Blog Archives

26 – June 1, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Re-districting bulletin, my hacking, Supervisor Scrapple, movie critiques. GREENSITE…on losing/saving the Village Feel of Santa Cruz. KROHN…City Manager Salary Gouge. STEINBRUNER…County Pension Debt, Dirty Dust at 1500 Capitola Road, Soquel Creek water board’s bonuses, Twin Lakes church’s free water, drinking recycled water meeting. PATTON…We were born to be Wild. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES… “JUNE”

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SANTA CRUZ DOWNTOWN, 12:40 PM., 1892. Note the trolley lines right down the center of Pacific Avenue, and our town clock in its original position high atop the O.D.D. Fellows building. There’s the original County Court House, and a glimpse of the Octagon on the extreme right.                                                

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

DATELINE May 24

SUPERVISOR SANDWICHES. As anyone who follows local politics knows, there will be much slipping, sliding, parading and promoting to fill Ryan Coonerty’s Third District – since he announced his leaving the Board so soon. The present City Council members running so far are Shebreh Kalantari- Johnson and Justin Cummings. Read the BrattonBulletin below to get the watch on Martine Watkins and legality. I just learned that former mayor Hilary Bryant is spreading her word for the seat. Many-time losing candidate Steve Pleich (rhymes with “H”) is getting his stuff in line too. As one reader wrote: “Progressives are looking for a candidate who will NOT be Ed Porter“. 

BRATTONBULLETIN. I couldn’t wait for this weekly column to get online, so I sent out this bulletin last week….I hope you saw it. If not, think about the implications and the ethics behind a father shifting voting districts so his daughter can run for County Supervisor.

“REDISTRICTING RUMBLE AFOOT.
Current City Council member Martine Watkins was quoted in Good Times as “not wanting to pack up and move” to the Supervisor’s Third District so she could run for Ryan Coonerty’s seat next year. So what happens? County Supervisor Zach Friend appoints his buddy, Michael Watkins, former County Superintendent of Schools, and importantly….Martine Watkins Dad, to the Advisory Redistricting Commission. We can wait and see if Michael votes to shift the redistricting so Martine won’t have to move. Or we can go here to sign-up/submit public comment ahead of or during the meeting and let them know this large hunk of favoritism doesn’t work in our community. Bruce Bratton”.

HACKING ALERT. It was so easy to fall for a “message from Cruzio” saying they were closing all accounts that were as old as mine. Stupidly I believed it, and clicked in one or two wrong places. The kind and very patient live phone staff at Cruzio talked me back into sanity and clarity. I certainly thank those of you who offered to “do me a Favor”, or buy some Gift Cards. Within an hour or two my Facebook account was hacked too. Be very aware, and don’t ever answer any institution’s request for your private info. My grandson Henry got me and my computer back to normalcy.

Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD. (HBO MAX SINGLE). Angelina Jolie (age 46) still looks gorgeous as she plays a smoke jumper in Montana who made a judgmental error in her earlier career. It’s a complex story, but basically assassins are after Jolie and the young son of a man who was also running from their deadly guns. (60RT). Angelina starts some forest fires to distract her would-be killers, and the action goes on and on. You can pretty much guess how it will end, and watching the forest fires could make you very jumpy — especially during our drought. Watch it only if you’ve run out of thrillers.

ARMY OF THE DEAD. (NETFLIX SINGLE) I used to enjoy the early zombie movies, that were so serious we had to laugh out loud or smirk widely. Nowadays zombie movies are so purposely gross and evil and simple that our forced laughs come from exhaustion or lack of patience. This one is a poor theft of all earlier zombie movies, and unless your humor is down to that level avoid it at all costs.

HALSTON. (NETFLIX SERIES). This is the very Hollywood version of fashion czar Halston’s life, starring Ewan McGregor. Not to be confused with the also very well done documentary now playing heavily online. Longtime and limited actor Bill Pullman is also in and out of many scenes. Krysta Rodriguez plays Liza Minnelli – one of Halston’s best friends and supporters. Krysta is good fun to watch ,and so is this movie. His gay, drug-addled life was unique ,and quite an accomplishment if you think about it, after watching this one. (66RT).

OFFERING TO THE STORM. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A certifiably insane father kills his four-month-old son in Spain, and a woman has nightmares and works hard to find out what they mean. (50RT) It’s the last part of a trilogy, and I missed the first two. It’s about cults, Satan worshipers and witches. Don’t waste your time trying to make any sense of this one.

ILLEGAL WOMAN. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A very sad saga of the threatened lives involved in sex trafficking in Spain. There’s an immigration attorney who goes to extremes to stop politicos and money men from killing so many victims inside a detention center. Euthanasia plays a role in the complex plot, and you have to decide on that issue all over again. Go for it.

WHAT HAPPENED TO MONDAY? (NETFLIX SINGLE). If you like Noomi Rapace, then you’ll love this one. She plays seven (7) identical sisters, and does a fine job. Willem Defoe and Glenn Close are in it as evil people who put all children to death if they have brothers or sisters in this 2073 future world. Conspiracy theorists, especially those against GMO’s, will love this.  

THE INVESTIGATION. (HBO SERIES). A very Swedish movie about a female journalist who was killed, probably inside a two person test submarine. Great characters and a good plot concerning the very patient, persistent done by their police and other institutions in solving the murder and bringing justice to bear on the guilty. It’s based on a real happening, and well worth watching.

GREENLAND. (HBO SINGLE). Gerard Butler is front and center in this “new” disaster movie, in the mold of Titanic, Tower movies and so forth. A comet named “Clark” (really) is forcasted to hit earth, with an preceding shower of deathly meteorites. Butler, his wife and a young diabetic boy Nathan are selected by the US Government to go to Greenland, because he’s a professional building engineer. Some good, tight, well-directed scary scenes happen on their way to Rochester, N.Y. then Greenland.  Watch it, it’ll help you forget how scary your  ownneighborhood is today.

I AM ALL GIRLS. (NETFLIX SINGLE) NO Rotten Tomatoes score yet. This African film has a detective trying to find six girls who were kidnapped and never found. She believes that the girls have been leaving hints and clues. It’s grim, often-told story but captivating. The detective has problems of her own, and deals with the rest of her department to solve them. You’ll stay fixed on it almost to the end.

THE CRIMES THAT BIND. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (67 RT). This Argentine movie details the plot of a mother trying to keep her not too likable son from going to prison. The woman’s maid is also troubled, but devoted and involved. Great scenes of this family’s division between mom and Dad about their ne’er-do-well son. It takes place mostly in a courtroom, and is tense enough to keep you glued. Go for it. 

WHY DID YOU KILL ME?  (NETFLIX SINGLE) (70RT). An unusual documentary taking place in Riverside and San Bernadino. A distraught mother is forced to go online a lot to try to find who killed her son. A terrible strike against our legal system. At the bottom of all this it’s a gang warfare issue and makes a very exciting documentary.

MONSTER. (NETFLIX SINGLE). This is the 2018 movie, don’t confuse it with all the other movies with that same title. (68RT). A bright, likable, honest young teenager (age 17) from Harlem is charged with murder, after a robbery in a delicatessen. A long and drawn-out courtroom battle only reveals at the end what his part in the crime was. Jennifer Hudson and Jeffrey Wright, two very familiar faces, add a lot to the drama – as does the surprise brief appearance of Tim Blake Nelson, whom we’ve almost forgotten. It could have made more of a point about race relations and the law, but watch it by all means.

DANCE OF THE FORTY ONE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A huge budget costume movie set in 19th century Mexico. It has an 80RT. It’s about the Mexican presidents’ son. Great costumes, tremendous sets and photography, but centered on his gay life – with scene after scene of gay carryings on. It became too much for me and you’ll have to watch it and see for yourselves. 

OLOTURE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). This is not a good movie as far as acting, plot or direction is concerned. BUT it is an excellent chance to see the seamier side of Lagos, in Nigeria, where it was filmed and produced. It’s the story of the world wide effects of sex trafficking, and based on true events. A beautiful woman reporter poses as a hooker, and gets into deep trouble as she tries to expose the powers and politics behind all the trafficking. 

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

OXYGENE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). A French movie that opens with a woman trapped in a sealed cryogenic unit. (90RT) Lots of tech talk with her monitor/captor on screen and she’s trapped with no information provided on how or why she’s in this sure death situation. The camera never leaves her through the entire film and she (Melanie Laurent) is a great actress. A taut, absorbing and excellent movie. The ending is surprising, near logical, and well worth watching.

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Amy Adams, Gary Oldman plus Julienne Moore and Jennifer Jason Leigh can’t save this poor copy of Hitchcock’s and Jimmy Stewart’s classic “Rear Window”. (29RT. The woman spies and photographs her neighbors across her busy 121st Street apartment in NYC. She maybe watches a murder or is she too high on her meds? That’s the entire plodding plot and it would be a shame to waste your time on this one.

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.(AMAZON SERIES) A well done story of how detailed the actual underground developed after terrible tragedies. A young black woman escapes her Georgia plantation life and goes from place to place seeking a peaceful life. Sad, hugely budgeted and  don’t miss it. (96RT)

HALSTON. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (77RT). Don’t confuse this documentary with the acted version starring Ewan McGregor. It stars Halston himself in a very big way and his life of designing fabrics for the rich and famous. He created Jackie Kennedy’s pill box hat, and led the way for world fashion for decades. He was gay, used drugs, and influenced fashions all over the world. Later in his life he decided to sell out to J.C. Penney in a stupefying move that cost him his exclusivity. He died from AIDS in San Francisco. Watch this one even if you don’t follow fashion…you’ll learn a lot.

MILESTONE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (100 RT.) There’s a Hindi truck driver with a very bad back. It’s a deep view into the working class and the intricate wheeling’s and dealings just to cope and stay alive. His wife’s family claims he owes them money and he works even harder and longer to solve that problem. Excellent movie, go for it!!

MR.JONES. (HULU SINGLE). It’s a Polish film dealing with the Soviet Union and especially Stalin in the 1930’s.James Norton an actor we’ve seen in almost everything lately plays the real life Gareth Jones who is a journalist who uncovers the truth about the miserable and hidden terrible state of the Ukraine under Stalin. FDR, George Orwell and Lloyd George are all in it. Don’t miss it, it’s a piece of world history that brings us up to date for some of the action today.

FATMA. (NETFLIX SERIES). An intelligent young woman cleaning lady goes on a long twisted and surprising search for her missing husband. He might be in prison, or anywhere. She gets very confused, and desperate and shoots somebody. What’s worse she avoids all blame for that murder and by accident shoots another guy. Involving, curious, and yes, diverting!!

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May 24  

LOSING THE VILLAGE FEEL.
Local historian Ross Gibson writing in Monday’s Sentinel, (5/24/21) beautifully captures the character and spirit of Santa Cruz. He writes, “If it doesn’t look like Santa Cruz did anything in the past 50 years, that’s the point. When postwar development pressures were the strongest in the 1950’s and 1960’s, instead of giving-in to the Car Culture of decentralized cities along freeway corridors of suburban sprawl, Santa Cruz chose to preserve the Pedestrian Culture and village feel.”

Destroying this “village feel” is the agenda of the Economic Development and Planning Departments, the convoy of investors, developers and most of city council.


The Haber Building reduced to rubble 

Their agenda is captured in the aerial view below depicting some of the approved or about to be approved future downtown buildings. Not much “village feel” there.

Orwell would be impressed with how cleverly the city and their developers use smart growth language to lull the populace into acceptance. At least long enough to get approval from the various commissions and city council with little public opposition. There may be a few gasps when these building are up and filled with high-end tenants and high-end commercial but by then it’s too late.

Write the staff reports to describe inadequate parking as “getting people to forego a car” and the developers are at first base. Describe increased density and building heights of 60 feet that overwhelm adjacent single-family cottages as “avoiding suburban sprawl” and they are on second. State the new high-rises with a small percentage of below market rate units will allow “our workforce to live near their work” and you are on third. Use the new state density bonuses to double the zoned height limits, avoid local control and you’re on a home run.

As the late night ads for cutting knives say “But there’s more…” If you think this is bad wait until rezoning single-family neighborhoods gains state legislative traction.  City staff is preparing us into acceptance by sharing videos of the racist legacy of redlining. Despite the fact that we are not LA where redlining was widely practiced; despite the fact that our single family neighborhoods, other than the upper Westside are largely long-time middle and lower income homeowners including Black homeowners; despite the fact that 54% of single-family homes are rentals mostly to students, we are defined by city staff as privileged whites and guilt-tripped into accepting re-zoning as a solution to the so-called housing crisis.  Allow duplexes, triplexes and 4-plexes to be built in single-family neighborhoods and you’ve solved the problem of affordability says the city with speculators drooling in the wings.  

This is stuff and nonsense.  The most recently approved Riverfront project with all its density bonuses and waivers includes less affordable units (11%) than is required (15%) under the city’s Measure O, passed by city voters decades ago.  

So what all can we do? Unfortunately under the forces described above and especially under new state law our options are significantly reduced. One option is to weigh in and let city staff know what “Objective Standards” you want to see in future high-rise developments impacting your neighborhoods.  They call it “Housing For All” which is as Orwellian as it gets. And if you are an easy sell, you get a chance at a raffle ticket to New Leaf. 

Another option is to mount a legal challenge to the State’s Density Bonus Law. It is not achieving its apparent desired result to provide more “affordable” housing. It’s mainly lining the pockets of speculators. And it is destroying our town.

Let’s see what this Village called Santa Cruz is made of!

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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May 24

City Manager Salary Gouge: 

Hey CM, Can You Spare a Dime?
In 2019, Santa Cruz City Manager, Martin Bernal, was paid $233,628 in salary and $284,868 when benefits were added. In the years 2015-19, $1,347,498 changed hands between Santa Cruz tax payers and the chief city decision-maker’s wallet. It is so much money that now, middle-aged Bernal can now finally retire as he will be receiving around $250k each year for the rest of his life…for a job well done? Meh. If it was well-done, then the past three city councils would not have created the soft ramp for his ever-so soft exit from the city’s base salary top-earner spot. The city of Santa Cruz had an “adopted budget” for 2021 of $323,190,000, and around 800 employees. Bernal’s job was to manage all of that. Now, compare his salary and responsibilities with that of Governor Gavin Newsom. In the same year that Bernal received $284k, the governor was paid $191k in salary and a total of $270k in salary and benefits. By the way, the governor of California manages a budget in excess of $267 billion with 237,826 active employees. So, along comes item #20 on this past Tuesday’s city council agenda, “Resolution amending the Classification and Compensation Plan for the City Manager classification.” Seems like $284k just ain’t enough for the next city manager. Not competitive enough, avers Bernal’s own appointed Human Resources Director, Lisa Murphy. She concocted a resolution that somehow maintains the next city manager ought to be paid $28k more in salary and benefits, sending the position to a $300k stratospheric place in the salary universe. Murphy’s prepared city council resolution reads: “NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Santa Cruz, that the City Council hereby approves increasing the City Manager salary range by 10% effective upon the appointment of a new City Manager which is anticipated to occur in August 2021.”

Keeping up with the Municipal Jones’s
Oh, yes, administrator insiders will argue that we must be competitive. Other cities will steal away “highly qualified” future managers, like Bernal I guess, and we will have to live with the dregs of city CEOs. Heaven forbid, does this mean the door is open for current Planning Director and likely Bernal’s fave choice to succeed him, Lee Butler? Butler has never been a city manager before, but that did not stop him from becoming a planning director with no previous planning director experience. And why not appoint Butler? He’ll take the “low” pay, while city admin people would argue that no one would come to Santa Cruz and be city manager because of the abysmal salary offering. Just ask the two planning director candidates before Butler. They told the city it was too expensive to live in Surf City, so Butler was chosen instead. He already had house on the upper Westside, which I guess was the deciding qualification. Now, the time looks ripe for him to swoop in and claim the city manager mantle because the advertisements in Western City magazine (ever hear of that one? It circulates among the city administrator glitterati the world over, a very small constituency) aren’t bringing in enough qualified candidates. Why not advertise in the New York Times, or on university job boards like Harvard, UCSC, and UC Berkeley? What about not hiring someone who went to city manager school? Hire someone who might bring a fresh perspective to local government, has expertise working with homeless populations and managing budgets, a people-person with a sense of humor, and an advocate for open and transparent government? What about just placing an ad in the Santa Cruz Sentinel? Ever see a want-ad in the Sentinel for a city manager? That’s because the city manager handles the outreach. He uses city funds, usually totaling around $25-$30k, to advertise the job to people like himself, people who will want (demand!?) over $300k in salary and benefits, or they will say the job simply isn’t worth it. The beach, the redwoods, a vibrant downtown, a diversifying population that is politically engaged and environmentally-minded, a city with its own fire, police, and water departments, and a cute Monterey Colonial Revival-style city hall office…who wouldn’t want to lead this kind of community? Here’s an idea, let’s limit compensation to $200k, which is already almost triple the median income in Santa Cruz county, because if someone cannot live on that, they will have really lost touch with the people who live here. Oh god, I can see city administrators everywhere furrowing their collective brow, squinching up their noses, and puckering their lips before asking: Why would someone ever want to run a city for only $200k per year, which is about 10% more than the state’s governor is paid? Who indeed!

State Dem Moderates Not Listening to Dem Progressives
The progressives have been losing out in Sacramento. Three bills, progressive ones, went down in the heavy surf of moderate Democratic party political anti-recall-riding waves in the state legislature. The big one was a state universal healthcare bill known as “Calcare.” Looks like the legislature’s leading progressive, Ash Kalra from San Jose, withdrew his single-payer bill because it would aid Gov. Newsom in avoiding having to take a stand on universal healthcare in this recall year. Another tax-the-rich bill, backed by uber-progressive Alex Lee, also of San Jose, did not get out of committee. It would’ve taxed “extreme wealth” by placing a 1% tax on people worth more than $50 million, and a 1.5% tax on those with a billion dollars or more. It would help close California’s ridiculous and jaw-dropping wealth gap. Finally, a bill to ban fracking throughout the state was also withdrawn, but will likely come back next year. Sacramento can’t deal with anything too controversial  as it might affect the recall adversely.

The Recall
If Gavin Newsom is recalled it should be for not supporting CalCare and being opposed to a wealth tax while not being sufficiently fighting evermore fracking. Or maybe recall him because the $50 million spent in building “My Turn,” the state’s appointment vaccine web site, only got 27% of the public to register for a vaccination. But that is likely not in any voter’s mind who might be bubbling in a yes vote on the recall, nor should it be. Eating at the French Laundry and ordering schools and businesses to close during the pandemic may be the top reasons why someone who’s registered Republican might vote to recall Newsom. Well, guess what? There’s an election in 2022 and voters can decide then to “recall” the governor, or not. A recent LA Times story said that the recall election just might cost over $400 million because every registered voter will be sent a ballot and a limited number of polling places will have to be opened. What will voters really get from this recall? A sideshow, and a sham election. After this recall election is over, the state legislature would do well to seriously take up the debate about recalls in general, and ponder what they actually mean for state politics in terms of cost, political rhetoric, and democratic decision-making.

New York City Mayoral Race
Andrew Yang is running for mayor of New York City. His tired campaign lines include some usual puffery: The city will get better when he’s mayor, and he cares about education. His campaign is a whole lot of smiley rhetoric, which isn’t bad, but what many New Yorkers will not accept. Ex-cop Eric Adams is also running and he’s spent a lot of time inside police culture and outside too, but somehow, that experience has yet to lead to any meaningful reform efforts. Raymond McGuire is a Wall Street banker (Citi Bank) who most voters will surely reject exactly because he is right out of the central Wall Street casting playbook. He’s eschewed public campaign financing and has now raised a whopping $11.7 million. Katherine Garcia is the former Commissioner for the New York City Sanitation Department, presumably a good job resume for cleaning up NYC politics. She’s hanging on as the other liberal establishment, read NY Times endorsed, candidate. Garcia will likely be a top five vote-getter in this the city’s first ranked choice election. The main issue in NYC right now is how to instill a sense of security on the streets and in the minds of New Yorkers while also, post-Black Lives Matters rallies and protests, redefine policing and project a New York is Back feel-good attitude. A tall order. Amidst the Abolish-Defund-Refund-Reform debates on policing in New York City is Maya Wiley, the former chair of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). No one is more poised to bring progressive change to the city than Wiley. The progressive left had a real chance in this election because of ranked choice voting, but recent sex allegations against mayoral candidate Scott Stringer by a former assistant has damaged both the candidate and the political left of center. As an outside observer and unrepentant former-New Yorker, my top five for now (could change) are: Wiley, Morales, Stringer if allegations prove to be false, Garcia, and Yang. And yes, I threw in Yang because he would be acceptable, but only as a new face to shake up the old boy’s system, and he might even attempt to make NYC the laboratory for UBI, Universal Basic Income, which may be giving way to GMI, Guaranteed Minimum Income. But at end of the day, by year two I would predict, the honeymoon would be over for Yang and he would likely get politically rolled by feisty New Yorkers and probably end up hiding out from the press and the public in his downtown office or upstate home pondering dreams of what might’ve been. Here’s a web page to see all candidates who are running for NYC mayor.

“Let us hope that the ceasefire in Gaza holds. But that’s not enough. Our job now is to support desperately needed humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Gaza’s people, and find a way to finally bring peace to the region.” (May 20)

NYC, a city that takes its bikes and bike lanes seriously.

Smaller police cars are possible…are electric ones too?

(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 16 years. Krohn was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. That term ended when the development empire struck back with luxury condo developer money combined with the real estate industry’s largesse. They paid to recall Krohn and Drew Glover from the Santa Cruz city council in 2019.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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May 24

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS APPROVE INCREASING DEBT BY $121.5 MILLION TO PAY FOR COUNTY’S PENSION DEBT
The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved sending us all $121.5 million into further debt. Why? Because the unfunded CalPERS pension debt is looming like a tsunami at 7% interest. To address the problem, the Board agreed to selling bonds that will plunge the budget affecting future generations further into an abyss. Granted, the variable interest rate these bonds will cost (estimated 3%) will save County taxpayers some money, the financial grief regarding the bloated pensions of many such as former County Administrative Officer Susan Mauriello and other top management department retirees, will overburden us and future generations, with no real action being taken to address the root cause.

Take a look at Item 9 on the May 11, 2021 agenda: DOC-2021-414 Consider adoption of a resolution authorizing the issuance of one or more series of pension obligation bonds to refinance the outstanding obligations of the County to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System with respect to the Board Resolution and Supporting Documents.

What was shocking was how little the Board seemed to care, and questioned nothing. Supervisor Coonerty asked if perhaps this County could combine such efforts with other neighboring Counties? The answer was “NO”, it would be too complicated.

I had many questions, but had only two minutes to ask them, and requested answers. Why does the Superior Court have to validate the Board’s action?? Is the debt $121.5 million or $167.25 million because the staff report numbers conflicted? What about foreign investors associated with unsavory activities, like human trafficking, investing in the County’s debt?

Did the Board ask that staff answer them? NO. Did the Board seem to care? NO.

I was so disgusted, I wrote my questions in the public comment bubble for the item and included my sentiments about the Board. Amazingly, a staff member was kind enough to respond:

Dear Mr. Pimental, Thank you very much for taking time to answer my questions! Sincerely, Becky Steinbruner

Posted by Becky Steinbruner 12 days ago  

Thank you for your questions following our staff presentation this morning. 1) The principal amount of the bonds is expected to be $121.5 million and the total principal plus interest payments over the life of the bonds is projected to be $167.3 million. 2) The $250,000 amount you asked about is the total estimated costs over the life of the bonds for annual admin costs, not an annual cost. These are costs for 3rd parties like bond trustees. 3) The validation action will take place through our local Santa Cruz Superior Courts. 4) We will return to the Board of Supervisors on August 24, 2021 and the validation action will be published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel over a three week period. 5) The bonds are bought generally by large money managers based in the US.

Posted by Marcus Pimentel 13 days ago

Dear Supervisors, I am disappointed that no one bothered to answer my questions posed in my 2-minute testimony. As I stated, the actual principal of the Pension Obligation Bonds to be sold is very difficult to find, only shown in Exhibit A of the Resolution to approve the action, however, is the Principal amount going to be $121,500,000 or $167,250,000??? Who will receive the $250,000 annual administrative fee associated with the POB? Will the Judicial Verification process occur in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, or another Court, and when?? Can the public please be kept apprised of that action so as to attend any proceedings??? Finally, what level of assurance will the County taxpayers have of the integrity of investors who purchase these POB? What if it is funded by Communist Chinese investors, or others who have horrible human rights violations and support human trafficking? It would have been so simple for any member of the Board to have asked that the experts available to answer your questions also address mine. But no Supervisor did so. I felt I was not even heard, even though I verified at the beginning of my testimony that I could be heard. Please answer my questions in a written response…which takes more staff time and costs more money to do than a simple and respectful verbal answer would have provided today. Sincerely, Becky Steinbruner

Posted by Becky Steinbruner 13 days ago  

So, folks, the good news is that there are people working in the County (not always those who are elected) that still want to help the general public and remember that government jobs are public service jobs.

Keep writing and calling local government agencies and hold them accountable.

CONTAMINATED DUST FLYING IN LIVE OAK AT 1500 CAPITOLA ROAD CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
Last Friday, I stopped by the Live Oak construction site at 1500 Capitola Road and got a mouthful of contaminated grit because of the uncontrolled dust the heavy equipment that was working at a feverish speed was kicking up and being blown about.  There was NO dust control! 

I started taking photos and quickly heard whistles and shouts of alarm from the workers.  Immediately, the heavy equipment slowed down, reducing the dust somewhat.  Coincidentally, a team from County Environmental Health Services arrived, further slowing the equipment speeds and miraculously, a water truck started spraying the piles of soil, likely contaminated.  

Upon quizzing the team, I learned they were investigating a complaint of there being unidentified “Blue Barrels” of chemicals stored, unsecured, on the site and next to an adjacent resident’s fence.  

This site is so contaminated, yet neither the County nor the developers (MidPen Housing and Dientes) seem to be concerned with attempting any remediation at all. Here is the link to the latest contaminant survey and analysis. (Many thanks to Steven for digging through the impossible GeoTracker website to find it!)

Note the shockingly-high contaminant levels found near the old Fairway Dry Cleaner, now laundromat, and in the area of the proposed Dientes low-cost dental clinic.  Note that all groundwater samples exceeded the acceptable levels of the carcinogen PCE, and that other contaminants were found.

And what about all those Blue Barrels that the resident reported? County Environmental Health staff reported later it is the chemical resin sealant (Liquid-Boot® 50 ) that will be poured onto the ground under the building foundations in an effort to keep the volatile carcinogen from wafting up into the offices and homes being built for all to breathe. 

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT BOARD GRANTS BIG MONTHLY BONUSES TO TOP MANAGEMENT AS CUSTOMERS STRUGGLE TO PAY THEIR EXHORBITANT BILLS
Never mind that the poor customers of Soquel Creek Water District are struggling to pay their skyrocketing rates while conserving all that they can, the Board approved hefty bonuses for three top-level management staff to reward them for crowing about the incredibly-expensive project that would inject treated sewage water into the drinking water supply for all of MidCounty. Money seems to be no object to this Board, so, following on the heels of giving General Manager Ron Duncan an 8.12% salary raise, retroactive to January 1, 2021, the Board likewise granted huge monthly bonuses to three who are really just doing their jobs. Never mind that the District has hired NINE separate consultants who are actually doing the work…these three top level people were awarded the bonuses because of “their dedication to the Project”. Wow.

The identified management classifications and specific monthly adjustments are shown below. 

  • Special Projects/Outreach Manager – $1,600 per month 
  • Engineering Manager – $1,000 per month 
  • Finance and Business Services Manager – $1,000 per month 

The temporary adjustment would be terminated when the project is recognized as substantially complete per Division of Drinking Water (anticipated in 2023) or before if the General Manager determines that the extraordinary duties have subsided and no longer warrant additional pay (subject to annual Board approval). Since this expanded effort has being going on since at least January of 2021, the specific adjustments are recommended to be retroactive to January 1, 2021.

[Approve Temporary Salary Adjustments] (Item 7.3, page 214 of the packet)

Please write the Board and let them know your thoughts!

Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors bod@soquelcreekwater.org

Are they asking that their poor ratepayers eat cake???

GIFTING FREE WATER TO TWIN LAKES CHURCH FOR 50 YEARS AND WAIVING WATER DEMAND OFFSETS 
The Soquel Creek Water District Board also signed off on three land use agreements to support the outrageously-expensive and questionable PureWater Soquel Project, including gifting free irrigation water to the Twin Lakes Baptist Church for 50 years, and waiving the $55,000/Acre Foot new water demand offset that all other customers have to pay up front in order to build.  Take a look at item #7.2 on the Board’s latest agenda…

Since this is partially funded with State Water Dept. grants, doesn’t this seem like a gift of public funds to a private religious entity, especially when the injection well that this concerns could have easily been constructed just across the street on Cabrillo College property.  The free irrigation water could have gone to irrigating THOSE athletic fields instead, and Cabrillo College would not have to pump water from their three private wells in the area to keep the playing fields green.  

Instead, the District will only install monitoring wells on Cabrillo’s land…to see how quickly the contaminants injected hundreds of feet deep into the Purisima Aquifer at Twin Lakes Baptist Church travel in our drinking water supply.  

How disgusting.

And quickly……

FREE WEBINARS ABOUT DRINKING RECYCLED WATER

This is a message from the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Water Research Foundation is hosting a two-part webinar series that will highlight the findings from DPR research described in A Framework for Regulating Direct Potable Reuse in California and Report to Legislature on Investigation on the Feasibility of Developing Uniform Water Recycling Criteria for Direct Potable Reuse. The research was recommended in 2016 by an expert panel convened by the State Water Board to advise on public health issues and scientific and technical matters regarding the feasibility of developing uniform water recycling criteria for Direct Potable Reuse, as required by Water Code section 13565.

For more information and to register for the webcasts, please visit the WRF webpage, links available below:

 Liquid-Boot® 500 

SWB DPR Research Webcast Part 1: Pathogens | The Water Research Foundation (waterrf.org)

This webcast will focus on two of the projects funded under the grant: Pathogen Monitoring in Untreated Wastewater (4989) and Tools to Evaluate Quantitative Microbial Risk and Plant Performance/Reliability (4951).

SWB DPR Research Webcast Part 2: Chemicals | The Water Research Foundation (waterrf.org)

This webcast will present findings from another project funded under the grant: Defining Potential Chemical Peaks and Management Options (4991). This research evaluated the potential for certain chemicals to persist through advanced water treatment systems and options for the detection of chemical peaks.

**************************************************

Direct potable reuse is the planned introduction of recycled water either directly into a public water system or into a raw water supply immediately upstream of a water treatment plant. Please visit our website for additional information: Regulating Direct Potable Reuse in California | California State Water Resources Control Board

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A VIRTUAL TOWN HALL MEETING AND ASK QUESTIONS THAT REALLY HAVE TO BE ANSWERED.  LET PEOPLE KNOW HOW MUCH YOU APPRECIATE THEIR GOOD WORK WHENEVER IT HAPPENS.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK, AND JUST DO SOMETHING, AND ENJOY EACH DAY… 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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May 20

#140 / Born To Be Wild

In a lovely, pre-Earth Day column, published in The New York Times on April 19, 2021, Margaret Renkl sought to remind us of a basic truth: We Were Born To Be Wild

Renkl is the author of “Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss” (Milkweed Editions, 2019) and “Graceland, at Last: Notes on Hope and Heartache From the American South” (Milkweed Editions, 2021). Since 2017, she has been a contributing Opinion writer for The Times, where her essays appear each Monday. A graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina, Renkl lives in Nashville. 

My thanks to my friend Derede Arthur for alerting me to Renkl’s “We Were Born To Be Wild” column. As I read her column, I was most struck by the following observation: 

Many people no longer feel a connection to the natural world because they no longer feel themselves to be part of it.

As Renkl says, “we’ve come to think of nature as something that exists a car ride away. We don’t even know the names of the trees in our own yards.”

I keep returning to my “Two Worlds Hypothesis” as a way to grapple with exactly the problem that Renkl spotlights – and it definitely is a “problem.” 

We don’t, as Renkl notes, feel ourselves to be a part of the natural world because we live most immediately in a world that we have created ourselves. We don’t, in fact, live directly in the world of nature, and that is why we don’t feel ourselves to be a part of it. 

But we we are! While we live most immediately in a world that we have constructed for ourselves, we are ultimately residents of the natural world, however much we may strive to insulate ourselves from that knowledge. 

Renkl wants us to know what we’re missing. That is what her column is about:  

Nature is all around us … and I’m not talking about just the songbirds and the cottontail rabbits in any suburban neighborhood. I’m talking about the coyote holed up in a bathroom at Nashville’s downtown convention center; the red-tailed hawks nesting in Manhattan; the raccoon climbing a skyscraper in St. Paul, Minn.; the black bear lounging in a Gatlinburg, Tenn., hot tub; the eastern box turtle knocking on my friend Mary Laura Philpott’s front door.

These encounters remind us that we are surrounded by creatures as unique in their own ways as we are in ours. And our delight in their antics tells us something about ourselves, too. We may believe we are insulated from the natural world by our structures and our vehicles and our poisons, but we are animals all the same.

Thursday is Earth Day, and even if you can’t observe it by planting trees or pulling trash out of nearby streams, this week is a good time to remember that it’s never too late to become a naturalist. And the first step is simply waking up to our own need for the very world we have tried to shut out so completely.

For we belong to one another — to the house finches and the climbing raccoons and the door-knocking turtles and the bathing bears. Recognizing that kinship will do more than keep our fellow creatures safer. It will also keep us safer, and make us happier, too (emphasis added).

I completely agree with Renkl that we are “missing out” when we essentially turn our backs on the world of nature, into which we were born, and upon which we are ultimately dependent. We would be “happier” were we all to become “naturalists,” as Renkl suggests we should. I am not certain, however, that it is “never too late.” 

Our inattention to the world of the birds and the bugs is an inattention to the natural world that makes our own lives (and our own human world) possible. Our failure to defer to and defend the world upon which we ultimately depend is a “problem” that we have not yet sufficiently addressed. This is a problem that cannot be ignored indefinitely. 

Let’s not push our luck, and put that “it’s never too late” statement to the test. 

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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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

    JUNE

“How did it get so late so soon? Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
~Dr. Seuss

“There’s something I love about how stark the contrast is between January and June in Sweden. In a way, I feel that time doesn’t exist in LA. Sometimes I don’t know if it’s February or April or October, because you’re always sitting outside on the same patio, and it’s 70 degrees“.
~Alexander Skarsgård

“Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble venture”.
~M. F. K. Fisher

“In June as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them”. Aldo Leopold…p.s. He probably meant to include women!!!

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This guy is an incredible artist, look at these 3D paintings he does!


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com

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