August 17 – 23, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Tribal gambling propositions, Peter Beagle reimbursed, KSQD interview, movie critiques, Here Now Live. GREENSITE…on light pollution: an updated entry from a year ago. KROHN…Political Heat, council seats, Keeley vs. Schendledecker, goodbye Becky Blythe. STEINBRUNER…County supes term limits, traffic impacts and developers, no fixing emergency routes, Davenport water source, World Bee Day. HAYES… caring about public land management. PATTON…Joshua Trees ad Climate Goals. MATLOCK… Grifting along with the raiders & spy vs. spy in history. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS’ pick of the week. QUOTES…”Heat Waves”

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ORIGINAL STICKY WICKET. October 6, 1958. This original Sticky Wicket was on Cathcart right off Pacific Avenue and was owned by Vic and Sid Jowers. Those stairs in the background led up to the second floor of where the “new” Catalyst is now. The Wicket later moved to Aptos and is mostly known as the birthplace of what became the Cabrillo Music Festival.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

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DATELINE August 15

THOSE TRIBAL GAMBLING CASINO PROPOSITIONS. We’ve been swamped with TV commercials featuring American Indian tribal members pushing their seemingly opposing views on props 26 and prop 27. I asked our former County Supervisor, column writer, site host at gapatton.net/ Gary Patton what he’s figured out about those props. Gary is one of the most trustworthy, knowledgeable political-minded people I’ve ever known. Gary not only gave his views on those two props but continued beyond. He stated…

“I did hunt down the qualified ballot measures, online. Here’s where you can find them:

Secretary of State Website
Ballotpedia (more information)

There will be two gambling measures on the ballot. Both would expand gambling opportunities in the state.

Proposition 26 would expand gambling opportunities in two kinds of physical locations: Indian casinos located on tribal lands; and on race tracks, in the four counties where such race tracks already exist. The new arena for gambling is “sports gaming.”

Proposition 27 would allow new gambling opportunities ONLINE, without any need for the gambler to go to any physical location. Again, “sports gaming” would be the new arena for gambling.

It appears that the existing tribal bands having casinos are against Proposition 27, since online gambling would be, essentially, a new business competitor.

The advocates of Proposition 27 say that 85% of the monies generated (after various expenses have been deducted) would go to an expansion of homeless and mental health assistance.

Both measures are pretty complicated, and I did not analyze them in detail.

Looks like the League of Women Voters does intend to provide recommendations, but I don’t see any yet: LWVC Ballot RecommendationsThe “Voters’ Edge” website, recommended by the LWV, is apparently where these recommendations will be found when they’re available.

Other Measures on the Ballot:

Proposition 28 would require a minimum source of annual funding for K-12 public schools, including charter schools, to fund arts education programs. The annual minimum amount established by the law would be equal to, at minimum, 1% of the total state and local revenues that local education agencies received under Proposition 98 (1988) during the prior fiscal year. The minimum under the proposed law would be in addition to the funding required by Proposition 98. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the ballot initiative would likely result in increased spending of $800 million to $1 billion each fiscal year.

Proposition 29 would enact staffing requirements, reporting requirements, ownership disclosure, and closing requirements for chronic dialysis clinics. – Supported by unions / opposed by the medical establishment.

Proposition 30 would increase the income tax by an additional 1.75% on income above $2 million for individuals. Income above $2 million for individuals is taxed at a rate of 13.3% in California. Revenue from the increased income tax would be appropriated into the Clean Cars and Clean Air Trust Fund (CCCATF). It would then be allocated to the following three sub-funds: Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Investment Plan Sub-Fund (35% of revenue), Zero-Emission Vehicle and Clean Mobility Sub-Fund (45% of revenue), and Wildfire Green House Gas Emissions Reduction Sub-Fund (20% of revenue). The sub-funds would fund zero-emission vehicles, charging stations, and infrastructure, as well as hiring and training firefighters

Proposition 31 is a referendum, which seeks to overturn Senate Bill 793 (SB 793), which was signed into law on August 28, 2020. SB 793 was designed to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products and tobacco product flavor enhancers, with exceptions for hookah tobacco, loose leaf tobacco, and premium cigars. Retailers would be fined $250 for each sale violating the law. A “yes” vote is to overturn the ban.

In terms of the sports gaming initiatives, I think, personally, I will likely be voting “NO” on both of them, since expanding gambling opportunities is not something I think is beneficial. For someone who thinks that gambling on “sports gaming” should be legalized, I tend to think that Proposition 26, tying gambling bets to the need actually to go to a specified physical location tends to be the best way to do it. However, let’s see what the analysis in the Voters’ Pamphlet shows, when that’s available, about what sort of monies would be generated for homeless and mental health support. Could be a lot (and a significant part of that coming from poorer people who can’t really afford to use their scare assets for gambling).

PETER BEAGLE IS ALIVE & WELL AND BEING REIMBURSED. One of our well-read readers sent me a note asking me if I knew Peter Beagle the author of The Last Unicorn. Sure I knew him and told her “Yes I knew him from our Friday night media group drinking gang.  Back in those days the Sentinel, Good Times, Pajaronian, authors, all hung together and went to the old then the new Catalyst, The Oak Room in the Cooperhouse, Santa Cruz Hotel Bar and grill etc. We were easy going, sharing, and happy. Peter also hung with Jim Houston, Morton Marcus, and genuine authors….well it turns out that Peter had been royally screwed out of his royalties from the Unicorn and other books. This article from the NY Times tells all about it. [paywall]  Folks new to Santa Cruz should know that Peter wrote of the Unicorn while he lived here. He also sang in a local pub, which surprised me.

MY KSQD INTERVIEW. Kind friends and relatives asked me if it’s possible to still hear the interview with me that Chris Krohn did last month on KSQD. Yes it’s available here…

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.

CODE NAME EMPEROR. (NETFLIX MOVIE) ( 6.0 IMDB). Luis Tosar a Spanish actor you’ll recognize leads this former cops and robber guy through some extremely delicate and illegal gang scenes in Madrid and beyond. For some believable reasons he gets into cocaine smuggling and dealing with big time killer mobs. Complex, believable and well done movie. Go for it.

THE SANDMAN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.8 IMDB) This comic book hero Dream also known as Morpheus from Neil Gaiman’s pen comes back from the dead in 1916 Britain and haunts and curses everybody from Berlin to modern day venues. Tom Sturridge plays Morpheus and if you like DC comics at their near best go for it. But only IF…

PERFUMES. (PRIME VIDEO) (6.6 IMDB). A woman who was a world famed perfume maker loses that ability. She regains that talent with help from a fellow middle aged guy who’s a taxi driver. It’s a fine and well executed film with tender and educational parts centering on what we can and can’t smell. Their relationship and being a well-made movie makes it very worthwhile watching.

BODIES BODIES BODIES. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (6.7 IMDB) Six young women (in their 20’s) decide to spend a few days and nights in a friend’s mansion. Along with cocaine, booze and increasing silliness they decide to play a “who kills them” game. So there’s murders and blood, and some very silly dialogue before we find out the truth….and you won’t be able to follow it any ways. Avoid this mess.

EMILY THE CRIMINAL. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.1 IMDB) Aubrey Plaza plays Emily and is becoming an excellent actress, whether being serious or into comedies. Emily has a student loan and needs more money to live and pay off her debts. She makes many decisions and gets deeply involved with phony big time credit card duplicators in Los Angeles. She makes friends with Theo Rossi who does a fine job as her mentor and friend. Fine exciting, fast paced movie…go for it.

NOBODY KNOWS I’M HERE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). A tender, unusual story of a young boy living in Chile who makes a hit record as a teen ager but then has huge issues and grows into a larger than life recluse. Slow pacing and barely average photography keep this from being a classic but it’ll make your troubles seem smaller. Go for it.

MINAMATA. (HULU MOVIE) (7.7 IMDB)  This should be required viewing for anyone concerned with industrial pollution. This true story has Johnny Depp as a Life Magazine photographer who forces his way to Japan to photograph the death and destruction caused by the Chisso Chemical plant that dumps its mercury filled waste into the local’s drinking water. Bill Nighy is the Life Magazine editor and does a memorable job. Don’t miss it.

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.

BULLET TRAIN. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.5 IMDB). This violent mess is billed as a comedy starring the 59 year old Brad Pitt. With zero to no background story there are five professional assassins on board Japan’s Bullet Train. For over two hours they work very hard to out bloody each other. Sandra Bullock and Michael Shannon make unnecessary guest appearances. The stabbings, chokings, murders, and almost continual bloody scenes aren’t anywhere as funny as director Leitch tries to force on us. I don’t need to watch any more violence than what I see every day in the media and you should skip this mess.

THIRTEEN LIVES. (PRIME MOVIE) (7.8 IMDB). Ron Howard directed this near documentary of the saving of 13 Thailand Soccer team who got trapped underwater in a cave. It is intense even though we know the outcome. Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell are the lead divers who supervise the rescue. More than 5000 people volunteered from 17 countries to aid the underwater return. It all took place in a tourist cave with railings, steps and the captain of the boys’ soccer team was the one who led the boys into the cave but saved them by human touches. Fine film, tense, claustrophobic, and well worth watching.

RECURRENCE. (or PIPA) (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.3 IMDB). There was a murder of a 15 year old girl at a party and the woman detective Pipa is bound by guilt and duty to find the murderer. It takes place in the Argentine and makes some points dealing with local Indian history. It’s slow, confusing and is actually the third film in the Pipa series. Don’t bother with this one.

THE 355. (PRIME MOVIE) (5.4 IMDB). Somebody invented a super hi tech iPhone looking thing that could change the world’s communication system. Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, and Lupita Nyong’o make up the dynamic action filled quartet that fly all over the world tracking down the thieves who stole that secret iPhone. It’s about these two secret agencies that compete in car chases, climbing tall buildings and keep extra secrets from us in this looney plot.

UNCOUPLED. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.0 IMDB). A very silly comedy about what rich, light weight gay white men do in New York City. Neil Patrick Harris leads the cast and he’s very gay and in a 17 year relationship. Marcia Gay Harden plays a very wealthy matron and manages to steal every scene she’s in. The movie contains only one gay male stereotype group and I’d imagine that less silly sex driven gays could seriously object to this farce.

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HIDDEN VALLEY STRING ORCHESTRA which is Sixteen of Northern California’s finest string players will perform without a conductor. Prepared under the direction of concertmaster, Roy Malan. Comprising sixteen of Northern California’s most talented and accomplished string players, the String Orchestra of Hidden Valley debuted to acclaim in November 2014. Lyn Bronson of Peninsula Reviews said of the String Orchestra’s debut, “A gorgeous performance. Every section . . . a perfect jewel.” Featuring works by Richard Wagner, Efrem Zimbalist, Jean Françaix, Germain Tailleferre, Wiliam Grant Still, and Frank Bridge in Santa Cruz Sunday September 11th at 4:00 p.m. at Peace United Church 900 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Go here for more info…

SANTA CRUZ ACTORS’ THEATRE & “8 Tens at 8” NEWS. Andre Neu activist and eager arts enthusiast sent this news.” As an active theatre-goer, I figured you’d be interested in hearing that Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre is doing a “reboot” of its “8 Tens at 8” series in early September. After Wilma Marcus Chandler and Andrew Cagllio resigned earlier this year, the company regrouped and has come together to stage what was to go forth before COVID struck. The new company, headed by Suzanne Schrag, includes quite a few familiar theater folks and seems pretty secure in what they’re doing, Andre.

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August 15

A GLARING EXAMPLE

Rarely does a bank get singled out for praise but praise is due to the US Bank Branch at 110 N. Morrissey Blvd. When a member of the International Dark-sky Association (IDA), Santa Cruz Chapter (of which I am a member) brought to the bank’s attention the light pollution blasting from the numerous Wall Pack lights on the bank’s periphery, they were eventually replaced with properly shielded, amber lights and the difference is evident in the before and after photos below.


© Andy Kreyche: IDA Santa Cruz

© Andy Kreyche: IDA Santa Cruz

Eliminating light pollution is not simply an aesthetic preference. It is increasingly recognized as a significant source of human sleep deprivation; human health problems documented by the AMA; a disruptor of avian migration; a killer of migratory birds; a cause of the rapid decline in insect populations as well as negatively affecting the life cycles of plants. To quote from the IDA website which is an excellent resource for learning about light pollution:

“For billions of years, all life has relied on Earth’s predictable rhythm of day and night. It’s encoded in the DNA of all plants and animals. Humans have radically disrupted this cycle by lighting up the night. Plants and animals depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark rhythm to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, sleep, and protection from predators. Scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night has negative and deadly effects on many creatures including amphibians, birds, mammals, insects, and plants.”

Not only does light pollution negatively impact all life, in less than 100 years, the bright starry night sky including our own galaxy, which was previously visible with the naked eye, has been lost to over 99% of people in the USA and Northern Europe. This brightening of the night sky with artificial light is termed “skyglow.” For today’s children it essentially is the night sky; featureless, with a yellowish glow that never really gets dark.

The good news is that it is one of the easiest pollutions to fix and reverse. Just turn off the switch! Of course, nothing involving humans is ever easy.

We are conditioned to believe that light equals safety so many feel the more light the better. Perhaps there is an evolutionary sense of safety around a night fire, but we have gone too far in that direction in trying to erase all darkness. Corporate interests capitalize on light to display and persuade. Poorer communities are often the most impacted by light pollution, but globally it is largely a product of greater affluence.

As documented on the IDA website, overly bright lights, especially LEDs and especially in the cool color (white) temperature range, if not properly shielded, make it difficult to see at night due to the glare. They create adjacent deep shadows where a person with bad intentions can hide. Forty years ago, as a new staff member at UCSC and in charge of Rape Prevention Education, I intervened to dissuade the administration from changing the lights in the small wooden bus shelters from the warm low wattage to a bright, glaring alternative. The logic was obvious to me. A brightly lit person in a bus shelter is an easier target for someone to evaluate and surprise. The person in the bus shelter cannot see out into the darkness due to overly bright lights within. I was successful and the lights were not changed, at least during my 30 years, nor were there any reports of attacks on women at night while waiting at bus shelters.  Much of the education I did with new students was to reassure them that the dark woods and softly lit paths on campus were not the sites of sexual assaults. Those sites were parties, usually well lit, loud, and populated. It was difficult to overcome the myths associated with the dark and that hasn’t changed. What has changed is far more light pollution emanating from the City on a Hill, something that IDA Santa Cruz is trying to address. With the return of students will come the return in winter of the rugby field lights that create a massive source of glare for the town and can be seen from 4 miles south along Highway 1. UCSC’s motto of Fiat Lux: Let There Be Light should not extend beyond the metaphor of learning and education.

There are many examples of light pollution in the city of Santa Cruz and far more skyglow than in previous decades. Car lots, ball fields, bridge lights, businesses, private homes, even city hall are all sources. This, even though the city’s General Plan mandates the city take steps to reduce light pollution and create a Dark-Sky Ordinance. Other cities have adopted such ordinances with good effect. We need to catch up.

Hopefully there is light (well-shielded) at the end of the tunnel. IDA Santa Cruz recently worked with city Public Works to ensure that the new lights being installed on both sides of the San Lorenzo River levee north of Water Street, which currently has no lights, be properly shielded, of warmer color temperature and equipped with adaptive controls. While not everything we suggested was adopted, some progress was achieved. IDA also urged the city to address the bridge lights over the San Lorenzo where glare spilled over into the river, affecting salmonids and other river life. The city has installed a temporary fix that has helped the river however glare onto the roads affecting night driving is still a problem.

Rather than community members taking on one source of light pollution at a time, much more progress could be made if the city council adopted a model Dark-sky Ordinance and enforced it. If you would like to get more involved, or share a light pollution example, or find out how to get the city to better shield your streetlight, you can reach IDA Santa Cruz at:   santacruzdarksky.org/

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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August 15

SANTA CRUZ POLITICAL HEAT

  It’s only August, but several campaigns are rolling

Warm

There’s two city council seats up for a vote this November. They are for districts 4 and 6. In the old days you could vote for both seats, but now you can only vote for one city councilmember who represents your district. Most Santa Cruz city voters will not be voting for any council candidate this year since the city council 5-2 majority—Kalantari-Johnson, Golder, Meyers, Bruner, and Watkins—rammed through a six-district, direct election of mayor scheme this past year. Yep, now we have districts and only a handful of candidates are running. Normally, voters would be able to choose three councilmembers. The window to register as a candidate closes this Thursday (8/18) for District 4. It was extended because Justin Cummings is not running again. So far, only two candidates are running in District 6, incumbent Renee Golder will be up against Planning Commissioner Sean Maxwell. There are four candidates running in District 4—suit and tie UCSC Lecturer Scott Newsome who has practically no digital footprint I could find, Steve Jobs-wannabe Gregory Hyer, UCSC student Bodie Shargel, and just graduated UCSC alum, Hector Marin. (Latest news as of this going to print is that Joe Thompson decided not to run in District 6.) It seems like one or two more candidates may enter the race before the deadline, but I am not holding my breath. This district election scenario appears to have caught many would-be candidates off-guard. Practically no one I’ve spoken with can actually name the district they reside in.

Heat

Fred Keeley vs. Joy Schendledecker. Before you say, ‘Joy who?’ maybe take a step back and look at what is occurring in our town. Go to the Santa Cruz city Planning Department website to see what those in charge–developers and real estate industry insiders–and those who are pushing their products of greed–5-member council majority, Economic Development Director Bonnie Lipscomb, and Planning Director Lee Butler—have in store for us rank and file Santa Cruzans. My guess is that the status quo was not doing so well with the mayoral years of Watkins-Meyers-Bruner, so those same real estate and developer entrepreneurs have upped their game and are seeking to install an elected mayor to, well, administrate the 1000-2000 mostly market-rate housing units planned by Lipscomb and Butler, and also to get that Warriors arena built with a couple hundred condos to boot. Their man, in Santa Cruz, appears to be Fred Keeley.

Fire

Fred is saying all the right things in helping move more rapidly that ‘build-baby-build’ agenda. Now enter artist, mom, and community activist, Joy Schendledecker and if you have had enough with those get-rich-quick titans of real estate, you will get a warm and fuzzy feeling that finally there is someone to push back on the realtor agenda, and she’s got the luck name, JOY, to go along with an agenda of compassion, social justice, affordable housing, and better-paying jobs. “Go Joy!,” you might hear yourself spontaneously murmuring over the coming months. Next question, who is Joy? Well, go to her website and find out. Joy, by not being a friend of real estate and developer interests is an absolute amigo, cuate, companera, and champion to the teachers, renters, students, and all the hard working folks, you know, “the essential workers,” who make this town go, make it what it is—a surf mecca, environmental show piece, artsy village, and student home…you know, the bulk of the voters in this town. There could not be clearer, cleaner, and more principled differences between two candidates for the same office, and yes, there are only two running for mayor. You decide, Joy or Fred?

Their Positions

Okay, I am going to go out on a limb here and make some predictions about where these mayoral candidates come down on the critical issues facing Santa Cruz. Some of these positions are known, because each candidate has stated a position publicly, or in some cases, they are what I have been able to glean from their years in the public spotlight and the company they keep.

                                     

Burning Santa Cruz Issue: Joy: Fred:
Empty Homes Tax Strong supporter Not public yet. Likely opposes.
Our Downtown, Our Future SUPPORTS Not public yet. Likely opposes.
205 Units under construction Laurel & Pacific, with no affordable units Did NOT Support Likely supports market unit building
Over-sized Vehicle Ord. Supports over-turning Work to over-turn? Unlikely.
Cruz Hotel on credit union site at Front & Laurel Does NOT support Supports. 
“density bonus” law that yields less actual affordable housing Does NOT support Likely supports
Car-free Pacific Avenue SUPPORTS ???
Economic sanctions against UCSC for taking on more students without providing resources to support them Likely supports Likely does not support
Further Gentrification of SC Does NOT support Supports
Living wage for SC workers SUPPORTS ???
Cut bloated salaries of City Manager and dept. heads SUPPORTS ???

“It should go without saying that a right to an abortion should never be up for a vote but now that the Supreme Court ensured that it is, they will reap what they sow. This should be the defining issue of the midterms. It’s past time for Dems to stop cowering on abortion.” (Aug. 2)

Postscript

I just found out today (8/15) that a dear friend of the progressive community, Becky Blythe, passed away in early June after a four-year battle with cancer. I have limited information, and if you have more, please let me know (ckrohn@cruzio.com). Becky ran Keith Sugar’s successful city council campaign in 1998 and later was on the executive board of the Santa Cruz Action Network (SCAN). She worked for many years as a farm certification review specialist at CCOF, California Certified Organic Farmers. Becky loved music and art and theater and she will be greatly missed in this community. She was 66, according to a mutual friend.


Starbucks’ workers staged a successful 3-day strike against the coffee giant at the Water and Ocean store for failing to negotiate a contract…”No Contract, No Coffee” was the chant of the day.

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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August 13

COUNTY SUPERVISORS REJECTED PROPOSED TERM LIMITS OF THEIR JOBS

Last Tuesday, Supervisor Greg Caput tried to get fellow County Board of Supervisors to schedule a Special Meeting and place an initiative on November’s ballot that would allow voters to decide if they want to limit terms of their Supervisors to three consecutive terms.

All four fellow Board members rejected the idea.

“We just don’t historically have a problem with that in this County,” said Supervisor Zach Friend, who is now completing his third consecutive four-year term.  “I am not available on Thursday at 4pm for the Special Meeting,” said Supervisor Bruce McPherson, who is also now completing his third consecutive four-year term.  “This action is just coming too fast,” he added.

Supervisor Caput explained that he had asked County Counsel Jason Heath to bring it forward earlier, but was told there was “just too much on the agenda”, with CORE and the Budget.  That is why he had to bring it to the first meeting in August after everyone returned from vacation for the entire month of July and required to ask for a Virtual Special Meeting in order to meet the August 12 deadline to get the initiative on the November ballot.    Hmmmmm……

There are 12 Counties in California that do have term limits on their District Supervisors.  Supervisor Caput felt it was important to bring in fresh ideas and energy to the Board, and recognized that incumbents always have an advantage at the polls in name recognition and fund raising.

Supervisor Caput made the motion to approve a maximum of three consecutive terms, and to place the action on the ballot at some point in the future (addressing the “rushed” comment by Supervisor McPherson).  The room was silent for an uncomfortable length of time until Chair Manu Koenig seconded the motion “for the sake of discussion”.  There was no further discussion.  All but Supervisor Caput voted NO.

Outside in the hallway after the meeting adjourned, I saw Supervisor McPherson.  “I think that would have been a good thing,” I said, referring to the just-ended discussion.  “I got termed out at the State, that’s why I’m here,” he replied, and ducked into his newly-remodeled office.

I later wrote Supervisor Zach Friend, requesting he send the link to the information he cited in his testimony as to why he felt protecting unlimited Supervisor jobs from term limits was not an historic problem here.  He has not responded….I wonder if he will?

With the exception of Supervisor Greg Caput, it seemed that the Supervisors were more concerned about protecting their own jobs than any forward-thinking to benefit the County residents with action to encourage new ideas and fresh energy in policy making and budget oversight.   Well, you know those Supervisors and their staff are always quick to say….“Change is hard” when we speak out in opposition to monstrous developments, such as the Aptos Village Project.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON…

Last week, the link to the August 9 County Board of Supervisor agenda was broken, prohibiting public access to the agenda and all associated documentation the entire day before the meeting occurred.  Some people wrote the Board Clerk and Chairman to alert them to this problem.

The link to the agenda was finally repaired at 7:51pm the night before the meeting.

At the beginning of the 9am Tuesday Board meeting, the Clerk announced that there were still problems with the public access platform, and that access via computer was not working, but that people could call in on the telephone.  It was not made clear how people prevented from accessing the meeting online would know that.

The meeting proceeded, with few members of the public participating and many important issues discussed by the Board (eg, Report on Response to Homelessness) or hidden in the Consent Agenda.

I had attempted to enter written comment on the agenda portal, but it required a new password to do so.  I requested the ability to get a new password but never received any e-mail notification associated that would enable me to do so.  Hence, I could contribute no written public comments on agenda items.

I stated these problems publicly to the Board when I went in person to their 9am Tuesday meeting.  No Supervisor or staff responded.

DEVELOPER TRAFFIC IMPACTS COULD BE MITIGATED ANYWHERE

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved a Consent Agenda item that will now allow developers who are required to mitigate the traffic their projects would cause to implement those mitigations anywhere in the County…maybe regionally.  Does that make sense to you?

This can all be judged acceptable (on paper) because the County now measures traffic impacts by “Vehicle Miles Travelled”, no longer assessing “Level of Service” at nearby affected roadways and intersections.  This comes on a change issued by the State to assess the overall carbon footprint of the impact, and allows for mitigations to be done on a broader basis.

An environmental mitigation example of this happened last year when mitigations for destroying riparian areas along Highway One widening were allowed to be done on the hilltop above Anna Jean Cummings Park in Soquel.

Now the County will expand that to include traffic mitigations that can be done regionally, and Kimley-Horn consultants will now develop a plan for doing so.

Take a look at Item #34 on August 9 Board of Supervisor consent agenda:

DOC-2022-671 Approve consultant contract in the amount of $283,747 to develop the Santa Cruz County Regional Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) Mitigation Program and adopt resolution accepting unanticipated revenue in the amount of $448,000, and take rela

Contact the Board with your thoughts

County Board of Supervisors boardofsupervisors@santacruzcounty.us   or call 831-454-2200 and ask to speak with your Supervisor.  Not sure who he is?   Check here.

NO EMERGENCY ROUTES IN THE COUNTY WILL GET FIXED THIS YEAR

Last Tuesday, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors blindly rubberstamped action that canceled all work on track to improve the emergency routes in our communities because the lowest bid exceeded the County Engineer’s estimate by about $400,000, requiring the County to match more than an anticipated $51,386 in staff time as part of a grant award of $396,614 to improve public safety.

Given the importance of repairing and maintaining our main emergency routes, don’t you think that CAO Carlos Palacios could have come up with a way to fund that and get the work done this year before the price of oil goes any higher?

Take a look at Consent Agenda item #41

Please contact your Supervisors with your thoughts.

NEW MEASURE D MASTER AGREEMENT WITH RTC FOR SURFACE STREET REPAIRS

Also buried in the Consent Agenda of last Tuesday’s County Board of Supervisors in Item #49 was this:

On November 8, 2016, Santa Cruz County voters passed Measure D, a one-half cent sales tax that funds transportation projects for 30 years.  Subsequently, on June 27, 2017, the Board approved the Master Funding Agreement between the County of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC).  This agreement expired on June 30, 2022.  

The Board’s action extends the agreement to December 31, 2047.

Financial Impact

The County’s anticipation of revenue of Measure D funds

as represented in the Proposed FY2022-23 Road Fund budget is $3,668,209.

NO PURPLE PIPE IN DAVENPORT FOR RECYCLED WATER USE

Last Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from Ms. Ashleigh Trujillo of Public Works about increasing the cost of potable water and for the first time, offering bulk recycled water to be available for sale in Davenport.

I was surprised to learn there is no purple pipe to take the recycled water for local irrigation use by area farmers.

Ms. Trujillo said the farmers were initially interested, but the farmer on the inland side and adjacent to the Recycled Water plant has now decided not to farm the land any longer.  She said the County had actually put a pipe stub under Highway One so that the farmer (who leases the land from State Parks) could finish the piping and install a pump in order to irrigate with the recycled water, she said he now has no interest because it would cost $50,000-$80,000.

Do you have any thoughts about this?  I suggested that there are likely many State grants available for recycled water projects. While the price for recycled water that people can purchase at the Davenport Recycled Water facility to haul away is lower than the price of potable water, I question why there is a charge at all.

Scotts Valley City provides any City resident 250/day

FREE recycled water for irrigation to encourage conservation of potable water.

I mentioned this during public comment on the Item #8 public hearing, but no one responded.

I spoke briefly in the hallway with Ms. Trujillo about the project, and she agreed to send me further information about the water quality, regarding Title 22 Recycled Water compliance testing and data.

Just how much water does this relatively new Recycled Water Facility in Davenport create?  Here is information that Ms. Trujillo kindly provided, answering that question:

  • When the storage pond is full, 3.87 acre-feet of water is available for withdraw
  • When the storage pond is full there is additional recycled water available from the plant, as it is produced.  The amount available is dependent on the amount of wastewater coming into the plant.  Some of the recycled water flow has to be diverted to the Red-Legged Frog habitat that we were conditioned to create as part of the project (adjacent to the water treatment plant).  As it is hard to know how much recycled water will be produced, and how much will need to be diverted to the frog pond (since evaporation and percolation vary at different times of the year), we cannot guarantee a specific quantity of recycled water available.  However, for comparison sake, in 2021 the recycled water plant produced 28.97 acre-feet of water, and 0.05 acre-feet was diverted to the frog swale.  If the pond were full, this would leave 28.9 acre-feet of recycled water to be used for agricultural (or other uses).  As flows are higher in the wet season, there would be more recycled water available during periods when farmers would not need it, and less available when they would need it.

Learn more about why the County thought the Davenport Recycled Water Project felt this was a feasible project in 2015

WILL SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT BUILD A DAM ON THE 200 ACRES THEY PURCHASED FOR THAT PURPOSE?

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a Plan to financially support new water supply projects that include upgrading existing dams in the State and building new ones to allow for capturing more stormwater when it is available.

Soquel Creek Water District purchased nearly 200 acres of land from the City of Scotts Valley decades ago.  The District holds an “In trust” water right of 7,250 acre feet per annum. 

That is nearly five times the amount of water the District’s ridiculously expensive, energy and technology-intensive PureWater Soquel Project will produce.

Water Rights to Soquel Creek have been adjudicated

Every year, the District Board reviews this land as “excess property” owned by the District, yet makes no effort to sell the land and recover the purchase cost.

Take a look at page 27-28 in this 2012 Soquel Creek Water District Technical Memo

Do you think it is a good idea to capture stormwater in wet years to help augment local water supplies?

Write the District Board of Directors

WORLD BEE DAY THIS SATURDAY…EXTRAORDINARY FILM AT LA SELVA BEACH LIBRARY

This Saturday (8/20) is World Bee Day, celebrating the importance of pollinators in our environment.  The Santa Cruz Public Library will host a free screening at the La Selva Beach Branch Library of an amazing film about backyard garden bees.

See bees like you’ve never seen them before in the PBS Nature documentary, “My Garden of a Thousand Bees”.

Locked down during the coronavirus pandemic, acclaimed wildlife filmmaker Martin Dohrn set out to record all the bee species in his tiny urban garden in Bristol, England. Filming with one-of-a-kind lenses he forged at his kitchen table, he catalogues more than 60 different species, from Britain’s largest bumblebees to scissor bees the size of mosquitoes. Over long months, Dohrn observes how differences in behavior set different species apart. He, eventually, gets so close to the bees he can identify individuals by sight, documenting life at their level as we have never seen it before.

After the film, there will be time for discussion.

Date: Saturday, August 20, 2022
Time: 10:30-12:00pm.
Branch: La Selva Beach

Write one letter. Make one call.  Go see a good film and plant something in your garden to support pollinators. Make a big difference this week, and just do 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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August 14

CARING ABOUT PUBLIC LAND MANAGEMENT

What’s going on with public land management around you, and what are you doing about it?

Most citizens of the U.S.A. state that they want healthy wildlife populations and clean water for their communities and for future generations to enjoy. And yet, repeated surveys of Santa Cruz County residents suggest declining efforts to learn about wildlife so that individuals could take action to protect assure wildlife conservation. We can see this decline also reflected in our activism and politics.

When was the last time you heard about an environmental activist group taking a stand to protect local wildlife? Which politician can you name that had environmental conservation as a major portion of their platforms? Have you looked at the agendas or minutes from Santa Cruz County’s Commission on the Environment or Fish and Game Commission – both advisory bodies to County Supervisors?

I challenge you to find any evidence of solicited or unsolicited advice to the Supervisors. In short, our County, at the top of the nation’s biodiverse counties, is effectively asleep while their precious natural heritage is being rapidly eroded by neglect. I frequently hear how much Santa Cruzans appreciate the wildlife, the open space, and the natural beauty of this area. If we take these things for granted and do not make efforts to be involved with conservation, I think we know what will happen to these values: they will decline, whither, and disappear altogether with time. It is time to make a shift, and the shift is best focused on our public lands management.

One of the most important things we can do as citizens of this county is to be involved with the management of the public lands around us. There are many ways to be involved in wildlife conservation on public lands throughout the region: volunteering for stewardship, rallying political support for increased conservation on public lands, and supporting environmental conservation organizations. There are three main threats facing nature conservation public lands: changed disturbance regimes, invasive species, and poor management of visitor use. I discuss each briefly in the following and present ways that you might be involved in solution for improved public lands management.

With climate change and increased development encroachment on natural areas, natural disturbance regimes, such as fire and grazing, are rapidly changing and present a high degree of danger to nature conservation. With climate change, fires are expected to be more frequent and more severe; this is exacerbated by increased human interactions at the Wildland Urban Interface where accidental fires more frequently occur. Likewise, we have removed tule elk and pronghorn and it is becoming increasingly difficult for natural areas managers to use livestock to mimic natural grazing regimes. With both fire and grazing, public lands managers need more public funding to increase their ability to manage natural systems. There needs to be more public outcry and support for both funding and expertise within those agencies to improve lands management. Those kinds of support are also important for invasive species management. A different kind of support is needed for better management of natural areas in the face of poor visitor use management.

Badly managed visitor use in natural areas is a major cause of concern globally for nature conservation, and locally this seems to be nearly entirely ignored. The most glaring evidence that this is a problem is the nearly ubiquitous and unquestioned philosophy that increased access to natural areas is an important goal for nature conservation. Look carefully around our local parks agencies and you’ll also notice that there are no personnel trained at managing the conflict between nature conservation and visitor use, the field of study necessary to assure nature conservation in parks.

The most recent planning effort for visitor use in a public park was with the BLM’s Cotoni Coast Dairies property, a real disaster in public process with recreational infrastructure development proceeding apace despite an active and unsettled legal appeal by a very small of citizens who have seen too little community support. Of the many larger, environmental groups in the area, only the Sempervirens Fund has offered publicly stated concern“Important details remain to be determined and we look forward to working with BLM to resolve them.” For the grave impacts to nature from visitor use in natural areas, there seems to me to be a need for a fundamental shift in both public perception and in the public lands management agencies to better recognize and address this issue. The following section outlines some actions you can take to help this process forward.

There are many ways, big and small, for you to be more involved with the paradigm shift needed to better address the serious issues surrounding visitor use management in natural areas. First and foremost, many more of us should become educated about the science documenting the concerns and how those concerns are addressed through social and environmental carrying capacity analysis and adaptive management. Social carrying capacity analyses define the limits of acceptable change from visitor use conflicts: conflicts between different types of uses (for instance, mountain bikers vs. passive recreational use of families with children) or conflicts due to overcrowding. Ecological carrying capacity analyses define the limits of acceptable change for soils, biota, or other natural phenomenon (for instance, amounts of trail erosion, wildlife such as cougars that are easily disrupted by visitors).

Another thing we can do to help the situation of poor visitor use management in our parks is to advocate for improvement. We should tune our senses to notice negative impacts of visitor use and then aim our activism towards change: make formal reports of issues to natural area managers, follow up on those reports, and also message higher level administration, commissions overseeing those agencies, and politicians who are invested in agency oversight. Persistence will help. Let’s also vote for politicians who promise to help. And, let’s support environmental groups who promise to work on these issues. Finally, many more people who care about these issues need to be involved with public lands management planning. Currently, mainly exploitive and well-funded non-passive recreational users are organized and vocal during these processes (i.e., Outdoor Industry Association funded groups like mountain biking advocates). Meanwhile, traditional conservation groups like the Sierra Club and Audubon Society have shied away from such issues due to either controversy or co-option. We need a new group or need to sway old groups to take these issues on.

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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August 15

#228 / Joshua Trees And Climate Goals

I have to confess that I was pretty offended after reading a recent column in Cal Matters, an online political newspaper that has what I would consider to be a generally “conservative” bent.

A Cal Matters “guest commentary” by Ethan Elkind, entitled, “Joshua tree protection could slow state’s progress on climate goals,” suggests that California needs to “pave the desert” with solar energy facilities, to stave off global warming, and that this needs to be the state’s first and highest priority. Efforts to protect and preserve those damn Joshua Trees are really getting in the way of this beneficial effort, according to Elkind.

How ironic, I thought, as I read the article, since global warming is one of the main reasons that the Western Joshua Tree is in danger of extinction. “Developers,” of course, are also highly implicated in the adverse conditions affecting the future of the Western Joshua Tree, as those developers cut the trees down in connection with new subdivisions and other projects. Still, the Elkind analysis reminded me of that “we need to destroy the village in order to save it” approach that worked out so well in Vietnam!

Elkind’s main thesis is that it is essential to maximize new solar energy development, and he posits that we need lots of desert land for solar collectors – land where sun is abundant and there aren’t any competing human uses. This is, by the way, a position that is endorsed by the big public utilities – those massive private corporations that do that kind of thing. According to Elkind, we need to eliminate any constraints on big energy corporations that might be related to allowing endangered species to survive. Proposed efforts to save the Western Joshua Tree are “excessive,” the way Elkind sees it. He doesn’t think that the trees are that threatened, anyway.

Elkind is an attorney who directs the climate program at the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley Law, and I have made favorable mention of him before. The job he holds undoubtedly helps explains his willingness to sacrifice endangered species for more solar energy facilities. I’d like to think, though, that Elkind’s employer might insist that all the words in the Center’s name have equal dignity, and that “Energy” isn’t any more important than “the Environment,” even though “Energy” is listed first.

Is there a way to combat global warming without sacrificing desert species? I think there probably is, but the first essential step is to make a commitment to protecting the endangered species. Then, having established that we are going to protect endangered species, we need to formulate our plans with that constraint in mind.

I think we can do it. Two things strike me.

First, the Elkind-endorsed approach takes for granted that we need to build extensive new energy production facilities (solar, of course) to replace the energy now produced by fossil fuel combustion. To some degree, it is obviously true that we do need new energy production facilities that will produce energy from non-fossil fuel sources. But what Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute used to call “nega-Watts” is another way of getting to where we need to go. Energy “conservation,” in other words, is an alternative (and non-impactful) way to “produce” the energy we need, as we eliminate current fossil fuel generating plants. Before we start paving over the desert with facilities that look like the ones pictured below, let’s put a vigorous energy conservation program in place that will allow us to save desert habitat by maximizing conservation. We’re not doing nearly enough on that front.


Second, if we need to increase new solar energy production, let’s start by installing those new solar energy facilities on already-existing structures, and on infill sites – not on endangered desert habitats. I have already written about efforts along those lines, and there is a lot more we can do:

Only when we have done the two things I suggest above should we contemplate bulldozing our sensitive desert habitats. We haven’t maximized conservation, and we have not utilized already developed properties as the location for new solar energy generating facilities. Elkind’s brief article doesn’t even attempt to convince readers that we have done those things. He jumps immediately to the “easy thing,” proposing to take some non-developed land, and put new development all over it. Isn’t that the way it always seems to go, as Joni Mitchell’s song about that “Big Yellow Taxi” reminds us? And isn’t Mitchell right, too, as she continues to tell us, “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

Wipe out what’s there and put up something new! That is how “development” has been done, from time immemorial. That is not what a Center for Energy AND The Environment should be advocating.

I confess, I got irritated when I read that Cal Matters article. I confess that I am getting tired of hearing arguments that more environmental destruction is the way to cure the problems of the environmental destruction that we are already causing by our failure to respect the limitations of the Natural World. Our past efforts – often so well-intentioned – are putting hundreds of thousands of species in danger of extinction.

The Western Joshua Tree is on that list. We are, too – make no mistake. So, let’s have a little fellow feeling for the Joshua Trees! Their fate, and our, are intertwined.

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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August 15

GRIFTING ALONG WITH THE RAIDERS & SPY VS. SPY IN HISTORY

This past week provided plenty of entertainment with the bombshell news of the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-A-Lago mansion – announced by the EXPOTUS Rex himself on his very own Truth Social site. His ‘poor-me’ appeal to his supporters claimed that “my beautiful, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.” He probably wanted to throw grenades, smoke bombs and flame throwers into the mix of charges, but was likely held back by his supple-fingered keepers. He went on to say, “Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before. After working and cooperating with the relevant Government agencies, this unannounced raid on my home was not necessary or appropriate.” He fails to mention that the Feds had been working with him and his underlings for months to recover materials after a tipster ratted on him about a treasure trove of boxes stolen during his White House flight in January 2020. An FBI visit to the club in June resulted in a subpoena for recovery of the boxes, cautioning Trump to better secure the remaining items. It turned out that twelve MORE boxes were retrieved last week, even after fifteen were voluntarily surrendered in January of this year to the National Archives and Records Administration. The Don rattled on with, “It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024. Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries.” In other words, “shit-hole” countries as he characterized them during his reign. “Sadly, America has now become one of those countries, corrupt at a level not seen before. They even broke into my safe!” Reportedly, it was a cheap, hotel-type safe which the agents broke into with a convenient McDonald’s toothpick and a couple of bent paper clips.

Butternut Bozo had to be in ecstasy that he could bring Hillary Clinton into his diatribe, claiming that she was allowed to delete and acid-wash 33,000 emails AFTER they were subpoenaed by Congress, and even took antique furniture and other items from the White House. Crooked Hillary wasn’t held accountable for anything! Lock her up, lock her up! While the FBI had chosen to pursue document recovery quietly, out of respect for the former president, Captain Chaos chose to take to his soapbox to inform his minions that the enemy was at the gate! Needless to say, this instigated chatter within the Trumpy underground that it was time to lock and load, with the Republican pols indignantly demanding answers about the warrant and the resulting search. Attorney GeneralSpeak softly and carry a big stick of dynamite’ Garland was quick to answer in defense of the action, while standing up for his agents, explaining that Trump had copies of the warrant and receipts, which he could legally disclose at his discretion – so put up or shut up! Even with that challenge to DJT, Garland asked the judge in the case to make the documents public to settle any misgivings held by doubters, and to head off trouble.

The judge agreed to do so, with Trump’s statement, “Encouraging the immediate release of those documents.” Now, our Man of Steal has Egg McMuffin on his face, dripping down his red tie onto his Brioni suit, and into his cloven-hooved-hiding custom oxford shoes. Not only does the warrant authorizing the raid indicate a federal investigation is ongoing into potential crimes, the resultant recovery of documents provides a clear picture of how the search originated, in both size and scope of the seizure. Investigation of potential violations of the Espionage Act, which states that, an official entrusted with sensitive or classified information who allows it to be taken away from its secure location through ‘gross negligence’ or who knows it’s been removed from safety and doesn’t report such to federal officials can be fined or imprisoned for up to ten years. An inquiry into possible improper removal or destruction of federal records, and obstruction of a federal investigation are also suggested.

The receipt of items removed from Mar-A-Lago, shows eleven sets of documents, including items related to French President Macron, handwritten notes, photos, and TOP SECRET materials. The Washington Post reported that classified nuclear documents may be among those recovered, concerning because of allies and adversaries who have access to the golf club housed in the same building. Receipts are available for viewing online, and it is startling to scan the list of items that Trump absconded with for himself, either to accompany him back to the White House for a second-term, or for profit. Do we know how many secrets are already in the hands of Putin or Prince Mohammed bin Salman? How was son-in-law Jared Kushner able to easily get a two-billion dollar investment into his business by the Prince, six months after the Trump presidency ended? Nuclear Codes R-US!

It should be noted that Trump’s lawyer, Christina Bobb, was present during the search, and the Secret Service detail at Mar-A-Lago had been notified of the impending search earlier to facilitate access to the property, but did not participate in any way. The ex-prez spends his summers at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and was not present during the FBI visit; but he and his hangers-on declared it to be politically motivated, though the Biden White House had no knowledge of the action. As word spread of the activity at Mar-A-Lago, cars of Trump supporters assembled in the streets nearby, sporting ‘Trump 2020’ banners, and American flags, all of whom were outnumbered by media personnel and their cameras and mics.

Benedict Donald allowed that the invasion of his property was simply more “Russia, Russia, Russia” which will all bounce off his teflon suit in due time. However, Russians were outraged at the raid against their favorite American president, “Trumpushka”, and called out for an offer of asylum, while the broadcast of ‘The Evening with Vladimir Solovyov’ praised the recent CPAC participants in Texas, and other Trump allies. On Russian-state TV program, ’60 Minutes’, military expert Igor Korotchenko sounded a plea for open support of a 2024 Trump candidacy. Kremlin propagandists predicted that such persecution will spark a U.S. civil war “against this symbol of inordinate despotism”, as they claim that ‘one hundred FBI agents and hordes of police dogs rummaged through Mar-A-Lago’. ’60 Minutes’ host, Evgeny Popov, also a deputy of Russia’s State Duma, joked that agents found a couple of matryoshka, Putin’s portrait, a pioneer scarf, two icons, a parachute, and a chained bear with balalaika…humorous to somebody? Popov accuses Biden of turning America into Ukraine, and predicts that Florida will split from the U.S., and that a newly reelected Trump will have a new constitution stating that there are only two genders: male and female. Russian TV correspondent, Valentin Bogdanov, stationed in New York City says, ‘The civil war is already underway in the United States. For now, this is a cold civil war, but it keeps heating up.” Oddly enough, in 2028 Trump amended the very law which could signal his final downfall. A bill signed in January of that year had a provision which increased the punishment for knowingly removing classified materials with the intent to retain them at an ‘unauthorized location.’ Prior to his signature, someone found guilty of this crime could face up to one year in prison; now, a person found guilty of this felony-level offense can face up to five years imprisonment.

As reported by Jon Schwarz in The Intercept, there is a parallel to Trump’s conduct: as LBJ’s presidency ended in 1969, to be succeeded by Nixon, Johnson ordered an underling to surreptitiously take highly classified material with him on the way out. Anti-war protests across the country and around the world were intense, and polls showed Americans now believed troops in Vietnam was a disastrous mistake, with the loss of life on both sides, and the expense of the effort to contain China. Consequently, LBJ chose not to launch a campaign to remain president, also believing that a peace agreement could be reached which would bolster a Humphrey candidacy. Nixon did everything in his power behind the scenes to see that peace was not in the cards to boost his own desirability as a candidate. Johnson’s national security adviser, Walt Rostow, got wind of Nixon’s meddling to block any discussion of peace, but the LBJ administration decided to do nothing, even after FBI surveillance, to reveal the underhanded workings against peace, thinking that should Nixon win the presidency this interference would reflect badly on an incoming administration and against the country’s interests. Upon Nixon’s victory, Rostow gathered up the incendiary documentation of Nixon’s treachery and at LBJ’s request, had him hold it personally. Since no laws governed that type of conduct, it was in a sense ‘legal’, but most who knew of the events viewed it as scandalous. As Dean Rusk explained, revealing the information “would be very unwise. I mean, we get a lot of information through these special channels that we don’t make public…for example, some of the malfeasances of senators and congressmen…I think that we must continue to respect the classification of that kind of material.”

After Johnson’s death, Rostow gave the sealed documents to the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, TX, requesting that the envelope remain sealed for fifty years, or for an additional fifty years if the library felt revelation was too early. The envelope was actually opened in the ’90s but some material is not declassified. Nixon lied until his death about the circumstances of this episode, but his direct involvement has been proven beyond a doubt. Schwarz feels that Trump’s purloined documents could be as momentous as those LBJ tried to extract from a tortured era in our history, but with our presidents efforts to mislead us, don’t count on anything at this juncture. The Department of Justice is opposing the release of details in an affidavit that lays out the argument made by investigators to the magistrate judge explaining the probable cause it had to search Mar-a-Lago, or should the judge decide to make it public it should be heavily redacted. DOJ said disclosure would “cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation. The redactions necessary to mitigate harms to the integrity of the investigation would be so extensive as to render the remaining unsealed text devoid of meaningful content, and the release of such a redacted version would not serve any public interest.” Maybe fifty years from now, or another fifty if Ivanka Trump is president in the interim?

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.

    “Heat Waves”

“If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?”
~Steven Wright

“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”
~Yogi Berra

“He who cannot put his thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of dispute.”
~Friedrich Nietzsche

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These are cute! Some of these things I have seen, but not all. We had knob-and-tube wiring in the attic of the house we lived in 20 years ago, for instance.


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
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com
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August 10 – 16, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Fred Keeley returns signed mayor papers, Joy Schendledecker’s launch party, Justin Cummings announces lawn sign time and kickoff party.GREENSITE…on the downtown library battle. KROHN…reprint from February 17, 2017 with BearCat tank, ICE raids, UCSC housing. STEINBRUNER…County supes term limits, LAFCO and Soquel Creek Water District, Watsonville boundaries, Central Valley Dust Bowl, elephant seal research, CZU Fire film showings. HAYES…Mammals around us. PATTON…Deep changes needed. MATLOCK…a home grown MAGAt, with a soft autocrat on the side. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS on organizing QUOTES…”Fires”. 

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SANTA CRUZ & SAN LORENZO RIVER MOUTH. 1921. This photo was taken by Roy Houser as part of an aerial survey by the U.S. Navy. It shows the Boardwalk before the Giant Dipper roller coaster was installed in 1924. The beach by the river mouth was/is totally changed when our down coast Yacht Harbor was dug out in later years.                                                         

photo credit: private collection of Roy Houser’s son, Jerry Houser)

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE August 8

POLITICAL WHEELS TURNING AND ALMOST CHURNING AGAIN. It’s probably all over our media that Fred Keeley is returning has filled out papers that’ll commit him for running for Mayor this Thursday (08/11).

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Justin Cummings reminded us that as of last Tuesday (8/9) it’s ok to put up your yard signs. Cummings fall kickoff will be on Thursday, August, 18th from 530-730 at The London Nelson Center in downtown Santa Cruz.  If you haven’t rsvp’d please click here. If you are not able to attend here are some other ways you may support his campaign. Go here to check out his website cummingsforsupervisor.com. More from Joy Schendledecker whose campaign for Mayor is making great strides and her address for now is… instagram.com/joyforsantacruz2022. Her big launch party is happening Friday, August 12th, 5:30-7:30pm, at London Nelson community Center. 

EMPTY HOME TAX. (repeat) I can’t reveal where or who this email came from but it says a lot. “Wednesday July 27, in a shocking development, the Democratic Central Committee endorsed the Empty Home Tax.  Only 3 DCC members voted to oppose it:  Cynthia Mathews, Carol Fuller and Joe Hill. This will totally fuck up all their door hangers as the Democratic Women’s Club voted a No on the EHT endorsement”.

HACKED! (more repeat) It’s now been about ten days that I’ve been on the receiving end of emails offering rebates, sale items and offers with my own home email address and name as the sender. Do not reply or even open those emails from “Bruce Bratton”. And if you have any suggestions how to stop somebody from using my name please get in touch.

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. 

BULLET TRAIN. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.5 IMDB). This violent mess is billed as a comedy starring the 59 year old Brad Pitt. With zero to no background story there are five professional assassins on board Japan’s Bullet Train. For over two hours they work very hard to out bloody each other. Sandra Bullock and Michael Shannon make unnecessary guest appearances. The stabbings, chokings, murders, and almost continual bloody scenes aren’t anywhere as funny as director Leitch tries to force on us. I don’t need to watch any more violence than what I see every day in the media and you should skip this mess.

THIRTEEN LIVES. (PRIME MOVIE) (7.8 IMDB). Ron Howard directed this near documentary of the saving of 13 Thailand Soccer team who got trapped underwater in a cave. It is intense even though we know the outcome. Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell are the lead divers who supervise the rescue. More than 5000 people volunteered from 17 countries to aid the underwater return. It all took place in a tourist cave with railings, steps and the captain of the boys’ soccer team was the one who led the boys into the cave but saved them by human touches. Fine film, tense, claustrophobic, and well worth watching. 

RECURRENCE. (or PIPA) (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.3 IMDB). There was a murder of a 15 year old girl at a party and the woman detective Pipa is bound by guilt and duty to find the murderer. It takes place in the Argentine and makes some points dealing with local Indian history. It’s slow, confusing and is actually the third film in the Pipa series. Don’t bother with this one.

THE 355. (PRIME MOVIE) (5.4 IMDB). Somebody invented a super hi tech iPhone looking thing that could change the world’s communication system. Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, and Lupita Nyong’o make up the dynamic action filled quartet that fly all over the world tracking down the thieves who stole that secret iPhone. It’s about these two secret agencies that compete in car chases, climbing tall buildings and keep extra secrets from us in this looney plot. 

UNCOUPLED. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.0 IMDB). A very silly comedy about what rich, light weight gay white men do in New York City. Neil Patrick Harris leads the cast and he’s very gay and in a 17 year relationship. Marcia Gay Harden plays a very wealthy matron and manages to steal every scene she’s in. The movie contains only one gay male stereotype group and I’d imagine that less silly sex driven gays could seriously object to this farce.

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.  

FIRE OF LOVE. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.7IMDB). An amazing, beautiful, haunting documentary about a married couple who are volcanologists. They travel around the world climbing to the closest, most dangerous vantage points to study bursting lava and trying to predict the next disaster. It’s surprising how little is known about volcanos, and how much death and destruction they cause every year. Katie and Maurice Kraftt the volcanologists died by being too close to Japan’s Mount Unzen in 1991. If ever a movie required a big screen to really view properly this is it. 

TRADING PAINT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.4 IMDB) “Trading Paint” means in the dirt track racing at Talladega crashing each other’s racing cars. This botched up simple minded mess has John Travolta (age68) racing against his own son and his long time movie friend from Pulp Fiction Michael Madsen. It’s full of bad acting, has a very forgetful bad ending, and the racing photography isn’t much to look at either. Don’t bother.

SURFACE. (APPLE TV SERIES) (5.5 IMDB) It’s filmed a lot in San Francisco and its always extra fun to see sites you know. Gugu Mbaytha and Oliver Jackson top the cast and the slow moving plot could have been shortened but it is really complex. A young woman was either pushed off a boat or she attempted suicide. She’s having weird dreams and nightmares and is seeing a psychotherapist. Much of it happens in the Sheraton Palace Hotel where I worked as a producer at KCBS so I had an extra attraction. Its good watching, go for it.

MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.5 IMDB). The charming unassuming Lesley Manville is the London based cleaning woman who has a dream of going to Paris and specifically to own a Christian Dior gown. Isabelle Huppert has a small and nasty part of this silly comedy. It’s a feel good movie for sure and we need those more than ever right now. Go for it.

ANYTHINGS POSSIBLE. (PRIME VIDEO MOVIE) (4.7 IMDB) It would be too easy to report that this is a silly, colorful light hearted teen age comedy centering on a Trans girl and her troubles in high school in Pittsburg. Eva Reign does an excellent job in the lead and there are some very deep and involving Tran’s issues dealt with and exposed, in this complex drama. 

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39th ANNUAL MUSICAL SAW FESTIVAL. The 39th Annual Musical Saw Festival will be this 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.  

SANTA CRUZ ACTORS’ THEATRE & “8 Tens at 8” NEWS. Andre Neu activist and eager arts enthusiast sent this news.” As an active theatre-goer, I figured you’d be interested in hearing that Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre is doing a “reboot” of its “8 Tens at 8” series in early September. After Wilma Marcus Chandler and Andrew Cagllio resigned earlier this year, the company regrouped and has come together to stage what was to go forth before COVID struck. I’ve attached a press release to give details. The new company, headed by Suzanne Schrag, includes quite a few familiar theater folks and seems pretty secure in what they’re doing, Andre. 

Actors’ Theatre ‘reboots’ 8 Tens production

The Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre, which earlier this year had almost permanently closed its doors, has instead regrouped to produce a live “reboot” of eight selections from of its 8 Tens @ 8 Short Play Festival. It will restage eight selections from the short play lineup, originally scheduled in January, running at the Actors’ Theatre from Sept. 9 through Oct. 2.  Tickets on sale NOW.

The presence the COVID-19 outbreak coincided with the resignations of the company’s artistic director, company co-founder, promotion director and board of directors, and led to the cancelling of 8 Tens in January. “However,” said new board president Suzanne Schrag, “we humans are resilient, creative, inventive and communal creatures. It is this spirit that we are re-launching, rejuvenating and rebooting Actors’ Theatre to continue to be a vibrant and vital part of the Santa Cruz Arts community.” A new board of directors has also been assembled and other positions are being filled. All productions will be in the Actors Theatre in the Santa Cruz Art Center, 1001 Center Street. Most of the directors and actors are from the original production scheduled in January.

Actors’ Theatre will continue to follow COVID protocols; masks and proof of vaccination will be required to attend. The Theater has also invested in a high-efficiency electronic air cleaning system that completely refreshes the air in the space every 15 minutes. Meanwhile, a committee of Actors’ Theatre members has read 259 short plays submitted by local, state and nation-wide writers in preparation for the 2023, 8 Tens @ 8 Festival, scheduled for Jan. 18 through Feb. 26, 2023. 

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SAVING OUR CIVIC CENTER

I happened to be downtown this morning and took a moment to pause and photograph the downtown library. With the Civic Auditorium at my back, City Hall across the street and the Public Library opposite, it doesn’t get more “Civic Center” than this.  For many residents, these public buildings embody a sense of place and history, distinct from the ever-changing commercial businesses elsewhere. I thought the word “home” on the library window captured what has motivated many thousands to support the Our Downtown Our Future (ODOF) ballot Initiative that we will vote on in November. If you haven’t done so already, go to their website and support with at least a donation, the hard work of those community members bringing our voice to the ballot box.

Much like the tearing down of the Cooper House forecast a change in the character of Pacific Avenue, the tearing down of the city’s main library, if it happens, will forecast a decisive shift to a more modern, high-rise, glass and steel, car-centric built landscape for downtown. By casting the library adrift from its current location, the supporters of this move reveal a lack of civic pride. Or maybe they have yet another hidden agenda to let the Civic Auditorium flounder and decay as a new shiny multi-purpose Warriors Arena is built south of Laurel in the new Downtown Extension with its skyscrapers piercing the skyline.

It’s no secret that the authors of Measure S hid their intent to tear down the main library to get votes from unsuspecting people like me. The Downtown Library Advisory Committee skirted the issue to avoid letting the community know it was considering removing the current library. When people did show up to testify at the public meetings, the Committee voted first on their own recommendation to move the library, then opened the floor for public comment. Their widely circulated survey with many questions to ostensibly gauge what respondents wanted in a future library avoided asking even one question on “would you support the relocation of the downtown library?” 

There’s something corrupt about changing the character and feel of a town to serve the interests of economic developers, planners, investors, and the needs of people who don’t yet live here. If you’ve ever travelled to small, centuries- old European towns and villages, have you wondered how they have survived for so long? I guess because people treasured what they had and still have, and their elected representatives respected their wishes. 

Since we seem to lack such representation, we do have a chance in November to right this wrong and send a clear message that we care about our existing library’s location; we care about our fast-disappearing heritage trees; we care about creating an open space for public gatherings; we care about affordable housing and we don’t want public monies spent on a parking garage while new construction, including a hotel gets away without providing sufficient space. 

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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August 8

Note: This column is a reprint from February 17, 2017. No one can say we were not warned about the impending ghoulish developers now gobbling up Santa Cruz real estate, felling trees, bulldozing history, and putting up some industrial-like mostly market-rate, awful buildings.

Beginning: When ICE Came to Town

Last week (Feb, 2017) began with a blitzkrieg-style raid by agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A BearCat tank was seen near the Boardwalk. It was reported by several residents in the Seabright area that children were left alone after their parents were taken into custody. An immigration raid? Searching for terrorists? Or was it both? Pretty serious stuff. These actions were carried out in Santa Cruz County’s mostly Latino neighborhoods in Beach Flats, Live Oak, and Watsonville. 

Ending

My week ended at an academic conference on the UCSC hill, “Democratizing the Green City: Sustainability and the Affordable Housing Crisis.” It was a discussion that ranged from Ernest Callenbach’s, Ecotopia to the current research findings of UCSC sociology professors, Miriam Greenberg and Steve McKay concerning the Santa Cruz plague of high housing rates combined with low wages. They invited a bunch of their friends from New York City, Minneapolis, Seattle, Berkeley and Davis to share their research as well. Turns out we’re screwed, but we are not alone.

Surreal Links

Were these two events perhaps interrelated? While the raid was an out-of-nowhere slap-upside-the-head to all undocumented area residents who are not members of the Mara-Salvatrucha 13 gang, the conference was a further head-scratching discussion of the age old question, ‘Who gets to live in Santa Cruz?’ The Greenberg-McKay investigation of the extreme differences between the high cost of housing and the miserably low wages paid to workers right here in Surf City often pushed hard against Callenbach’s visionary book. That book was a green revolution bible for many, but essentially it presents a segregated nation-state concept that seeks to transform the Sixties dominant hippie paradigm into a green paradise with a socialist veneer. Who knew that Callenbach’s eco-village—trees, greenbelts, bike lanes—would end in a boon to real estate developers while failing to produce a cross section of housing for all income groups, but especially the service worker sector? Is equity even possible in Santa Cruz? Or Minneapolis, Berkeley, Davis, or New York City? 

Can Democratic Cities Be Made Green?

Conference participant, Jennifer Rice, a professor of geography at the University of Georgia quoted an activist in Seattle, but could’ve easily been describing one from Santa Cruz. Rice said, “Our planning department continues to approve significant numbers of market rate housing (and upscale hotels) while people with families are forced to move,” (first to Live Oak then to Watsonville and finally out of the county). Of course, many of us are keenly aware of those who perform even a different housing dance. The first move is often from their house or apartment into a vehicle, then inside a tent, and finally they may end up under the eaves of city hall or the post office. Prof. Rice also suggested in her talk that residents can successfully protest large capital projects in Seattle, for example, where a proposed $160 million police headquarters was scratched in favor of affordable housing bonds. It seemed to be one positive activist response in the era of sky-high housing costs.

Gawd, I love this town!

The late Herb Caen used to use the phrase, “Gawd, I love this town,” and I am appropriating those words in this week’s column because I love Santa Cruz. Our people can put up a fight in the face of injustice, no matter how well-armed the foe may be. There were urgent, organized, and immediate responses by neighbors and activists to the DHS raids this past week. Homeland Security’s intrusions into our community sent ripples of fear and uncertainty through the homes of hardworking Santa Cruzans, and that is likely just what this ICE raid intended. A day later, several groups were present at city hall to confront the city council I serve on. They were led by “Sanctuary Central” and demanded a community forum to talk about DHS’s tide of terror that was witnessed by residents, many who are now too fearful to even leave their homes. The Activists shut down the meeting for about twenty minutes as the city council huddled in the back room wondering what to do next. Before additional police officers actually arrived to clear the room of protesters as called for by some councilmembers, a negotiation of sorts took place. Vice-mayor Terrazas and I waded back into the council chambers to open negotiations with the 200-plus crowd. An agreement was soon reached that agenda item 17, which had to do with Santa Cruz sanctuary city status, would be moved up so that those present could immediately comment on the DHS-ICE raids from the day before. The police never had to arrive to clear the room, and residents were able to vent about this serious and delicate issue. Is that what “a win-win” is?

Bottom Line

The affordable housing conference at UCSC cannot have come soon enough because Greenberg and McKay actually provide plenty of data, on the ground interviews, and open-ended analysis of the severe housing crisis that is no longer the elephant standing in the Santa Cruz city living room because everybody is talking about it now. This crisis is front and center and may be the story within the story in the immigrant neighborhoods that were raided. Mayor Cynthia Chase, upon taking office in January said she would be pursuing an affordable housing agenda this year. The community appears urgently poised to join her.

Short-takes

In-between the raids and the conference, I encountered several other locals and experiences that made me say to myself again and again, “Gawd, I love this town.” I will offer a Cliff Notes version of those conversations, while I am hoping to expand upon the themes in future columns.

  • Airbnb is large—$37 billion and growing—and an exceedingly complex corporation. Its social reach includes the disabled, the temporarily unemployed, or single moms just renting out a room in order to make ends meet, all the way to individuals renting and re-renting large numbers of units, and in the process wholly transforming Santa Cruz neighborhoods. In addition, I fear the Airbnb model is more numerous than any of us might have imagined. It is now estimated that there are 577 Airbnb dwellings, and counting, according to one local well-placed real estate investor. This same close observer also told me that “perhaps hosted vacation rentals represent even a greater threat than un-hosted ones.” Stay tuned, the STVR—Short-Term Vacation Rentals—committee is studying the vacation rental issue and will send it to the city council “soon,” perhaps by May or June I am told. But a couple of sticking points that may not go away are the existing ADA provisions along with parking requirements that could be enforced on each vacation rental.
  • Who is the “General Strike Planning Committee” and what are their intentions?  I do know that hundreds have turned out to their five “planning” meetings and beer hall (Lupulo) reading group discussions. In fact, over 100 showed up at the London Nelson center last Friday to participate in an “(Un) President’s Day” event. It was a smorgasbord of social justice and environmental groups presenting themselves and all are organizing in the spirit of resistance during the age of Trump. Along with the Woman’s March it seems very encouraging, if somewhat chaotic with lots of unplanned planning sessions along the way.
  • At the UCSC affordable housing conference I was struck by one of NYU sociology professor named, Gianpaolo Baiocchi. One of his solutions to the rental crisis included, “Squatting is a pretty effective housing solution.”
  • The Fruit Tree Project, led by Andy Moskowitz, Debora Wade and Steve Schnaar, organized a work day to plant fruit trees where San Lorenzo Blvd. meets Riverside Ave., alongside Mike Fox Park. Seventy-five volunteers showed up one morning to assist in furthering the local community garden revolution. Wow!
  • From the too many conversations I’ve had with locals, I’m fast becoming convinced that the enduring 3-legged stool of high rents is caused by a) the university’s ability to allow in more students and its inability to provide more beds; b) the city’s Rental Inspection Ordinance that took out hundreds of housing units, many unpermitted; and c) the rampant growth of Airbnb and the entire vacation rental market. But what is really troubling is that the seat of this stool is not really for the people of Santa Cruz to sit on, but is actually a resting place for the enormous derrière of Silicon Valley disposable income.
“Today the Inflation Reduction Act passed the Senate 51-50. In my view, this legislation goes nowhere near far enough for working families, but it does begin to address the existential crisis of climate change. It’s an important step forward and I was happy to support it.” (Aug. 7, 2022)


The pictures of the week are a sequence of signs seen inside of NYC subway cars urging cannabis users to use the product with care now that weed is legal in the city. I do not recall a campaign like this in California.

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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August 8

PROPOSED TERM LIMITS FOR SANTA CRUZ COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS?

If the Board approves staff recommendations during a 4pm Special Virtual Meeting on Thursday, August 11, County voters may see a new proposed Ordinance added to limit County Supervisors to no more than three consecutive terms in office.   If approved, this would add County Ordinance 2.02.070 to County Code relating to the Board of Supervisors.

Does it make you wonder why the Board is taking such a rushed action?  In the immediate future, this could affect whether or not Supervisors Bruce McPherson and Zach Friend are able to run for fourth terms in 2024.

At the time of this writing, the link to the County Board of Supervisor “Meeting Calendar” is broken, so I cannot provide further details, but did see earlier that this will be discussed as Regular Agenda Item #10 at the August 9 Board Meeting, when the Board will publicly schedule the August 11 Virtual Special Meeting for 4pm. 

Read the Staff recommendations for this matter by clicking on Item #10, when the website is (hopefully) repaired. Participate on August 11 at 4pm and see if you can understand what is really going on.

LAFCO PULLS SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT PORTION OF COMPREHENSIVE REPORT FOR FURTHER REVIEW

Last Wednesday (8/3), at the request of Alternate LAFCO member Mr. John Hunt, the Commissioners pulled the Soquel Creek Water District section of the comprehensive Countywide Water Service and Sphere Review of nine agencies providing water in the County.  Commissioners, who also included Second District County Supervisor Zach Friend, stated that the recommendations to formally change service boundary areas of  La Selva Beach and Seascape would open the doors for annexation and increased development in the future.  The Commissioners had reviewed just such a case earlier in the meeting for a subdivision in Scotts Valley (Item 6a)

LAFCO Director Joe Serrano issued a Declaration that the Countywide Water Service and Sphere Review is CEQA-exempt…but maybe that finding cannot be made in the case of the Soquel Creek Water District analysis.

Reason Why Project is Exempt: The LAFCO action does not change the services or the planned service area of the City. There is no possibility that the activity may have a significant impact on the environment–State CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3).

Here is the link to the Countywide Service and Sphere Review, with Soquel Creek Water District analysis beginning on page 203

Please write the Santa Cruz County LAFCO with your thoughts on this matter.

c/o Joe Serrano joe.serrano@santacruzcounty.us

Here is related correspondence of former County Water Resources Director Mr. John Ricker on the matter.

Of note is the fact that Ms. Rachel Lather is currently the Chair of LAFCO, and also the President of the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors.  Do you think she should have recused herself or abstained from voting on this issue?  She did not.  I wrote Mr. Serrano to ask about it…he replied that it is up to a Commissioner them self to take such action. 

RUN FOR SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS SEATS

This Friday (8/12) is the final date to file for elected position campaigns   Three seats are up for election on the five-member Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors. In my opinion, there really needs to be sweeping changes on that Board that will begin to question the runaway expenditures for endless outside contractors to do actual work while giving high-level staff monthly bonuses of $1000 and more….not to mention the problems associated with injecting treated sewage water into the pristine Purisima Aquifer that provides drinking water for the entire MidCounty area.

If you live within the District, please run.  The District’s staff really needs to be held accountable and only a new Board who will pay attention and ask questions will cause any change.  Did you know that Ms. Lather demonstrated that she had no idea what the Final EIR for the PureWater Soquel Project really was?  Do you know that none of these incumbents asks any meaningful questions regarding District Budgets and rates?

Here is a link to the candidate resources 

CHANGING WATSONVILLE’S BOUNDARIES?

Last month, the Watsonville City Council held a Special Council Meeting and Public Hearing to discuss and approve growth-related measures that will be on the November election ballot.  It was well-attended.  The Council split 4-3 to place a competing initiative on the ballot that will essentially oppose the renewal of Measure U’s renewal that, 20 years ago, protected Watsonville’s agricultural lands and limited urban sprawl.  

Here is the link to the two-hour proceeding, and a Pajaronian analysis 

Given the proposed Draft Santa Cruz County General Plan Update, which recommends some annexations to Watsonville’s City boundaries, this will prove interesting for the future of the area.

REMOVING PRODUCTIVE FARMLAND TO CREATE A DUST BOWL IN THE CENTRAL VALLEY?

The Public Policy Institute projects that over 500,000 acres of good farmland in the Central Valley will have to lie fallow in order to restore groundwater levels.  All that fallow land could likely cause a return of the Dust Bowl that drove many poor landowners out of the Midwest and gave John Steinbeck meat for his Grapes of Wrath novel.

“Agricultural operations and wind erosion are two of the largest sources of dust in the valley. We project that over 500,000 acres of farmland may need to be taken out of production over the next two decades to help bring groundwater basins into balance under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). This is an immense amount of land, and without careful stewardship, widespread fallowing could cause a surge in windblown dust.” 

Commentary: San Joaquin Valley’s Next Big Air Pollution Threat—Blowing Dust from Fallowed Farmland

Will the Great Dust Bowl return, but to California? Wouldn’t it be better to continue growing food and devise more water-efficient irrigation methods? 

SHOULDN’T RESEARCHERS GLUE TRANSPONDERS TO THEIR HEADS, TOO?

A few years ago, when my family visited Año Nuevo State Beach to see the Elephant Seals, my young children became very upset at learning that researchers glue electronic transponders to the bodies of young seals in order to study them.

The recent article below, asking for crowd-funding to help do more such treatment of wild animals caused me to ponder….shouldn’t the researchers have to also glue transponders to their own heads and research any impacts on themselves?

Just a thought to ponder….. 

UCSC professor seeks to bring elephant seal research to K-12 classrooms [SC Sentinel article, behind a paywall]

Please write these UCSC researchers with your thoughts: 

University of California at Santa Cruz 

science@ucsc.edu  
plkoch@ucsc.edu Paul L. Koch, Dean, Physical and Biological Sciences 
rsbeltra@ucsc.edu – Roxanne Beltran, Associate Professor

PEOPLE, WE NEED TO SPEAK UP…BUT IT IS GETTING MORE CHALLENGING

Last week, at the suggestion of Parks Dept. Director Jeff Gaffney, the County Parks & Recreation Commission reportedly seemed to adopt a new but questionable procedure of calling for Public Comment on an issue after the Commission had already voted on the matter. 

Hmmmm…..Does that seem right to you?  I think it violates the Brown Act, which mandates the public right to comment before or during each agenda item:

“Regular Meetings 

The Brown Act mandates that agendas for regular meetings allow for two types of public comment periods. The first is a general audience comment period, which is the part of the meeting where the public can comment on any item of interest that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the local agency. This general audience comment period may come at any time during a meeting (Section 54954.3).

The second type of public comment period is the specific comment period pertaining to items on the agenda. The Brown Act requires the legislative body to allow these specific comment periods on agenda items to occur prior to or during the City Council’s consideration of that item (Section 54954.3).”

In a recent informal survey posted on local news site Lookout about what residents are doing to make positive differences, this one really struck a chord…especially given odd occurrences such as what Director Gaffney caused last week:

“I am working to increase public participation in local government, at the county and municipal levels. More than periodic voting, our representative democracy requires active public participation in the process of government decision-making. Advisory body meetings, such as commissions, are rarely attended by the public, leading representatives to make decisions that are not based on full knowledge of the public will. This gives unelected staff greater power to shape the course of government behind closed doors where the public is denied knowledge and influence.” —Michael Lewis, Live Oak

Write County Board of Supervisors and Mr. Gaffney with your thoughts.

Board of Supervisorsboardofsupervisors@santacruzcounty.us
Jeff Gaffneyjeff.gaffney@santacruzcounty.us 

A POWERFUL FILM ABOUT AND BY CZU FIRE: IN THEIR OWN WORDS

CZU Fire: In Their Own Words, directed by Boulder Creek resident Mr. Peter Gelblum, is a well-done and powerful film based on many interviews with people affected by the fire.  Take a box of tissue because it is powerful. 

Next week marks the two-year anniversary of the devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fire that destroyed 911 County resident homes and burned over 86,000 acres that included large portions of Big Basin State Park.  The devastation lingers in the charred hillsides and in the lives of hundreds who have not yet been able to rebuild.  Many have given up, and moved away.

Go see this film at the Del Mar Theater on August 16 at 7:30 pm, with other viewings tentatively scheduled for the Felton Library on September 10, and another September date to be confirmed at the Bonny Doon Elementary School.  Mr. Gelblum asked to include a showing at the August 18 commemorative event scheduled for August 18 at the Brookdale Lodge, but organizers declined.

Suggested donations of $10/person will be given 50/50 to the local volunteer fire departments who fought the fire and saved many homes, and also the Fire Recovery Fund at the Santa Cruz County Community Foundation.

Here is an interview with Mr. Gelblum from the Santa Cruz Sentinel, article behind a paywall.

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  GO SEE THE FILM ABOUT THE STORIES OF THE CZU FIRE SURVIVORS AND DONATE WHAT YOU CAN.

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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August 7

MAMMALS AROUND US

This biodiverse region around us includes such a wealth of native mammals that we might take them for granted unless occasionally reminded what they are and where they live. Chances are good that you can see a few of these species if you are alert to them and take a walk in the many natural areas that surround our built environment. This essay outlines only the mammals that are native to this area; there are many nonnative mammals, as well. And, I focus only on terrestrial mammals…there are many marine mammals just offshore. I also leave out the many bat species.

Ungulates

Let’s start with the largest terrestrial mammals around: Columbian black-tailed deer. Many people call them ‘The Deer’ as in “The Deer devoured the landscaping.” These are the last of a great legacy of ungulates that have grazed the forests, shrublands, and grasslands around these parts for millions of years. Up until the late 1800’s, there were tule elk…basically a bigger deer…also roaming this area; maybe sometime soon the elk will return- they are close: just across Highway 101 east of us. There were also pronghorn with the elk. 15,000 years ago there were even more species of ungulates, including species of bison and native horses.

Many old timers say that the numbers of Columbian black-tailed deer are way down from historic herd sizes, but folks on the edge of town would probably argue. The Deer seem to be denser close to where they can easily access forage from summer watered gardens and lawns. They also probably know that being close to neighborhoods is safer from mountain lions.

Rodents

Rodents are as a group scorned for their pestiferousness, and we’ve got a diverse array of rodent types.  The rarest local rodents are kangaroo rats (aka k-rats), the Santa Cruz K-rat is down to one population at Henry Cowell State Park. There is also a different species of not-as-rare k-rat in the sandy soils of Corralitos down through Fort Ord.  Kangaroo rats have long back legs and dig dens into sandy soil. 

There are a bunch of species of deer mice in our area, all in the genus Peromyscus. My favorite is the big eared ‘Mickey Mouse’ deermouse aka pinyon deermouse: P. truei. There are three other deermouse species around here. Rumor has it that we’ll soon recognize a newly described deermouse that is native to our area.

There are many other species of native rodents around here: pocket mouse, meadow vole, San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat, two types of squirrels, a chipmunk species and the renowned pocket gopher. Pocket mice are relatively small and have pockets in their mouths for carrying about caches of food (mostly seeds). Meadow voles make grazed-bare highways in the prairies and have episodically huge populations that can eat most of the grass down to nothing. San Francisco dusky-footed woodrats are pack rats that make big stick houses and have museum collections of every plant in their vicinity. This subspecies of dusky footed woodrat is listed as a species of concern by the State and are therefore protected by law. If you are lucky enough to have these pack rats around you, best to give their homes a wide berth and watch out for them dragging your belongings into their homes. 

We have two native squirrels: one in trees and the other in the ground. Many folks have been concerned about the apparent decline of the Western gray squirrel, which has a salt-and-pepper fluffy tail and mostly found away from people. I worry that fires and non-native squirrels are edging out our native tree squirrel. The California ground squirrel used to have big colonies at UCSC where burrowing owls and other critters shared their burrows. I’m still waiting to hear what happened to the once-extensive ground squirrel colonies at UCSC’s East Meadow. Now, ground squirrels are more numerous along the north coast bluffs and at the Moore Creek greenbelt.

Mirriam’s chipmunks are my favorite rodent. These striped little folk give loud cheeps when you get close to them, scampering up trees or diving into shrubby cover. There’s something about their black and dark brown fur patterns that make me especially happy to see one.

I recently wrote an essay on Botta’s pocket gopher, the subsurface architect of nearly every square foot of the soil around us.

Small, Furry and Insectivorous

If you are like most folks, you don’t think about the many tiny insect eating mammals in our midst. The most commonly recognized one is the broad-handed mole, which I mostly see mysteriously dead with no evident damage. There is also a rarely-encountered shrew mole that likes living in burrows in our conifer forests, near streams; no one I know has seen that one. There are also three types of shrews in our area: ornate, vagrant, and Trowbridge. Shrews eat day and night. Like moles, I’ve seen a few of those mysteriously dead lying trailside. All of these critters eat insects and so can’t be seen as pests, though some folks insist on killing moles for making burrows in their yards.

Not Rodents: Lagomorphs

People routinely call rabbits rodents, but they aren’t…they are lagomorphs! Brush bunnies are common in our area. There are probably also still black tailed rabbits in Santa Cruz County: these look like jackrabbits. Black tailed bunnies were once in the inland sandhills habitat alongside the aforementioned kangaroo rats. 

Raccoon and Friend

There are lots of species of raccoon, so you have to call ours by its right name: Northern raccoon. Most folks know this masked rascal, which has higher populations near people but is missing altogether in the wilder parts of the mountains. In those wilder parts is the very, very rare close relative: the ringtail. Ringtails like to live near streams and look like a cross between a Northern raccoon and a Western gray squirrel. There were some recent sightings of ringtail in Bonny Doon after a long period of no one reporting them. I’m happy that they are still around. 

Stinky Mustelids 

Scent gland wielding ‘mustelids’ have a few species around here: badger, long-tailed weasel, and two species of skunk. Badgers are increasingly rare due to bad endings from encounters with vehicles. Long tailed weasels have done a great job of surviving our urban sprawl and are pretty common. We mostly know about striped skunks, but if you have seen the rumored spotted skunk, will you please let me know? Spotted skunks pirouette on their hands if alarmed….

Bigger Carnivores

We are especially lucky to have mountain lions, gray foxes, coyotes, and bobcats so commonly in our region. The health of large carnivores is a sign of ecological health. I won’t tell you any stories about these critters this round, but there are lots of good stories about these…stay tuned for more!

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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August 3

#216 / Deep Changes Needed

The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the local newspaper in Santa Cruz, California, has opined that “Deep Changes Will Be Needed On Housing.” I am quoting the hard copy version of the headline that appeared on the Sentinel’s editorial statement on July 1, 2022. Online, the headline is slightly different. The entire editorial statement is appended at the bottom of today’s blog posting. 

I think the Sentinel is absolutely right that “deep changes” are necessary to address our housing crisis. As the Sentinel notes, properly characterizing the dimensions of our problem: Housing in Santa Cruz County is “unaffordable for anyone not making upward of $200,000 annually.” Since the Census tells us that the median annual household income in Santa Cruz County is $89,986 that means that housing (both rental and ownership housing) is unaffordable for huge numbers of local residents. The Sentinel is definitely right in describing the problem, and this is not a news flash for any current Santa Cruz County resident. 

Unfortunately, having identified this huge and horrible problem, the Sentinel does not really tell us why the problem exists. In general, the newspaper blames “regulatory overkill” and “local government officials who cater to the not-in-my-backyard sentiments of constituents.” Those things, to the extent they actually exist (and they may, to a minor extent), are not really what’s causing the housing crisis. 

The actual “problem” is that housing prices are, with very few exceptions, set by “the market.” As we all know, or as we all should know, “markets” are designed to provide scarce goods to those who have the most money, and who can thus outcompete those who have less. Housing in Santa Cruz County is a “scarce good.” 

 This community is one of the nicest places to live in the entire world. It is also right “over the hill” from one of California’s most dynamic job-producing centers, the Silicon Valley, where millions of people live. Many workers in the Silicon Valley do earn $200,000 or more, annually, and lots of them would prefer to live in Santa Cruz, as opposed to living in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Gilroy, or San Jose. Furthermore, housing costs in the places I just mentioned are typically greater than housing costs in Santa Cruz. Furthermore, many people think that Santa Cruz real estate is a very good investment (which it is). This fact creates another demand for Santa Cruz property. Not only do people who work in the Silicon Valley want to live in Santa Cruz, and so create demand for Santa Cruz housing that way, they also want to purchase property here as an investment, increasing demand for housing in Santa Cruz even more. And, of course, it is also true that those who want to invest in Santa Cruz property may well come from anywhere – even from other countries. 

The “demand” for housing in Santa Cruz, in other words, is pretty much unlimited, practically speaking. What about the “supply?” Could Santa Cruz County actually supply enough housing to bring down local prices (and especially to bring them down to the place where someone with an annual income of $89,900 could afford to buy or rent)?

The answer to that question is pretty easy: NO. 

In other words, expecting the “private market” to solve the housing crisis by building enough housing to lower the price here to something “affordable” is, essentially, to expect the impossible. 

“Reality” is sometimes hard to contemplate, but we do need to be realistic. The private market will never produce affordable housing in Santa Cruz County – even if we reverse our past decision to preserve and protect prime farmland and environmentally sensitive areas – even if the City starts allowing developers to build twenty-story towers, and the City stops caring about the neighborhood impacts of big, high-density developments. There also isn’t enough infrastructure to handle the traffic that would be generated by massive new housing developments. And there isn’t enough water, either. Neighborhood concerns aren’t just based on selfishness (in fact, I think that’s the exception, not the rule). New development does have adverse impacts, and it’s not fair to existing residents to ignore those.

So, we do need “deep changes” to address the housing crisis, but let’s start getting realistic about just how “deep” those deep changes need to be. The private market can’t and won’t produce housing that ordinary working families can afford. That means that we need public financing to produce affordable housing, because “affordable” housing means housing where the price is not set by the “market,” but where prices are fixed at amounts that permit the housing to be affordable. That requires governmental action.  

How can that be accomplished? Well, there is money in our state and national economy that could be used to build housing, but the government would have to obtain that money from those who have it now. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders calls them the “billionaire class.” The Occupy Movement called them the 1%. 

“Deep changes” really are needed. If California and the nation are not willing to mobilize public funding to produce price-fixed housing with the prices set at a level that ordinary working families can afford, then the picture below shows where those who can’t afford market price housing (rental and ownership) are going to end up. It’s already happening. If we don’t make the deep changes needed, at the state and national level, it is only going to happen more: 

oooOOOooo

As We See It

Deep Changes Will Be Needed On Housing

Second of two parts on housing affordability:

By now, the reasons for California’s and Santa Cruz County’s chronic housing shortage are evident. Factors include high costs, regulatory overkill and resistance from local government officials who cater to the not-in-my-backyard sentiments of constituents.

Not only do prices that make housing unaffordable for anyone not making upward of $200,000 annually, but the recent spike in interest rates, which have sparked some owners lowering asking prices, probably won’t mean housing will get much cheaper, real estate analysts say – not with supply so low and demand so high.

It remains a seller’s market. The state says 180,000 new housing units are needed each year to begin to close the supply and demand inequality that continues to drive prices out of reach for the majority of residents. The median home value for the entire state is almost $900,000, the highest in the United States, according to the state Department of Finance (and more than $1.5 million for much of Santa Cruz County) – a more than 250% increase from a decade ago. In roughly that same period, the median household income in the state has risen just 28%, from $61,400 to $78,700.

Renters aren’t faring any better. The national real estate site Zillow also expects rent prices in the region to rise as rental demand continues to increase. Our Bay Area News Group recently reported that at $3,295, typical rents in the San Jose area rose more than 12% from the previous year.

The dismal reality is that California has the nation’s second lowest level of homeownership. Just 56% of California’s families live in homes they own, barely higher than New York’s 55% rate and nearly 10 percentage points behind the 65% national rate. That figure is even lower for Black Californians, at 37%, and Latinos, at 44%, statewide.

“Homeownership has long been a central feature of the American dream,” a recent Public Policy Institute of California report stated. “It is the leading source of wealth for most families, and over the long run provides families with more stable and lower housing costs compared to renting. Yet … homeownership is out of the reach of many Californians.”

This is one of those crises where government has to be a solution. One way is to enforce regional housing goals. All cities and counties need to contribute their fair share to meeting housing needs but many communities have worked around requirements for new housing units mandated under the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation goals. These requirements can seem overwhelming for communities such as Santa Cruz, where the city was tasked with developing a minimum of 747 new housing units by the end of 2023. And according to according to the AMBAG draft RHNA plan, the state may expect as many as 3,400 new housing units from the city by 2031.

Then there’s the new California Dream for All program, where the state plans to allocate $1 billion a year for 10 years to provide down-payment loans to first-time buyers.

Under this program, concurrent with a buyer’s main mortgage, the state offers a second mortgage that covers 17-20% of the home’s price. Buyers would make no payments on this loan until they sell. The idea is to cover the down payment, which means buyers don’t have to save as much up front; it also means their main mortgage is lower, which reduces monthly payments.

While this program has good intentions, it would help only an estimated 7,700 families in a state where about 7 million families are renters. Program sponsors also recognize that pumping money into the system could just drive prices even higher. Others worry that government intervention in home ownership led to the 2008 foreclosure crisis when people were enticed to buy homes they couldn’t afford.

The ultimate solutions will take much deeper changes: Removing local impediments to housing construction, getting more housing near jobs and transportation, creating policies that lead to more middle-income jobs and improving educational outcomes for poor children in a state where more than a third of the state’s nearly 40 million residents live with financial distress.

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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August 8
A HOMEGROWN MAGAt, WITH A SOFT AUTOCRAT ON THE SIDE

It’s been a jam-packed week for news, so getting some of the putrid happenings dispensed with seems appropriate, and what could have been more repulsive than the GOP’s Conservative Political Action Conference in that most deserving of cities – Dallas, TX! The event that had to rank with the lowest of the low saw Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán parading his ‘twin front’ message in his keynote address, describing Hungary and America in a joint struggle against globalists, progressives, communists and ‘fake news.’ Sounds familiar. The PM has stripped his country of its democratic institutions and demonized immigrants, while embracing his brand of eugenics, warning of ‘racial mixing’ whereby white Christian Europeans are being eliminated by primarily Islamic people…part of Tucker Carlson’s ‘replacement theory.’ His utterances are, of course, familiar to any who have studied the Nazis and their holocaust. In fact, after one of his speeches a close advisor resigned, calling it “pure Nazi.”

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson had critical remarks for those who are insulted by Orbán’s presence, by saying, “So Viktor Orbán is now a Nazi because he wants national borders?” We can’t forget that Carlson did a special broadcast from Budapest last year, during which Orbán and his country were praised as a model for this country. Our former president has watched admiringly as Hungary has made this turn toward authoritarianism, with many in the GOP ranks falling in line to march with the white nationalists. The racist tropes of ‘invasion’ and ‘replacement’ are bandied about by the likes of Arizona’s Blake Masters, running for the Senate, Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp, Florida’s Senator Rick Scott, and Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake. Meant to stoke fear and drive votes, they also fuel violence, evidenced by the killing of Latino people at a Walmart in El Paso three years ago. Black shoppers gunned down at a Buffalo grocery this year, was a motivation driven by replacement theory. 

Viktor Orbán has a reputation as a ‘soft autocrat’, who doesn’t threaten or kill his political opponents…he handily changes the rules to entrench power. He says that the constitutions of our two nations are quite different, in that Hungary’s is easy to change, and therefore, he has made changes that make it harder for his electoral opponents to be victorious…free and unfair elections. Hungarian media has suffered under crackdowns, with him and his allies owning many newspapers, driving out smaller independents. The GOP’s MAGAts appreciate how flippant the PM is with his opposition, the media, elites, and liberals to solidify his base, seeing his as a savior for social conservatism. Says William Galston, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan think-tank, the Brookings Institution, “If Trumpism is a political religion, Budapest is their new Rome. Viktor Orbán is their beau ideal of a national conservative leader.” Earlier this year, CPAC leaders actually held a conference in Budapest! Orbán began his kickoff by saying, “This is a culture war. The only thing we Hungarians can do is show you how to fight back by our own rules.” He explains that his country prevents migrants from entering illegally, upholds traditional gender norms and heterosexual marriage, and stays true to ‘Judeo-Christian values.’ It becomes obvious where the GOP is drawing its inspiration to replace election officials with party stalwarts, for submitting fake slates of electors and tweaking election rules. 

Political scientist, Lee Drutman, believes the simultaneous polarization for both nations should be viewed as most dangerous. “The strength of the authoritarianism on the right is fueled and serviced by the sense that the Democrats are not only the opposition but anti-American, dangerous to this country, radical, extreme,” says Drutman. “When you have a system polarized along these identitarian fights – what does it mean to be a true Hungarian? A true American? Who’s a traitor? Who’s a patriot? – that justifies these kinds of extreme antidemocratic actions in service of victory.”

Our homegrown Agent Adolf made his appearance at the Saturday session of CPAC, exhibiting his power as a possible candidate in 2024, even as he kept fishing for applause with his ‘stolen election’ asides and his defense of his actions during the Capitol riot. With Biden’s bill, Inflation Reduction Act, being debated on the Senate floor, Trump threatened to campaign against Joe Manchin in West Virginia in retribution for his support of the legislation. Evidently, DJT was looking at the wrong calendar…Manchin isn’t running on this election cycle, and The Don will be in prison in 2024. 

MAGAt, social media personality, and J6 riot defendant, Brandon Straka, who confessed to attending the riot, was arrested, and pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of engaging in disorderly and disruptive conduct, attended CPAC in a ‘performance art’ staging by sitting in a jail-like cell, crying as recordings of fellow-defendants described their arrests. He avoided jail time, but received 90 days of home confinement and three years’ probation at his sentencing, yet he argues that lawmakers haven’t done enough to assist him and the rioters, all while seeking presidential pardons for their own actions. And, Straka was blessed to have a visit from Marjorie Taylor Greene in his ‘cell’, as she hugged and prayed with him. Needless to say, there was virtually no recognition by attendees of Trump’s role in initiating the attack, even though the House Select Committee is bringing the chickens home to roost. 

Cheeto Benito, in his speech, dispensed his endorsements and blessings on Texas candidates, while declaring Democratic-run cities as ‘hellscapes’ awash in crime and lamenting how the southern border is no longer as safe as he once made it. He brought down the house with his suggestion to “abolish the Department of Education since it has fallen under control of liberals who are indoctrinating students with content of library books, and lectures on race and history. Family values are being destroyed with sports teams allowing transgendered players.” 

MAGAt merchandise was being sold in the halls, from books, to clothing, to bejeweled stilettos with DJT’s name, to alternative cell phone providers, to ‘Swing State Steal’ board games…one seller was hawking framed photos of Ronald Reagan, but the Bush family presidents, ‘a part of the establishment,’ proved to be a step too far for most takers. Speakers lambasted the Biden presidency and China’s influence in this country. A satirical news segment, with Jesse Kelly portraying a new anchor on fake media outlet, ‘Socialist News Network’, made lewd jokes about VP Harris, and downplayed the COVID-19 death toll, saying, “This virus has almost killed as many people as Hillary Clinton.” 

It happened in our largest state, but fits in quite nicely with the CPAC sentiments in the second largest state. A woman was pulled over for speeding in Anchorage, Alaska, and was unable to produce her driver’s license, but asked the two cops if her ‘White Privilege Card Trumps Everything’ would suffice. They laughed, having never seen the novelty card, allowing her to go without a citation. Unclear at this time what disciplinary action the officers may see, but be forewarned – it’s not going to work again in Anchorage. 

Wow! No time left to cover Trump’s asking ‘his generals’ to be more like WWII Nazi generals while in office…even after WH Chief of Staff Kelly told him there were three assassination attempts…Trump discounted that, obviously not up to date on that page in his history book.

And, wait, wait…the FBI is raiding Mar-A-Lago? Gotta go see this action….later!

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

“Fires”

“The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire”.   
~Richard M. Nixon

“Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life”.    
~Terry Pratchett

“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant”. 
~Mitch Kapor

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A bit of brilliance: “It’s not about making people adhere to the system, it’s about making the system adhere to the habits of people.”

In this particular case, we are talking about organizational systems, and the video is from Caroline Winkler. I watched this, loved her, and immediately subscribed.


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
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