May 22 – 28, 2024

Highlights this week:

Bratton… The Food Bin Neighbors… Greensite…on the loss of our big trees… Steinbruner…Housing on campus…. Hayes…Re-run, and it’s all Gunilla’s fault…Patton…The Downside Of Upzoning… Matlock……trial of the century drags on, Giuliani is 80 and served…Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…Quotes….”Democracy”

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SELECTIVE TREE HARVESTING IN THE SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS. As the now historic “SELECTIVE” harvesting goes, they SELECT all the trees they can make big bucks from and strip the mountain sides.

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

DATELINE MAY 22

FOOD BIN’S 5 (FIVE) STORY PROPOSED CONSTRUCTION. Many, many of the folks who live around the neighborhood of the Food Bin on Mission Street have formed The Food Bin Neighbors. They sent out this press release Sunday May 19 and I’m repeating it here. Mission Street is our designated corridor and belongs to all of us. If you want to contact them go to  foodbinappeal@gmail.com

Dear Neighbors and Santa Cruz Residents,

Thank you to everyone who has written letters to City Council, shown up to hearings, and supported modifications to the Food Bin Project! We remain concerned that the Food Bin owners and developer think that a 5+ story building with almost no setbacks from the creek and next door neighbors is acceptable. This project will set a precedent for future projects in Santa Cruz (including several currently proposed by Workbench) and it deserves a robust community response.

What we need:

At the Planning Commission meeting last Thursday, the owner of the Food Bin announced that everyone besides a few people in the immediate neighborhood are excited for the giant project as it is! We know that is not the case.  While almost everyone recognizes that we need more housing, residents citywide are unwilling to sacrifice our neighborhoods, creeks and wildlife. We don’t have to choose one over the other. We can have both!  A smaller building would provide needed housing, while still allowing a reasonable setback from neighbors, without overhanging Laurel Creek or intruding into its riparian zones. We are hoping to  inspire developers  to rethink their gargantuan designs and build projects that our community would be proud to welcome.

The scale of the currently proposed building is so far out of line with the Mission Street Urban Design Plan and the City-Wide Creeks and Wetlands Management Plan, that it takes more from the community than it gives. In that the Planning Department has recommended that it be exempt from CEQA, its full impacts to our community won’t even be evaluated.

There will be more information coming out as we move forward with this, so stay tuned!
Please let us know if you have any questions!

Sincerely,
1200 Block of Laurel, Cleveland, and Van Ness Neighbors

DARK MATTER. Apple series (7.4 IMDB) *** Yes indeed, another space bending, time warping 9 episode distraction. This one stars Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Connelly. There’s a robbery he gets beat up then he gets reborn backwards 14 months and 10 days in his life. He made and remakes mistakes and so do many other characters in their new growth decisions, but it’s not all that bad. Go for it.

A NEARLY NORMAL FAMILY. Netflix series. (6.4 IMDB) A beautiful 19 year old daughter gets raped by a 40 year old guy. Turns out he’s not such a bad guy except that he gets murdered and she gets accused. Her parents and many friends and you too, will defend her. The ending is a surprise. It’s enticing, engrossing, and it has just a few gaps in the telling of the plot but watch it at your earliest convenience.

THE HIJACKING OF FLIGHT 601. Netflix Series (6.7 IMDB) This is a thriller from Columbia and it’ll keep you attached for all 6 episodes. It’s based about 80% on the true story of that high jacking of a passenger plane in the 1970’s. It’s full of government officials, much airline hostess’s activity and genuine well developed suspense. They manage to portray a lot of politics and the evils of huge sums of money and be sure to allow yourselves enough time to watch all 6 of the series because you’ll care which side wins.

REPTILE. Netflix movie. (6.8 IMDB) *** Benicio Del Toro is near perfect as the detective who works full time and near silent investigating the murder (cruel stabbing) of a housewife. Real Estate plays a background setting as Justin Timberlake and Alicia Silverstone do only halfhearted acting in their fill in parts.

MIDSUMMER NIGHT. Netflix series. (6.7 IMDB) *** Set in Norway this celebrates Midsummer Night which is the longest night of the year. (news to me!) It’s contemporary and they use their cell phones a lot. Lots of sex involved here and some of it is surprising because it’s between and older male and a young babe. You’ll probably up thinking about your own morals and their validity. Go for it.

MAXTON HALL.  Prime series. (7.5 IMDB). * This saga is centered on the full relationship/courting of a rich, well-endowed, young male and a girl who barely makes a living and still they both go to Oxford. They use iPhones which keeps it current but the tensions and the repairs to their coupling start out so boring and end up barely making it plausible. He also plays lacrosse which should give you clues right there.

SUGAR. Apple series (7.8 IMDB) *** A genuine Hollywood movie about Hollywood. It stars Colin Farrell who does an excellent job in this absurd exploration of improvable plots. They throw in many, many cuts from classic Hollywood films in B&W and color. James Cromwell plays a legendary producer whose granddaughter is missing. It’s fun to watch especially when you try to match the old footage with the current confusing action.

FRANKLIN. Apple Series (7.01IMDB)* Michael Douglas does a half convincing job as an older version (70) of Benjamin Franklin in this politic filled boring movie. Noah Jupe is his young boyfriend. It’s full of twists, romance, and a lot of the script is in French so you’ll be watching subtitles more than usual. Not recommended.

UPGRADED. AMAZON Movie. (6.1IMDB) ** Listed as a comedy I thought I’d try finding something to laugh at in this lengthy half interesting vehicle. Marisa Tomei plays a driven manager of an art investment company in London that auctions off “masterpieces”. Lena Olin is back in her usual tempestuous bossy role and has always been a favorite of mine so all in all there are a few smiles and near laughs… so do watch this one.

SOUND OF FREEDOM. PRIME Movie. (7.61 IMDB) *** The story centers on child abuse and the pedophiles who run the children’s sex trafficking between Honduras, Columbia, and South America. The actual statistics are horrible and run into millions of children annually. The movie stat3es that there are more slaves today than there ever were even during the time we had slavery in the USA It’s still not a great film but it does get the message across.

STOLEN. NETFLIX Movie (5.6 IMDB)** In northern Sweden / Lapland there’s a settlement of islanders who raise reindeer as a way of life. They are known as Sami and are treated as racially and inhumanly as any minority ever has. This is a drama about a deer kill that brings out the worst in this isolated community. Watch it but be prepared to squirm.

BABY REINDEER. (Netflix Series) (8.2 IMDB) *** A cute and cuddly title for a British series from a book written about a true story. There’s a bartender who doubles his life as a standup comic. He becomes stalked, really stalked by a hefty woman who doesn’t give up. They go to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival and have quite a weird time. It’s neurotic but well worth watching.

FALLOUT. Amazon (8.6 IMDB). * You’ll probably recognize and try hard to remember Kyle McLachlan who has a small part in this ridiculous, violent, near satire of an atomic attack on Hollywood in 200 years from now. There’s long scenes of mindless murders and just plain script flips of a plot that never makes sense… don’t go here.

LAKE ERIE MURDERS. MAX (7.1 IMDB) *** Being from Buffalo, New York I hoped this was filmed there but nope Lake Erie borders on four states and parts of Canada. It’s a documentary and is also referred to as Who Killed Amy Mihaljevic. Amy was only 10 in 1989 and the murder is still unsolved to this day. Dozens of interviews with possible kidnappers, yes they found her body but have never found enough proof or evidence to convict anyone. Go for it but don’t expect any satisfactory ending.

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If ever asked to describe the worst thing about Santa Cruz, I’d not hesitate to say, “the wanton destruction of big, beautiful mature trees.”  From my early days in Santa Cruz to today, the chain saws are still hard at work felling nature’s creations. What we didn’t know then, that we know now, is the critical importance of big trees in storing carbon. That trees give us oxygen and take in carbon dioxide should elevate them to a status of reverence. Many old cultures did worship trees without knowing a thing about climate change. Poets capture the beauty of trees and our place amongst them. And still, the chainsaws whine and another giant is brought down, carefully, as ever more machines make human labor less arduous.

The big tree in the photo is a recent casualty of human power over nature. It was growing on Rio Del Mar Avenue. I’d estimate it at over a hundred years old. The species can live up to four or five hundred years but few, if any, will, given the casual disregard for non-native trees, irrespective of their age or habitat value. Add a dose of hatred for the species and you get the usual slew of online comments such as “good riddance” and “this is what should happen to all eucalyptus.”

Such disregard for non-native trees is not limited to the layperson. A recent op-ed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel by an evolutionary biologist made essentially the same point. In minimizing the impact of tree loss (803 trees to be cut down) for Segments 10 and 11 of the rail trail, she wrote “Of the 1,883 trees in the arborist’s table, more than a thousand are invasives, such as eucalyptus and acacia. But of the native trees slated to be cut, only about 67 are even moderately substantial trees, 20 or more inches in diameter.” Apparently, 736 trees are not considered a loss because they are non-native. She does acknowledge that “all trees have value-for wildlife, for our enjoyment, and for carbon storage” but that lone sentence does not deter from the main thrust of the argument that it’s only 67 large native trees that will be cut down for human infrastructure. And after all, “it’s not like clearcutting square miles of ancient coast redwoods.” No it’s not, but that style of arguing belies any lesser impact that still is keenly felt.

A few facts are needed to counter lay ignorance and academic bias. The first is that eucalypts are generally not invasive. That fact can be checked from aerial photographs in McHenry Library. For example, look at Moore Creek and Arroyo Seco over a sixty- year period. The trees are bigger of course but their spread is limited, and their range is shrinking.

Eucalypts did not eradicate native oaks. Dairy farmers cut down the oaks and then, looking for a quick-growing tree for windbreaks, planted eucalyptus, imported from Australia in the mid-nineteenth century. Despite ignorant statements to the contrary, the wood of the Tasmanian blue gum makes excellent structural timber so long as it is properly dried. If we want to favor native trees and were wise, we would plant blue gums for fence material and spare native redwoods.

Then there is the issue of habitat.  Before cheering the demise of the eucalyptus, consider the research of Dr. David Suddjian. On eucalyptus and birds, he writes: “the flowers of blue gum, red gum and other species provide a bounty for many different birds during the winter and spring.” He continues, “Over 90 species of birds make regular use of eucalyptus in the Monterey Bay region during the course of the year, in addition to a wide variety of rare migrants…” On nesting, he writes, “at least 59 species of birds have been found nesting in eucalyptus stands, in the Monterey Bay region. That is equivalent to about 40% of all species known to nest in Santa Cruz County.” Such habitat value is not so easily dismissed under the pejorative, non-native.

I do not know the reason for that majestic trees’ demise. The County does not protect big trees outside of a narrow strip of the Coastal Zone or in a mapped creek and habitat area so elsewhere, anyone can cut down a significant tree without consequence. The County also has a poor history of protecting big trees even in a habitat area. Moran Lake, a recognized overwintering site for Monarch butterflies has had hundreds of its eucalyptus trees cut down for views or just cos they are non-native. Historical photos document the loss.

As the science of global warming temperatures becomes more recognized as urgent, there are valiant efforts underway to plant more trees on a local and global level. However, planting saplings is a fool’s errand without also protecting the big trees. Neither the birds, nor the planet care about their heritage.

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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COUNTY BUDGET WOES
The Board of Supervisors heard a tale of woe from the County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios and Budget Manager Marcus Pimentel on the first of two days of County Budget hearings.  CAO Palacios began by whining that “an individual” has decided to move forward with a legal challenge regarding the County allowing city voters to decide the fate of Measure K’s new half-cent sales tax even though the tax only applies to businesses in the unincorporated areas.  CAO Palacios cast aspersions that even though the legal challenge had not succeeded in obtaining an injunction before the election, insinuating that it will not succeed on legal merits in the Courts either.  Rubbish.  The reason Judge Volkmann denied the injunction to stop ballots  including Measure K from going out to city voters was because he did not see “adequate proof of harm” if the measure were presented to the city voters.  It was shocking.

Now the legal challenge continues and I am grateful to that individual for standing up to demand that the County follow the law.  According to CAO Palacios, the County can still collect the money, but it is embargoed and cannot be spent.  Can we trust that the County will keep separate the Measure K half-cent sales tax monies it collects from the unincorporated businesses and NOT spend it?  If the legal challenge is successful, will the County return the money to the businesses and taxpayers?????

If the County Board of Supervisors responded to the Grand Jury Report recommendation that monies from another sales tax measure in 2018 (Measure G) could not be kept separate for public transparency because it would be too complicated, how can we trust the County to be able to keep Measure K monies separate and embargoed until the legal challenge is resolved???

Budget Manager Marcus Pimentel  presented a whirlwind summary of the County’s Budget.  The discretionary fund of $7.5 Million will get spent down to less than $1.25 Million now to save worker jobs, according to him and CAO Palacios.  Three new jobs will get added in Public Defender and one new job for the District Attorney Dept. to accommodate an unfunded State mandate to implement the CARE Act (CARE-ACT)  Capital Improvement Projects will now be handled by the General Services Dept., not Public Works, and will cause 10 full-time staff to transfer to General Services Dept. and also add a new full-time person to General Services.

Hmmm…  No one could answer my question as to how this can improve efficiency, or if it is even realistic logistically.

At the same time, the $4.4 Million General Fund money that used to support General Services Dept. will evaporate to $0, in order to allow in part the $8.5 Million payment needed from the General Fund to pay the County’s debt service on the unprecedented $95 Million lease bond the Board approved last week, plunging Santa Cruz County into massive debt.

What bothers me is that the Supervisors and CAO  complain that our County only receives 13cents/$1 property tax, yet the Supervisors never seem to express interest in trying to change that with lobbying action at the State legislation level.  Why not?

I am very worried about this.  Are you?

Write your County Supervisors and let them know your thoughts.  You and I have had to learn to live within our means on a realistic budget…don’t you think it is time the County does, too?
County Board of Supervisors  831-454-2200  BoardOfSupervisors@santacruzcountyca.gov

HIDING A SPECIAL PROPERTY TAX INITIATIVE IN THE BUDGET CONSENT AGENDA
The Board of Supervisors heard Budget Matters on May 21 and May 22.  However, hidden on the May 22 Consent Agenda was a Resolution to allow the Santa Cruz County Land Trust-sponsored Special Property Tax initiative on the November, 2024 ballot.

Take a look at Consent Item #19

Why did the Supervisors hide this in the Budget Hearing Consent Agenda?  Who would suspect to see such an action during the Budget Hearings?  Why isn’t it scheduled for the June 4 regular Board Meeting?

If you think the Board is eroding public trust and local government transparency, please let them know: 831-454-2200
Board of Supervisors BoardOfSupervisors@santacruzcountyca.gov

DID SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT STAFF LIE?
The Board of Directors for Soquel Creek Water District approved a Resolution on March 5 to approve the contract with CH2M Hill and Jacobs Engineering to operate the PureWater Soquel Project wastewater treatment plant for ten years.  The problem was that the Board nor the public ever saw the complete contract and had no idea what was really included in it.  The Resolution stated that the Agreement could be viewed by contacting the General Manager, the custodian of the document.

I filed a Public Records Act request on March 23 and March 25 to obtain the Agreement, and to also make an appointment with General Manager Ron Duncan to review the document at District Offices.

Just this week, I received the District’s response:  “The District does not have this document in its files as of March 23, 2024, the date of the request.”

So, did District staff lie or misrepresent information to the Board to convince them to approve the Resolution 24-04 and give the General Manager a blank check to do whatever he wanted regarding how the Project treatment and injection wells will be operated, or what safeguards would be put in place to protect the public drinking water or be transparent with the costs the Board were earlier told would justify the recent four-year annual rate increases to customers???    Hmmmmm……

Well, the matter returned to the Board on May 7, to let the Board approve everything.  That landed a 2,000+ page attachment in their agenda packet, and I am convinced that none of them read it before approving it as what initially was a consent agenda item.   That Resolution 24-07 was missing sections and had no explanation of the costs inherent in the Agreement.

What’s more, the Board did not revoke their first Resolution…so what is operative now in the Agreement with CH2M Hill and Jacobs Engineering????

The Board is asleep.  Rate payers should rightfully be worried.  CH2M Hill stated March 5 that the PureWater Soquel Project wastewater treatment plant will only be staffed Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm, and will run on auto-pilot with operators on call at all other times.  Hmmm…what could go wrong?  Injecting contaminated water into the groundwater supply for other water users?  Oh well, the District’s mitigation for that is to provide bottled water to those affected, such as the Pine Tree Lane Water Mutual and other private well owners nearby.

However, with the lack of transparency the District seems to embrace thus far, how would anyone ever know if there is a malfunction of the treatment process???

THE SIERRA CLUB AGAIN PLEADS WITH SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT TO POSTPONE LAUREL STREET BRIDGE COSMETIC WORK TO PROTECT CLIFF SWALLOW NESTS

Once again, the Santa Cruz Chapter of the Sierra Club wrote to the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors to plead that the District’s contractor, Garney Construction, halt all work on the Laurel Street Bridge in Santa Cruz in order to not disturb the migratory Cliff Swallows nesting under the Bridge.   This urgent request is in compliance with the PureWater Soquel Project Mitigations, which Garney seems to be ignoring.

[Sierra Club letter – URGENT – PureWater Soquel Project wildlife impact]

The PureWater Soquel Project construction update issued last Friday by Soquel Creek Water District for this week states there will crews resuming work on the Laurel Street Bridge regarding the conveyance pipeline:

Laurel Street:(Work hours are Monday through Friday from 7:00-4:00 PM)

  • Architectural cover work will resume next week and continue for approximately two weeks.
  • Construction Updates

The Cliff Swallows are now in their active nesting season, and likely are either incubating eggs or have live hatchlings.   Crews working on the Bridge will disturb the birds and interfere with their breeding season.

Cliff swallows are federally protected, migratory songbirds, and it is a violation of state and federal laws to harm them or interfere with their nests while they are breeding. All swallows are state and federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Both the Sierra Club and I have asked the District to please cease and desist any and all work on the Laurel Street Bridge until September 1, 2024 when the Cliff Swallow breeding season is complete.

No one from the District responded to my request.  Purportedly, the only response the District provided to the initial March 5 request made by the Sierra Club was “We care about the environment, so thank you for your letter.”  Period. (pages 9-12)

Please write the District <bod@soquelcreekwater.org>   and the Santa Cruz City Council <citycouncil@santacruzca.gov>

Garney Construction’s behavior and the District’s complicity are unacceptable.

CPUC REJECTS AT&T APPLICATION TO DITCH COPPER LANDLINE TELEPHONE SERVICE
On May 10, the proposed decision of Administrative Law Judge Thomas J. Glegolawas published.

[CPUC Proposes Rejecting AT&T’s Request to Withdraw as Carrier of Last Resort; Initiates New Rulemaking Process]

First, we learned that the California Public Utilities Commission denied AT&T’s request to no longer meet its obligation to provide basic telephone service as the carrier of last resort. I weighed in with the Commission to protest AT&T’s request because many of my constituents rely solely on their landline service for all their communications. Many live in remote, hard to access areas where cell service and internet access is spotty, unreliable, and in some cases, completely unavailable. Others are elderly and retired, living on fixed incomes. Maintaining carrier of last resort status ensures every Californian has access to reliable and affordable communications no matter where they live. This decision is a victory for them. The final vote by the CPUC on this decision will on June 20th.

WOULD ALLOWING PRIVATE RURAL CAMPGROUNDS INCREASE FIRE HAZARD FOR RESIDENTS AND DISTURB WILDLIFE HABITAT?
Yet another unfunded State mandate,

THE LATEST NEWS ON THE REDMAN-HIRAHARA HOUSE IN WATSONVILLE
Last weekend’s County History Fair was wonderful and really educational.  I met Dr. Jacob Stone there, who had a table about the Redman-Hirahara House and Farmstead, displaying artifacts and photos relative to his study of the Japanese-American internment.  Take a look and please let me know if you are willing to help Dr Stone and me work to preserve this National Historic Registry gem.

SB 620 would  amend existing law, the Special Occupancy Parks Act, and require counties statewide to allow Low Impact Camping on private lands and to establish codes and requirements that adhere to County Fire Codes, but mandating only waste disposal and quiet hours,  as amended by the Senate on March 22.

Santa Cruz Planning Commissioners have been reviewing the proposed Santa Cruz County Code changes since February, 2024, and most recently on May 8, when the Commission sent the proposed Ordinance UNAPPROVED to the Board of Supervisors.  This matter will be heard on June 25.

The CalFire Chiefs had requested each campsite have 10,000 gallons water stored on site and accessible for fire engines.  However, Supervisor Zach Friend and his analyst Alysson Violante, who happens to be the Chair of the Planning Commission, removed that requirement.

The proposed Low Impact Camping ordinance would allow one campsite per acre on parcels five acres or more, with four campers per campsite.  No on-site campsite host would be required, but someone must be responsible for the site and be either 15 miles or 60 minutes away.  What if there is no phone service at the campsite to call the host, or to call 911 if needed?

Listen to the Planning Commissioners deliberate: Item #8, Planning Agenda

  • Read the correspondence page 48 Fire Chief’s Association  requiring connectivity to report 911
  • page 36 excellent letter by Patricia Damron
  • page 29 Jonathan Wittwer…this is NOT CEQA exempt
  • One owner who has been hosting campers already reported a camper started a fire, even though no campfires allowed.

Speak up about this on or before June 25 Board of Supervisors meeting.

DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE PUBLIC INSURANCE ADJUSTERS AVAILABLE TO HELP YOU?
A Public Insurance Adjuster is there to help you when you need to file a claim…like a flood, fire, etc. They are an insurance adjuster, licensed with the California Department of Insurance, that may be hired directly by the insured to represent them against their insurance company for the purpose of settling the insurance claim. Typically a public adjuster will charge a percentage of the claim proceeds for their services as their fee. Go here for more info!

WORK BEGINNING AT THE RISPIN MANSION GARDEN
The work has finally begun on the Rispin Mansion Garden project in Capitola.  I am glad to see that the original plan to remove the historic masonry wall bordering Capitola Wharf Road was altered so that portions of it will remain (see attached photo below)

According to Capitola Councilman Kristen Brown, the City has no plans to restore the mansion.

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A BUDGET HEARING IF YOU CAN AND ASK QUESTIONS.

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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[Webmistress here. Grey was supposed to have had the week off last week, but I somehow ended up posting his piece for this week. Hence this re-run… all my fault!]

Fog, and Fog Lifting
Tall black burned tree trunks hazily emerge into view through the thick fog. Days upon days of fog prevalence make many scenes more mysterious. That eerie scene of black tree poles joins other fog-induced memories this past week: puffs of blowing dense fog hiding and then revealing drippy, dark groves of live oaks; awakening to a wall of silver cloud obscuring everything beyond the window ledge, and one evening’s approach of fog…suddenly pouring over the farm’s western ridge and down the hillsides towards the farm like a wave of terrifying suddenly-released floodwater. Each morning every spider web is illuminated by silver moisture, every leaf and blade adorned by shiny droplets.

Us Moist Critters
The dawn bird chorus is delayed and the songs fewer because all animals are made chilled and sleepy, enveloped in low clouds. The brush rabbits shake the wetness from their pelts between bouts of meandering nibbles. Extended families of quail wander slowly along roads to avoid vegetation soaking their feathers. In the absence of bird song, there is a more peaceful constant patter of dripping. Sweaters, jackets, and long pants are in order for spending time outside. The richly humid air makes breathing feel refreshing and helps accentuate late spring farm scents.

Peak Perfume
The transition between spring and summer is the season of peak perfume. Eight foot tall bolting poison hemlock emits its telltale dusty, bitter odor, which carries far in the fog-moist air. When the clouds lift and the day warms, sweeter, resinous scents are released from the sage, coyote brush, and fir. Fresh-cut-hay smell is omnipresent across the fields and down the roads as mowers constantly challenge the burgeoning grass. Warmer days bring surprising clouds of sweetness, begging for a pause to ponder the origins of scent: madrone, French broom, lilac or lupine could be the source, but maybe there’s something new to discover. I squint to the distance, upwind for patches of flowers, then shift my gaze closer to see if there are bunches of hidden flowers. There it is! – clusters of tiny poison oak blossoms sparkling with nectar and wafting notes of clove and citrus.


Fog recently drapes the ridges surrounding Molino Creek Farm

Drying
The drippy fog does little to keep the inevitable drydown at bay. Deep soil cracks split and widen. Dust cakes vehicles and brush along the roads. This is the first week that the farm must irrigate everything or the plants will wilt and begin to die. The solar well pump runs continuously and the diesel generator will start shortly to push greater volumes of water to the grapes and storage tanks. The summer pattern of orchard watering commences: zig-zagging across acres of trees, digging 8″ deep into the soil to test moisture, adjusting irrigation strategies, turning valves, recording data, monitoring storage tanks, and communicating between many farmers to assure smooth operations. For now, cool days keep this work less hectic, but one eyes the forecast and makes plans for hotter spells.


Molino Creek Farm’s amazing onions, freshly planted and regularly irrigated

Snakes, a Month Late
April is normally snake month, but the cool, wet start of this season delayed the emergence of our slithery friends. Sylvie and her brother Isaac reported a surprising night time rubber boa, crossing the road despite the drippy fog. Smooth, fresh snake tracks cross the dusty roads, always wisely perpendicular. An irate hissing baby gopher snake lunged at my leather gloves from a patch of freshly pulled weeds. We are constantly surprised by scaled creatures jetting away from disrupting orchard management: a swift yellow-bellied racer snake, head held high, escaping…giant alligator lizards making for safer ground away from hoeing. Wherever we look there are oodles of lizards and snakes, an homage to organic tilth, the diversity of plants, and the wealth of prey that result from good land management the collective respect for nature found at Molino Creek Farm.


Cherries, lushly growing with irrigation and nestled in fog drip
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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Dateline: May 17, 2024

#138 / The Downside Of Upzoning

The five-story building pictured above is located in Washington, D.C. I found the picture in The New Republic magazine, illustrating an article titled, “The Case Against YIMBYism.”

YIMBYs would, presumably, cheer the newer building pictured as helping to meet local housing needs. Others, quite likely, would think that the new building is an affront to the character of a beautiful little neighborhood, and might point out some practical problems, too, like parking demand, solar shading, and the like.

Those who regularly read my blog postings may remember that I have writtten about “YIMBYism” before, and I didn’t have much good to say about it in my earlier comments. While I absolutely believe that there are often very good reasons to urge new residential development projects, and increased density in urban areas, I strongly object to efforts by those who advocate pro-development policies, and who call themselves YIMBYs (“Yes In My Backyard”), to pretend that there is a comparable, organized, and anti-development group called NIMBY (“Not In My Backyard”).

There is no such “NIMBY” group. No one has ever organized a group to oppose all development, period, and called it “NIMBY.” Saying that someone is a “NIMBY” is plain-old name calling. Those who oppose specific developments are usually better called, “neighbors,” and they often have very good reasons to oppose a proposed development project, when they do come out in opposition. Such project opponents are not – as the name “NIMBY” is meant to imply – selfish, greedy, uncaring and probably racist opponents to anyone who isn’t already living in their neighborhood.

The New Republic article, linked above, focuses on how the YIMBY movement operates. The main point of the article is revealed in its subtitle: “Why encouraging more private development won’t solve the housing crisis.” I endorse the findings outlined by The New Republic, but want to add on an observation that is only very briefly mentioned in what that article says.

YIMBY (the group) is of, by, and for the development industry. The actual aim of YIMBY, which tends to claim that its main purpose is to promote affordable housing, is to promote housing development, period. If there is any validity (or sincerity) to the YIMBY claim that building more housing will make housing more affordable, that claim rests upon the fallacious argument that there is a “law of supply and demand,” and that if the supply of housing is increased, the price of housing will inexorably fall, thus making housing more affordable simply by building more of it.

There are a number of fallacies involved in this claim – and The New Republic article gets at a number of them. What the article does not stress, though, is the following. In order to increase the “supply” of housing, YIMBY advocates routinely want to “upzone” land. “Upzoning” means changing local ordinances, and/or the local General Plan, to designate a particular piece of real property with a zoning designation that will allow more development than the former zoning designation would allow.

Obviously, if the zoning designation on a piece of property would allow the construction of ten new units of housing on that property, and the zoning designation is changed, and “upzoned,” to allow the construction of twenty new units, the “upzone” that made that change possible will permit the property owner/developer to produce more housing. Even if you believe that producing “more” housing will automatically mean that the “more” housing produced will be “more affordable” (which is not necessarily the case, as The New Republic article notes), there is a fallacy in the argument for “upzoning.”

The price of a new residential unit, where prices reflect the so-called “free market,” will depend, of course, on how much it costs to produce that residential unit. When land is “upzoned,” permitting more housing to be built, the price of the land will increase, to reflect this new reality. So, the benefit of “upzoning” will go to the property owner, not to the purchaser of the new units produced under the new zoning.

That is one of the major “downsides” of upzoning. It’s not the only one, of course, because community costs will also go up as land is “upzoned” for greater density.

Who mainly benefits from upzoning? Not those seeking more affordable housing. Who benefits are the property owners, whose property just became more valuable, thanks to the upzoning approved by local officials. Lucky for the property owners, it just so happens that those folks have a bonafide nonprofit corporation to represent them, and to help them argue for those very profitable “upzonings.”

I know you have already guessed. That nonprofit corporation, of by and for the property owners and developers is called, “YIMBY,” and The New Republic is right on target in presenting its case against YIMBYism.

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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TRUMP COUNTING SHEEP, RUDY BREWS ESCAPE
Don’t hold your breath for this one, but Representative Lauren Boebert co-sponsored House bill H.R. 8386 to award the twice-impeached, indicted felon Donald Trump the Congressional Gold Medal for his “dedication to strengthening America’s diplomatic relations.” The former president’s diplomacy is notable for his attempt to extort Ukraine to get incriminating information on Joe Biden, and most recently encouraging Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” to our allies. The Congressional vault probably has a few extra medals on hand after Boebert voted ‘No’ on awarding such to the Capitol Police officers for defending the lives of Congress members during the January 6 Insurrection.

Perhaps we’ll get to see Trump exercise his diplomacy bona fides at the upcoming debate with President Biden on June 27 at CNN’s Atlanta studios. Catching the Trump team off guard, Biden challenged Mr. Trump to two debates on ABC and CNN, with Trump’s immediate acceptance and his keepers probably gagging at the prospect, especially with Biden’s taking the lead on the debate issue…will they or won’t they? Many are saying we will only see a walking corpse, with Trump stumbling his way around, no idea what’s going on in a nonexistent campaign where his babysitters keep a tight rein on his appearances. Former Fox News host, Chris Wallace, who moderated the first 2020 debate between the two candidates, says it will be “suicidal” if Trump conducts himself as he did in that flame-out of a debate. Trump interrupted both Biden and Wallace in excess of 100 times, with his own team saying he “came on way too hot.” Wallace suggests, “If I were giving Trump advice, I would let Biden talk, because sometimes Biden gets himself in trouble. And then I’d counterpunch…I think Trump thought, ‘I’m going to be able to throw Biden off his game, I’m going to be able to get him confused.’ It didn’t work, Biden kept his cool, and the person who ended up looking bad was Trump. If he does the same thing again, he’s a fool.” What will Trump do without a teleprompter?

It does seem that Mr. Trump is able to scribble notes to pass on to his Greek Chorus of GOP acolytes who have started to show up at his hush-money trial, which they then elaborate from outside the New York court house, sounding very much like a limited vocabulary Trump with endless, whining recitations. New York Magazine’s Andrew Rice noted that during the trial the former president was seen editing the statements of witnesses that he wanted his cohorts to feed to the media gathering. MSNBC’S Alex Wagner questioned the legality of this activity since the gag order prohibits Trump from directing others to say those things he is not allowed to utter. Case in point being, Senator Tommy Tuberville admitting that “one of the reasons” for his attendance and commentary was “to overcome this gag order” imposed on Trump, who is enduring “mental anguish” in this “depressing” courtroom. And, chiming in was Senator J.D. Vance, who criticized Judge Juan Merchan’s daughter which Trump himself had done previously but is now gagged against doing so. Parroting Vance was North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who denied that Trump had instructed him to speak of the judge’s daughter. Tuberville doubled down later on Newsmax’s Chris Salcedo Show, saying, “Hopefully, we’ll have more and more senators and congressmen go up every day to represent him and be able to go out and overcome this gag order, and that’s one of the reasons we went – is to be able to speak our piece for President Trump.” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said he sees it as “both thuggish and pathetic” how Trump appears, via his stooges, to be trying to circumvent the gag order which bans him from talking about witnesses, jurors, court staff and their families.

Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC was in attendance, reporting that Vance and Tuberville sat in the “vice presidential nominee audition bench” behind the “Eric Trump bench” during the court proceedings. At the first recess, the two senators left their seats, going straight to the reporters outside the courtroom, with Vance questioning Michael Cohen’s credibility and criticizing the judge’s daughter, while Tuberville questioned the citizenship of the jurors, wisecracking that “supposedly American citizens were in that courtroom.” O’Donnell described Vance as being “on his phone the entire time…there was really no reason for him to come if he wasn’t going to take in everything that was happening,” referencing Vance’s statement that he was there “to show support for a friend” and to be a “friendly face in the courtroom.” For a friend who will soon select a VP running mate?! Co-host Willie Geist on ‘Morning Joe’ described the duo’s commentary as performative outrage on behalf of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. “Vance is a US Marine, for God’s sake, where it’s all about honor. It’s very sad,” he added. Joe Scarborough reminded him of Vance’s previous disdain for Trump, when he said in 2016, “If you love Jesus, if you were a Christian, you cannot support Donald Trump. Now furiously on the vice presidential treadmill, he has changed his mind and has decided that this is the most noble of men in his porn star trial.”

The following day, the Greek Chorus saw House Speaker Mike Johnson, along with Florida Representatives Donalds and Mills fill the space for “friendly faces,” joined also by Vivek Ramaswamy and Governor Burgum. A fed-up Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict the former president in his second impeachment trial in 2021, unloaded on fellow GOPers who have attended Trump’s hush-money trial, saying to HuffPost“Do we have something to do around here other than watch a stupid porn trial? I mean, this is ridiculous.” But Trump appears happy with such visible support from his MAGA base, commenting, “I do have a lot of surrogates, and they are speaking very beautifully. We have a lot of great people here to talk to you.” Speaker Johnson declared, “President Trump is innocent of these charges. This is the fifth week of a sham trial…they are doing this intentionally to keep him here and keep him off the campaign trail.” But Trump has squandered his days off from the trial by playing golf or holing up at Mar-a-Lago…talk to his babysitters! Senator Mitt Romney says the entourage of GOP leaders showing up outside the New York City courthouse is “a little embarrassing…a little demeaning where we’re talking about an allegation of paying a porn star. Really difficult to watch. There is a level of dignity and decorum that you expect from people who are running for the highest station in the land, and going out and prostrating themselves in front of the public to try and apparently curry favor with the person who is our nominee.”

After Tuesday’s trial, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow expressed her surprise at the “sad” way in which the latest batch of GOP grovelers attended the proceedings, dressing like the former guy…“It was like they were the Rockettes,” she observed. However, she mockingly suggested that Speaker Johnson was allowed to wear a striped tie because of his leadership role, but they all used “the same language, describing Trump as their friend. I don’t know if Trump has friends. I don’t think Vivek Ramaswamy is one of them, if he does have friends. And this is a display of sycophancy and a job interview,” she added. Panelist Nicolle Wallace’s one-word description hits the bullseye…“clownish.”  This is a sensitive subject for many Republicans who prefer anonymity, who feel that Johnson, a supposedly devout Southern Baptist who built his political career on his fight for Christian values and moral conservatism, is undermining the party’s family values image for Trump’s favor. One House GOPer feels that Johnson has to answer for that dichotomy at sticking his neck out in light of his previous standing. Johnson disclosed a couple of years ago that he and his son monitor each other’s porn intake with the app, Covenant Eyes“a platform that helps you live porn-free with confidence,” according to its website. The Speaker bragged back then that, “I’m proud to tell you, my son’s got a clean slate.” “I wonder if he had to report the New York visit to his son?” one lawmaker asked facetiously. Former Representative Liz Cheney accused Johnson of abandoning his commitment to advancing high-minded moral principles, by admitting he wants to be in the “I Cheated On My Wife With A Porn Star” club.

While some Republicans have veered from the path by ignoring the actual charges, and defending the former guy from the process, a familiar refrain being, “I don’t think it has anything to do with what he’s charged with. I think it’s all about just the way the trial itself has been conducted and the fact that there’s a lot of unfairness that’s going on.” That coming from Representative Aderholt of Alabama. On the other side of the aisle, Democrats argue that it was irresponsible for the Speaker, a figure who is third in line to the presidency, to disparage the country’s judicial system, undermining the public’s trust in a foundational institution that’s long been a source of national pride. California’s Pete Aguilar said, “It’s disappointing to see the Speaker speak negatively of independent criminal investigations, but that’s the price House Republicans have to pay; specifically, Johnson, for Trump to have his back.” Another anonymous House Republican raised concerns that Johnson who is a constitutional lawyer was casting doubt on the judicial branch, saying, “What I really didn’t like was the fact that as an officer of the court, he walked out and bashed the proceedings, the court, the judiciary, and that’s not fair. And as an officer of the court you have a duty to uphold that. It’s one thing when Trump, who’s not a lawyer [nor a president…yet], does it. It’s quite another thing for a member of the bar.”

‘Late Night’s’ Seth Meyers says it was probably inadvisable for Trump’s entourage of “MAGA weirdos” to show up at his criminal trial, especially where character is essential to the case…and Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert aren’t the role models you want in the room. “Man, Beavis and Butthead are everywhere! That’s like if O.J.’s buddies at his trial were Charles Manson and Hannibal Lecter,” he quipped, adding, “I’m surprised to see Boebert there. Not surprised she showed up…just surprised she hasn’t been kicked out yet. Seriously, there are more Republican members of Congress at Trump’s trial than there are in the Capitol. Just going to throw this out there…might be a good day to storm it.” He goes on to say that they had to sit next to Eric Trump because they got their tickets from Seat FreakStephen Colbert commented about Trump speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, complaining about his prosecution, calling the trial “a scam, and it’s a sham.” “Coincidentally, ‘scam’ and ‘sham’ are the Secret Service code names for Eric and Don Jr,” Colbert disclosed. Desi Lydic on the ‘Daily Show’ said, “Michael Cohen is the linchpin of the government’s case, because his testimony directly ties Trump to the falsification of business records, which, remember, is the actual crime here. The porn star hush-money part is just a little thing we keep saying because it’s fun. Trump’s defense attorneys have been doing their best to make Michael Cohen seem less credible than a Boeing in-flight safety video.” Bill Maher on his ‘Real Time’ show asks, “Why can’t everybody live in my world, in the middle, where we’re not nuts?” He also comments about Republicans showing up at the trial dressed like Trump with this observation: “J.D. Vance was there, and Vivek Ramaswamy, Tommy Tuberville, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. No wonder Trump falls asleep in the trial…he’s counting his sheep.”

You’re probably too late to get in on the special sale during the launch of America’s mayor’s new coffee enterprise. Rudy Giuliani, saddled with his $148M debt amid his bankruptcy filing is attempting to at least maintain his lifestyle, the debt being secondary to him…no doubt. A two pound bag of his beans…regular price $29.95…was available at $17 with the first 100 bags adorned with his signature, as he aims for a June ship date! So, let’s see…how many $30 bags does he have to sell to even approach his outstanding debt…yikes!? Better keep those roasteries hot! Poor Rudy was indicted by an Arizona grand jury last month for his attempt to reverse Trump’s 2020 election loss in that state, but the servers were finding it difficult to serve him with the summons as he eluded their efforts to find him. The prosecutors were faced with issuing an arrest warrant as the appointed date for this flibbertigibbet’s appearance approached, with Rudy seeming to relish the game of taunting the authorities by posting clues of his whereabouts, while bragging that you “can’t catch me!”…which would result in some kind of exoneration? Actually, an arrest would have landed him in jail, while being denied bail. But his boldness led to his downfall as he sent a tweet from his eightieth birthday party held in Palm Beach, boasting that he had avoided being served with only a day to go! Within the hour process servers had their own celebration by handing Rudy the summons, thanks to his hot tip on XwitterAndy Borowitz, in ‘The Borowitz Report‘, says the process server followed a trail of jet-black hair dye to locate him, and “the former mayor willingly accepted the summons, apparently mistaking it for a cocktail napkin.”

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.

“Democracy”

“Democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal.”
~Aristotle

“After each war there is a little less democracy to save.”
~Brooks Atkinson

“Democracy is a small, hard core of common agreement, surrounded by a rich variety of individual differences.”
~James B. Conant

“A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience.”
~John Dewey

“Democracy! Bah! When I hear that word I reach for my feather boa!”
~Allen Ginsberg

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Early, EARLY color photography. This is fascinating!


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
Cell phone: 831 212-3273
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com
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May 15 – 21, 2024

Highlights this week:

Bratton… is back!…Greensite …Grand Jury server Gillian will soon return… Steinbruner…Housing on campus…. Hayes…Fog, and Fog Lifting… Patton…A Community Conversation on Surveillance … Matlock…Trump in TIME, drilling for a billion dollars, and an escape from the delegation … Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…Quotes….”Recycling”

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strong>BOARDWALK FILLING IN THE PLUNGE April 25, 1963. This was before they decided to install the miniature golf course. It was an amazingly successful place for folks to swim who didn’t want to brave the ocean. It was a salt water pool.

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

DATELINE MAY 15

KATHRYN HETH LEFT THE STAGE. There’s a definite haunted silence since Kathryn Heth passed on a week or two ago. Kathryn was the brains and brawn behind such community institutions as the Buy And Sell Press, Soquel’s Staircase theatre, Grey Bears, Santa Cruz’s Bus system, and even more. She had a non-stop sense of humor and would have you laughing in seconds. Many of the Heth family have moved back east but there’s still some saddened members here. We’ll all miss her for a very long time.

RANDOM RACIAL & RADICAL THOUGHTS. Good sources that I’ve known for a long time recently shared with me (and now with you) some surprising racial, community, political experiences that they have had during their coming of age here in Santa Cruz. My sources belongs to different and distinct racial groups and because the sharing of these views and opinions could raise tempers, I won’t reveal even the sex or the races they were born to. I apologize for the erratic mixed format of the writing. It was collected and assembled under some unusual circumstances. My editor felt that a list format would serve best to make it digestible.

  • Every racial group has their own set of prejudices. They rant on and on about hair styles, clothing, and food choices. More and more clear headed people are even asking a larger question…why do we have to declare different races in all our official documents?
  • Why are there separate groups in schools teaching different languages that are in the community?
  • I’d never heard the term “Kneebacks” used against Mexican immigrants who didn’t get into the river far enough to be called “Wetbacks”.
  • I learned too that the fancy Quinceanera celebrations when a young Mexican girl turns 15 can and often does cost $20,000 or more, and is for virgins only.
  • Many Mexicans believe that they don’t receive painkillers as easily from our doctors and hospitals as other races do.
  • It’s become more noteworthy and public lately about the unfair and unbalanced arrest records between blacks and white for the same offenses.
  • Is it true that Blacks and Jews are getting more important roles in movies nowadays?
  • Where will the talk lead about paying blacks for the decades spent in Slavery? Will the same happen for Jews and Mexicans?

GOING TO MAUI? Daughter Jennifer Bratton, award-winning former Santa Cruzan, has two available dates on her time shares on Maui. They are July 13-20 at the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas in Lahaina, which has some beautiful lagoon style pools! Another availability, also at the Westin, is the great New Year’s week December 28-January 4, 2025. They won’t last long!

THE WESTIN NANEA OCEAN VILLAS

Check-in: Sat, Jul 13, 2024
Check-out: Sat, Jul 20, 2024

THE WESTIN KAANAPALI OCEAN RESORT VILLAS

Check-in: Sat, Dec 28, 2024
Check-out: Sat, Jan 4, 2025

Go ahead amd click for all the details, these are a really good deal! You can ask questions or book right from the website!

REPTILE. Netflix movie. (6.8 IMDB) *** Benicio Del Toro is near perfect as the detective who works full time and near silent investigating the murder (cruel stabbing) of a housewife. Real Estate plays a background setting as Justin Timberlake and Alicia Silverstone do only halfhearted acting in their fill in parts.

MIDSUMMER NIGHT. Netflix series. (6.7 IMDB) *** Set in Norway this celebrates Midsummer Night which is the longest night of the year. (news to me!) It’s contemporary and they use their cell phones a lot. Lots of sex involved here and some of it is surprising because it’s between and older male and a young babe. You’ll probably up thinking about your own morals and their validity. Go for it.

MAXTON HALL.  Prime series. (7.5 IMDB). * This saga is centered on the full relationship/courting of a rich, well-endowed, young male and a girl who barely makes a living and still they both go to Oxford. They use iPhones which keeps it current but the tensions and the repairs to their coupling start out so boring and end up barely making it plausible. He also plays lacrosse which should give you clues right there.

SUGAR. Apple series (7.8 IMDB) *** A genuine Hollywood movie about Hollywood. It stars Colin Farrell who does an excellent job in this absurd exploration of improvable plots. They throw in many, many cuts from classic Hollywood films in B&W and color. James Cromwell plays a legendary producer whose granddaughter is missing. It’s fun to watch especially when you try to match the old footage with the current confusing action.

FRANKLIN. Apple Series (7.01IMDB)* Michael Douglas does a half convincing job as an older version (70) of Benjamin Franklin in this politic filled boring movie. Noah Jupe is his young boyfriend. It’s full of twists, romance, and a lot of the script is in French so you’ll be watching subtitles more than usual. Not recommended.

UPGRADED. AMAZON Movie. (6.1IMDB) ** Listed as a comedy I thought I’d try finding something to laugh at in this lengthy half interesting vehicle. Marisa Tomei plays a driven manager of an art investment company in London that auctions off “masterpieces”. Lena Olin is back in her usual tempestuous bossy role and has always been a favorite of mine so all in all there are a few smiles and near laughs… so do watch this one.

SOUND OF FREEDOM. PRIME Movie. (7.61 IMDB) *** The story centers on child abuse and the pedophiles who run the children’s sex trafficking between Honduras, Columbia, and South America. The actual statistics are horrible and run into millions of children annually. The movie stat3es that there are more slaves today than there ever were even during the time we had slavery in the USA It’s still not a great film but it does get the message across.

STOLEN. NETFLIX Movie (5.6 IMDB)** In northern Sweden / Lapland there’s a settlement of islanders who raise reindeer as a way of life. They are known as Sami and are treated as racially and inhumanly as any minority ever has. This is a drama about a deer kill that brings out the worst in this isolated community. Watch it but be prepared to squirm.

BABY REINDEER. (Netflix Series) (8.2 IMDB) *** A cute and cuddly title for a British series from a book written about a true story. There’s a bartender who doubles his life as a standup comic. He becomes stalked, really stalked by a hefty woman who doesn’t give up. They go to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival and have quite a weird time. It’s neurotic but well worth watching.

FALLOUT. Amazon (8.6 IMDB). * You’ll probably recognize and try hard to remember Kyle McLachlan who has a small part in this ridiculous, violent, near satire of an atomic attack on Hollywood in 200 years from now. There’s long scenes of mindless murders and just plain script flips of a plot that never makes sense… don’t go here.

LAKE ERIE MURDERS. MAX (7.1 IMDB) *** Being from Buffalo, New York I hoped this was filmed there but nope Lake Erie borders on four states and parts of Canada. It’s a documentary and is also referred to as Who Killed Amy Mihaljevic. Amy was only 10 in 1989 and the murder is still unsolved to this day. Dozens of interviews with possible kidnappers, yes they found her body but have never found enough proof or evidence to convict anyone. Go for it but don’t expect any satisfactory ending.

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We’ve been told we can safely say that Gillian will be back next week!

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

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CABRILLO COLLEGE ON-CAMPUS HOUSING PROJECT WILL BREAK GROUND NEXT SPRING
The multi-story 624-bed dormitory next to Highway One and on Cabrillo College campus, housing a mix of students from Cabrillo and UCSC, went out for a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on May 15 and will break ground next spring.  This will be a private/public partnership, and President Wetstein said that the company building this massive dormitory will also operate and manage it.

Cabrillo is working on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documents only now?  Hmmm….

Last week,. Cabrillo College President Matt Wetstein presented the plan to the MidCounty Democratic Committee to build  a new 624 bed student housing structure on campus, next to Highway One to provide UCSC and Cabrillo students an affordable place to live.  He explained that funding the anticipated $181 Million project was initially a $4 million project to be done via State grants, but the College’s 2022 application was rejected.  Then, SB 159 passed, giving project applications a 10% scoring favor if  joint educational jurisdictions collaborated.  That’s when UCSC and Cabrillio College teamed up to help each other.

They submitted an application last year, only to have Governor Newsom make a sudden and unexpected edict that all such educational housing projects must be funded by bond sales, and grants would no longer be available.  Cabrillo College has not had good success with passing bond measures, and the recent backlash over the potential re-naming of the College would likely not help.

President Wetstein joined many other college CEO’s to lobby the State to change this.  Senator John Laird stepped in to assist the $181 Million Cabrillo College and UCSC project to allow UC Regents to sell the bonds and the State will buy them, interest-free.

Cabrillo College students have priority for 40% of the 624 beds planned (250 beds) that will have four  bunks per room.  The monthly rent/bed will be $925-$950.  Priority will be given to homeless, transitional youth, veterans and those with great financial need.  They will be required to be a full-time student and maintain at lease a 2.0 GPA, showing progress toward obtaining a degree.

The other 374 beds (60% of the Project) will be dedicated to students from UCSC.  It is unknown what those beds will cost, but President Wetstein referred to the Cabrillo student beds as “the cheap beds”, so one can only guess.

He discussed that he had insisted there be a child care facility adjacent to the dormitory, because 30% of Cabrillo students have children.  Adding this to the Project placed it at a disadvantage, because of funding metrics.  However, Congressman Jimmy Panetta successfully earmarked $1.7 Million to pay for the Project’s child care facility and the hope is that Early Childhood Education students could do internships at the center and gain credit and experience toward their education.

I thought it was interesting that President Wetstein said the College is “working on” CEQA issues now. He said impacts of of the Project on historic resources, biological habitats, water and traffic are being examined now.,  The Project EIR link and findings lead one to documents dated 1999:

Stay tuned for an interview with President Wetstein on Friday, June 14 at 2pm on Santa Cruz Voice online radio program…call in with your questions.  santacruzvoice.com

THE COUNTY WILL BORROW $95 MILLION TO STAY AFLOAT AND USE ROAD FUNDING TO HELP PAY THE DEBT SERVICE
Last Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors waited until the very end of the very long meeting to discuss what was perhaps the most crucial item of the day….shoving the County into an unprecedented level of debt and not asking about an alternative to borrowing $95 Million to fund extravagant real estate purchases at a time when they and the CAO knew there was no money to pay for them.

Of course, FEMA was made to be the whipping boy.

CAO Carlos Palacios said it did not help that FEMA refused to reimburse $10 million the County spent in Project Room Key funds (to rent six hotels) to isolate homeless people during Covid. I did not understand that…Project Room Key was a State program, not federal. Project Room Key

I asked the Supervisors to request  staff to submit a summary of the nature of the $104.8 Million that FEMA is balking on reimbursing, and is expected only to reimburse $41 Million, so that future County staff will know better next time regarding extravagant spending during the next disaster.   Public Works Director Matt Machado stepped up top the podium and said that in the future, the County will not be so quick to respond to natural disaster damages.  I suppose filing a Public Records Act request will be the only way to get the revealing information.

The focus was only on the disaster responses, but no mention made of the County’s acquisition of 150 West Marine Drive in Watsonville to create a new County Government Center that has no evidence it is needed or that it will reduce the number of vehicles traveling on Highway One (that was mentioned earlier in the day in a Climate Action Plan presentation).

This was Items #17 and #18 on May 14 Board agenda. Please click on Item 17 in the split screen and listen to the staff presentation

How can it make sense to borrow money to complete the purchase of 150 West Marine building with $4.5 Million so that theroom key County will not have to pay rent, yet as part of the lease revenue bonds the Board approved, the County will have to “lease back” the three buildings owned, and pay massive amounts of interest out of County Road Funds and Health Services funds???

Here is the analysis from Supervisor Manu Koenig’s newsletter:

The County has $125 million in outstanding claims to FEMA and State agencies to help pay for disasters including the 2017 Storms, COVID-19, 2020 CZU Fires, and the 2023 Storms. The County has had to pay upfront for disaster repair and response out of pocket. The long FEMA reimbursement timeline has put the County in a challenging financial position. 

On the positive side, the County’s advocacy efforts have yielded $21.5 million in new FEMA reimbursements since last November and the California Office of Emergency Services has given the County a “cash advance.1 Nevertheless, a funding gap remains.

That’s why the County is considering issuing lease revenue bonds worth $95 million. Lease revenue bonds mean that County facilities including 701 Ocean St, Emeline and the Live Oak Library are put up as collateral for the bonds and the County “leases1 the buildings back.

Total costs for this financing include up to $24,185,000 in interest, $7,793,000 in capitalized interest, and $1,147,000 in fees and issuance costs. Interest costs could decrease to a projected $10,708,000 assuming a reasonable level of federal and State reimbursement over the next decade. 

The annual debt payments would be financed from Road Fund revenue sources up to $2 million annually with the remainder covered by the General Fund resources. Based on current projections, the General Fund annual contribution would begin in FY 2027-28 (see Table 4) up to $1.39 million. The Measure K ballot measure approved by voters on March 5, 2024, will be an important resource for this portion of the General Fund’s future cost.

Take a look at the County’s projected debt service data

I am really worried about this.  Are you?  Attend the County Budget hearings next Tuesday and Wednesday and speak up, or write your County Supervisors. Board of Supervisors <boardofsupervisors@santacruzcountyca.gov>

AUDIT THE STATE’S AGENCY THAT IS FLOGGING LOCAL GOVERNMENT INTO MASSIVE BUILDING
State Senator Steven K. Glazer (7th District) asked the Joint Audit Committee to approve an audit of the State’s Housing and Community Development (HCD) for inconsistent and untimely procedures and processes regarding  the approvals and implementation of Housing Elements of all cities and counties in the State.

The Committee approved Senator Glazer’s request on May 14.  Senator John Laird is the Vice Chair.

Senator Glazer’s pleading justified auditing HCD, based on his investigations and observations within his District.

HCD is the all-powerful fist of the State that is mandating all local government agencies to rush to meet unrealistic deadlines to get their blessing on their Housing Element in their General Plans, or risk losing all local control over how projects are designed or how large they are.  This is known as “Builder’s Remedy” and it strips all discretionary ability over local land use projects.

Even if a jurisdiction has met the deadline for HCD approval, it could lose it at the mid-term evaluation if 50% progress in building the crazy-high mandated numbers is not done, automatically reverting to Builder’s Remedy!

Tune in to Catalysts for Local Control every Monday at 5pm to get updates on this issue and more:
catalystsca.org

WHY NOT JUST ANSWER MY QUESTION?
Last week, the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors affirmed their agreement with CH2M Hill / Jacobs Engineering to operate the PureWater Soquel Project sewage water treatment plant and injection wells.  You may remember that the Board  initially approved the $4.5 million baseline agreement that will allow real people operating the plant Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm, with the rest of the time being on-call for problems.  You may also remember that the Board approved this agreement without seeing the contract…just snippets of words here and there.

Well, the District had the opportunity to fix that by providing the full contract, which they did, however, no costs are included.  Also, the Board failed to revoke the March 5 Resolution authorizing the agreement, and passed another modified version that was missing four numbered Sections.

When I pointed this out to them, General Manager Ron Duncan asked for a two-minute break and went running out into the lobby.  He quickly returned and suddenly, Legal Counsel Josh Nelson from Best, Best and Krieger announced from his remote location that “staff is  confident there is language in the agreement that addresses the cost of the contract.”  I had examined the 2000+ page agreement and appendices before the meeting began, and did not see anything describing the cost of service.

“Where in the contract is it?”  I asked from the audience.  My question was met with immediate angry retort from Mr. Duncan and President Bruce Jaffe, instructing me to be respectful.  “Well, give me a page number.  You did read it, didn’t you?”

President Jaffe adjourned the meeting.

In the past, I have attempted to discuss follow-up issues after meetings with Mr. Duncan and received only insults, but President Jaffe has been reasonable and would discuss things.  So, I went to him and asked for his help in finding the information in the Agreement about the cost of the service to be rendered.

Immediately, Mr. Duncan stepped in front of me, put is face about six inches from mine and said “This is not a safe space!  You need to leave!”  I explained that I just wanted to know where to look in the Agreement for the cost of the service, because it relates to the recent District rate increases.

“Leave now!”  Mr. Duncan screeched, his bespectacled eyes bulging and inches from mine.  I refused, then agreed to leave if he would meet me at the back of the room where the two large binders of meeting documents resided on a table.

I retreated and went to the binders.  As I was skimming the Agreement, Engineering Director Taj DuFour took the binders away and said “The meeting is over!”

As Director Rachel Lather walked past, I asked her for help but was ignored.  I suspect she had not read this lengthy document…she had not read the Final EIR for the Project either when she rubber-stamped it in 2018, evidenced by her confusion about why people claimed we only had 10 days to read it, claiming it had been released months ago (she was talking about the Draft EIR, not the Final, and did not seem to know the difference).

Soquel Creek Water District Board approved Resolution 24-07 without revoking previous 24-04, with incomplete sections, no financial terms,  no reference to Contract sections relative to cost, no explanation of “fixed cost savings” referenced in the staff summary.  The Board asked no questions at all.

How can they justify the need of the new rate increase calculations, based on cost of the contract?

What a mess.   Why didn’t the Board just answer my question?

I think it does not bode well for transparency, should there be any problems with the massive debt-ridden project to pressure inject treated sewage water into the pristine groundwater that all residents of MidCounty depends upon for clean drinking water.
[STAFF REPORT FOR REGULAR MEETING OF DECEMBER 14-15, 2023]

Write the Soquel Creek Water District Board with your questions about having the brand new high-tech energy hog PureWater Soquel Project operating on auto-pilot, injecting 1.67million gallons of treated sewage water daily into the drinking water source for MidCounty residents.
Board of Directors <bod@soquelcreekwater.org>

WILL WE GET TO VOTE ON THIS?
Why wouldn’t the Governor want to allow taxpayers to vote on whether there is a 2/3 approval required at the ballot box for new property taxes?  Stay tuned for what the State Supreme Court thinks:
Will California voters decide tax limits in November? It’s up to the Supreme Court

Will California voters decide tax limits in November? It’s up to the Sup…
Alexei Koseff / CalMatters

The California Supreme Court will decide in the coming weeks whether to kick a measure off the November ballot t…

WHY GO FIREWISE?
The FireSafe Council of Santa Cruz County, along with local Firewise USA Recognized community leaders, are presenting a Why Go Firewise event on Thursday, May 30th. We will educate neighbors about the impact Firewise communities can make in reducing our risk to wildfire. After presentations from Central Fire and CalFire leaders, we will walk through the nuts and bolts of the program and leave time for Q&A. Supervisor Manu will be serving up free icecream!

Curious about Firewise – Maybe you’re concerned about insurance and the upcoming fire season, but don’t know what to do next. Or have you heard about Firewise, but don’t really know the benefits or what it’s all about?
Want to form a Firewise Community – You are onboard with the program and need help getting things going or need help finding neighbors who are interested in joining.

What a mess.   Why didn’t the Board just answer my question?

– You have already seen a Why Go Firewise presentation and are in the process of applying, but either stalled out or need extra coaching to get to the next step.

Event Details:

Why Go Firewise Community Event
Thur, May 30th 5:30PM-8PM
Seventh-Day Adventists Conference Center
1931 Soquel San Jose Rd, Soquel, CA 95073
FREE and OPEN to the Public
RSVP here

DID YOUR PROPERTY INSURANCE GET CANCELLED?
If you were not able to attend the recent Wildfire Summit sponsored by the Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce, here is another opportunity offered by the Santa Cruz County FireSafe Council:  Thursday, June 6, 2pm-6pm at the Veteran’s Building in Santa Cruz.  Wildfire Resilience Summit

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL. ATTEND A FIRE SUMMIT FIND OUT WHY URBAN AS WELL AS RURAL INSURANCE POLICIES ARE BEING CANCELLED IN CALIFORNIA.

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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Fog, and Fog Lifting
Tall black burned tree trunks hazily emerge into view through the thick fog. Days upon days of fog prevalence make many scenes more mysterious. That eerie scene of black tree poles joins other fog-induced memories this past week: puffs of blowing dense fog hiding and then revealing drippy, dark groves of live oaks; awakening to a wall of silver cloud obscuring everything beyond the window ledge, and one evening’s approach of fog…suddenly pouring over the farm’s western ridge and down the hillsides towards the farm like a wave of terrifying suddenly-released floodwater. Each morning every spider web is illuminated by silver moisture, every leaf and blade adorned by shiny droplets.

Us Moist Critters
The dawn bird chorus is delayed and the songs fewer because all animals are made chilled and sleepy, enveloped in low clouds. The brush rabbits shake the wetness from their pelts between bouts of meandering nibbles. Extended families of quail wander slowly along roads to avoid vegetation soaking their feathers. In the absence of bird song, there is a more peaceful constant patter of dripping. Sweaters, jackets, and long pants are in order for spending time outside. The richly humid air makes breathing feel refreshing and helps accentuate late spring farm scents.

Peak Perfume
The transition between spring and summer is the season of peak perfume. Eight foot tall bolting poison hemlock emits its telltale dusty, bitter odor, which carries far in the fog-moist air. When the clouds lift and the day warms, sweeter, resinous scents are released from the sage, coyote brush, and fir. Fresh-cut-hay smell is omnipresent across the fields and down the roads as mowers constantly challenge the burgeoning grass. Warmer days bring surprising clouds of sweetness, begging for a pause to ponder the origins of scent: madrone, French broom, lilac or lupine could be the source, but maybe there’s something new to discover. I squint to the distance, upwind for patches of flowers, then shift my gaze closer to see if there are bunches of hidden flowers. There it is! – clusters of tiny poison oak blossoms sparkling with nectar and wafting notes of clove and citrus.


Fog recently drapes the ridges surrounding Molino Creek Farm

Drying
The drippy fog does little to keep the inevitable drydown at bay. Deep soil cracks split and widen. Dust cakes vehicles and brush along the roads. This is the first week that the farm must irrigate everything or the plants will wilt and begin to die. The solar well pump runs continuously and the diesel generator will start shortly to push greater volumes of water to the grapes and storage tanks. The summer pattern of orchard watering commences: zig-zagging across acres of trees, digging 8″ deep into the soil to test moisture, adjusting irrigation strategies, turning valves, recording data, monitoring storage tanks, and communicating between many farmers to assure smooth operations. For now, cool days keep this work less hectic, but one eyes the forecast and makes plans for hotter spells.


Molino Creek Farm’s amazing onions, freshly planted and regularly irrigated

Snakes, a Month Late
April is normally snake month, but the cool, wet start of this season delayed the emergence of our slithery friends. Sylvie and her brother Isaac reported a surprising night time rubber boa, crossing the road despite the drippy fog. Smooth, fresh snake tracks cross the dusty roads, always wisely perpendicular. An irate hissing baby gopher snake lunged at my leather gloves from a patch of freshly pulled weeds. We are constantly surprised by scaled creatures jetting away from disrupting orchard management: a swift yellow-bellied racer snake, head held high, escaping…giant alligator lizards making for safer ground away from hoeing. Wherever we look there are oodles of lizards and snakes, an homage to organic tilth, the diversity of plants, and the wealth of prey that result from good land management the collective respect for nature found at Molino Creek Farm.


Cherries, lushly growing with irrigation and nestled in fog drip
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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Dateline: May 10, 2024

#131 / A Community Conversation on Surveillance

Beginning in 2014, and continuing to last year, I taught a Legal Studies course at UCSC that focused on “Privacy, Technology, And Freedom.” If you click that link, you’ll be able to read one of my earlier blog postings, from 2015, which discusses the course. My past involvement with that UCSC “Senior Seminar” is what must have garnered me the honor of acting as the moderator for an upcoming, online examination of “Privacy,” in the context of recent actions by local governments in Santa Cruz County.

The “Community Conversation on Surveillance and the Expectation of Privacy,” over which I am slated to preside, will take place on Monday, May 20th, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The discussion is being hosted by the Santa Cruz County Chapter of the ACLU of Northern California. This community discussion will focus, most specifically, on the use of “Automated License Plate Readers” by Santa Cruz County law enforcement agencies.

If your schedule permits, please join our online discussion on May 20, 2024, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. I will be moderating. Click right here to register

Participants in this community discussion will include Tracy Rosenberg, the Executive Director of Oakland Privacy; Nick Hidalgo, staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, head of its “Technology and Civil Liberties Program”; Matthew Guariglia, Senior Policy Analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Mike Gennaco, who serves as an independent Police Auditor for the City of Santa Cruz, and serves, also, in the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office of Inspector General.

Again, I hope you’ll sign up and join in because this is an extremely important topic, and we all need to know what’s happening, and to understand the implications of what’s happening for both our “privacy” and (ultimately) our “freedom,” as automated license plate readers are deployed throughout our local communities.  Here’s that link, one more time:

Please join our online discussion on May 20, 2024, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Click right here to register

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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REOPENING PANDORA’S BOX FOR A NEW OUTCOME ON DAY ONE

The much-trumpeted TIME magazine interview with Donald Trump by Eric Cortellessa a couple of weeks ago, further emphasizes the danger he poses to our democracy should his presidential campaign be successful in November. The former president diagnoses pivotal mistakes in his term in office as “being too nice” to those who disagreed with him. Cortellessa questioned him why he has the trust of a wide swath of voters, yet many of those who worked closely with him refuse to endorse him for a second shot at the Oval Office. Without meeting the question head on, he replies, “I let them quit because I have a heart. I don’t want to embarrass anybody. I don’t think I’ll do that again. From now on, I’ll fire.” The interviewer admits that Trump is stronger and better positioned for a win than in either of his two previous campaigns despite facing criminal court proceedings which he characterizes as a badge of honor, and in spite of his fascist tendencies which he is embracing more fully as the election year progresses. He has expressed his desire to deport more than 11 million people, and is willing to build migrant detention camps with use of US military forces for border control. His wishy-washy standing on pregnancies and abortion has become more cruel by the day, and he is ready on “day one” to free the imprisoned “hostages” who were involved in the US Capitol insurrection of January 6, 2021, who he terms as the “J-6 Patriots”…unless someone “was evil and bad.” And how would someone like him even know? NATO’s existence is in jeopardy, as is the security of our European allies who may not be “paid up” with their protection racket monies.

Still stuck in his craw is the existence of the White House pandemic-preparedness office, so that will go by the wayside…just like COVID-19“one day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” His future staffing will include only those who will back him in his insistence that the 2020 election was stolen, loyalists who will adhere to his detailed agenda to grant him complete power. Trump feels he knows the ins-and-outs of DC, having done the drill once, when he had to depend upon others to guide him through the mysteries of Washington politics…plus, he will have more support in Congress than previously. He told TIME he would not attempt to overturn the Constitution’s barring of a third term, with public opinion providing a check on any attempt to do so. Cortellessa quotes George Orwell who wrote in 1945, that the ability of governments to carry out their designs “depends on the general temper in the country.” The true believers of the Trump base see his election as one of revolutionary promise, but to much of the country and the civilized world it personifies alarming probabilities. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley says a second Trump presidency could bring “the end of democracy, and the birth of a new kind of authoritarian presidential order.” His cohorts are planning a restructuring of the underpinnings of the office into that of a unitary executive theory, removing those impediments imposed by Congress and the courts, favoring a more powerful Commander in Chief, with a heavier thumb on the Department of Justice. Now attempting to downplay his earlier threats of retribution toward his perceived enemies, he leaves a slight opening saying, “It would depend on the situation. We’re gonna look at a lot of things. What they’ve done is a terrible thing.” A previous threat to appoint a “real special prosecutor” to go after Joe Biden for his “crimes” was soft-pedaled with a confident “I am sure Biden will be prosecuted for his crimes,” though no evidence of such has been brought to light.

When asked about his remark to Sean Hannity on not being a dictator – “except for day one. I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill” – he claims it “was said in fun, in jest, sarcastically,” comparing it to 2016’s asking Russia to hack and leak Hillary Clinton’s emails…which seemed to bring results. Yet he maintains of his dictatorial aspirations, “I think a lot of people like it,” which is unfortunately true. Jeffrey Engel of Southern Methodist University said, “This was a president who did to like the results of an election, did not like the fact that he was being voted out, and decided that his personal interests were more important than the constitutional process.” And of 2024, Trump was asked if he’s worried there would be violence if he loses, saying, “I don’t think we’re going to have that. I think we’re going to win. And if we don’t win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election,”  or as he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel“If everything’s honest, I’ll gladly accept the results. If it’s not, you have to fight for the right of the country.” And the only fair election is in Trump’s favor? Or so it would seem from all his supporters who offer only insipid, pathetic answers when questioned about the election outcome and its ramifications. Then we have to consider Arizona’s Senate candidate, Kari Lake, suggesting supporters “strap on a Glock” prior to the election, or Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton advocating tossing protestors off the Golden Gate Bridge, and the latest by Governor Kristi ‘It Had to Be Done’ Noem in offing her 14-month old puppy because it was too puppy-ish.

In JanuaryTrump warned us that if his four criminal indictments prevent him from winning, the result will be “bedlam in the country. It’s the opening of a Pandora’s box.” “He’s telling us what his intentions are, as he did before January 6,” says Harvard University terrorism expert, Juliette Kayyem in a PBS interview. “The language of incitement. If he loses, we certainly know from what Trump has said – and we know from what the FBI is telling us – that there are large groups and organizations that are preparing to continue the fight.” He claims Hillary Clinton and the Democrats rigged the 2016 vote to prevent his achieving a popular vote dominance, and the 2020 election will never be settled for him, saying, “2024 is our final battle.” Aldous J. Pennyfarthing says, “The best way to interview Trump is to…not interview him. But since TIME magazine did that very thing, with his latest fibs being just fragrant fish heads in a whopping seafood ‘n’ BS paella, it’s important to at least take as taste if we want the full picture of his depravity.”  To fact check Trump’s claims, go here.

Alas, poor Donald Trump saw the departure of a member of the Florida delegation headed to the July GOP convention in Milwaukee…son Barron who was to join his two half-brothers and half-sister, Tiffany, has bowed out due to prior commitments. Or was it because mama Melania decided he didn’t need to follow in the sleazy footsteps of the other family members? Most media outlets gave him bad coverage after the announcement so Barron may not be labeled a monster after all…at least until his next misstep. Delegate, and son, Eric Trump claimed on Fox News Saturday that his family has never done anything wrong! Interviewer Mark Levin asked about the criminal hush money trial against his father, with Eric replying, “Well, Mark. A hundred and ten subpoenas in the last seven years. Those are ones that I’ve received personally…I’ve never gotten so much as a traffic ticket. We’re a good family. Never done anything wrong. The way they’ve come after my father since he’s gone down that elevator is unthinkable.” He failed to mention that in the last year alone, Pops has been found liable in separate civil cases for fraud, defamation and sexual abuse, compounded by hundreds of millions of dollars in punitive actions; or, how about the four criminal indictments for stealing classified documents, for attempting to overthrow the US government, for attempting to subvert the election results in Georgia, or falsifying business records after romping with a porn star? So, Eric, what about the ‘family’ of current and former allies who are now convicted, and in the hoosegow, for their white-collar crimes?

Xtwitter was quick to respond to Eric’s claim: “I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that if you have received 110 subpoenas in just the space of a few years, you might be either a head of agency or a criminal,” “Your family is a bunch of con artists, traitors, crooks, and all-around miserable human beings,” “Eric needs his head examined. This is a factual statement,” “We’re a vegan family. We’ve never harmed any chickens. – Colonel Sanders.” A rough estimate of fines and penalties for Trump and his enterprises since 1988 total approximately $710,528,000, which seems just a tad into the criminal realm. Which brings up the report from last Saturday from The New York Times and ProPublica – a lengthy investigation by the IRS indicates Donald Trump could owe more than $100M in underpaid taxes for losses he claimed on his Chicago skyscraper, Trump International Hotel and Tower – by double-dipping in his filings. Eric claims this matter was settled years ago, supported by tax experts including the former general counsel of the IRS, but was revisited only when his father ran for the presidency. Donald bullied his way as a TV personality and a supposed real estate mogul into building his own political movement, refusing to release his tax filings “because we are being audited.”  Well, maybe he was being truthful, after all…not justification for hiding his IRS returns, however! Trump has a history of ‘tax mishaps’ and underpayments, and it is known that he paid no federal taxes for a decade before winning the presidency.

And just when we think Trump’s Sleaze-athon can’t get any worse, he can barely hide his wide-open corruption tendencies. In a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with the country’s top oil executives, he responded to one of the attendee’s complaints of burdensome environmental regulations and futile lobbying of the Biden administration to the tune of $400M in 2023, by making an offer that stunned many. He asked them to raise $1B to put him back in the White House, whereupon he would reverse many of Biden’s rules and policies, and head off any new regulations from enactment, while making their tax burdens lighter. Aldous J. Pennyfarthing comments, “Of course, while a Trump promise is usually worth less than the sallow flap of neck skin his prison tattoo will eventually be printed on, you can rest assured he’d keep this one. For one thing, he wants that money spigot to stay open. For another, he hates anything that might save the planet and/or muss his golden tresses. And, well, he’s not exactly a policy maven so much as a clean slate that anyone with a couple billion dollars can write on like a yard sale Etch-A-Sketch.” Politico reports that the US oil powerhouse is completing ready-to-sign executive orders for Trump, aimed at pushing natural gas exports, cutting drilling costs and increasing offshore oil leases in the event he wins his second term, but then loses focus on energy issues for a quick reversal of green policies. Aldous adds, “And you should remember this excerpt in four years when you’re squatting in an ice bucket in northern Alaska, celebrating Earth Day by watching oil refineries explode. All this is particularly sad considering the clear benefits of Biden’s green infrastructure initiatives, which Trump would no doubt seek to roll back out of ignorance, spite, love of money, and a presumed hatred of narwhals. Well, as the old saying goes, ‘you got to dance with them what brung you,’ and it’s clear Trump is dancing for dollars – when he’s not fixing to jitterbug his way out of jail.”

Quoting The Atlantic magazine, Shirley Kennedy writes on The Palmer Report“The Atlantic called Trump’s action ‘entirely legal and absolutely corrupt.’ The magazine wanted to put this information in the public eye so that people can learn to look at every aspect of Trump as a candidate. Promising favors to people for money is despicable, and that sort of behavior does not deserve a position of power to change laws. While Trump and his cronies may think they know what’s best for all of us, they don’t even give us an opportunity to contribute, by holding these meetings behind closed doors. Kudos to The Atlantic and Washington Post for bringing this vile information too light. As The Atlantic said, Trump is ‘arguably worse’ than other politicians who use these methods to gain entrance to the highest office in the land. Should he be elected, Trump will do nothing for anyone but himself. For this and reasons too numerous to name, Trump cannot be allowed to resume the presidency.”

Robert Harrington posted on The Palmer Report“Of course we don’t know what their [the oil executives] decision will be – yet. But we do know something else about them. Of the couple dozen oil criminals on hand at MAGA-Lardo, only one person came squeamishly, anonymously forward to tell about it. The rest were going to just let it slide. Maybe they wouldn’t make a deal with the devil after all. Maybe instead they’d just hope the devil would do it anyway without their having to pony up a billion bucks. And you know what? They’re probably right to think just that.”

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.

“Recycling”

“When you put the whole picture together, recycling is the right thing to do.”
~Pam Shoemaker, Author

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
~Albert Einstein, Physicist

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
~Native American Proverb

“Recycling, packaging – businesses are changing all of those things because that’s what consumers want.”
~Jerry Greenfield, Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.”
~Pete Seeger, Folk Singer & Social Activist

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Losing My Religion, the REM song, performed by Gregorian Monks. You’re welcome!


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
Cell phone: 831 212-3273
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com
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