May 18 – 24, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…City Council’s illegal meeting on Measure E, How to vote, more No on D, Screeners, and movies, Webmistress’s pick of the week, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…on the Third District Supervisor’s election. KROHN…Santa Cruz Together’s illegal meeting of City Council for measure E. STEINBRUNER…Desal and Pure Water Soquel, water rates going up, Live Oak density, Empty Homes tax. HAYES…Voting for the environment. PATTON…Illegal City Council actions. MATLOCK… MYSTERY FUND DRYING UP AND SMOKIN’ IN THE BOYS ROOM WITH ELON. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Voting”. Webmistress’ PICK OF THE WEEK…5th Element – it’s been 25 years!

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PRE SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK. 1893. This was just about the time when developer and future mayor Fred Swanton got involved with creating the Boardwalk. Can’t find data on who or what went up in that balloon.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE May 16

GARY PATTON AND CHRIS KROHN & OUR ILLEGAL CITY COUNCIL ACTIONS!! Scroll below and read Gary’s and Chris’s reports on the illegal meeting pushing Measure E. Gary states,” It turns out that four members of the Santa Cruz City Council violated state law as they met with a local pro-development political group, Santa Cruz Together, and discussed issues relating to district elections. The meeting was a clear violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act”. Then we need to determine why our Santa Cruz Scentinel has avoided the issue for all these days.

HOW TO VOTE…WHO TO VOTE FOR!! As per usual when our ballots arrive, there are so many offices and candidates we’ve never heard of and of whose background we haven’t the vaguest idea. I’ve asked good, experienced, local political friends to give us a list of the best candidates. Take out your sample ballots and vote the following:

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Governor GAVIN NEWSOM
Lieutenant Governor ELENI KOUNALAKIS
Secretary of State SHIRLEY N. WEBER
Controller STEVE GLAZER
Treasurer FIONA MA
Attorney General ROB BONTA
Insurance Commissioner MARC LEVINE
Member, State Board of Equalization District 2 SALLY J. LIEBER
United States Senator ALEX PADILLA
United States Senator Partial Unexpired Term ALEX PADILLA
United States Representative 19th District JIMMY PANETTA
Member of the State Assembly GAIL PELLERIN
Superintendent of Public Instruction TONY THURMOND
County Supervisor, 3rd District JUSTIN CUMMINGS
County Measures
Measure B Yes
Measure C Yes
Measure D No
Measure E No
Measure F No

There were/are a lot of questions, decisions behind the above list. If you know things we never encountered, please tell me/us at bratton@cruzio.com as rapidly as possible. And the main principle, and deciding thing is to be sure to vote. Democrats are traditionally lazy about voting in these off-season times, just go vote!!

MORE ON MEASURE D…RAIL AND TRAIL. Like Ryan Coonerty and just about all county residents the slinging fight between pro rail and trail and the money backed pro  Greenway issue seems to have been so overcome with accusations it’s ridiculous. I asked Barry Scott one of the most sane and active pro Rail plus trail organization to bring us up to date. He wrote…

THE BULLIES OF GREENWAY, ANOTHER BUD COLLIGAN CREATION.

Bullying and stalking from some in the Greenway – Trail Only crowd is nothing new but it has reached epic levels this year. What used to be limited to juvenile name-calling has escalated into full blown stalking, doxxing, and false reports to the authorities.

Perhaps worse is that Greenway’s leader, Bud Colligan, is a participant in the hate fest and clearly condones these behaviors.
Bud’s Greenway Measure D spokesman, Jack Brown, is a chief hitman.

Jack works for the self-driving car and truck group Waymo, though he doesn’t admit as much:   On at least one Yes on D contribution file he lists his employer as “founder, take charge and go”, which is just a little side line. Could it be that Waymo, a friend of Koch Industries for their job-killing kochdisruptivetechnologies effort might want to kill railroads and public transit?

All this aside, Jack lives in Rio Del Mar on the Rail Corridor and likes to sport Greenway signs next to his high tech cars and Nest cameras.

Not long ago, Jack captured a FORT board member  making a U-turn and proceeded to post it as a crime to a popular social media platform, including the plate and VIN numbers and description of the driver in the social media post. More recently, Brown tailed the same person in his Tesla, video recording him all the while and later posting the video to a closed Facebook group where the bullies gather to plot their dirty deeds.  Bud Colligan is a member of this anti-transit bullies group, managed by Jack Brown and one of his fake accounts. David Date is one of Greenway’s paid videographers and boy, does he love his camera!
David is infamous for creating crises and recording them and through the magic of editing telling his fictional stories which are invariably designed to insult and deride Rail Trail proponents.

David referred to FORT’s Chair as “some fat chick”, which is in keeping with his style.

One day last year, Chris Krohn hosted a debate between Greenway’s Bud Colligan with Tim Brattan against Kelsey Hill with Barry Scott.

During the radio debate, Bud at one moment launched into his personal attack mode, his own Facebook page includes these, and Kelsey for her tremendous performance on that show became a new target for Bud, Jack, and David.

This nasty crew, whom we already knew are dismissive of Watsonville’s needs “they can come to Santa Cruz by bike, by foot” (Colligan) and “this isn’t the Watsonville Transportation Commission” (Jack Brown), they’ve really gone after local women supporters of rail and trail, most notably Tina Andreatta and Kelsey Hill.

To Kelsey Hill:
Jack Brown: “Kelsey Hill is off her meds.”
David Date: “she looks like shit in her photos”

About Tina Andreatta:
Bud Colligan: “Tina, is your boyfriend an oil lobbyist?”

Jack Brown calls Tina demented, unhinged, hysterical, and worse, posting pictures of her and others to their closed Facebook groups.

Remember, Jack Brown is the official spokesman for Measure D-Yes Greenway and David Date their videographer by his own admission.

Jack’s hateful groups are frequented by Greenway founder Bud Colligan.  The persistence of these hateful online attacks and Bud’s participation in the discussions tell us that Greenway’s campaign has gone from being deceptive to being truly destructive”. 

Go here for the NO ON D list… It is one of the most impressive and uniting list of names I’ve ever seen in our community. 

PICK OF THE WEEK. Every week since the beginning, Gunilla Leavitt (the webmistress of BrattonOnline) picks a great video to view. Scroll below to see her wise, witty, and oft weird choice at the very end of the online report.

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. The “RT’s” after the movie title refer to the Rotten Tomatoes critics scores from 1-100. Rotten Tomatoes is the world’s largest and most respected cinema scoring system.

CLARK. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). This is the nearly unbelievable true story of one of the most notorious bank robbers in history Clark Olofsson. It’s funny, well-acted, nicely produced and a good way to spend those “extra” hours. Bill Skarsgard plays Clark and he’s perfect in the role. It’s all in Sweden and is a positive delight…go for it.

OPERATION MINCEMEAT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) Colin Firth and Jason Isaacs star in this true WWII British spy movie. Author Ian Fleming (James Bond creator) was actually involved and he tells the story of how the British fooled Hitler and Germany into the invasion of Sicily. It goes on too long here and there but the intrigue and plotting and how they kept the plot secret make it worthwhile.

PETITE MAMAN. (Del Mar Theatre) (97 RT) (7.4 IMDB) A sentimental, loving story of a little eight year old girl who‘s grandmother has died. She finds a next door neighbor friend who is her twin or maybe her mother. It’s existential, sentimental, and beautifully told. You’ll probably cry a lot, it’s so much a part of all our lives and our dealing with death.

THE LINCOLN LAWYER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.6 IMDB). The excellent acting of Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as the lawyer makes this a fine, tense, humorous series to view. Doing his attorney practice which he works from his precious collection of Lincoln automobiles we get to watch and become involved in some fascinating cases. Funny, deadly, deep and very much an LA movie you’ll be hypnotized by this one…go for it.  

THE ESSEX SERPENT. (APPLE TV SERIES) (7.0 IMDB)Tom Hiddleston and Claire Danes lead off in this poor people’s historic version of the 1890’s Downton Abbey. Claire is convinced that there is an actual sea serpent lurking in the waters off this remote island. There’s plenty of interaction between characters and it’s a way of looking at how we humans deal with things we do and don’t believe in. A fine well directed series).

DEAR EVAN HANSEN. (HBO MOVIE) (6.1 IMDB). Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Ben Platt do their very best to make this “musical” very serious. I’ve attended over 300 operas here and overseas and have a soft spot for the sentimental/oft hammy side of a drama. Evan is a high schooler with many mental issues including suicide. It’s heavy but believable. The voices are good ones and remember it’s a musical and like West Side Story it’s got a story to tell in an unusual way.

THE NIGHT HOUSE. (HBO MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB).  A genuinely scary well done ghost/horror film. Rebecca Hall is the school teacher whose husband committed suicide, but just probably. She has dreams, thangs go bump in the night. It’s all in upper New York State near Utica and their lovely home by the lake. Rare to watch an old plot like this and still stay affixed, but you will. 

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

DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. (DELMAR THEATRE) (76RT). Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams are all back and probably making millions of dollars in this Marvel Comics sequel. There have been 28 Marvel Comic movies in case you’ve lost count. Sam Raimi directed it if that’ll help you decide on viewing. There’s a giant octopus chasing humans down the street and for locals there’s a few minutes of Patrick Stewart pitching a sequel that for sure must feature Charlize Theron who onscreen for 20 seconds 

THE STAIRCASE. (HBO MAX SERIES). Led by Colin Firth and Toni Colette this is one worth your time to view. Toni falls down stairs and dies so the many flashbacks trace her actions to determine if Colin hit her or was she drunk? The detectives uncover many of husband’s hidden secrets and then there’s a movie company who ends up filming his history. There’s 5 children involved and this series will keep you nearly glued to your screen.

YAKAMOZ S-245. (NETFLIX SERIES). (6.1 IMDB). A sci-fi earth disaster movie made in Turkey. A carefully picked deep diving submarine crew come up after a dive to find the earth is being invaded by a yellow cloud. The cloud comes from the sun but what’s behind that?? Only a few episodes released and it’s involving but not gratifying. 

THE PENTAVERATE. (NETFLIX SERIES). Only the most devoted die-hard fans of comic Mike Myers could like this numb nuts series. As usual he plays all 5 parts and it’s about a secret society with names like the “illuminati” or near nonsense like that. There’s sex jokes, fluoride mentions, chem trails and boggling idiocy galore.

SILVERTON SIEGE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.0 IMDB). This is a South African movie and it’s unusual. Three young freedom fighters during a siege happening in 1980 get trapped in a bank with several hostages. Facing supremacist problems from the local and district police the fighters end up demanding actual release of Nelson Mandela from his prison. Some of the area’s government try to help the hostages and their captors and others continue their racial hatred in many other ways. Not as tight and tense as it could have been but intriguing.

UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN. (HULU SERIES). (7.3 IMDB). Andrew Garfield does an excellent job of portraying a Mormon detective in Salt Lake City looking for the brutal murderer of a mother and her baby. Based on a true story, this involves dealing with much of the unusual traditions of Mormonism. As we watch this series unfold we get to view the Mormon view of woman’s equality, how Blacks are treated by Mormons and the general way Mormons deal with government. Worth watching….so far. 

RUMSPRINGA. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.3 IMDB). This is a German movie about a young Amish boy who is sent to Berlin as his passage into adulthood. Poor acting, no laughs and a weird look at the Amish tradition. It does develop a plot centering on the young boy meeting a “hip” German kid of the same age and how their friendship overcomes their differences. A waste of time.

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CABRILHO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts on July 24-August 7. Yes, Cristian Macelaru the music director is returning and will be conducting. The concerts will include three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie‘s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States. Tickets are on sale now!!

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May 16

THREE’S A CROWD

Santa Cruz Works held few surprises. Not being privy to internal discussions, I can only scratch my head and wonder why progressives opposed to pro-development candidate Shebreh Kalantari- Johnson (far right) and critical of some of the votes of Justin Cummings (far left), would “strongly encourage”Amy Chen-Mills (center) to run, all but guaranteeing a win for Kalantari-Johnson by splitting the progressive vote. The hotel sign behind the candidates is likely more ironic than prophetic. 

From Kalantari-Johnson we got the usual substance-free phrases such as “building healthy thriving communities” and “rethink intersectionality” with double-talk such as “you can’t just say ‘you can’t build here’ (to building in fire-prone areas). We have to say where you can build.”  

Her explanation for the housing cost crisis is consistent with that of real-estate and developer interests, blaming the current crisis on decades of slow growth policies rather than on real estate speculation. In her words, “we’ve said no too many times. We have to say yes to housing.” The old “supply and demand” give-away to speculators. 

It should tell you something beyond supply and demand that rents in Santa Cruz rose 20% from 2020 -2021 and home prices jumped 30% in the same year.

Beyond low-income housing, candidate Justin Cummings argued for workforce housing rather than for market rate housing which prompted Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson to opine that the low-income affordable Pacific Station North development underway (current Metro site) would not have been possible without market rate housing. There was no push back on that which was disappointing because it is not accurate. The Pacific Station project was awarded $29.6 million from CA Strategic Growth Council, in other words, state government monies. 

This was an opportunity for candidate Ami Chen-Mills to have input on market-rate housing raising the AMI (Area Medium Income) which increasingly displaces low-income residents, but she did not rise to the occasion. Her memorable line was “I don’t like to take a fixed position.” I appreciated Cummings’ comment that single family homes in Santa Cruz that now are valued at over a million dollars were bought decades ago by teachers, plumbers, maintenance workers now retired, in other words, the workforce at that time. Now the current workforce can’t afford even a tiny apartment. That comment alone gives insight into the problem and the source of the problem. 

I share the disappointment that Cummings does not support keeping and renovating the downtown library in its current location. In that he is indistinguishable from Kalantari-Johnson. This was an opportunity for Chen-Mills to shine in progressive eyes since she supports the Our Downtown Our Future (ODOF) campaign. She covered the issue well until the moderator chimed in that Lot 4 is a parking lot (as opposed to a green plaza). Rather than an informed retort from Chen-Mills that Lot 4 contains multiple heritage trees that can be saved, she replied that ODOF wants to make it into a green plaza. Lack of awareness and missed opportunity.

Since we at home on zoom could submit Q&A I kept typing in “explain your votes on district elections.” I’ve written before that I’m aghast at the Kalantari-Johnson initiated motion at council, which passed 5-2 to choose the worst possible district maps for the city. It is far more serious than the at-large-Mayor (Measure E) vote, although that needs opposing. Map 604, recommended by the consulting demographers and city staff kept the various Latino neighborhoods intact, kept the lower westside intact, kept upper westside intact and kept UCSC with a significant Asian population intact. Map 602, pushed by Kalantari-Johnson splits the upper and lower westside vertically into two districts each containing a half of the lower and half of the upper and fragments the Latino vote into multiple districts in apparent violation of the CA Voting Rights Act. Cummings spelled that out clearly without mincing words and without a personal attack. Kalantari-Johnson’s response later in the forum and in her press- coverage characterized his words as “egregious accusations by my opponent.” Never trust a politician who plays the victim rather than defending their position, no matter how indefensible.

A small aside…I am aware of the use of the term Latinx and why it is used by a tiny fraction of the population. I’ve run it by my Latino friends who happen to be working class and they say “Eso no funciona” or “that doesn’t work” so I follow their lead.

As much as I’d be glad to see the last of Kalantari-Johnson on city council and as much as I have issue with some of Cumming’s votes, I care more about the future of the Third District than that. A vote for Chen-Mills will in my estimation guarantee a win for Kalantari-Johnson. I’ll be voting for Cummings, not only to prevent a win by Kalantari-Johnson but also because Cummings is the more experienced candidate, stands up to staff when it’s called for and has fought hard for some significant policy changes during his term on city council. He is also fluent in Spanish, a big plus for a district with a large Spanish-speaking population. 

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 16

A MEETING MOST FOUL.

On Monday, May 2nd, the group, Santa Cruz Together (SCT) met at 6pm for fundraiser at Eric Stockwell’s wine bar, Stockwell Cellars, on Swift Street on the Westside of Santa Cruz. Four city councilmembers were present at this meeting in which city business was decidedly discussed, a breach of the state’s Brown Act. In addition, it was explained to the group, in earshot of 3rd District Supervisor candidate Shebreh Kalantari Johnson, that “unlimited amounts” of cash could be donated to the SCT political action committee to support “Measure E and Shebreh.” SCT was the group that spearheaded defeating rent control by raising over a million dollars. The group is part reactionary, part Republican, part moderate-Democrat, but always 100% pro-real estate, pro-market rate housing development and anti-houseless. The meeting’s transcript is available here and is full of some political peccadillos, half-truths, and campaign violations that it might be worth a listen. I am placing below some of the more juicy, painful, and ideological remonstrance of this well-heeled swingin’ soiree in today’s column. (note: I’ve edited it for clarity.) Surely, we can come together and provide a few collective dollops of pity for the petty Santa Cruz bourgeoisie. I am not sure that the ghosts of Lee Atwater or Big Daddy Jesse Unruh (“Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”) weren’t lurking somewhere behind the wine barrels inside this old industrial property on Swift Street.

Rogue’s Gallery, Santa Cruz Style

It is a 43-minute and 30-second recording, which local activist, Ann Simonton, recorded live. I have selected parts of the longer transcript and placed them below with the minutes and seconds count where it can be found in the recording. This gathering was a political who’s who in conservative-moderate developer-friendly Surf City circles. Only missing, some of the speakers said out loud, were Hillary Bryant, Kris Reyes (Boardwalk PR guy), and current mayor Sonia Bruner. It is also interesting that Justin Cummings and Drew Glover’s names were spat out, epithet-like, but no one else from the political progressive community was mentioned. “DSA,” Democratic Socialists of America, Santa Cruz, was also used at one point the same way anti-communist rhetoric was used in the 1950’s, to condemn without much discussion.

SPEAKERS

Donna Meyers, Lynn Renshaw, Peter Cook, Shebreh Kalantari Johnson

Lynn Renshaw  00:00

Thank you all for coming. I’m so happy to see so many friendly faces here physically and in person. It means a lot to us. What I’m going to do today is start off by talking about Santa Cruz Together’s direction. And then we have ex-mayor and Councilmember Donna Meyers, who’s going to talk about Measure E, the elected mayor measure. And then we have Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson council member. Councilmember Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson’s running for supervisor. And then Peter Cook and I are going to wrap up…So together, a lot of us have been together on a journey for over four years. SCT (Santa Cruz Together) started with the shock of the Measure M (rent control on the 2018 ballot) emergence. And we successfully built this network and the broader network to defeat it by a very wide margin…After that, many of us witnessed a great deal of chaos and instability in the city generated by the progressive majority, beginning with Shebreh’s opponent (Justin) Cummings, attempting to pass Measure M after we defeated it by a two to one margin. Due to our organized opposition…Cummings backed off passing Measure M…Cummings is Shebreh’s opponent for county supervisor. Take note…We have strong and steadfast leadership with councilmember Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson and the (city council) majority that we have in place now…So we’ve built a network of thousands of people that are engaged with a city…And we help them run campaigns. And then we’re also working on campaigns for particular local measures… So, in that light, we’re here to advocate for, yes, on Measure E, the directly elected mayor…We think it’s vitally important to the future of the city. We think it’s critical for improving the leadership of the city. And it doesn’t have a yes campaign. So, we’re stepping in…need some help, and we’re here to provide that help tonight. Okay, and then likewise, in November, we’re likely to run the “No campaign” on the Empty house (Homes) Tax. This is another one of these misguided citizen initiatives put together by the Democratic Socialists (DSA). And it’s overreaching and just as flawed in its own way, as Measure M…the proposal is that it will tax second homes and use the money to tax second homes $6,000 and use the money to fund affordable housing, apartment buildings. But as is the case with most of these things, the devil is in the details. If the law passes, there will be a registry of every homeowner in the city…It’s really a Trojan horse to put in place, a homeowner registered registry and a rental registry. The rental registry was a DSA objective, beginning in 2019. And just like misguided measure M the authors are extreme people, that overreach by drafting a law that includes things like homeowner audits up to once a year requiring three years of documentation, criminal penalties of misdemeanors, for those that are forgetting to report to the city, how much they were home, fines of $1,000 a day, and more. So, the signatures for that citizen initiative were turned in to be certified by the elections. And we will find out if it qualifies in a couple of weeks, we fully expect it to qualify. So that’s another example of a campaign that won’t necessarily have opponents, except us. And we will be prepared to take that on. And we think that with your help, we fully expect (because) it’s so unreasonable. Any well organized campaign can point out just how flawed and ridiculous that proposal is…But tonight, we’re here to focus on the June election…So, let’s all welcome councilmember Donna Meyers, to talk about Measure E, the directly elected mayor…

Donna Meyers 09:08

Thank you, Santa Cruz Together for the invitation tonight to inform you all of Measure E. Okay, I always get these mixed up sorry, “Shall the Santa Cruz city charter be amended to provide for a directly elected at large mayor, six council districts updated rules on term limits and runoff elections.” And you’ll be able to vote yes or no on that. It’s a lot, a mouthful of things that a lot of people, a lot of people sort of maybe don’t completely get. In November of 2022, you will be voting as a member of an actual city district…What this measure would do with relation to that seven-district map is that it would provide for a runoff election for those districts…there would be a June primary similar to the Board of Supervisors…then there would be a November election. So, if you had 10 People running in a district, then the top two if that one didn’t get 50% plus one would move to that November, a runoff election…it does change things up a little bit from what most people are used to usually you would vote for, you know, three candidates or four candidates in the…at large election, it’s going to be different. Now the districts are set, we’re not able to go backwards. We will be voting in districts…the mayor would be elected across all 63,000 residents of the city of Santa Cruz, it would serve as the seventh seat on the city council. We would still have seven seats, but we would have six district seats and one at-large elected mayor… they’re not going to hire the police chief. They’re also not in charge of the budget. The city manager remains in that role…As someone who served in the role of mayor, and I want to recognize Martine Watkins, I know she’s here, she’s been our mayor, I see Lynn Robinson and Cynthia Matthews…and then council members, Renee Golder and Shebreh…it’s definitely worth exploring and taking some time to take a vote on that this time around…now I’m going to introduce Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, my colleague on the city council, and I think a woman that is going to be an amazing supervisor for us in district three…

Shebreh Kalantari Johnson  20:17

Good evening. Thank you all for being here on this beautiful Monday…My name is Shebreh Johnson, and Lynn (Renshaw) earlier talked about journeys in Santa Cruz Together…So I’m not going to give you my whole resume and my CV… I will highlight some of the things that I’ve done in this community to actualize those values of a healthy, strong community…grant writer… policies around cannabis and alcohol…and brought in nonprofits, public sector, county departments, cities to work on important issues…And I’ve been fortunate to have amazing colleagues on the city council, vice mayor Watkins, council member Golder, I don’t know if you’ve met councilmember Golder, former mayor and council member Meyers. Mayor Brunner, who’s not here…Those are the current council members. And then the wisdom and guidance of other former mayors and council members, Cynthia Matthews, Lynn Robinson… Now, Lynn (Renshaw) brought up a couple of policy issues that are important to you. So, I just want to name clearly for you all, I opposed Measure M (rent control, 2018), and I am opposed to the Empty Homes Tax, because I think it’s poor policy…I didn’t support Measure M, and I’m not supporting the Empty Homes tax…I’m honored to have received the endorsement of supervisor Ryan Coonerty, and also to have received the endorsement of Santa Cruz Together and so many other leaders in this community…

Lynn Renshaw  28:26

Peter Cook has also been with us since we’ve started Santa Cruz Together over four years ago.

Peter Cook  28:36

Thank you, Lynn. Thank you, Donna and Shebreh. Quick…I am Peter, the party planner. And I wanted to start off by thanking our hosts Eric and Suzanne Stockwell…How many of you were here for the kickoff for the Measure M campaign? Oh, man, you have not lived if you sit out here… (Drew) Glover and a bunch of crazy people yelling…with a bullhorn. Like, that was an absolutely crazy night (in 2018) and look how far we’ve come…Thank you for coming. I want to just quickly go over what is Santa Cruz Together. As you know, we’re the (not clear?) organization that defeated measure M. 

I’d like to introduce our board…I’m Peter Cook. Our fearless leader is Lynn Renshaw. Our highly, highly experienced political strategist is Kris Reyes, who couldn’t be here tonight…We have our rocket scientists and tech support and Dan Coughlin. And then we have our legal department and Treasurer, and that’d be Brad Brereton… I know everyone wants us to take on all things political in Santa Cruz. But that’s not what we’re doing. We’re focusing on the big-ticket items, and focus on winning those…Measure E and Shebreh…We’re also looking for good (city) council candidates for November to support…

I’m going to miss some people that I wanted to thank and I’m going to skip the people who’ve already been recognized. But I do want to thank David TerrazasHillary Bryant wanted to pass on Hello, everybody. Unfortunately, she could not be here…Carol Fuller from the Democratic Women’s Club…Deborah Elston’s here from Santa Cruz Neighbors…A dear friend of mine, Carol Polhamus

Lynn Renshaw  36:09

That was nice. Thank you, Peter…So we’ve heard from Shebreh. And we’ve heard about “Yes, on measure E.” We need your help. So SCT is working on two mailers that will promote Shebreh’s campaign. And also, Yes on measure E, which we think is important for stronger leadership, better leadership. If you think about measure E, like if you were just the mayor, somebody who only does the job for one year, imagine any other job, or you start it, you’ve never done it before, it’s that significant. And then you get a new one and start all over again. So, we think that’s important for advancing a better quality of leadership in the city…to do this, we’re planning to do Santa Cruz together mailers. The mailers cost $15,000 each. We’re using the same professional firm that we’ve used to produce our mailers and our digital campaigns for all of our successful campaigns. It’s still the case that the best way to reach voters is through mailers. And to some extent, what they say is the candidate or the measures with the most mailers wins, so we’re doing pretty well on that. But tonight, we’re aiming to raise that $10,000, we need to have the funding for the two mailers. And because of our generous donors, tonight, we have a matching grant so we can match donations up to $10,000. Tonight, I myself, I’m going to contribute $500 to chip away at that and to get part of that match. One of the advantages that we have set Santa Cruz Together is a political action network. ( Political Action Committee) And so we don’t have a contribution limit. That said, some quick logistics…we hope that you’ll support us, and checks can be made out to Santa Cruz Together. You can give them to me, you can give them to Brad (Brereton) over here. And if you don’t have a checkbook and you want to make a donation, you can make a donation at Santa Cruz together.com…also, take a Shebreh yard sign and then we’re also going to have yard signs for “Yes On Measure E.” We don’t quite have them yet. We’ll put them up in the next couple of days…I feel like I know 90 percent of the people here…I like that our sense of collective purpose and improving the city, so vote for Shebreh and yes and measure E. I’ll hang around and take questions, Shebreh will take questions. Thanks again everybody for being here”.

“The leaders of the Democratic Party talk a lot about Republican “dark money.” I’m not hearing much, however, about the dark money from billionaires trying to crush the candidacies of three progressive women of color. We must BAN all super PAC money in Democratic primaries.” (May 16)

Another brilliant rendering of speaking truth to power from local artist Russell Brutsche to our Community, he gets the con our community is being sold. (So does Stephen Kessler in his recent piece 

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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May 16

WHEN DOES WATER BECOME TOO EXPENSIVE?
Last week, the Coastal Commission rejected plans for a large desalination plant in Huntington Beach, California chiefly because the water would be too costly for the ratepayers, but also because of damage to marine life.  

Oddly, cost was also the chief concern of the Commissioners in March, 2020 when they approved the PureWater Soquel Project consolidated application.   They approved it anyway, even though Soquel Creek Water District staff could not even answer the question of “How much WILL that water cost?”

[Cal Am not fazed by rejection of SoCal desal]

Strangely, the Commission cared nothing about the contaminants in the brine effluent that the PureWater Soquel Project treatment plant in Live Oak will pump back to the outfall pipe into the Monterey Bay Sanctuary…containing more contaminants than the City’s wastewater effluent supplying the Project, due to disinfection by-products.

And don’t forget that the City’s outfall pipe has a known rupture about 65 feet offshore.

Write the California Coastal Commission and let them know your thoughts about this.  You can refer to Consolidated Development Permit 3-20-0014 approved on March 11, 2020.

You could also write the Santa Cruz City Council and ask when they plan to repair the rupture in the sewage water effluent pipe to make ocean waters healthier for surfers and folks at the beach.

citycouncil@cityofsantacruz.com 

Has Soquel Creek Water District done any studies to determine the impacts of their PureWater Soquel Project contaminated brine effluent on marine life?  NOPE.

Write their Board (which includes a number of scientists) and ask them to do this much-needed work.

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

  • Mail: Board of Directors, P.O. Box 1550, Capitola, CA 95010 
  • District Office: Board of Directors, 5180 Soquel Drive, Soquel, CA 95073

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT RATES WILL CONTINUE TO INCREASE
On May 3, the Board considered the 2022/2023 Budget.  It is sobering, largely due to the financial hemorrhage caused by the expensive PureWater Soquel Project.  

Even with the $59 million in government grants, in September 2020 the District had to take out a loan agreement of up to $89 million with the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) low-interest loan program administered by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

The District also had to take out a $75 million revolving line of credit with CoBank, ACB in July 2020 to provide cash flow while waiting for the various grant/loan program disbursements.

And more, much more, is needed.

Ratepayers have been conserving water so well that water sales are $2.3 million (12.48%) lower than projected in the finance plan for 2022/23, which effectively negates the 9% annual volumetric rate increases slammed upon customers for the past three years running. 

Monthly service charges are expected to generate $10.4 million in revenue, an increase of $1.1 million from the prior year, primarily as a result of the scheduled rate increase that took effect on January 1, 2022. 

In a depressing nutshell…..

Ending reserves are projected to be lower than the previous year by over $2 million. As operating expenses increase, more money is allocated to the Operating Contingency Reserve. In addition, the cash flow gap between money going out for the PWS project and grant and loan reimbursements coming in has depleted the District’s cash reserves until such time as the project is completed and all funding has been recovered. It is expected that the District’s reserves will begin to rebound one to two years after PWS is completed. In the interim, this is an area to carefully monitor because it does inhibit the District’s ability to provide reserve cash flow for other gap financing or fiscal emergencies.”

(see page 11)

Meanwhile, the new Quail Run Buried Concrete Tank Project remains unbuilt in Aptos, even though the District borrowed money to build it.  

The District got $100,000 from the State for aid to customers who couldn’t pay their bills due to COVID, but there is no plan for ways that poor customers can apply for this help.  The District sold 66.5 Acre-feet in Water Demand Offsets at $55,000/Acre-foot (that’s a total of $3,657,500!!!).  Where is all that money going???  Hmmmm…..

WHY IS THE COUNTY ALLOWING SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT TO USE PUBLIC ROADS AS CONSTRUCTION STAGING SITES?
People who live on the Willowbrook Lane in Aptos have lost most of their much-needed on-street parking, thanks to Soquel Creek Water District’s construction project and the fact that for some reason (likely money), the County is allowing them to stockpile large equipment and supplies right on the public street.

What I want to know is why the District is impeding the public’s use of our thoroughfare by doing all this when they have a 50-year lease on a large parcel from Twin Lakes Baptist Church just down the way, and own a parcel next to the tennis courts at Willowbrook Park, both of which now sit empty. 

Take a look:

Empty Lot next to Cabrillo College Way at Twin Lakes Baptist Church

Soquel Creek Water District is using Willowbrook Lane as a construction staging area, prohibiting on-street parking on both sides of the street.

That’s a pile of asphalt…generally not allowed to be stockpiled on public streets and in the storm drain areas.

If you wonder about this, please contact Mr. Travis Rieber at County Public Works and ask how much (if anything) the County is getting paid to allow this to happen…and why.

Travis Rieber travis.rieber@santacruzcounty.us

WHY IS THE COUNTY POUNDING DENSITY MOSTLY INTO LIVE OAK AND NOT APTOS?
I took a deep breath and dove into the Draft EIR for the County Sustainability Plan and Regulatory Update, and began with Appendix C: Project Growth Assumptions Memorandum.  It’s 12 pages, and outlines how the areas targeted for extremely dense developments were chosen…sort of.  I feel Live Oak is going to be unfairly hit hard with high-density and the quality of life will change drastically for the worse.

Take a look at pages 5 and 6, showing that the economic forecasts (which will be mainly in the medical sector) are focused on mixed use development in the Live Oak area, increasing the ratio of housing vs. commercial to 75% residential (I think it is 50% now).  The industrial jobs got moved out of Live Oak and into South County; does that mean the morning commute will run the opposite direction as it does now?

Here is an interesting gem:

“The locations of these jobs were further refined to reflect mixed-use growth along main street corridors, multimodal corridors, and around future potential transit stations along the Santa Cruz Branch Line, as well as commercial growth in the medical uses around Soquel Drive, and job growth related to the new Workplace Flex (C-3) Zone District, which was assumed to locate around multimodal corridors and in focused areas such as the 41st Avenue/Soquel Drive and 17th Avenue/Santa Cruz Branch Line areas. 

Hmmmm…..

Take a look on pages 6 and 7 at the projected jobs for various areas of the County (according to AMBAG).  The numbers are high for Aptos, second only to Live Oak, but there is not much dense housing planned for Aptos.  How come?

The document is dated October 29, 2020….a bit stale, but shows you just how long Dudek Consultants have been grinding away on this Draft EIR.

Choose a topic that is of interest and meaningful to you, and dive in.

[CEQA Documents Open for Public Review]

Comments are due by May 31, 2022 I think we should all be asking for MORE TIME!

Email EIR Comments here: CEQA-NEPA@santacruzcounty.us 

COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION WILL HOST PUBLIC HEARING ON COUNTY SUSTAINABILITY PLAN AND REGULATORY UPDATES
The County noticed the public about this public hearing in the May 12 Santa Cruz Sentinel (Page A-2) but did not include the information about how to access the May 25 virtual Planning Commission hearing at 9:30am.  

Here is the link that might help a bit

However, the webinar ID is missing, so notify Ms. Stephanie Hansen stephanie.hansen@santacruzcounty.us  and ask that the full access information be posted and re-noticed in the Sentinel.  How can the public participate in this important Public Hearing about what our County will look like in the future if we can’t even access the hearing???

Keep checking here 

WOULD AN EMPTY HOMES TAX REALLY HELP PROVIDE AFFORDABLE RENTAL RELIEF?
With much discussion about a possible Empty Homes Tax in the City of Santa Cruz on this November’s ballot, it is worth researching whether or not such taxation has really helped other cities with their affordable housing problems.  The City of Vancouver is the textbook case, as well as Melbourne.  

According to this article, the cities have indeed collected a lot of money, but that has not helped provide much affordable housing relief.  

Taxing Rich Peoples’ Empty Homes Isn’t Helping the Housing Crisis?

What do you think?

RIO CAFE AND FLATS BISTRO IN RIO DEL MAR HAS NEW OWNERS

Many thanks to my friend, Al, let me know about this change….

“After decades of fun and good times with Cafe Rio and Flats Bistro, the time has come for me to retire! My long-time friends, Sean and Grace Venus, of Venus Spirits and Kitchen will be the new owners.” Jeanne aka Queenie

JUST SAY HELLO
Last week, I organized and /or attended four memorial gatherings. It was sobering. I think the big lesson is to see each day as a wonderful gift, and to greet others walking along the path of life with respect and friendliness. You just never know how much of a difference a friendly “Hello” might make….

MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. INSIST ON GETTING ACCESS INFORMATION TO ZOOM PUBLIC HEARINGS SO THAT YOU CAN PARTICIPATE.

MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK AND JUST DO SOMETHING…WITH A SMILE.

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 16

VOTING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT.

It’s all Local

Many Santa Cruz County folks are concerned about the environment, but you wouldn’t know it from either the candidates they elect or the state of the local environment, which continues to degrade in many ways that the right elected officials could address. Let’s look at those issues and then consider some questions you might consider before casting your vote.

Endangered Species/Threatened Habitats

Santa Cruz County is tiny but it ranks second in the nation (over San Diego County) for the number and diversity of endangered species. Across many areas of the County, including in incorporated city property, there are threatened and endangered fish, birds, invertebrates, plants, salamanders, and frogs. The Counties and its Cities are also rife with threatened habitats. 

The best leaders are proactive. Government that is proactive with rare species saves the people money, helping to avoid a species slipping into endangerment and the legal wrangling and private property effects that result. Most of our areas’ endangered species are slipping closer to extinction. Each year, more of Santa Cruz County’s rare species qualify for listing as endangered by the State of Federal governments. Every year, the County’s threatened habitats are further developed and degraded.

General plans, parks plans, funding, education/outreach, monitoring, enforcement, and policies and procedures are all areas that politicians could use to help improve the fate of the County’s endangered species and threatened habitats.

Soil Conservation and Water Quality

 Watch the ditches and drainages off of the County’s roads any winter and you will notice chocolate colored sediment soup and rainbow-oily scuzz flowing towards our streams and rivers and then out into the surf of our precious Bay. We are losing our farmland soils and hillsides and spoiling fish habitat. 

Other areas of the country have government personnel monitoring waterways and doing outreach and education. Some District Attorneys enforce clean water laws.

 Light pollution

Other places in the nation have recognized the problem of light pollution and have enacted policies that address this issue.

Climate Change

Transportation, agriculture, and building construction are all areas that County politicians could improve to address climate change. 

These Issues, Which Candidate?

All of the aforementioned issues are major enough that anyone seeking office should have identified approaches they would take to address them. If the issue isn’t on their website, then we should be raising it, and demanding specific, meaningful answers as to what the candidate will do. The answers should not be “I’ll learn about it and, trust me, I’ll do the right thing!”

The Company We Keep

We all recognize that it is impossible for any candidate to be well versed in every issue, but we should also recognize the need for reliable advisors in such cases. You can read lists of endorsements…every candidate has endorsements! But, endorsements fall short with environmental issues. This region has a wealth of intelligent environmental conservation talent; many of these individuals are expert at informing policy. 

My ideal candidate would identify the people who advise them on environmental matters, and the candidate with the best cadre of advisors would get my vote. We should be asking candidates about their track record of seeking advice and who they talk to when faced with the complexities of decisions that impact the environment. I see red flags when candidates answer that they rely on ‘staff,’ ‘staff reports,’ or ‘environmental reports.’ I surveyed our areas’ elected officials a while back asking them about their sources of environmental information and found out that their leading sources were visitor centers or popular press newspapers/magazines! 

Recent Environmental Issues

I presented above a host of issues that politicians have not addressed, but we can also learn about candidates from the issues with which they have been engaged. Two of our supervisorial candidates have been serving on the Santa Cruz City Council. As councilmembers, they both voted to spend significant funding to pursue development of the City’s greenbelt into agricultural buildings and a ten acre fenced farm, reversing a not-too-long ago expensive process that determined that area off limits to such uses due to environmental constraints. That decision gives me pause on either of those candidates. 

Those 2 candidates have also been overseeing the City’s Local Coastal Program update. The draft document they submitted to the Coastal Commission was so severely flawed that it will now take more than a year to negotiate until finalized. The flaws include failure to include previously delineated sensitive habitats as well as critical habitat for endangered species. On the other hand, some areas are mapped as potential sensitive habitat that are not. In each case, the errors seem to be weighted to City revenue or political choices rather than environmental conservation.

 Electable

How about for once we vote for the environment as the priority issue? Voters say they vote for the economy. Traffic or homelessness seem like hot button issues around here, too. Many vote for the seeming ‘electable’ person, even though they don’t fit our own ideals. If there ever was a time on Earth or here in Santa Cruz to vote for the environment first and foremost, it is now. But, our muscles need flexing in this area…we are rusty and our environmental organizations need better support to help us out. 

Can we take a pledge that if a candidate has a specific, well thought out platform that emphasizes the environmental issues I raise above…and lists a cadre of environmental advisors…that they will get our vote? 

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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May 12

#132 / Another Politician “Pumping Out The Piss” 

Anyone who has read a few of my blog postings knows that I am a pretty big Bob Dylan fan. As an example, on December 31, 2021, as last year came to a close, I titled my blog post, “Last Day (Songs Included),” and I then provided readers with both lyrics and links to the actual music for thirty-plus Bob Dylan songs that I think are particularly worthwhile. I am still listening to that playlist myself as I walk around town. 

Not included in my “Last Day” listing was the song “Pay In Blood.” It’s a good song, with lots of memorable lines, and I like it, but “Pay In Blood” has one verse that has always disturbed me:

Another politician pumping out the piss
Another ragged beggar blowin’ you a kiss
You got the same eyes that your mother does
If only you could prove who your father was

I see “politics” as an honorable and important activity (even “profession”), and since I was classified as a politician for twenty years, and have always been proud of having been a politician, it makes me uncomfortable that Bob Dylan has portrayed “politics” in such an unremittingly negative light in this song. 

Of course, don’t we all know why Bob Dylan would characterize politicians the way he has in “Pay In Blood”? Consider those politicians in Congress who show up in the news every day, spouting off about serious subjects, with their “political” statements reflecting both deliberately-included misinformation, outright lies, stupidity, denials, and statements long-simmered in hypocrisy. Dylan is all too right about those politicians – and there are a lot of them! 

But what about our local politics? As I indicated yesterday, I consider local government to be where “democracy” begins, and I think that local politics is what can sustain our system of democratic self-government. Our local politics is where the people can see evidence that what they do makes a difference. Our local “politicians” should be exemplars of the idea that democracy is, at its core, not only “a local thing,” but a thing that is both worthy and honorable. Maintaining faith in the value of local political engagement, in other words, may be our last, best hope for maintaining and restoring a vital democracy in the United States. 

That’s what I said in my blog posting yesterday, and I truly believe it. We can’t allow our local politics to turn into the kind of politics that is so routinely practiced at the national level – and even at the state level. We can’t permit our local politicians to be “pumping out the piss.” 

By and lare, they aren’t. By and large (with a few exceptions), I think our local politics has been decent, honest, and good. Our local politics has not been – nor has it been seen – as “dirty,” the way our national politics is often so accurately seen. We do not characteristically think about our local politicians as “pumping out the piss.” We need to keep our local politics that way, too. We need to keep it on the “up and up.”

There are, as I said, a few “exceptions” to what I generally think has been an honest and decent politics here in Santa Cruz County. I learned about one such distressing exception yesterday, the same day my blog posting on local democracy was published.

It turns out that four members of the Santa Cruz City Council violated state law as they met with a local pro-development political group, Santa Cruz Together, and discussed issues relating to district elections. 

The meeting was a clear violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act. The Brown Act is the state law that makes it illegal for a majority of any elected body to meet other than in a publicly-noticed meeting when items of governmental business are being discussed. The link I have provided to the law is what the City of Santa Cruz has to say about the Brown Act, and all members of the Santa Cruz City Council definitely know about the Brown Act, and know that it is a violation of the Brown Act for an elected official to show up a non-noticed meeting at which city-related business is going to be discussed, if a majority of the Council will be in attendance. 

Here is a list of the elected officials who didn’t care about the Brown Act, or who thought they could get away with disregarding it: 
 

  • Former Mayor Donna Myers
  • Former Mayor Martine Watkins
  • Council Member Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson
  • Council Member Renee Golder 

Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, who is running for County Supervisor (for the Third District seat I once held), not only participated in this illegal meeting, she also made a campaign speech and then stood by as the leaders of the group informed those in attendance how to avoid the County’s campaign contribution limit ordinance by making purportedly “independent” expenditures which were not, of course, “independent” at all, given that Kalantari-Johnson was right there in the meeting, asking for their support. 

Official complaints to the District Attorney and to the Fair Political Practices Commission are certainly coming. You can listen to a recording of the meeting by clicking the link below. The recording was made by a local resident, Ann Simonton, who was in attendance, and who was deeply concerned about what she saw happening. She has brought to light what the participating Council Members wanted to keep in the dark.

HERE’S ONE QUICK TAKEAWAY FOR THIRD DISTRICT VOTERS: Don’t vote for Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, if you were ever inclined to do so. She qualifies for a Bob Dylan “pumping out the piss” designation.

As for all the Council Members who participated in the meeting, there is another takeaway, too. If we want to keep our local politics honest, and decent, and on the “up and up,” our District Attorney and the FPPC need to take prompt action against any local officials whom they determine have violated the law. 

[ Notable Moments at Meeting
Santa Cruz Together May 2nd 2022
]  

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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May 16

MYSTERY FUND DRYING UP AND SMOKIN’ IN THE BOYS ROOM WITH ELON

Can it be true? The former president isn’t planning to re-COUP the office in 2024? By selling off what was believed to be his only profitable property, Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., he forfeits cash revenue that stood him so well when he occupied the White House just down the street. The sale hints at The Donald‘s economic situation, where he needs short-term cash now, because his online grifting for donations into the Unofficial Mystery Fund, and his declining popularity at weekly rallies around the country just aren’t paying the bills. A successful ‘candidacy’ in 2024 would allow him to continue his abuse of herding guests into his property while in D.C., but this action indicates that he either has no interest in running, or he knows the futility of doing so. Or, he is actually having to pay reputable attorneys up-front for services rendered, in the hopes they can prevent his being fitted for an orange jumpsuit in the coming months. The media, of course, will ignore the implications of this sale, as they continue to hype a Trump run in order to sell advertising. 

Many Republican candidates are vying for The Bratman‘s blessing of his endorsement in support of their election battles, but because of mixed voting results, we are seeing indications of defections, and perhaps a general weakening of respect as 2024 draws closer. The Kingmaker‘s touch fell short in Nebraska, but a victory of sorts in Ohio with J.D. Vance garnering 30% of the Republican vote is a questionable success. Candidates in Pennsylvania and Georgia are still battling it out, with Trump’s chosen, Dr. Mehmet Oz, currently leading as the state party leaders put their support behind radical talk-show host Kathy Barnette in the race for Pennsylvania’s senate seat; Trump’s endorsement of Georgia’s David Perdue is already flatlining against incumbent Governor Brian Kemp for leadership in that state office. Perdue filed a lawsuit against the 2020 election results in hopes that it would fire up the MAGAts, but the judge threw it out, calling it “speculation, conjecture and paranoia,” likening Perdue to a Don Quixote trying to drum up some P.R. Democrats are placing their hopes on Stacey Abrams‘ uphill battle to carry them to victory, though Georgia hasn’t had a Democrat in the governorship since 2003. Even former V.P. Pence is signaling a break with his former boss, Captain Chaos, in endorsing Kemp, saying, “Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and people of Georgia!”

Wonder what the heavily-opinionated and religious Pence thinks about Reverend Trump’s interview on the evangelical network, CBN News, when the orange-haloed one claimed to have done more for Christianity, religions of all types than anyone. In 2018, he also boasted, “Nobody’s done more for Christians or evangelicals or frankly religion than I have.” So far, nothing in reference books about Frankly Religion…more later, maybe!

Regardless of what Deadbeat Donny decides to do re 2024, he still wants to carry out his campaign of revenge, by endorsing candidates for state offices such as secretary of state, or those who might be able to influence vote tabulation in future elections. With Elon Musk threatening to take over Twitter and restoring Trump’s account there is the possibility that the Orange Menace could amplify his return, resulting in more confusion and violence in the political landscape. Calling Twitter’s decision to ban Trump “flat-out stupid” brings attention to Musk’s own effort to take command of the social media giant. With Twitter, and Musk’s own Tesla EV enterprise, slumping on Wall Street this past week, the billionaire called a ‘time out’ to allow the market become more stable, though he claims the delay is to verify legitimate users – he says the Twitter deal is still on, but does he really want to dump $44B into a company whose stock has now taken a dive? Twitter’s legal department accuses Musk of violating a non-disclosure agreement by sharing closely held information, but the months-long process is likely to continue; however, if the deal goes south Musk will be liable for a $1B break-up fee for his ill-considered adventure. Better pay attention, so no smokin’ in the boy’s room again, Elon!

Revenge was on the mind of Missouri’s Senator Josh Hawley as he introduced a bill to revoke Disney Corporation‘s copyrights protections – retroactively, with a 56-year term, resulting in immediate expiration of many of those shields. And all because of Disney’s stand against Governor Ron DeSantis‘ ‘don’t say gay’ bill in Florida! Though this move is illegal/unconstitutional for taking of property without compensation – only serving as pandering, political grandstanding –  unless of course, the Supreme Court (The Handmaid, Chief Squish, and the Four Misogynists) raises its head from the slime of the swamp – then, who knows where it goes? The 6-of-9 majority might favor retroactive legislation for punishment, humiliation, and harm against American’s political opinions, by supporting Republican Hawley’s vengeful, petty, Putinesque proposal. 

And, speaking of Putin and his ill-fated and tragic onslaught in Ukraine, the news for him and the Russian people just gets worse. While the Ukrainians are still subjected to daily bombings, missile strikes and other atrocities, they carried out an attack on the invading army as they attempted to cross a river on pontoon bridges, destroying several dozen vehicles, including tanks, and inflicting heavy casualties – well over 400 personnel wounded or killed. One element in the success of Ukraine’s defenses is the insistence of Russian troops on using their cell phones – GPS locations are readily outed as Putin’s soldiers try to call home or surf the internet by connecting to local networks. Stolen iPhones can be located by using the app Find My Phone, so if a phone ends up in the backpack of an invader, they can expect to have an unwelcome visitor come calling. This is a result of the poor planning by Russia’s incompetent generals who failed to see the value of bringing their own network for communications; and besides, the Ukrainian people would be welcoming them with open arms, right? – strewing the ground with sunflowers as they rolled in to ‘liberate’ them. All of which points to the fallacy of Trump’s praise for Putin’s maneuvers, prior to the brutal invasion, as “genius.”

After a visit to Ukraine by a delegation of U.S. senators, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the leader urged President Biden to name Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, which would lift protections shielding the country from being sued for civil damages. Mitch conveyed to President Zelensky that U.S. support is bipartisan, though several Republicans, notably Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, have criticized a $40B aid package for resistance to the Russian invasion. According to Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, Major General Budanov, a coup is underfoot to oust Vladimir Putin, while suggesting that the Russian president may be suffering from blood cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments. Speculation about the despot’s health have been circulating for months, within the international community, some sources being ‘unnamed Russian oligarchs with close ties to Putin.’ 

And, sad news recently with the end of an era – the final Learjet has been delivered, all 3,055 being produced since 1963 in the manufacturing plant in Wichita. If you didn’t get yours, there are still around 2,000 still in service, though a scarce commodity now. The iconic Learjet became a generic term for light business jets, with Frank Sinatra being among the first to purchase one, and earning a mention in songstress Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’, a partial dig at actor Warren Beatty. Learjet’s parent company, Bombardier Defense Group, will concentrate on a midsize aircraft for military operations, with the U.S. Air Force ordering six as part of its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node program – so, at the least, you might consider yourself as a part-owner of the new generation planes. Don’t you, don’t you? 

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

    “VOTING”

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.”
~George Jean Nathan

“Our political leaders will know our priorities only if we tell them, again and again, and if those priorities begin to show up in the polls.”
~Peggy Noonan 

“Here’s the problem: while some folks are frustrated and tuned out and staying home on Election Day, trust me other folks are showing up. Democracy continues with or without you.”
~Michelle Obama 

“If you don’t vote, you lose the right to complain.”
~George Carlin

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It is hard to believe that it has been 25 years since 5th Element came out… enjoy Milla Jovovich taking about it in this video from Vogue


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!
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May 11 – 17, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Our Public Library some more, Our City growth report. GREENSITE…on Downtown Plan Expansion. KROHN…Shebreh issues, Our Downtown, Measure E. STEINBRUNER…Fires and the Board of Forestry. HAYES…Coastal Scrub. PATTON…City pushing Measure F and wants more money. MATLOCK…The Supremes and Row vs. Wade. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Sharks”

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RONALD REAGAN AT UCSC. Reagan was our California Governor from 1967 to 1975. He was the only California Governor to make it to the White House. This was taken at UCSC when the Board Of Regents held their meeting there on October 18, 1968.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE May 9

THE SANTA CRUZ PUBLIC LIBRARY ISSUE. Next to No On Greenway there’s not another community issue that has caused so much lies, misinformation, secrets and confusion as whether or not to shut our main library and build a new one. Lira Filippini has researched the issue more than almost anyone and continues what she started here last week…

“Our Downtown, Our Future (ODOF) has turned in over 5,000 valid signatures to the City of Santa Cruz.  As we wait for the County to verify the total, I’ll discuss what may happen next and what this means for our community.

When the County confirms that the minimum 3,848 signatures of registered SC City voters has been submitted, the City Council has 3 options: 

  1. Directly adopt the measure as written
  2. Place the measure on the ballot for November’s election
  3. Order a report on the measure; after the report is made, they go back to options 1&2

The most likely outcome is that our community will see the ODOF measure on the ballot in November.  At the same time, the City continues to spend time and funds on planning for the Lot 4 Library Mixed-Use Project, knowing that if our community passes ODOF’s measure in November, the library will be renovated at its historical location.  Lot 4 will become a permanent home for the downtown Farmers’ Market and neither the parking garage nor commercial space can be developed there.

Signature gatherers reported that many signers relayed frustration and distrust of local governance, bringing up Measure S, which we passed to “modernize, upgrade and repair local libraries.”  They felt deceived and are grateful that this measure would give them a direct vote in shaping how our downtown will serve our community moving forward.  Land use and where we place community assets is vital for a healthy community, as is community involvement in those decisions.

We see many developments being proposed and the densification coming to our City, much of which will be downtown.  In a high density area, we need easy access to open space.  Being centrally located, with its beautiful heritage trees, Lot 4 is the ideal location for open event space.  It’s also close to restaurants and shops, activating the area and stabilizing the community.

ODOF’s measure also prioritizes 8 publicly owned parking lots for affordable housing above the ground floor.  We have an “affordability crisis” in housing.  When cost of land is one of the major hurdles for building affordable housing, the City should not be selling our public land to hotel developers or building more commercial space while our existing businesses struggle.

If we pass ODOF’s measure in November, we’ll avoid a very large bond debt for a parking garage that a City commissioned study confirms we do not need.  We’ll continue to enjoy the Farmers’ Market on Lot 4 and establish that space as a community event space, like a town square.  And we’ll solidify in our General Plan and Downtown Plan that our publicly owned downtown parking lots should not be sold or used for hotels or more commercial space, but instead benefit the community as future affordable housing locations.  

We will also have a beautifully renovated library in its historic location where the library, City Hall and Civic Auditorium meet, providing a blend of culture, governance and education.  The renovation has much more outdoor patio space than in the City’s mixed-use proposal.  The children’s area has its own garden directly accessible from the inside space.  And the library’s new entry and large wrap-around panels of windows will look out on City Hall’s courtyard garden.  

Overall, ODOF’s measure gives us a direct vote on the future of our downtown – how we use our land to best benefit our community”. Lira Filippini.

IF YOU’VE LOST TRACK. The SAN JOSE MERCURY on May 5, 2022 published this…”Of statewide note: One of the biggest population gainers among California cities in 2021 was Santa Cruz. The seaside municipality added 6,481 people, an increase of 11.3% from the year before, for a new total of 64,075 residents.  

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. The “RT’s” after the movie title refer to the Rotten Tomatoes critics scores from 1-100. Rotten Tomatoes is the world’s largest (and most respected) cinema scoring system.

DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS. (DELMAR THEATRE) (76RT). Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams are all back and probably making millions of dollars in this Marvel Comics sequel. There have been 28 Marvel Comic movies in case you’ve lost count. Sam Raimi directed it if that’ll help you decide on viewing. There’s a giant octopus chasing humans down the street and for locals there’s a few minutes of Patrick Stewart pitching a sequel that for sure must feature Charlize Theron who onscreen for 20 seconds 

THE STAIRCASE. (HBO MAX SERIES). Led by Colin Firth and Toni Colette this is one worth your time to view. Toni falls down stairs and dies so the many flashbacks trace her actions to determine if Colin hit her or was she drunk? The detectives uncover many of husband’s hidden secrets and then there’s a movie company who ends up filming his history. There’s 5 children involved and this series will keep you nearly glued to your screen.

YAKAMOZ S-245. (NETFLIX SERIES). (6.1 IMDB). A sci-fi earth disaster movie made in Turkey. A carefully picked deep diving submarine crew come up after a dive to find the earth is being invaded by a yellow cloud. The cloud comes from the sun but what’s behind that?? Only a few episodes released and it’s involving but not gratifying. 

THE PENTAVERATE. (NETFLIX SERIES). Only the most devoted die-hard fans of comic Mike Myers could like this numb nuts series. As usual he plays all 5 parts and it’s about a secret society with names like the “illuminati” or near nonsense like that. There’s sex jokes, fluoride mentions, chem trails and boggling idiocy galore.

SILVERTON SIEGE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.0 IMDB). This is a South African movie and it’s unusual. Three young freedom fighters during a siege happening in 1980 get trapped in a bank with several hostages. Facing supremacist problems from the local and district police the fighters end up demanding actual release of Nelson Mandela from his prison. Some of the area’s government try to help the hostages and their captors and others continue their racial hatred in many other ways. Not as tight and tense as it could have been but intriguing.

UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN. (HULU SERIES). (7.3 IMDB). Andrew Garfield does an excellent job of portraying a Mormon detective in Salt Lake City looking for the brutal murderer of a mother and her baby. Based on a true story, this involves dealing with much of the unusual traditions of Mormonism. As we watch this series unfold we get to view the Mormon view of woman’s equality, how Blacks are treated by Mormons and the general way Mormons deal with government. Worth watching….so far. 

RUMSPRINGA. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.3 IMDB). This is a German movie about a young Amish boy who is sent to Berlin as his passage into adulthood. Poor acting, no laughs and a weird look at the Amish tradition. It does develop a plot centering on the young boy meeting a “hip” German kid of the same age and how their friendship overcomes their differences. A waste of time.

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

SHINING GIRLS. (APPLE TV). The usually great Elisabeth Moss is the victim of an assault early in her life and she spends much of her new life hunting down the guy she thinks did it. The first three episodes are tense, well directed (Moss is one of the directors) and complicated at times. The guilty guy keeps murdering young shining girls and we watch as Moss tracks him down and at the same time deals with her own psychological issues.  

THE SURVIVOR. (HBO MAX) MOVIE. (6.8 IMDB). A sad, true story of a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz played expertly and believably by Ben Foster. It brings out and delivers the quandary of what you must do and live with, to survive. Danny De Vito and Peter Sarsgaard add a lot to this story. The survivor becomes a professional boxer and even fights Rocky Marciano. The movie is brutal, sad, and deeply introspective….watch it. 

WRATH OF MAN. (66RT).This huge MGM production stars Jason Stratham in a role of a deadly serious security truck driver with a history. It’s a 100% action, chase, shoot em up, fast paced movie. Stratham will keep you firmly attached to watch his every move, and he’s excellent at doing just that. Watch it if/when you need a mindless thrill a minute movie.

WE OWN THIS CITY. (HBO SERIES) (94RT). If you liked the old “The Wire” series about the police and issues in Baltimore you’ll like this up dated version. It’s a deep look into the police side of city issues. That means brutality, bribes, personality issues…and it’ll make you/us think again about our views of our own police problems. Especially related to the death of Freddie Gray, an early Black community member who died.

MAI. (NETFLIX SERIES) (80RT). Very much an Indian movie complete with mugging, over acting and involved plot. A daughter is run over in a traffic scene and finding out why it happened and the impact it has on both police and the gangsters involved make it a slow paced but absorbing movie…so far.

THE RENTAL. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB). Alison Brie and Dan Stevens and another couple rent a huge coastal cliff house in Oregon for a getaway weekend. The ending is really bad and shouldn’t be viewed. There are hidden cameras, ecstasy taking, wife swapping, and it’s just plain odd. Avoid this one.

THE BABY. (HBO SERIES). (5.4 IMDB). Nearly a thrill and some shrugs later I was glued to episode 1 of this 8 episode series. An unexpecting woman is suddenly a mother to a new born baby. How she handles these new problems and avoid the law are as puzzling as they are fun to watch. Plus the baby is a spectacle in himself to admire. Go for it.

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CABRILHO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts 60th Anniversary highlights on July 24-August 7. Yes, Cristian Macelaru the music director is returning and will be conducting. The concerts will include the return to in-person concerts with three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie‘s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States. Tickets are on sale now!! 

 

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May 9

GOODBYE SANTA CRUZ

In the April 27th issue of BrattonOnline, Becky Steinbruner, fellow contributor to this blog, covered the first community meeting for the unveiling of the city’s Downtown Plan Expansion. Her coverage is well worth reading with links to related city documents. Past issues of BrattonOnline are listed in a column on the far right- hand side of each blog.

I also attended this in-person meeting in the Warriors Arena and offer my thoughts.

The picture above is from the consulting firm out of Oakland hired to study the economics and financing of this massive change to the 7 -acre site between the current downtown that officially ends at Laurel Street and the first roundabout where Center and Front Streets join. Earlier consultants, Victus Advisors, in 2015 studied the feasibility of a new arena for the Warriors. Their proposal for a new permanent arena includes seating for between 3,200 and 3,800, as ideal, about double the seating capacity of the Civic with an expected 200 days a year for programming. Their report is peppered with warnings about the need to not compete with the Civic. We’ll see how well that works out, given cutbacks in the Civic staff.  

As an aside, someone should make a Public Records Request for a list of consultants hired by the city over the past 5 years and their cost. Why, even the city’s Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, whose budget has been shredded, has lost its dedicated staff and lost its downtown office space hired a consultant to do a “needs assessment.” 

After the initial strangeness of an in-person meeting wore off, the alarm bells rang out loud and clear. I stared at the first poster board with line-drawings of the area’s potential future building heights. The tallest one was 200 feet tall! That’s fifteen…15 stories!! Not too much lower than the high rise in the picture above. I know city staff never joke, or at least not to our faces, so the best sense my brain could make of the inclusion of such building heights was that it was to give a sense of scale; to make the next size of 80 feet look reasonable and the 40 feet example, downright small in comparison. Or maybe it was a mistake. When I was able to attract the attention of the Public Works engineer staffing the table, I asked about the 200 feet tall building inclusion. No mistake, no joke, no inclusion for scale. It is for real, an option in their Plan. The only question tackled was whether to have the high rises located on the river or more centrally. 

I gingerly asked about traffic and learned that traffic is no longer a concern. I offered that the roundabouts on summer weekends are at gridlock. I got the “so what” look. Approaching another display table, I initiated a conversation with the senior planner about the futility of trying to attract beachgoers to downtown, one of the objectives of the Downtown Extension Plan. I suggested the consultants and staff go to the beach and ask beachgoers at Main Beach if they would venture downtown if they knew where it was. My observation is that folks who visit the beach in Santa Cruz are not interested in downtown and the reverse is also true. That they are different demographics with different interests. The response was “well we can try.” “Trying” includes constructing some sort of access road over Beach Hill and down to the Arena area into this new extended downtown.

This all reminded me of old war movies in which the generals are standing around a large table covered with an area map, shifting platoons and tanks into strategic locations with the objective of defeating the enemy and ultimate victory. The people living on the ground are invisible. Here the objective is economic growth for developers and speculators, even as they say in their handouts “public funding/financing for infrastructure may be required to encourage development.” Any love for the unique built landscape and character of Santa Cruz is of no interest or concern to them. Of course, they conducted an opinion poll. It had closed by the time I found it. I noted that the annual income of the largest group of responders was over $200,000 a 

Most of the poll responders noted that they find the current downtown dirty with too many homeless and shuttered stores. So, like a pair of shoes that just need a bit of mending and polishing, they will rather throw them out and go buy a new pair? In an era when we should be tightening our economic growth model, scaling down our consumption appetites and learning to live with what we have, which is already more than enough, the real estate state is gearing up for more and more and more. Two hundred feet anyone?

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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Santa Cruz Political Report by Chris Krohn

May 9 

THIS WEEK IN THE NEWS
Depending on what your news sources are, you may be staying well-informed about local political happenings, or just enjoying the silo-ing effect and not letting a good local news story get in the way of the facts. Yes, it is strangely difficult to keep up with the goings-on of such an active and politically, socially, and artistically engaged town like Santa Cruz. So, in case you missed something, frankly I miss a lot, here are three newsy items I share with you this week.

DSA Bombshell Story on Candidate Kalantari-Johnson
One candidate for Third District Supervisor, Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, came in for some deserved criticism from the local Santa Cruz Left. It is published by the Santa Cruz Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. The article depicts her as part of what they call the “care-washing” industry and that her attempts to address homelessness in Santa Cruz have actually led to more harm for the houseless and the criminalization of many who do not have a place to call home. 

“Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, Santa Cruz County supervisor hopeful and current city councilmember, is smart, well-spoken, and politically savvy—to a fault, given her record. With her expertise in political doublespeak and garnering campaign funding from real estate money, she has led the charge of the city’s anti-homeless crusade, expertly couching criminalizing, and pro-policing policy in a veneer of compassionate language.” (Santa Cruz Left)

Our Downtown, Our Future
Finally, the Our Downtown, Our Future (ODOF) ballot initiative is receiving some press outside of Stephen Kessler’s many mentions in his Santa Cruz Sentinel columns. Both Jessica York of the Sentinel and Grace Stetson of Lookout Santa Cruz wrote lengthy stories after ODOF turned in over 5,000 signatures from city register voters last week. As the validation of signatures is underway, word of the initiative is seeping into the minds of the media moguls. Stetson wrote in her piece titled, “A new challenge to Santa Cruz’s downtown mixed-use library building:” 

“The measure asks voters to stop the building of a new, mixed-use library project…If passed, the initiative would reverse the long-planned project and require the city to renovate the downtown branch library in its present location on Church Street. The measure would also reallocate 2016 Measure S bond money ($67 million approved in a countywide vote, with $25.5 million toward the downtown library) to renovations in the library’s current location, rather than building the new library envisioned in that Measure S subsequent planning.”

There has been, as most close political observers have been sensing, a news blackout of any opposition to this massive public works project proposed by the city Public Works and Economic Development departments. It has been at least an on-going two-year controversy, but finally the people—voters—will have a chance to weigh when the county clerk says there are 3,848 valid signatures. It will then go to the city council to either vote into law, or place it on the November ballot. The initiative offers something for everyone and should be ranked up there with preserving the Pogonip and Lighthouse Field, building the sewage treatment plant on California Street, and acquiring and restoring the Del Mar Theatre downtown. The Our Downtown, Our Future initiative keeps the Farmer’s Market intact, preserves the heritage trees, identifies four downtown lots for the development of affordable housing, and perhaps most significantly in these climate chaos (and climate denying) times, does not build a behemoth parking structure on Lot 4.

Measure E, a Power Grab by a pro-Developer-Realtor Council Majority
Measure E on the June ballot essentially asks voters to approve a system of voting that itself was never approved. The measure seems simple enough, if this initiative is not approved—mayor and six districts—then council will automatically implement a seven-district scheme for the fall 2022 elections. What Santa Cruz voters were never asked was the question: do you want to scrap the current at-large election system that is enshrined in this city’s charter and move to a district election system? This sordid, Covid-laced backroom approach, would seem like a law suit waiting to happen. The city council also had a chance to have real election reform by implementing a Ranked Choice Voting system, which is being implemented in many cities around the country to not only level the playing field to attract a variety of candidates, but also to save money on run-off elections. This issue didn’t even make it to a council vote, nor did a “strong mayor” system wherein a directly elected mayor would run the city, and be voted out if voters were dissatisfied, instead of allowing the present farce of an unelected technocrat—the city manager—pull the strings and make most major public safety, city streets, fire department, and parks and recreation decisions. My advice, vote NO on Measure E because we need to decide the fate of our current at-large voting system first.

“We could protect Roe tomorrow, but Sinema refuses to act on the filibuster. Until that changes, she can take a seat talking about “women’s access to health care.” Hold everyone contributing to this disaster accountable, GOP & Dem obstructionists included. She should be primaried.” (May 3) 


Artist Russell Brutsche being brilliant, and visionary, as usual.

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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May 9

WHAT WOULD A ZERO ZONE LOOK LIKE…AND HOW WOULD IT BE ENFORCED?

New California Board of Forestry requirements are on their way, seeking to mandate that all structures in the fire risk areas have nothing combustible within 5′ of foundations and decks, and no plants taller than 2′ within 10′ of a structure, including decks.  You would have to cut down all shrubbery, and remove arbors and pergolas…and irrigate more, rather than less. 

This could go into effect as early as January, 2023 for new construction, and the following year for all others…but only if the Board of Forestry makes a finding that the Legislature has appropriated sufficient funding in the annual Budget Act for this purpose.   Isn’t that interesting?  Some jurisdictions have already put this general requirement on their books, but CalFire has not.

Last Wednesday, May 4, a Board of Forestry Working Group held a hybrid Zone Zero Workshop in Sacramento to publicly present proposed requirements that would comply with AB 3074, creating Ember Resistant Zones.  There were about 190 participants in the morning session, but it dwindled after lunch break.

Read about what AB 3074, signed into law by Governor Newsom on Sept. 29, 2020, requires.

Curious about how plastic deck lumber and artificial turf handle ember storms and wildfire?  It depends on wind and other fuels nearby, but in general they fare quite well if the product has a Standard Chapter 7A Fire Code rating.  Artificial turf, however, does not… because embers sit and smolder, then ignite later.
Take a look here at the deck testing results.

The speaker from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), Mr. Daniel Gorham, flew in from the east coast where the company lab is located.    

He referred to many studies of building material flame resistance when showered with embers from varying distances and durations.

You can contact him with your questions: Daniel Gorham DGGorham@ibhs.org 

No more half-wine barrel planters allowed on decks or near structures.

No discussion about how mountain folk who live on steep slopes could accomplish a non-combustible Zero Zone (i.e., concrete or bare dirt) and not really open up a Pandora’s Box with erosion.  

No discussion about where residents might get funding to help accomplish the clearing that could be required, some of which would require use of an expensive crane.

No discussion about whether utility companies and State Parks would also have to comply with these proposed requirements.  Hmmm……

You may find it of interest that some counties have already passed Ember Resistant Zone Ordinances, and require property owners who have fire hazards within 100′ of their neighbors to clean it up!  It is known as the “Good Neighbor” law, and Napa County is one of them, having approved this in 2019:

SECTION 2. Section 8.36.070 is hereby added to read in full as follows: 

8.36.070 – Ember resistance zone. For all new construction where the construction commences on or after the effective date of this section, the establishment and maintenance of an ember resistant zone within 5 feet of a structure is required. Distances may be increased by the enforcement officer based on site-specific 3 Ordinance No. 1467 analysis of local conditions.

SECTION 3. Section 8.36.080 is hereby amended to read in in full as follows: 

8.36.080 – Adjacent property owner’s responsibilities. When a structure is less than one hundred feet from a property line and prohibited materials on an adjacent parcel present a fire hazard for the structure, the property owner of the adjacent parcel where the fire hazard exists shall be responsible for clearing the area on that owner’s parcel that is within one hundred feet of the structure, so as to provide the necessary fire protection in the manner and to the extent required by the Napa County Defensible Space Guidelines. Distances may be increased by the enforcement officer based on site-specific analysis of local conditions. 

Defensible Space Ordinance

The good news is that CalFire has developed a standard curriculum to train Fire Defensible Space inspectors, and lay people could also get trained to help increase fire defensible space assessments (not technically “inspections” because those folks would have no legal enforcement power).  

Stay tuned to see what the Board of Forestry does next….and get your defensible space in order.

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.  ATTEND A ZOOM MEETING THIS WEEK AND ASK QUESTIONS.

MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK, AND JUST DO SOMETHING.

Cheers, Becky

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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May 8

COASTAL SCRUB

The diverse shrubby plant community blanketing the ocean bluffs, arroyo walls and the steep banks along ocean side trails is in bloom right now, and it is beautiful. California’s coastal scrub, also known confusingly as soft chaparral, is an impenetrable knee to head high assemblage of plants only occurring where ocean air cools the extreme summer heat. The number of species of flowering shrubs and the patches of rocky outcrop wildflowers poking out of them makes for floriferous artistry.

Drab Main Players

Coyote brush and California sagebrush dominate the community along the immediate coast, but other species appear further inland. Neither coyote brush nor sagebrush is particularly showy when they bloom, but their leaves make up for it with scent. Most people know the aromatic sagey smell of sagebrush, but too few people have crushed a handful of coyote brush leaves to enjoy the sweet pine like aroma. Both species are in the sunflower family and have tiny nondescript flowers. California sagebrush blooms in July, coyote brush in September. When coyote brush is in bloom, you notice it more from the buzz of pollinators than from the flowers. When sagebrush blossoms, you notice it because everyone starts sneezing like its spring. Coyote brush starts the show after fire or other disturbance, but sagebrush gradually takes over- it is slower and longer lived.

Showy Flowering Shrubs

At this moment, sticky monkeyflower is in full bloom, covered with light orange flowers that some think look like monkey faces. A single monkeyflower shrub could have 50 flowers that open first low down on the stems with the last flowers bugling from the top of long wands in about a month. Hummingbirds love the nectar, and it has venus-fly-trap like flower parts that pinch quickly if you (or a hummingbird) touch them- a way to diversify pollen sources. 

The other showy shrub species that’s blooming right now is bush lupine. Closer to the coast, the bush lupines are yellow flowered but inland they are lavender colored and more numerous after fire.   

As the monkeyflower and bush lupine fade, lizard tail erupts in a brighter yellow. I don’t know where the plant gets its common name – do you? It has intricately dissected soft leaves and nice sized flat topped heads of small bright yellow blossoms. When in full bloom, the flowers blanket most of the outside of the plant. I hear most about this species from tourists driving the Coast Highway in Big Sur, but it is also a part of our local coastal scrub. In keeping with tradition, this shrub also has distinctly scented leaves, a sharp-sweet resiny smell. 


A Couple Less Showy Shrubs

Two other common coastal scrub shrubs deserve mention: poison oak and coffee berry. Anyone venturing near coastal scrub should get to know poison oak. If you hike down to the North Coast beaches, you will undoubtedly encounter it alongside the trail as it mischievously reaches out to touch you. Seventy percent of humans get a fairly bad rash from chemicals that readily transfer to the skin from the leaves and stems. The other 30% of us have less or no reaction. I’ve seen people’s eyes swell shut from bad exposure – these people often seek medical treatment, so beware! Poison oak is in bloom right now with tiny white star like flowers that emit a sweet and sometimes clove-like odor. When the day just begins to warm, the heavenly poison oak scent carries on the day’s first ocean breezes.

Coffee berry will start blossoming in about 2 months. Coffee berry gets its name from the very tasty coffee-like beverage you can make from the seeds, which must be leached of bitter compounds and then roasted. This dark-leaved sometimes quite tall species has small nondescript flowers that are full of nectar, a boon to the late-season pollinators. 

More Coastal Scrub Shrub Diversity

The list of other coastal scrub species is long. There are a few species of gooseberry and flowering currant. And, as one goes inland, black sage becomes more common with its powdery light purple flower clusters. Oso berry, mugwort, and ocean spray join the shrubby array. I often encounter the tall-stemmed and somewhat weedy perennial bee plant in coastal scrub – it’s not a shrub but gets so big and thick that it deserves mention.

Vining Through the Scrub

I would be remiss if I failed to here mention the long tangly things that make getting through the coastal scrub challenging. The most common trip hazard is our native blackberry, which is setting delicious but tiny seedy fruit right now. It threads its long spiny canes in and through all of aforementioned shrubs and pierces and grabs you should you try to walk through the scrub. The other tangly plant is wild cucumber or people root. Wild cucumber erupts from a huge (people sized) root, sending up fast-growing vines that mat on top of the shrubs. It makes spiny fruits with lots of shiny hard coated seeds that the wood rats and scrub jays love. The flowers of wild cucumber smell divinely like sweet cucumber but are long past, being one of the first flowers to open in late winter.

Rocky Outcrops in the Scrub

With its proclivity for rocky canyon sides, coastal scrub is bound to open at times with rocky outcrops. These abound with wildflower diversity. Native buckwheat with its summer time white balls of flowers is common in these patches. Native rein orchids like those spots, too, as do the succulent live forevers or ‘bluff lettuce.’ Indian paintbrush brightens these patches with scarlet right now, set off by masses of white yarrow flowers, sometimes held up by graceful tufts of California fescue or ferns. 

Horticulturally Speaking

Last week’s BrattonOnline column suggested inviting wild native plants into domestic landscapes, and coastal scrub is home to many species already tapped for their landscaping values and many more with good horticultural potential. There are seaside forms of ground cover coyote brush that are naturally short. Different types of monkey flower have been domesticated and even selected for odd flower colors: I suggest you stick with the local native forms to be true to our place. Lizard tail and ocean spray have been mostly overlooked but have good potential for a shrubby component to landscapes. Adding such dense but short shrubs has great value for nesting birds, but present a challenge for fire safety. For fire safety, lizard tail, monkey flower, and coyote brush sprout back less flammable foliage after being trimmed almost entirely to the ground every year or two and the trimmings ground up for mulch or compost. Where shrubs aren’t appropriate, coastal scrub wildflowers like buckwheat, yarrow, live forever and paintbrush are excellent accent plants. California fescue is a beautiful big bunching native grass that has been used in landscaping but should be cut back frequently to allow for vigor. Some folks may want to plant bee plant though again this species requires annual clearing out of dead material; it makes up for that maintenance requirement for the hummingbird and pollinator activity. 

I hope you might better appreciate coastal scrub plant communities with this introduction. It’s a good time to go visit them. 

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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May 9

#129 / The City Of Santa Cruz Wants More Money

There is an election coming soon to a mailbox near you. We are all getting a mail ballot for the upcoming “June 7th” election, and I think we can expect a ballot to show up in our mailbox any day now. Maybe even tomorrow! As soon as you get your ballot you can vote, so June 7th is just a “deadline,” not the only date that counts.

Campaign-related mailings have already reached me – and probably you – preparing us to do our duty as registered voters. One of the mailings I have received is shown above. It comes from the City of Santa Cruz, which wants City voters to tax themselves more, to provide the City with additional money. 

Specifically, Measure F asks us to raise the sales tax in the City of Santa Cruz by half a cent. As the mailer tells us (assuming that many of us probably can’t “do the math” ourselves), the new tax will add just “5 cents to a $10 purchase.” 

The way I read the mailer, the implication is that we will hardly even notice this new tax – though poor people will notice it more, of course, since the sales tax is well known to be “regressive,” hitting poorer people harder than those who are better off. The City’s tax mailer doesn’t provide us any information about the regressive nature of the proposed tax. What it does do is to tell us about things that the City might do with all the new money that the new tax would produce. 

For instance, the tax would generate money that could be used to “connect the homeless to mental health, substance abuse and addiction services.” Or, the money could be used to “invest in affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households.” 

Those expenditures sounds pretty good to me – and maybe to you! However, hang on for a minute.

The money from Measure F could also be used to increase the salaries of the already-well-paid City Manager and other top administrators. The money could be used to hire more pricey planning consultants, to help persuade us that twenty-story residential towers on Front Street at the San Lorenzo River would really make our lives much better (that is actually a real proposal, by the way, currently under consideration).

In other words, here’s the bottom line on Measure F:

The money generated by the proposed new tax could be used for ANYTHING the City Council wants to use it for. 

The City’s “Notice to Voters” doesn’t tell you that!

I got interested in this subject because a local voter contacted me about the legality of the City’s campaign mailer, as referenced in this blog posting. I was asked if it were legal for the City of Santa Cruz to use City taxpayer money to campaign in favor of this City tax measure (so the City could get even more of the voters’ money). That was the question posed to me, and I did know the answer, which you can read for yourself on the Fair Political Practices Commission website:

Generally, a payment for a communication that does not expressly advocate for or against a candidate or measure or urge a result in an election, when taken as a whole and in context, does not constitute a contribution or independent expenditure. 

Now, if you are a voter in the City of Santa Cruz, my bet is that you, too, got a copy of the Measure F mailing called, “Notice to Voters.” Read it through and see whether you think that the mailer represents political advocacy for the passage of Measure F, when that mailer is “taken as a whole and in context.” Is it “advocacy”? If it is, then City taxpayer funds should not have been used to design, print, and mail it to the voters. Or, is this mailer just “information,” not “advocacy”? If that’s true, it would be legal to use City taxpayer funds to send out the mailer.

I know what I think, and I think that, “taken as a whole,” a City mailer that tells you all the “good things” that the City could do with the new tax money it wants you to authorize, but never tells you about all the less desirable things the money could be used for, is not just “informational.” A mailer like that is “advocacy.” It is not what Fox News would call “fair and balanced.”  

Is the City’s campaign tax mailer “fair and balanced”? Is it “information,” or is it “advocacy”?

You decide! That’s what Fox News would tell you. 

Or, you could file a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission and let the Commission decide! That’s what I told the local voter who contacted me. That’s what I am telling you, too!

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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May 9

ANOTHER ROUND OF CRUELTY AS THE OUT OF BOUND SUPREMES TACKLE ROE V. WADE 

The US Supreme Court found its long tradition of privacy and independence bashed this week with Judge Thomas Alito’s leaked draft of what appears to be the court’s decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. From the outset it appears that the conservative majority will plow ahead with their preconceived notions about removing the constitutional right for a woman’s access to abortion services – in other words, “not my problem, don’t care.” Stripping away this right leaves other rights that the justices find personally distasteful in jeopardy. In her portrayal of Justice Amy Coney Barrett on NBC’s Saturday Night Live Update, Kate McKinnon advises women to “do your nine months and leave the baby in a basket on the sidewalk, or give it to a stork who will give it to a lesbian – it will make lesbians very happy…until we take that freedom away, too!”

Protesters, as well as court supporters, converged on the Supreme Court building, which resulted in installation of a chain link fence to hold back the crowds, and maybe to keep the noise level down as they debate their next deplorable decision. It hearkens back to a previous court decision when a law affording a thirty foot perimeter around abortion clinics was reversed, in the “interests of free speech” for the anti-abortionists. Luckily, no free-speecher leftovers from January 6 breached this fence. 

As criticisms and protests reached a crescendo, Chief Justice John Roberts, vowed to have the leaker of the draft brought to justice, the question being whether it is in reality a crime to have released the 100 pages. Roberts has always said, “We don’t have Clinton judges, Bush judges, Obama judges or Trump judges, but an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.” That claim falls flat considering that those who unquestionably voted to overturn Roe, are Clarence Thomas (George H.W. Bush); Samuel Alito (George W. Bush); Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett (Donald Trump) – the last four appointed by presidents who were elected by the Electoral College, not the electorate’s popular vote count. These minority government appointees ignore the will of the people, polling indicating a two-to-one margin in favor of keeping Roe. No respect for 21st Century public opinion evidenced, and no indication given as to the Chief’s vote; but it appears he has totally lost control of his leadership role in guiding the court, and keeping politics at bay – ‘stare decisis‘ be damned! Stare decisis, a Latin phrase meaning “to stand by things (previously) decided,” refers to the legal doctrine of judicial precedent – that previous legal rulings should subsequently govern future rulings on the same or similar legal issues, at least by lower courts. Brett Kavanaugh will long be remembered in using ‘stare decisis‘ in his answers to questions pertaining to Roe v. Wade before the committee determining his qualification for the high court. 

In 1987, during his hearings after being nominated for the Supreme Court, Robert Bork divulged his true feelings about Roe, and subsequently was deemed to be too extreme to be elevated to the body. A lesson was learned, and in true conservative fashion, all those who followed him with nominations, skirted the issue with lies and deceit, resulting in the current court majority leaning toward forced motherhood, which is akin to slavery. There was no debate, no soul-searching, no compassion or consideration of the aftermath – the die was cast well before those committee hearings. In today’s society, the average age of new mothers is around thirty years old, pointing to the value of being able to plan and establish a career, perhaps, or to solidify an individual’s, or a family’s, stability. Imagine the outcome, the future, of a twelve year old rape victim being forced to carry a child to term – ugly! Eve Ensler commented, “To all those who dare rob us of our bodily choice, I ask you: what is it about our bodies that makes you so afraid, so insecure, so cruel and punishing?”

Justice Alito, in his leaked draft, makes a weak attempt to bolster the ‘justice’ in his opinion by referring to 17th century England, where he references Sir Edward Cook, who declares abortion a crime. What Alito missed, or failed to mention, was Cook’s belief in witches – women doing the ‘Devil’s Magic‘ – and putting them on trial, murdering them under state rule for conferencing with Satan! In the late 1600s, in Puritan New England, over 200 witches were put on trial, with 20 being twice convicted, then executed – assuredly the other 190 or so led a wonderful life after serving one year in prison, and having only one conviction on their record. Eventually, the colonials admitted their mistakes, compensating the families of the slain ‘witches,’ but, Lucifer seems to be applying his wiles again in the halls of D.C., and from past history we can see where Alito and his cohorts are slowly taking us. The plantations and reservations are gaining new adherents within this bunch, now that they have invaded our privacy in making our own decisions, while demanding their own freedom from interference! Headline: Unelected bureaucrats with job security strike again.

So, what is it we Americans now trust in government? The Presidency? Not by a long shot, nor do we trust in the way our leader is chosen! The Congress? What have they done for you lately? Backstabbing and name calling seem to be the only activity evident to us. The once highly-respected courts? Ditto, ditto, ditto! The functioning of democracy seems to have lost its way, perhaps burdened by the myths that have been forced upon the populace by tradition, big business and organized religion – all of which hold abysmal views of how democracy should work. Justice Clarence Thomas lightly attempted to address this dilemma speaking at the 11th Circuit Judicial Conference in Atlanta this past week by saying, “Society is becoming addicted to wanting specific outcomes, and not living with outcomes we don’t like.” He didn’t mention ‘the leak’, only subtly referencing it. Did he also intend to reference, in ‘not living with outcomes we don’t like’, the conservatives living with the 1973 decision embracing Roe v. Wade“? Stare decisis to you too, Judge! Worrying that young people don’t respect the law as they did in past generations couldn’t have been a dig at his wife, Ginni, who tried to overthrow the government during the J-6 insurrection, could it? Ginni’s many emails to Trump Chief of Staff Meadows encouraging him to ‘stand firm’ and ‘don’t concede’ and ‘it takes time for the army to gather’, admonitions which were struck down by the high court for release along with other communications sought by the House J-6 Commission. The Pew Research Center found that the adults holding favorable views of the court declined from 69% to 54% in the period of August 2019 to January 2022, about which a representative of the Supreme Court had no comment. Ethics concerns? How about a Code of Conduct? Nah, too late for such nonsense… the Ginni is out of the bottle. 

It’s been suggested that a liberal clerk of one of the justices released Alito’s draft decision, a clerk of Justice Sotomayor‘s, perhaps? But, why not Chief Justice Roberts, who has grown tired and disillusioned by this out of control body of escapees from the 17th century time-machine? What has he got to lose in the face of complete embarrassment and loss of reputation after these robed pimples in the temple have been popped? Even Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins feel they have been misled by the seated justices, but after a couple of beers they’ll probably believe anyone – not mentioning Brett Kavanaugh per se! It’s a long way from Bush v. Gore, but the devil was whispering in ears way back then! And, he continued to whisper into Prez Cheeto Benito‘s ear, telling him the court was a weapon and to use it to his advantage, with the Orange Menace saying the quiet parts out loud! He told us what he was doing all along, through two impeachments, and he followed through! Our BAD!

A quote falsely attributed to novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky has been making the rounds for some time now –  “Tolerance will reach such a level that intelligent people will be banned from thinking so as not to offend the imbeciles.” Heavy stuff! Finally, it has been traced to the source in Philadelphia. The quote was overheard from Ted ‘Dusty’ Yevskii, of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, in talking to curious employees of the neighboring sex shop and the crematorium, following Rudy Giuliani‘s press conference in November 2020 at that facility. Asked to comment on his words, ‘Dusty’ replied, “Maybe later…I gotta go water this new shipment of zinnias.”  

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

    “SHARKS”

“Sharks are beautiful animals, and if you’re lucky enough to see lots of them that means that you’re in a healthy ocean. You should be afraid if you are in the ocean and don’t see sharks”.     
~Sylvia Earle

“French fries kill more people than guns and sharks, yet nobody’s afraid of French fries”. 
~Robert Kiyosaki

“Sharks are among the most perfectly constructed creatures in nature. Some forms have survived for two hundred million years”.  
~Eugenie Clark

“I famously tasted shark fin soup many, many years ago before we understood exactly what was going on with the harvesting of sharks. I’ve consequently come out against it. I make personal choices in my life and stand behind them”.   
~Andrew Zimmern

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Mark Rober is at it again. He spent a year and a half setting up this operation, and it looks like he managed to stick it to quite a few scammers. Watch the video 🙂


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