BRATTON… gives us the scoop… GREENSITE… on Getting No Response… KROHN… Santa Cruz is worth the fight STEINBRUNER… on water, water, water PATTON… on Internet trolls … EAGAN… Sub Cons and Deep Cover JENSEN… temporarily suspended… QUOTES…”PERSISTENCE”
Seth Meyers now does his show from his home, like many other talk show hosts. Here’s “A closer Look” from April 6
STATE OF BRATTON Bruce is working on resting up and getting better still. He sends thanks for all the notes, FB’s, emails and calls of support, and here’s his contribution for this week:
JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. What more could possibly change our world? Amazon goes bankrupt, CNN guilty of Fox bribery, Trump gets assassinated, fill in the blanks. So now that most of the world is hibernating, hiding, praying, becoming religious , this just could just be a time to do some life life style decision making. I’ve long time believed that man’s most serious enemy is fellow man. But maybe, just maybe, just like the dinosaurs learned there are cosmic-larger than earth life threats. Or stated another way, this could be the time when we cancel our cable server, cut out even more shopping trips, and get down to an honest of what we really need to do to improve the life we had.
THE LAST RECALL. It couldn’t be more fitting than to have the Santa Cruz City Council recall not on community TV. A genuine mistake in community and justice. We must be very aware of the direction the pro-direction, that the council will take. Cynthia Mathews is definitely back in control. That means more non-affordable housing, more commuters, more of everything that brought us and so many others here in the first place.
April 6th 2020
I wasn’t holding my breath in expectation that the city’s Economic Development director would respond affirmatively to my request to postpone the deadline for comments on the Wharf Master Plan EIR. The draft EIR was released last week with a deadline of May 13th. Whether enough folks will have the wherewithal to focus on the future of their Municipal Wharf during this crisis is hard to determine. I’m sure staff weighed that question carefully in their choice of timing.
As I discovered and shared last week, an email sent to the official council address at firstname.lastname@example.org is likely to be distributed to council without a name attached, without an identifying topic or buried anonymously under a pile of other business. Perhaps that’s what happened to this other email I sent to council three weeks ago:
March 16th 2020
Dear Mayor Cummings and City council,
I have many friends who work in the service industry, especially local restaurants. Most have been laid off work for a minimum of two weeks with an expectation for a much longer period. I searched the city website and explored the links to options for financial support during this unprecedented situation.
In order to apply for unemployment benefits you have to be a citizen or have proof of approval to work. These workers have neither. Those whom I know have lived in the city of Santa Cruz since they were brought here as children. While I’m sure this is a statewide and national problem, I am bringing this to your attention and ask that you consider this a local emergency. All those whom I know are renters and have young children. If they can’t pay the rent they lose their housing and have nowhere to go since family members are in the same situation.
The city is organizing much effort to help the unhoused. A similar effort is needed to help laid-off undocumented workers, most of whom work two jobs with no sick leave or other benefits.
I would appreciate a response.
Again no response. Rent postponement is no help. At some point the back rent becomes due and if money is scarce now, after a few months without work it won’t magically appear. Some local restaurant owners are applying for federal loans in order to help their laid off workers and some aren’t. The latter have basically told their workers to get screwed. The city could have played a role in this crisis.
I recall when the UCSC administration shifted to a “no response” model of dealing with complaining staff subordinates. In the early days of my working at UCSC, any letter sent upstairs, even to the Chancellor, was responded to in detail and with thought, even if the response was not what one hoped for. It was around the turn of the millennium when the change happened. Emails sent went unanswered. With serious issues I tend to be persistent and vocal student support can be convincing so a response was soon received. The shift to a no-response mode wasn’t accidental or personality based but a new business model, similar to the cubicles that replaced open office space and isolated workers. Now the institution is so big I doubt most workers would know where to begin to complain.
Beyond buried emails and no-responses, we can expect a further erosion of democratic process at city hall with the ouster of council members Krohn and Glover. I am less concerned about a few instances of rudeness to staff (especially since I was accused of the same in 2005 in an effort to shut me up in my protest over the abysmal response to rape by SCPD) than I am about a new majority attempt to roll back the democratic gains from the past 2 years. There have been many and usually on a 4 to 3 vote with Mathews, Meiers and Watkins opposed. Newly elected Katherine Beiers was instrumental on previous councils in getting as policy a city attorney summary at the end of council meetings naming the legal topics and action discussed in closed-session, which was crucial for public awareness, a key to democratic process. Whether the new council will build on what’s in place or move to collapse it is an open question. I’m not holding my breath.
Correction: the photo from last week of a wave crashing into the wharf was in summer not winter.
|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.|
April 7, 2020
Santa Cruz is Worth the Fight!
This is a refined version of the message I put forward here last week, but my theme is borrowed from Presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren. All of us would likely not be here if Santa Cruz was not worth the fight.
|Back, by Popular Demand!
But It Is!
In a strange anticlimax, the Santa Cruz County Clerk confirmed on Monday, March 30, that Councilmember Drew Glover and I will not be returning to the Santa Cruz City Council this term. After what may go down as the longest month in my life, all 27,373 votes in the city of Santa Cruz were counted. On that day, we learned that the recall effort had narrowly prevailed – in my race by 507 votes. Although this was an historic and unprecedented vote, the outcome is dwarfed by the tragedy of the global pandemic that has descended on our planet. I truly hope that responding to Covid-19 will bring our City back together. We need each other. Maybe this crisis will help us transcend our local political differences. Glover and I have been recalled, but the issues we brought to the city council will not disappear anytime soon. Knocking on countless doors in dozens of neighborhoods (those pre-virus days seem so long ago), I came to realize how deep the political differences in Santa Cruz are around many issues, including affordable housing, homelessness, and the out-of-control growth of UCSC. Although the pandemic has changed our society irrevocably, the severity of our community’s challenges has only intensified. Our collective political struggle is still basically about who gets to live in Santa Cruz and whether our town is for sale to developers and corporate real estate interests.
It’s the Political Community We Build
Looking back at the campaign for a moment, I am deeply grateful to the grassroots participants in Stop the Recalls. We faced tremendous odds. The Santa Cruz “Together,” “United,” “Forward” trio — all various incarnations of the same powerful real estate industry and developer-driven interests — was tough to overcome. Individuals centered in these interest groups began proposing recalls from Day 1, after the November 2018 election of Glover and now-Mayor Justin Cummings. The required campaign spending reports, which will arrive long after the March vote, will demonstrate that in order to drive Councilmember Glover and me from office, the recall proponents spent well into the six digits on at least five slick city-wide mailers, full-page newspaper advertisements, and endless Facebook ads. Campaign finance filings will show how special interest money helped buy an election. Is this the new political normal in Santa Cruz?
While the recall passed by a small majority, there was notable evidence of progressive strength in this election. My friend and former city council colleague Katherine Beiers, who is a marathon runner in her spare time, far out-distanced her rival to fill the remaining six months of my term. Other progressive gains came in races where reform candidates were running for seats on the Democratic Central Committee. Planning commissioner and Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) member Cyndi Dawson bested long-time pro-development powerbroker Cynthia Mathews as the top vote-getter in the 3rd District. Another DSA member and high school science teacher, Stacey Falls, also won a seat in this district, which covers most of the city.
The Long Sprint Home
We must remember that politics is not a sprint but a marathon. It took years after the 1989 earthquake to rebuild Santa Cruz, and it probably will take years to rebuild our local economy after this pandemic abates. Besides rebuilding our economy, several major controversial issues remain pending: the just-released Wharf Master Plan looks to put our beloved pier on Disneyland steroids; the UCSC administration wants to add 10,000 more students; the Parks and Recreation Master Plan is now up for debate; and of course, the ongoing library-in-a-garage-atop-the-Farmers’-Market saga will continue. With the severe ramifications of the pandemic playing out and the November elections just around the corner, I sincerely hope our community will get some much-needed rest —that unfortunately Covid-19 is forcing upon us—and come back together with our sleeves rolled up, guided by a spirit of generosity and mutual aid! To paraphrase Elizabeth Warren, Santa Cruz is worth the fight!
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected the the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His current term ends in 2020.
Email Chris at email@example.com
IS THIS THE JAIL FOR SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT CUSTOMERS WHO CAN’T PAY THEIR HIGH WATER BILLS?
It sure looks like it, doesn’t it? Do you like the bundle of electrical wires protruding from the ground next to the sidewalk? Yikes!
Soquel Creek Water District refuses to abide by the environmental mitigations the Board approved for the Granite Way Well as part of the Well Master Plan Mitigated Negative Declaration in 2010. Back then, the Granite Way Well was supposed to be tucked within the Aptos Village Project (at the actual site of the buried fuel tank that was later excavated in 2016 and hauled away in the night), but in 2015, the developers got approval from the County Planning Dept. and Board of Supervisors to move the Well to it’s current location directly across from the Aptos Post Office, at the busy intersection of Trout Gulch Road and Cathedral Drive.
In 2015, I wrote the District’s Director of Engineering, Mr. Taj Dufour, to ask what the new well facilities might look like. There were no plans available at all for the public to view during the Aptos Village Project hearings that included other major changes to the subdivision’s design as well. Mr. Dufour assured me that the facility would blend with the neighborhood and not obscure visibility at the intersection.
However, because the District’s new Granite Way Well as built now is so aesthetically unsightly, and is in a very high-traffic and publicly visible location, I have requested a number of times that there be landscaping to improve the site. Nothing has happened.
I have written the Board multiple times about this matter, but received no response. At the Board’s March 3, 2020 meeting, I publicly asked that the District plant vines on the imposing fence around the Granite Way Well site to soften the unsightliness. Mr. Taj Dufour assured me and the Board that there is landscaping planned for the site.
However, in truth, it appears that NO landscape plans exist, according to District staff response to my Public Records Act request to view them.
The District’s Environmental impact Report (EIR) for the 2010 Well Master Plan included mitigations 3.13-2a and 3.13-2b on page 3.13-18 to address this aesthetic impact of the Granite Way Well. Mitigation 3.13-2a requires that the facilities blend with the character of the existing neighborhood, and not obscure historic resources (like the Hihn Apple Barn that is now New Leaf Market??)
How can a new Project be deemed “essential” when the District’s own recent hydrologic report states the groundwater levels are rising?
Well, folks, there it is. Please write a Letter to the Editor with your thoughts. Write to the District Board with your questions and comments…get them on record.
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY WILL HAVE MAIL-ONLY BALLOTS FOR NOVEMBER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
That’s the latest news from County Clerk Gail Pellerin. These indeed are interesting times.
Guest commentary | Keeping democracy alive during the COVID Crisis
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. PARTICIPATE IN A REMOTE MEETING. HUG YOUR FAMILY AND LAUGH. STAY HEALTHY.
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 and finished with almost 30% of the votes.
Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com
I had an adventure not so long ago. I met a troll.
I am sure you know the kind of “troll” I am talking about. I am not talking about “a dwarf or giant (in Scandinavian folklore) that inhabits caves or hills.” That’s the definition of “troll” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, online.
I am talking about an Internet troll, which Wikipedia defines as “a person who starts quarrels or [who] upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages.” Internet trolls do not often venture out into public; they do not generally self-identify.
A month or so ago, prior to the March 3rd election, I made a posting to my Facebook Timeline, passing on some information about an upcoming event connected to John Leopold’s campaign for Supervisor in Santa Cruz County’s First Supervisorial District. Lots of people expressed appreciation for the notification, but a couple of people expressed, in troll-like posts, how much they despised and disliked Supervisor Leopold. Their postings went on for quite a bit.
As the Bible tells us [Proverbs 15], “a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Trolls specialize in “stirring up anger.” With the Bible as my guide, however, I did not rise to the bait, but “turned away wrath.” I didn’t argue. I didn’t protest. I acknowledged the postings, and expressed my disagreement in a polite way. And I didn’t block any further commentary or access to my Facebook page for the troll-like commenters.
That was that.
Then….. (several weeks later), I went to see the movie Parasite, at the Nickelodeon Theatre in downtown Santa Cruz. By the way, I recommend the movie, if you haven’t seen it!
In the middle of the show, I made a quick trip to the restroom. As it happened, another person was heading to the restroom at the very same time. As we emerged into the light, he looked at me, and recognizing me, he said, “are you Gary Patton?”
I confessed I was.
“Well,” he said, “I’ve been trolling you.”
“Oh,” I said, “I think I remember that. About John Leopold, right? You notice I didn’t come right back at you.”
“I know,” he replied, and then proceeded to engage me in a reasonable (if brief) discussion about some of the local issues of concern to him. We differed, but the conversation was cordial, just the kind of discussion about a political issue that anyone might have.
In fact, in person, this “troll” was a pretty decent guy, or so I felt.
Because I wanted to see the movie, I didn’t really have time to discuss local political issues; thus, my troll and I never really became acquainted. Given more time, and allowing for our political differences, we might have become perfectly friendly. Even though we didn’t agree on a number of things, we did agree on some, and I was happy to make this troll’s acquaintance.
As he presented himself on the Internet, I would have suspected that my “troll” might have looked just like a “real” troll, pictured above. In real life, though, my “troll” seemed to be a nice enough person, given that he did have some political views with which I didn’t agree.
The lesson I draw from this adventure is that our politics needs to be person-to-person. Politics by Internet is simply not a viable way to make democracy work.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. Classic peeks inside our secret places…maybe?
EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s comic 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.
Lisa writes about being temporarily suspended, and watching movies on Amazon, Netflix – and everywhere else! This week, she’s taken a blogging break, but check out her old stuff at Lisa Jensen Online Express (ljo-express.blogspot.com/). Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.