don is begging for Divine Intervention to bail him out. This can only become more complex! Poor Rudy laments that he failed to save for retirement, failing to apply for any benefits and foregoing the pension, and “giving back to the city I love…although I would like to take it now. I don’t know how to go about it.” Hire a competent attorney, Rudy!

On his show recently, Seth Meyers showed a snapshot of a stunned-looking Giuliani, comparing it to “the state of American politics right now.” But, “If we really wanted to accurately represent America in 2024, we’d replace the stars on the flag with Rudy’s eyes.” Adding, “Good luck sleeping tonight!”

But, take heart from cartoonist, Charles M. Schulz“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.”

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.

“Rain”

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.
~Dolly Parton

“Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder.” Swedish saying that means “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”
~ Gunilla

“Save a boyfriend for a rainy day – and another, in case it doesn’t rain”
~Mae West

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”
~Frank A. Clark

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Last week was West Coast Swing, this week it’s slam poetry! This young man, Demetri Manabat, is fantastic. This piece goes places you do not expect at first. Take a listen (for optimal clarity, turn on the subtitles!) and then go give him a follow.


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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