November 23 – 29, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON… De-sal in our Bay, Mayor Fred Keeley, great Craft sale, film critiques GREENSITE…on Cuba. KROHN…election results 2022, who won, who cares? STEINBRUNER…Purewater Soquel project, Branciforte Fire District, SC County Fire Code, Aptos Village new intersection? HAYES…Ferns. PATTON…Name those Billionaires. MATLOCK…searching for solutions in all the wrong places. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week. QUOTES…”Thanksgiving, part 2″

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PACIFIC AVENUE & CHURCH STREETS (SANTA CRUZ 7:45 am. 1957). That’s the Cooper house on the far left. Today we have Urban Outfitters, Rip Curl etc. Look again and see our Town Clock high atop the Odd Fellows Hall and squint closer and see the marquees of both the Santa Cruz and the Del Mar movie palaces.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE November 21

DESALINATION PLANT COMING SOON! In a surprise move the California Coastal Commission voted to approve a de-sal plant in Marina. Go here to read the sad news. It’ll be built and operated by Cal Am. As Cal Matters newsletter states…

California American Water, the nation’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater company, plans to build the plant to pump ocean water, desalinate it and provide drinking water to 100,000 people on the Monterey Peninsula. The largely Latino, agricultural community of Castroville would also receive the water at a discount”. “”It’s our city, our water, our beaches, and our wildlife — so that Cal-Am can send the water to another wealthier community who don’t even want it,” Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado told commissioners, his voice breaking”.

All of this battle over again long after we fought de-sal here locally years ago. More than that another website says, Cal Am Desal threatens to diminish and contaminate Marina’s water supply with saltwater intrusion. 100% of your drinking water comes from Marina’s groundwater basin.

Cal Am proposes to build a desal project that will take up to 15 million gallons per day from Marina’s already over-drafted groundwater basin. It would only supply Monterey Peninsula customers. Marina would receive none of this water .It threatens to diminish and contaminate Marina’s water supply with saltwater intrusion.

Cal Am’s desal threatens Marina’s beautiful coastline by adding a major industrial facility on its dunes and beaches.

It would damage vital open space, and natural and wildlife habitat, and would limit access to the new beachfront property after the CEMEX sand mining plant closes.

ABOUT MAYOR FRED KEELEY. Last week I “printed” a note here about our new Mayor Fred Keeley that said he was a rich landlord. I should have checked before using that note. Turns out he isn’t a landlord and he isn’t rich.

GIFTS FROM LOCAL CRAFTSPEOPLE. I’ve known almost all of these crafts people for decades, and their work is excellent. I went to their first Barn Sale last year and almost finished my entire gift list. Check out… Marcia McDougal – ethnic jewelry, textiles, and collectibles. Heather McDougal – jewelry, painted leather, quilted bags and garments. Kim Kempke – pottery. Saarin Schwartz – pottery. Rita Bottoms – books of her own essays and a new book about her husband Tom Bottoms’ art. Bonita John – maps and cards. Jill Damashek – pottery. Matt Hill – wood sculpture and poetry. You’ll find pottery, jewelry, textiles, wood sculpture, books, and cards created and collected by local artisans. It takes place at The Barn which is a great, nearly ancient structure up the Ocean Street Extension road at #2016. It happens only December 3 & 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, contact dishsister@gmail.com

I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

THE GOOD NEIGHBOR. (HULU MOVIE) (6.3 IMDB). Two men forced to be neighbors become involved in a bike accident killing a young beautiful blonde girl. Their relationship to each other and how they work to avoid the guilt and legal problems makes this a positive nightmare to watch…and you should watch it.

FROM SCRATCH. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.9 IMDB). I could only take about 25 minutes of this mindless, low level “romantic drama”. A girl from Texas goes to Florence Italy and despite the super scenery has typical Hollywood tete a tetes that will make you cringe.

1889. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.1 IMDB).A German film centering on a cruise ship full of passengers that meet up with a ghost like ship named The Prometheus. It’s a fine film with great effects, good acting, intelligence and a plot that will keep you attached for episodes.

THE DEVILS HOUR. (PRIME SERIES) (7.8 IMDB). The plot is that 3:33 am is the devil’s hour for this mother who is raising her son. He has amnesia and she’s a social worker. The police are heavily involved in trying to solve a murder and she keeps seeing bloody scenes in her dreams. It’s worth staying up for.

FALLING FOR CHRISTMAS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.3 IMDB). I was curious to see what Lindsay Loman (now age 36) looks like after all these years. This is billed as a “romantic comedy” but it really isn’t either one. The acting is nonexistent, the plot is terrible and it’s aimed at teen agers who haven’t learned what’s funny. Avoid at any or no cost.

FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE. (HULU SERIES) (6.7 IMDB).  Jesse Eisenberg plays off Claire Danes as a separated but still married couple. He’s a doctor and is trying to adjust to being single and still raising their kids. Good acting, intriguing plot, and a chance to review your own issues with relationships. Go For it.

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

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). A serious story from a book about a very young girl who was deserted by her family and forced to live her life known as the Marsh Girl. Perfectly acted by Daisy Edgar-Jones and aided by David Strathairn as her attorney its deep, colorful, and threatening as she learns how to cope with the few humans in her life plus a murder.  The ending is a shocker and it’s very worthwhile watching.

THE CROWN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.7 IMDB). This is the fifth (that’s 5!!!) season of this Queen Elizabeth saga and it does lack something. We Americans (and much of the world) have always been so fascinated by the British throne and surroundings so we watch anything and everything about those royals. Here we watch Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s marriage remain in hell especially having Dominic West playing Charles. He just isn’t right for the part, but watch it anyways just to get one more take on all the sadness and mistakes the royals make decade after decade.

CICI (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.3 IMDB). A Turkish movie that starts off in black and white and goes to full color as the movie works hard to reveal the terrible intra family relationships between father and mother and all their children and relatives. It’s depicted as some of the relatives reunite while they attempt to film their own movie of their families past. Its slow moving, flips from present to their past many times and even gets confusing and requires careful paying attention.

BANSHEES OF INISHERIN. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (8.2 IMDB). A nearly perfect movie that I would give many Academy Awards to. First of all to Colin Farrell who plays a longtime friend to the older Brendan Gleeson. These two guys live on a very small fictional island off the coast of Ireland and suddenly Gleeson tells Farrell he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. It baffles Colin and all of their friends on the island. It’s a deep but nearly humorous self-inspection that Colin goes through that makes us all relate to our own friendships. Well worth watching and admiring such talent.

ROBBING MUSSOLINI. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.5 IMDB). This silly movie starts off with a bunch of thugs from Milan trying to decide and plot how to steal Benito Mussolini’s wartime treasures back in 1945. Then 10 minutes into the plot it turns to cartoons and Marvel Comics tricks and lost me completely. I stopped it after 25 minutes.

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November 21

This sculpture, located in the Plaza San Francisco de Asis in Havana, was donated by the French Ambassador to Cuba in 2012. It is titled, La Conversacion and is the work of the French sculptor, Etienne. It embodies what has been singularly absent from most of the US government’s approach to this island country since the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

I just returned from a trip to Cuba organized by The Nation magazine’s travel program. Our government does not allow us the freedom to travel to Cuba as individuals. The easing of some restrictions under the Obama administration, including travel, was reimposed by the Trump administration and the Biden administration has done little to improve the situation. 

Organized under the currently permitted category of person-to-person contact, The Nation arranged an outstanding itinerary for the week’s adventure. A free copy of the riveting book, Back Channel to Cuba, The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana by William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh was sent to each traveler well before departure. This tome, based on previously classified exchanges at the top levels of government, provided a framework for understanding the undercurrents of political posturing by various administrations from Eisenhower to Biden towards the tiny country of Cuba, population 11 million, that overthrew a corrupt, unpopular US supported dictatorship with a Revolution that had wide popular support. 

Where that support stands today and how the people of Cuba are faring is what I hoped to discover. The Nation provided the opportunity for fascinating conversations with a variety of Cubans, including Oniel Diaz, cofounder of AUGE, a private advisory group on business management, a presentation from urban planner Miguel Coyula and a Q&A with Carlos Alzugaray, the former Cuban diplomat and Ambassador to the European Union with Cuba expert Peter Kornbluh. Political and economic discussions were balanced with amazing trips to the homes and studios of independent Cuba artists, the Museum of Cuban Art, the Habana Compas Dance Studio and a visit to the Lizt Alfonso Academy, a women-led dance company and school for local youth. A Cuban saying: “food is optional, music is mandatory” notwithstanding, we were treated to the best of both, including renowned singer, songwriter Frank Delgado for a discussion and performance of the nueva trova movement as well as a private performance by the 14-member Youth Symphony Orchestra that had us to our feet with standing ovations.  

There was ample opportunity for informal, frank conversations. I peppered with questions the Cubans we encountered on our trip as well as Peter Kornbluh. Their wealth of experience and knowledge framed my observations. In no way do I have a complete picture, nor would I venture a definitive opinion. Cuba is a complex puzzle. I feel I have a handle on a few pieces and can draw some tentative conclusions that I expect will be challenged by a fresh conversation, but this is what I can surmise so far.

The Cuban people are hurting. Badly. The economy is dangerously precarious. Inflation is skyrocketing. Food and supplies are in serious short supply. Despite much open land and good soil available for farming, Cuba imports most of its foodstuffs, including basics such as chickens and pigs. I kept asking why? The answer when it came clarified the problem. While land is available, feed for chickens and pigs, seed for crops, parts for machines are not. As many know, the US has imposed an embargo on Cuba since the Eisenhower Administration. The Cubans call it a blockade. Fidel Castro called for an end to the blockade in every concession he offered to the various US Presidents via back-channel communications. The blockade is still imposed today. It was the major driving force behind Cuba’s increasingly closer ties to the Soviet Union. When the USSR collapsed, so did Cuba’s economy. Today there are more Cubans leaving Cuba via dangerous routes than at any time since the Revolution.

It is easy to blame the US blockade for Cuba’s economic problems and exodus of Cubans and it certainly is a major part. However, other factors are also involved. Covid significantly decimated the tourist industry and the Trump administration’s banning of cruise ships visiting Cuba finished it off as did Trump’s reversal of the Obama administration’s allowing remittances to be sent to relatives in Cuba by Cuban Americans. There are also internal factors involved. I was impressed with the willingness of the Cubans we met to readily acknowledge the economic problems created by the hard-liners in the Cuban Communist party as well as by the bureaucracy. The private sector in Cuba now constitutes most of the businesses compared to those state-owned. There were 100 private companies started in just the last year. Trumps crack-down on the ability of Cubans to travel to the US has severely impacted the growth and success of this private sector, which, if you are keen to erode support for communism, the rallying cry of the US for 60 years, it should be obvious to encourage.

So far, the Biden administration has left most of the Trump administration’s crackdown intact, despite his campaigning on opening channels of communication and normalizing relations with Cuba. Maybe we can start a conversation towards this goal with our representatives? The Cuban people need and deserve our support.

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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November 21

“ELECTION RESULTS 2022”

Who Won, Who Lost and Who Cares?

As readers of “The Santa Cruz Political Report” and Brattononline.com may ascertain, there is no joy in Mudville this week, Measure O and Measure N have both struck out. Within the Santa Cruz progressive-left community, it is an earthquake of 8.0 proportions. We worked hard, spent hours walking neighborhoods, fundraising, and distributing yard signs. While N, the empty homes tax, was straightforward—a tax of $6,000 on homes left empty for at least eight months per year affecting less than 1% of property owners, Measure O, “Our Downtown, Our Future” was a bit more complicated and aggressively challenged the capitalist take down, the hoped for accumulation of $capital$ to be extracted from Surf City. Some of the biggest names in real estate and development in this part of the world are at the table carving up the Holy Cross like it was one of those chocolate Easter crosses made at Mackenzie’s on Soquel Avenue. The administrators of this sacking, the city council, are now parceling out the realtor chocolate goodies to the Swensons, Devcons, Pacific Homes’, and Lawlor LLCs. All are peculiar interlopers to this community, they gobble up our seed corn faster than it is produced. Santa Cruz is for sale and guess what? It has many buyers including Goldman Sacks of NYC, the UC Regents of Oakland, and the (Brian) Dinnerstein Companies of Houston. The word is out, this town is on the high roller sales charts, brace yourself for more plunder. These election results will see more baristas, bar-backs, bus boys, and Berners living in their cars, in the UCSC forest, or in the hinterlands of Hollister, Gonzalez, or Los Banos. The enclave-by-the-sea, aka Santa Cruz, will be tough to buy into for most people. The results of Election 2022 places an authentic and unrelenting Haves, or real estate imprimatur, on our town that may be hard to cast off.

Top Ten Reasons Why Measure O Went Down

  1. The city attorney, Tony Condotti, wrote biased ballot language, which the group, Our Downtown, Our Future (I was a part of ODOF) failed to legally challenge. Anyone encountering Measure O for the first time, likely a majority of voters, read this statement on their ballot: “Shall the City of Santa Cruz General Plan and Downtown Plan be Amended to: 1) prohibit construction of the proposed Downtown Library and Affordable Housing Project and relocation of the Downtown Farmers Market;” I kid you not, that was the actual ballot language…like if you voted yes, you were voting against Santa Claus, or outlawing surfing at Steamer Lane…of course, in hindsight, we should’ve sued to correct the language.
  2. The “No on O” money trail is ugly, self-preservationist, and leads to a very wealthy group of developers and real estate interests, the amounts which could never be overcome by the “Yes on O” contingent of grassroots supporters. See the $$$ trail HERE.
  3. The status quo, those in the business of profiting off of Santa Cruz seed corn was potent. The Chamber of Commerce, Business Council, UCSC admin, and the support of five past rather politically moderate mayors, proved tough to overcome. They never mentioned that six former mayors supported Measure O: Celia Scott, Katherine Beiers, Tim Fitzmaurice, Bruce Van Allen, Jane Weed, and Chris Krohn.
  4. Killing affordable housing. The No on O message that Measure O would be “killing” an affordable housing project, which they claimed was all but built (untruthful) proved extremely difficult for ODOF to overcome.
  5. Not truthful. The No on O opposition not simply not honest. Measure O message and plan was transparent, community-centered, and honest. Although the plan was taking on the most powerful economic interests in the County, it was seeking to “fool” no one.
  6. Complex measure. The five main components of the initiative were perhaps too complex. It started out as a plan to stop an unneeded and unwanted 610-space garage, but morphed into an expansive, and visionary, plan to promote downtown open space, reuse and rebuild the Church Street library, maintain shade and keep the carbon inside the 10 heritage trees on Lot 4, and promote affordable housing on eight downtown surface lots. Measure O had arguably turned into an ambitious plan and proved a heavy lift in the eyes of voters. Btw, the initiative also included two Cruz Hotel parcels that the city was set to sell so that the hotel project could happen. Buy low, sell high!
  7. Messaging. The messaging about killing a housing project ended up losing younger voters, but obviously many older “No on O” voters did not reciprocate enough to save Measure N. Yimby, DSA, and the College Democrats became sold on the 120-promised units of affordable housing in the near term, despite the main purveyors of the project—the Santa Cruz City Council majority—could not be trusted, and all five opposed both Measures N and O.
  8. Social media. “No on O” ads on social media seem to [T]rump the Luddite, non-paid consultants within the ODOF organization.
  9. Inside baseball: Measure O’s yard sign and second mailer needed to come out sooner. (Converse: according to a printer at Community Printers, the Measure O yard sign was the best yard sign he had ever seen in Santa Cruz!)
  10. Spending. While ODOF was outspent more than 2-1 by the No’s, we raised a lot by Santa Cruz standards, close to $70k. Going in, we did not know raising that amount would be possible and we were perhaps more frugal early in the campaign in paying to get our message out than we needed to be. What did Big Daddy Unruh say, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics”? Well, the “No’s” owned the industrial money milk factory in this election, but the Yes on O side stood tall and still had a pretty good cow in the race to be competitive.

Measure O…the Vote

As of Friday, November 18th at 4pm:

Total

Yes                  8,971 (40.01%)

No                   13,453 (59.99%)

Total Votes:

23510

Total

Undervotes (these are ballots counted, but the voter chose not to mark this particular Measure).1,077

Measure N, What Happened?

In the beginning, Measure N, taxing empty homes up to $6,000 to acquire, or build, affordable housing seemed like bringing a thimble of water to the Pacific Ocean. Yes, it would indeed be significant like a moon landing inside of the immeasurable universe, but a small piece of the housing puzzle. It would not solve the housing crisis, but would bring some much-needed spirit, and a few dollars, to the long-term struggle for affordable housing in Surf City. The Measure N steering committee knew that the forces of capital, the investors who spent so heavily against rent control, might be bellying up to the bar on this one as well. Well, we found out quickly, that they were looking for a gun fight as the California Association of Realtors threw down a chunk, $49,900, to defeat this well-crafted affordable housing initiative.

Top Reasons Why Measure N is Failing

  • The money. The strongest argument why Measure N failed is likely the $$$ that was spent against it.
  • The money came from the wealthy. It was a classic Haves vs. have-not playing field. The blizzard of mailings was relentless and I would suggest the majority of money came from outside the city of Santa Cruz. One late mailing tried to portray how many people were opposed to Measure N. There were like 200 names listed, the vast majority I did not recognize even after living in this county for more than 40 years. While the Yes on N group used social media to its advantage, the “No’s” seemed to cede the younger voters to N and went after the older voters. The “No on O” group, on the other hand, went after both demographics using its largesse on social, snail mail, and broadcast media.
  • Political power structure linkage. The moderate-conservative theme among their candidates—Kalantari-Johnson, Keeley, Newsome, Golder—reinforced at every opportunity their closed circle strategy of defeating candidates Cummings, Schendledecker, Marin, and Maxwell…as well as both N and O.
  • The Leftist Firing Squad. In this country the right (Republican congress) and moderate right (Santa Cruz politics) always seem to be able to get in line when told to by their leaders. The moderate left (Santa Cruz progressives) on the other hand are prone to form the political circular firing squad, and not necessarily for the wrong reasons either. Often there are legitimate disagreements. DSA wanted the housing in the city project on Lot 4 and therefore was lukewarm on Measure O, for example. The SEIU labor union supported Measure N, Keeley for Mayor, and Maxwell and Marin for city council. They left out Joy Schendledecker for Mayor (many in labor apologized later after it was too late) and did not support Measure O either. The Sierra Club was keen on O, but did not take a position on N. SantaCruz4Bernie saw their role as singing Kumbaya, and bringing everyone together. In the end, SC4Bernie produced a good-looking door hanger, but was likely short of walkers to distribute it in the final two weeks of the campaign. The progressives have to get their political act together earlier for the next election, although that may be asking too much as there are serious disagreements among what might constitute a majority-left voting bloc of local voters that includes renters, students, homeowners, and labor.
  • Fred Keeley effect. Although at the beginning of his campaign to be the first directly elected Santa Cruz mayor this century, Keeley was agnostic on both Measures O and N, but by the middle of the campaign he seemed to be swayed by the naysayers and made that known in a few public and private places. In the end, this hurt both campaigns, which saw the funny, but disconcerting, $500 donation from Fred to both the Yes on O and No on O campaigns.
  • C. Together. This local political action committee is perhaps the big winner in local politics and represents what Trump meant when he said, “we’re going to win so much, you may even get tired of winning…” The progressive left in Santa Cruz must take a hard look at itself and strategize better because the moderates and moderate-conservatives of this PAC are winning, and they do not appear tired yet of winning even more. Do progressives want to win?

Measure N, the Vote

As of Friday, November 18th at 4pm, Measure N was doing far better than Measure O, but still trailing.

N – City Of Santa Cruz Empty Home Tax Initiative – Majority To Pass (Vote for 1)

Total

Yes                  10,109 (44.19%)
No                   12,765 (55.81%)

Total Votes:   23510

Undervotes      628

“After Trump elevated anti-immigrant & anti-Latino rhetoric, we had the deadliest anti-Latino shooting in modern history. After anti-Asian hate w/COVID, Atlanta. Tree of life.

Emanuel AME. Buffalo.

And now after an anti-LGBT+ campaign, Colorado Springs.

Connect the dots, @GOP.” (Nov. 20)


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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November 21

NOT SO DENSE, PLEASE
Pleasure Point residents have paid attention to the County General Plan Update and consistently worked hard to present alternative solutions to the Plan’s proposal to rezone nine parcels along Portola Drive for new very high-density development, cramming new Ultra High Flex (UHF) zoning that would allow 45-80 units/acre all on Portola Drive.   It seems their Supervisor, Chairman Manu Koenig, listened and asked other Supervisors last Tuesday to remove the ultra-high density zoning from those parcels.  “I’ve received lots of correspondence from the group about this, and it seems they are not opposed to housing, but just want a bit less,” he said.

Supervisors agreed to reduce the allowed density to Residential High Density, bringing 30 units/ acre, and to keep commercial zoning on a parcel at the end of 41st Avenue.

Many have wondered how the County planners could feel that focusing all of the County’s new ultra-high density housing in Pleasure Point made any sense, when it is not near any major transportation corridor, and  Portola Drive is about to be put on a “road diet”, actually reducing the number of lanes available for the traffic that exists now.

The Supervisors will continue their review of the proposed General Plan update on December 6.

Make sure your voice is at the table and present alternatives to what concerns you most.  Good work, Pleasure Point Community!

WHAT THE PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT WILL DO TO YOU AND THE ENVIRONMENT YOU LOVE…DECEMBER 1 PUBLIC HEARING
Folks, this is your final chance to weigh-in on Soquel Creek Water District’s expensive and potentially damaging PureWater Soquel Project that will inject treated sewage water into the drinking water supply for the MidCounty’s aquifer. Please share this information with your friends and neighbors.

Find a section of the document that speaks to your concern, and write to the District in the manner outlined on the website. Here is a link to the document

1.9 Pathogenic Microorganism Control ………
1.12 Response Retention Time …………….
1.13 Contingency Plan …………
1.14 Monitoring and Reporting Program ………………
3.1 Requirements for Public Health Protection ……………………… 3-1
3.2 Requirements for Environmental and Water Quality Protection ……………3-9
3.3 SWRCB Requirements …………………… 3-12
3.3.1 Antidegradation Policy (aka how will this affect the pristine aquifer water??……………………… 3-12
3.3.2 SWRCB Recycled Water Policy ……………………………………….. 3-12
3.4 Federal Requirements for Groundwater Replenishment Projects …………… 3-13

Please participate in this December 1, Virtual Public Hearing at 5:30pm and send in written comment with your thoughts, concerns and alternative solutions.

MAYBE NO PURPLE PIPE FOR RECYCLED WATER IRRIGATION AFTER ALL?
A friend sent me the latest customer newsletter for the City of Santa Cruz Wastewater Department, which   highlights the PureWater Soquel Project tertiary water treatment plant construction.

I am curious about the vague statement regarding the City using Title 22 water for irrigation and bulk water fill station:

 “In the future, Title 22 tertiary water may be provided for offsite use as well such as irrigation of La Barranca Park and a bulk water fill station for construction dust control.”

It was my understanding that a part of the City’s agreement with Soquel Creek Water District is that the City will receive 360AF/Y Title 22 recycled water for irrigating La Barranca Park and would build a bulk fill station to accommodate the opportunity to provide some of that recycled water for construction uses.

I also had understood that the water at the tertiary plant now under construction will not meet Title 22 standards, so the recycled water for the City’s uses would require the City to install a 6″ purple pipe from the Project’s Chanticleer Advanced Water Treatment Facility to return the agreed-upon 360AF/Y Title 22 recycled water to the City.

However, in now reading the description of the City’s Title 22 recycled water benefit, it is unclear what the Project now includes in terms of the City’s 6″ purple pipe commitment.

I wrote to Ms. Rosemary Menard last week about this.  She acknowledged my message but stated there will be no answer until early December. Hmmmm…….  Does that all hinge on the PureWater Soquel Project Engineering Report getting rubberstamped?

Please read through that voluminous document to see what you can learn, and participate in the December 1, virtual Public Hearing at 5:30pm.  Public Comment on the document closes December 8.

TURMOIL IN BRANCIFORTE FIRE DISTRICT
Why would Chairman of the Branciforte Fire District demand a Director Pete Vannerus resign as one of the two who voted in opposition to the District spending $28,000 on a verbal-only bid likely to cause a new tax on residents?

Why would the Director of LAFCO strong-arm the Branciforte residents to spend this money to determine what may already be coming along in another consultant study funded by LAFCO, and due out soon?

How can a Board that does not have a quorum move ahead on a verbal $28,000 consultant bid when last month’s Board action had no written amended contract?

All of this odd activity, and more, caused Director Dick Landon, who had voted against the $28,000 verbal contract last month, to resign in disgust.

Read the Draft Minutes of the October 20 Branciforte Fire Board meeting here

The Board could not approve them last Thursday because there was not a quorum, due to the two resignations and Director Kurt Meyer was not present.

WHAT THE NEW SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FIRE CODE MEANS FOR RURAL PROPERTIES
In my opinion, it was rather devious of the County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios and the County Board of Supervisors to bury the new Countywide Fire Code in with the major Building Code amendments last Tuesday.  The spotlight on the new requirement for all-electric construction overshadowed the major changes to the County Fire Code…both were mashed into Item #12.

Unless you looked very carefully, the Fire Code issue was essentially hidden.

The link to the Strikeout-and-Underline version of the Code provided on the Board website continues to be broken…offering only this message:

Error : The document appears to be corrupted and cannot be loaded.

The Supervisors will be reviewing this again for Final Adoption on December 6.  Please contact your Supervisors with concerns and alternative solutions.

If you are able to find a Strikeout-and-Underline copy, maybe you will share my concerns regarding the following:

1)  The definition of FIRE CHIEF has been removed from 7.92.202.  You will only find that fact by looking at the Strikeout-and-Underline version (which the County doesn’t seem to want us to see) or in a list of “Proposed Changes to Fire Code” provided in the four-page list on the Central Fire District website under Community Risk Reduction Division

Section 202 – Fire Chief Definition has been removed

Who IS the Fire Chief?  Who can act AS the “Fire Official”, a term used throughout the new Fire Code, but never defined?

2)  7.92.111.1 Section 111.1 is amended – Board of Appeals established. 

Section 111.1 of Chapter 1 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is amended to read as follows: 111.1 – Board of Appeals established. In order to hear and decide appeals of orders, decisions or determinations made by the fire code official relative to the application and interpretation of this code, there shall be and is hereby created a Board of Appeals. 

The Board of Appeals shall be: For the Santa Cruz County Fire Department, the Board of Supervisors of Santa Cruz County, or a sub-committee as appointed by the Board of Supervisors of Santa Cruz County.

What is the cost of taking an appeal to the Board in this instance?  Anyone appealing a planning dept. issue must pay $1800 to file such an appeal with the Board of Supervisors.

3)  7.92.112.4.2 Section 112.4.2 is added – Enforcement. 

Section 112.4.2 of Chapter 1 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows: 112.4.2 – Enforcement. The fire code official and their delegated subordinates, pursuant to the provisions of Section 836.5 of the Penal Code of the State of California, are hereby authorized to arrest a person without a warrant whenever they have reasonable cause to believe that the person has committed a violation of any of the provisions of this Code in their presence. Upon making such an arrest, the fire code official or their delegated subordinate shall prepare a citation and release the person arrested pursuant to Section  853.6 of the Penal Code of the State of California, the provisions of which are hereby adopted by reference as part of this section.

This is very chilling language.  Who IS the “fire code official”?  Who CAN be the “delegated subordinates”?  There are no definitions of either term in Section 202.

4)  7.92.202 Section 202 is amended – Definitions. Section 202 is amended – Definition of All-Weather Surface. 

Definition of All-Weather Surface in Section 202 of Chapter 2 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added after Alcohol-Blended Fuels to read as follows: 

ALL WEATHER SURFACE. An all-weather surface shall be a minimum of 6 inches (152 mm) of 95% compacted Class II base rock for grades up to and including 5%, oil and screened for grades up to and including 15%, and asphaltic concrete for grades exceeding 15%. No grade shall be allowed to exceed 16% in State Responsibility Area (SRA) or 20% in Local Responsibility Area (LRA).

This requires paving all driveways and roads over 15% grade in the SRA.  This will be cost-prohibitive for some rural residents, and will cause increased stormwater runoff.  Why are steeper gradients allowed in the LRA?

5) 7.92.307.4.1 Section 307.4.1 is added – Bonfires. 

Section 307.4.1 of Chapter 3 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows: 307.4.1 – Bonfires. A bonfire shall not be conducted within 50 feet (15240 mm) of a structure or combustible material unless the fire is contained in a barbecue pit. Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 50 feet (15240 mm) of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition. 

7.92.307.4.2 Section 307.4.2 is added – Recreational fires. Section 307.4.2 of Chapter 3 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows: 307.4.2 – Recreational fires. Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet (7620 mm) of a structure or combustible material. Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet (7620 mm) of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.

What is the difference between a “bonfire” and a “recreational fire”?  There is no definition provided in Section 202.

How are “warming fires” defined and regulated?  The document is silent on warming fires, yet these fires have great potential to cause wildland fires, and in fact have in Santa Cruz County, eg, the DeLaveaga Fire in August, 2022.

6)  7.92.308.1.7 Section 308.1.7 is added – Religious ceremonies. 

Section 308.1.7 of Chapter 3 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows:

 308.1.7 – Religious ceremonies. When, in the opinion of the fire code official, adequate safeguards have been taken, participants in religious ceremonies are allowed to carry handheld candles. Hand-held candles shall not be passed from one person to another while lighted.

This is government overreach, and should instead offer language about ground surface conditions required (eg, beach sand, raked bare mineral earth or road base free of organic material).

7)  7.92.503 Section 503 is added – FIRE APPARATUS ACCESS ROADS. 

Section 503 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added and amended below. 7.92.503.2.1 Section 503.2.1 is amended – Dimensions. Section 503.2.1 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is amended to read as follows:

 503.2.1 – Dimensions. Fire apparatus access roads shall have an unobstructed width of not less than 20 feet (6096 mm), exclusive of shoulders, except for approved security gates in accordance with Section 503.6, and an unobstructed vertical clearance of not less than 15 feet (4572 mm). 

Exceptions: 

  1. Within the State Responsibility Area (SRA) of Santa Cruz County, all driveways serving two or fewer habitable structures shall have an unobstructed width of not less than 12 feet (3658 mm) and an unobstructed vertical clearance of not less than 15 feet (4572 mm). 
  2. Within the Local Responsibility Area (LRA) of Santa Cruz County, access roads shall be a minimum of 18 feet (5486 mm) wide for all access roads or driveways serving more than two habitable structures, and 12 feet (3658 mm) for an access road or driveway serving two or fewer habitable structures. 

    Where it is environmentally inadvisable to meet these criteria (due to excessive grading, tree removal or other environmental impacts), a 12-foot (3658 mm) wide all-weather surface access road with 12-foot (3658 mm) wide by 35-foot (10,668 mm) long turnouts located approximately every 500 feet (152,400 mm) may be provided with the approval of the fire code official. 

  3. Vertical clearance may be reduced; provided such reduction does not impair access by fire apparatus and approved signs are installed and maintained indicating the established vertical clearance when approved by the fire code official.

How will property owners and private road associations comply with this new requirement when, combined with the new 16% grade limit, it would not be technically or financially feasible?

8)7.92.503.2.1.1Section 503.2.1.1 is added – Vegetation clearance along access roads. 

Section 503.2.1.1 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows: 

503.2.1.1 – Vegetation clearance along access roads. Areas within 10 feet (3048 mm) horizontal and 15 feet (4572 mm) vertical on each side of portions of highways, public and private streets, roads and driveways which are ordinarily used for vehicular traffic shall be cleared of flammable vegetation and other combustible growth. Design of such area may be found in Santa Cruz County Fire Prevention Officers Standards.

Where is the “Santa Cruz County Fire Prevention Officers Standards”?  Does this mean that the Santa Cruz County Dept. of Public Works will be required to resume roadside mowing on an annual basis?

9)   7.92.503.2.4 Section 503.2.4 is amended – Turning radius. Section 503.2.4 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is amended to read as follows: 503.2.4 – Turning radius. In the State Responsibility Area (SRA) no roadway shall have a horizontal inside radius of curvature of less than 50 feet (15,240 mm) and additional surface width of 4 feet (1219 mm) shall be added to curves of 50-100 feet (15,240-30,480 mm) radius; 2 feet (609 mm) to those from 100-200 feet (30,480-60,960 mm). In the Local Responsibility Area (LRA) the minimum centerline radius shall be 35 feet (10,668 mm).

How will the County address existing roads in the mountains, such as Eureka Canyon Road and Highland Road, where there are curves that do not comply?  Is this an example changing the road requirements to accommodate purchases of Type I engines, rather than Type 3 engines?

10)  7.92.503.2.5.1Section 503.2.5.1 is added – New dead-end access roads. 

Section 503.2.5.1 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows: 

503.2.5.1 – New dead-end access roads. New dead-end roads are prohibited, without secondary access, serving more than one parcel in new minor land divisions or subdivisions which exceed the following distances from an adequate through road unless approved by the applicable fire protection agency, the Department of Public Works, and by the Planning Commission; in no case shall a new dead-end road exceed 1/2 mile in length.

If property owners are unable to obtain easement agreements with neighboring properties (such as State Parks) to allow for a secondary access, this would prevent the property owner from building.  This is a taking by government regulation.

11)   7.92.503.2.7 Section 503.2.7 is amended – Grade. 

Section 503.2.7 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is amended to read as follows: 

503.2.7 – Grade. The grade for all roads, streets, private lanes and driveways shall not exceed 16% in State Responsibility Area (SRA) and 20% in Local Responsibility Area (LRA). 

This is inconsistent without explanation.  The grade limitation for LRA shoud be 16%, consistent with the SRA limit.

Take time to read through the document, ask your Supervisor to provide a Strikeout-and-Underline version that makes it transparent exactly what the new Santa Cruz County Fire Code changes will mean for rural residents, write the Board with your concerns and reasonable solutions, and remember to show up at their December 6 meeting to speak up.

NEW COUNTY FIRE DEPT. WEBSITE IS PROBLEMATIC AND MISSING CRITICAL DOCUMENTS
The new Santa Cruz County Fire Dept. website just got launched, but is missing some really important information, such as the financial documents, the County Fire Master Plan, and the Santa Cruz County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).

When I wrote CalFire Chief Nate Armstrong, who also gets paid to act as the County Fire Dept. Chief, to ask about this problem, he responded on November 8:

“Unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly when the links will be fixed and don’t know of another online location for those two documents right now. But I can assure you that knowledge of those two documents is by no means needed for participating in a constituent interview for the current master plan process, which I think you will see once you attend your interview. I do appreciate your wanting to be prepared for that process, but I think you will see that the input the consultants are looking for is more global and subjective than the particulars of any document.”

In order to prepare for a stakeholder interview to which I was invited, with the purpose of providing input on the County Fire Master Plan that County Fire taxpayers are giving $40,000 to AP Triton consultants to do, I really did need to review the expired 2012-2015 Plan version.  I realized that the County Board of Supervisors must have approved the document, because they are the governing body for County Fire Dept., I did a search…and there it was.

County Fire Chief Nate Armstrong looked very shocked when I presented a hard copy of the document to the County Fire Department Advisory Commission on November 16 and explained how I managed to find it myself.  He looked across the table in disbelief at General Services Director Michael Beaton, who controls the purse strings for County Fire, who convinced the Ad Hoc Committee they were not capable of updating the County Fire Master Plan and that AP Triton had to be the consultant to do the fast-tracked job…without bid or RFP, or consulting the Commissioners.

When Mr. Beaton later presented to the Commissioners the Scope of that work, with great apologies for not having provided them with any information at all about it until that moment, he initially refused to answer my question about who will pay for the $40,000 cost?  “Public Comment has ended” he said, but then reluctantly offered that “County Fire” will pay the bill.  Wow.

APTOS VILLAGE GETS NEW INTERSECTION?

New Parade Street intersection at Soquel Drive in Aptos Village now includes railroad crossing arms and signals, just installed last week.


Another view…note that the Bayview Hotel has recently been painted white, restoring it to the original color.  The historic private crossing in front of the Hotel will be closed as soon as Parade Street is opened.

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.  ATTEND THE DECEMBER 1 ZOOM PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT PUBLIC HEARING AND ASK WHY THERE ISN’T WIDESPREAD USE OF THE RECYCLED WATER FOR IRRIGATION AND GREEN PLANET COOLING?  ATTEND ONE ZOOM COMMISSION MEETING AND FIND OUT WHAT YOUR COMMISSIONERS ARE DOING TO REPRESENT YOU AS AN ADVISORY GROUP TO MAKE THE COUNTY BETTER.

HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING …WE INDEED HAVE MUCH FOR WHICH TO BE GRATEFUL.

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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November 20

FERNS

When the flowers fade and the leaves fall, ferns are the life-filled bright points in the natural world around us. Most people could distinguish a fern from other types of plants: they are distinct enough and their patterns seem imprinted in the human psyche. Ferns are an ancient type of plant: Earth was dominated by ferns for millions of years before plants with more showy flowers (and seeds) evolved. Ferns can reproduce sexually or asexually, and we are still learning about those reproduction systems. People can grow ferns from spores…and luckily people are doing enough of that to make ferns available in the nursery trade, because certain ferns can be great additions to our tended landscapes and in restoration areas.

In this column, I describe four common local ferns: western sword fern, giant chain fern, polypody ferns and bracken fern. These four types of ferns are so common in our area that it is worth knowing which is which. It will take little practice to tell them apart.

Sword Fern


Western sword fern (Polysticum munitum) is called this because each leaflet has a hilt-like appendage at its base. These are bunch-ferns: each plant has a center point where it grows new fronds. New fronds unfurl each year in the middle of winter. These ferns don’t like fire. Students I’ve worked with analyzed forest vegetation data before and after fire to discover that what had been nice understories thick with sword ferns failed to regenerate after the Lockheed fire. Sword ferns survived our north coast fires because they were in spots that fire skipped over or where the fire burned less severely. Sword ferns prefer dark, moist coniferous forests- north-facing slopes are best, but they thrive anywhere redwoods drip moisture combed from summer fog banks.

What good are sword ferns? Indigenous people north of here used this species as roof thatch. I’ve lowered myself from one fern bunch to the next on extremely steep slopes; the plants were that well rooted! They must be important for slowing erosion and slope failure. If you have a shady place in dense forest, it would make a great landscape plant: it is the ideal size for most people – 3′ tall and 3′ wide – and is evergreen.

(Sword fern photo by Flickr user brewbooks, licensed for use through creative commons.)

Polypody Ferns

Polypody ferns are easy to spot because they sprout fronds from runners rather than forming bunches. And, they go entirely to sleep during the dry summers, their fronds wilting and disappearing. With the recent rains and cooler days, Polypody ferns have begun their annual re-flush of new growth. The best stands I’ve seen are on rocky outcrops at the edge of ravines on the North Coast – big, lush mats unfurling new fronds right now. I’m used to seeing ferns and orchids draping tropical trees, and I am always pleased when I find polypody ferns growing on tree branches around here. It is uncommon, but you can see them if you look enough.

There are two polypody ferns locally: California polypody and Licorice fern. It is difficult to tell the difference between them. Licorice fern, though, is less common – it has roots that taste sweet with notes of ginger and licorice.

(Sword fern photo by Flickr user John Rusk, licensed for use through creative commons.)


Giant Chain Fern

Giant chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata) is a big, big fern of the wettest places. This species’ fronds get up to 4′ long. It cannot grow unless its roots are wet: in springs, seeps, and along creeks. But, it won’t grow in much sun, preferring mostly to full shade. It gets its name from the neatly arranged, chain-like shape of its spore-bearing ‘sori’ on the underside of its leaves.  I’ve encountered stands of giant chain fern that are so thick on the banks of local creeks that I hesitated to hike through them. But they are gentle enough and, if you are careful, you can weave between the towering fronds without getting too tangled.

Indigenous people north of San Francisco used this species of fern stems in basketry.

(Giant chain fern photograph by Flickr user aliivibrio licensed for use through creative commons.)

Bracken Fern

Bracken fern is a very widespread fern that grows from gnarly long underground runners. Someone once told me that this species is responsible for a lot of tropical rainforest deforestation. The story goes like this: ranchers cut down rainforest for pasture, pasture grows nice for a little while but then bracken fern takes over, so they must clear another patch. And so we learn that bracken fern spans the globe from the tropics to very northerly latitudes. And, we learn that cows don’t eat bracken. When I helped take care of University lands at Fort Ord, I encountered people harvesting arm loads of bracken fern fronds. These fronds are a popular food in some cultures. But bracken fern fronds are carcinogenic! Perhaps the news hasn’t reached everyone. Don’t eat them! That carcinogen is probably why cattle ranchers don’t want their livestock eating it.

In fact, nothing much seems to eat bracken- even deer leave it alone. Apparently, there is a sawfly that feeds on it.

Bracken fern takes over meadows around here, too. There are big stands of bracken in the meadow across from the UCSC Arboretum. If you go out there in the early summer, I recommend lying down in the middle of that patch on a sunny day and breathing deeply. Bracken gives off a sweet, spicy smell that is like lightly toasted hay.

This species has been shown to inhibit the growth of other plants through chemicals it exudes. So, once a bracken fern stand gets thick enough, little else grows near it.

Of the ferns I describe in this article, this is the one you don’t want to plant in your landscape. Like polypody ferns, this species dies back each year. But, unlike polypody ferns, this one leaves behind a massive amount of dead and dry leaves which are difficult to clean up. The old leaves are still well attached to their runners and, at the same time, are a fire hazard. Bracken fern shoots up new leaves right after wildfires, even when it otherwise seems quite dry.

(Bracken fern drawing provided via Wikimedia commons and made available via a Creative Commons share alike 4.0 international license.)

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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November 16

#321 / Name Those Billionaires!

That is Larry Page, pictured above. He is one of the co-founders of Google. He is also number six on a list, compiled by Forbes, of the 400 richest people in the country. I almost said “men,” but there are a few women on the list. Want to see the entire Forbes 400 list? Click right here!

If you’d like to pare it down a bit, and don’t have time to look through a listing of 400 people, you can use the following link for an article that is headlined, “80 California Billionaires Make Forbes 400 List Of Super Rich.” That’s where I got the picture of Larry Page.

I, personally, qualify as a “Native Son of the Golden West,” meaning that I was born in California, and when it comes to naming the billionaires, I always like to keep my focus local. I don’t need to keep track of every billionaire in the nation or the world. My envy and outrage can be confined to that list of eighty! Maybe you’re the same!

Actually, I like to think, I am not really that “envious” of the billionaires who have made that Forbes 400 listing (California-based or otherwise). A certain quotient of “outrage,” however, might be admitted.

For a nation of such great wealth, isn’t it something worthy of condemnation, not congratulation, that a rather short list of people controls such a large percentage of land, money, and everything else, including both personal celebrity and political influence?  I do have an “egalitarian” bias, I have to confess, based on my belief that we are “all in this together.”

Generally speaking, it seems to be natural to equate wealth with importance, but who is important, actually? My answer? EVERYONE is important.

We are, in fact – and it isn’t just a feel-good slogan – “in this together.” The enterprises and activities that have produced the wealth that is documented in these lists of the billionaires were not created and made successful ONLY by the persons who have ended up with the most money. Wouldn’t we all be better off if we were able to reduce the economic inequality that these lists of the billionaires document, and make sure the benefits of human ingenuity and activity were distributed to everyone – at least to the extent that everyone would could live a life that includes sufficient food, housing, health care, education, and safety?

That would seem fair to me, and that, at least, is what I suggest should be our economic, social, and political goal. We might start thinking of this as a “global” objective, too.

Such a more egalitarian distribution of the wealth that we all help produce isn’t going to happen, though, is it? Well, it certainly isn’t unless we change the rules.

And who makes the rules?

When I ask that question, I am back to that old Abe Lincoln prescription. Right near the end of the Civil War, which was fought to end a system of wealth acquisition based on slavery, Lincoln told us that the Civil War had been fought to ensure that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

OF the people, and BY the people means that we have to get involved in government ourselves. Personally!

I happen to know, from my own personal experience (in mostly a local context, I admit) that when more people get personally engaged in politics, in making the government do what most people want, in making the government do what we believe we need, the theoretical principle, articulated above (and which is hard to disagree with in principle) actually does work!

Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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November 21

SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES

So far this week, the wheels have stayed on despite the expected announcement of The Former Guy, tossing his hat into the ring for a third try at the office of president. Complicating his run is Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s dual investigation into The Don’s possession of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as his involvement in the planning and attempted overthrow of the election of Joe Biden as the rightful successor to the presidency with the insurrection on January 6, 2021. With the midterm elections past, the AG made his announcement that a veteran prosecutor, Jack Smith, would be handling the problematic explorations of wrong-doing, especially in light of Trump’s entry into the race. This should be a signal to Trump that he is in completely new territory…no more whacks across the knuckles with a ruler for him!

“The Department of Justice has long recognized that in certain extraordinary cases, it is in the public’s interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution,” Garland announced from the DOJ podium. Smith, who is a registered Independent, previously worked in the department’s public integrity section, before serving as the acting chief federal prosecutor in Nashville, TN during the Obama years, and is now coming from a stint as chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague while investigating international war crimes. Lacking a political party affiliation will serve to deter any interpretation of bias or partiality, though Trump immediately branded Smith as “a Trump hater,” as he joins this “continuing political witch hunt.” A Trump lackey called the appointment “a totally expected political stunt by a feckless politicized, weaponized Biden Department of Justice.”

“Throughout his career, Jack Smith has built a reputation as an impartial and determined prosecutor who leads teams with energy and focus to follow facts wherever they lead,” Garland said. “As special counsel, he will exercise independent prosecutorial judgement to decide whether charges should be brought. The extraordinary circumstances here demand it.” Smith’s statement through the Justice Department said he will do his work independently and “in the best traditions of the Department of Justice. The pace of the investigation will not pause or flag under my watch,” he promised. Smith will have authority to prosecute federal crimes resulting from his work, but the AG maintains final authority, and should he oppose any proposed investigative results from Smith, by federal law he is required to notify Congress. To many observers it seems that it’s a cut-and-dried case considering all the evidence revealed in press coverage, and particularly from the House Select Committee’s findings. If evidence doesn’t exist to file charges, “You have to be able to admit that if it’s not there, it’s not there,” Smith says. “I think that’s hard for people to do and having been a prosecutor for 15 years that is something I can do.”

Let’s hope Smith at the least considers two recent reports released by veteran prosecutors and top legal minds of these two ongoing probes, both reaching the same conclusion, that evidence exists to bring charges against the Orange One. The probe into his actions in Georgia to “find 11,780 votes”, and the mishandling of top secret documents taken to Mar-a-Lago upon his retreat from Washington, are seen as an ending to Trump’s evasion of accountability for his crimes. It took almost 500 pages to enumerate his likely state and federal transgressions such as soliciting to commit election fraud, violating state RICO acts, to espionage and obstruction of justice. “We conclude that Trump’s post-election conduct in Georgia leaves him at substantial risk of possible state charges predicated on multiple crimes,” declares a report from the Brookings Institution.

Just Security, a group made up of former prosecutors, found additional statutes to be considered in Trump’s mishandling of documents that would allow for his prosecution, just as anyone who has faced similar charges. “We determine there is strong precedent for the DOJ to charge Trump. There are many felony cases that the DOJ pursued based on conduct that was significantly less egregious than the present set of facts in the Trump case,” they wrote. “In short, we conclude that if Trump were not charged, it would be a major deviation from how defendants are typically treated.” Members of this group include former prosecutors who worked on the Mueller Report, saying that the former prez’s reluctance to return documents after a request to do so, which then resulted in a subpoena and consequently the FBI ‘raid’ only add to the significance of the case. All of which is further complicated by the number of highly sensitive documents, the length of time he chose to retain them, and his involvement of others in the handling of the materials.

The report finds at least 11 charges that could be brought as a result of Trump’s Georgia actions. In the Mar-a-Lago section of the report, three additional statutes could be considered beyond the original three in the government’s warrant, two of which address the resistance from Trump, to include criminal contempt and lying to authorities. The third, a statute that covers conversion of government property (good for ten years behind bars), would require the government to prove that a defendant converted or retained items for their own use. In true fashion, Trump denounced the FBI and DOJ in his candidacy speech, saying, “No threat is greater than the weaponization from the system, the FBI or the DOJ.”

These reports also respond to any likely defenses Trump might use – twenty pages dealing with Mar-a-Lago alone – such as his claim of personal items being taken, or claim of executive privilege, ad infinitum. Also dismissed in the Georgia case, is a possible defense that Trump genuinely believed he won the election and therefore has some immunity from prosecution, a concept solidly disproven by the House J6 Committee.

The Donald is attempting to block any legal challenges by his announcement, but he also sees his support within the GOP dwindling, which was impetus to shake up the troops and get early contributions that might otherwise go to campaigns of potential rivals. One consideration is that he needs to appear as a vocal leader after his midterm endorsed candidates had lackluster results, and his limited campaign appearances resulting from a number of candidate shunning his support. His favorable ratings were sinking before the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, after which his favorables dropped even more, instrumental in turning the predicted midterms ‘red wave’ into an ‘ebb tide.’

Let’s face it…nobody likes a loser who has never won the popular vote, even though his arrogance and his insolent down-with-the-libs style still speaks to the GOP. But, the Blitzkrieg Bozo had to step up before his floor collapsed, and now the party is affixed with an albatross they don’t want or need, with an infestation of hesitant cowards with no guts to step up and call the would-be emperor a phony frog-prince. Even the Parking Garage Hero of January 6, VP Mike Pence will only skirt the possibility that he and his family were endangered by the mob, saying that he was initially “angry” with his boss on that day, but his “Christian beliefs” have since tempered his feelings – call it ‘fear,’ Mikey. You’re not going to mess with the Albatross by criticizing him, or by showing your hand as you reach for the Golden Ring on his finger. Adherents of Florida’s ‘Coyote’ DeSantis keep tempting him to enter the fray as his poll percentages rise, and as he says, “Followers will walk across broken glass to see me.” Sure, Ron – just make sure you’re wearing your brogans and a bullet-proof vest when you bend over to kiss that ring – he shoots people on Fifth Avenue, you know!

New York Times columnist, Charles Blow, writes that Trump has learned through his failures, his close calls with the justice system, to become a better political predator, being more dangerous than ever now. He has learned that his supporters will support much of his disdain for the system, for women, and for the law, and he sees the necessity of severe loyalty tests, that grasping for power must come early in order to break the political system. A tight grip on those around him would be needed…no more wishy-washy ‘loyalists’ who won’t kowtow until the end, such as Mike Pence or Bill Barr, who questioned his authority. His belief that presidents should operate with impunity, which would invite corruption and total defiance of democracy; however, he has come to believe that though presidents aren’t too big to fail, they are too big to jail, and a Donald Trump free of prosecution is a Trump free to rampage with revenge. Blow says, “Not prosecuting Trump threatens the collapse of the entire political ecosystem and therefore the country.” 

So, until special counsel Jack Smith gets his investigation underway, we will have to rely on Republicans to face up to it: do they fall prey once again to the wiles of a narcissistic, sociopathic grifter? Or, despite the gravitational pull of the party’s base do they finally escape this rocket ride toward the darkness of another ‘lost in space with the Trump Syndicate’ era? “As an American, the idea of another Trump campaign with all of his lies and divisiveness and his efforts to undermine American democracy is an absolute horror show.” said Senator Bernie Sanders. “On the other hand, I got to say that as a politician who wants to see that no Republican is elected to the White House in 2024, his candidacy is probably a good thing.” Even the National Review presented its message to the GOP with, “Republicans: Trump is your problem. Wake up.”

Robert Harrington writes in The Palmer Report, “The GOP knows that Trump still has ratings with much of the low-information and brain-damaged part of the American constituency, and they are hell-bent on exploiting it. After all, those people do in fact vote, unfortunately.” He goes on to say, “Trump doesn’t merely live on toxic waste. He thrives on it…so many Americans love Donald Trump because he gives them permission to hate. They love hate and Trump is the only hate merchant in town. So they will continue to defend and protest this toxic little man because he’s the only one who will openly join them in their disgusting pastime.” He ends with, “That is the evil that faces us today. I think we can defeat them.”

A possible, but temporary, solution to our political problems may lie within this story: On a flight from Delhi to New York it was discovered after take-off, as flight attendants were readying meals for passengers that only 200 meals were mistakenly loaded for the 400 on board. An idea by one attendant was announced to the passengers, “Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t know how it happened, but we have over 400 people aboard, but only 200 dinners. Anyone kind enough to give up their meal to someone else, will receive unlimited free liquor for the duration of the flight!” Her next announcement six hours later: “Ladies and gentlemen, if anyone wants to change their mind, we still have 180 dinners available.” Moral of the story: People who like to drink, Democrat or Republican, have very kind hearts. Might work!?

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.

“Thanksgiving, part 2”

“My parents came from little, so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it.”   
~Meghan Markle

“Every year, I hear about Thanksgiving. Who do one give thanks to? … And who is giving thanks? What are they giving thanks for? For lots of poverty that’s on the earth and lots of war that is a-rumoring all over the earth? For lots of people who die daily and the crime that multiply?”     
~Peter Tosh

“We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all.”
~Anonymous

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I’m not sure what to say, other than this is pretty precious 🙂


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com
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November 16 – 22, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…election reactions, Stacey Falls on results and consequences, Nancy Abbey about Cuba, Paul Lee’s passing, looking at Lookout. GREENSITE…has gone to Cuba and will return soon. KROHN…will be back next week. STEINBRUNER…1000 new downtown residents, drinking sewage water, county general plan, Kaiser Med. Facility issues, Freedom Campus, builders remedy. HAYES…Human-non human compatibility. PATTON…Growth ? Good MATLOCK…A Red ripple and voting in the streets. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week: historical nuggets. QUOTES…”Thanksgiving”

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SOQUEL AND BRANCIFORTE STREETS December 20 1960.If you look closely you’ll see that high octane gas was 34.9 per gallon and regular was 30.9 per gallon. Note also the tree filled mountain tops that are in view. Those were the days.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE November 14

LOCAL ELECTION REACTIONS.      

One way or the other Santa Cruz, well a disappointingly small part of Santa Cruz, has spoken. Nagging minds will forever debate whether it was home owners versus renters, or long timers versus Silicon Valley half residents, or maybe students versus locals, but we took a setback no matter how you read it. The pro-growth city council aided and abetted by officials like Lee Butler will have our skyline rising beyond belief. Butler was interviewed on KZSC’s Bushwhackers program and stated that we have no hope in controlling growth because the State mandates that we grow. What he and so many of our “leaders” are failing to do is to fight and amend those state mandates like many, many other cities continue to do. We can control growth but only if we elect the right people. Fred Keeley, our new mayor, will take some close watching to see where and how he comes down on development. He’s got a huge interest in the Warriors property and as a semi-permanent Mayor he’ll have a lot of persuasive moves to make

STACEY FALLS RELATES TO OUR VOTING LAST TUESDAY.

Stacey Falls is and has been a staunch supporter of what’s best for Santa Cruz. She wrote this piece for a FB page last week.

“great. santa cruz voted based on real estate interests. we decided that rich people who own mansions that they visit a few weeks of the year don’t need to help out our housing crisis in any way. we decided that the pretty white landlady who skips more city council meetings than all the other councilmembers combined can just keep doing her thing. and our new mayor is a rich, white, straight guy (also a landlord) who danced on his chair when the empty home tax failed.

we used to have a city council that had 0 white men, and we just elected two old white men to the council, voting down the only hispanic to run in years.

come on santa cruz. is this really the city we want to be? we just went 30 years back in time”.

OUT LOOK FOR LOOKOUT continues. Many folks have noticed the number of writers who have left Lookout now the rumor grows about Lookout quitting after the end of this month. Though its Hat’s Off to Wallace Baine and the piece he did on Paul Lee’s demise. It is detailed, heartfelt and pretty thorough.

NANCY ABBEY ABOUT CUBA.
Nancy Abbey, one-time Santa Cruz activist and long-time advocate for normalizing relations with Cuba, now lives in Maui surrounded by family and enjoying a view of Molokai . She sent these comments that are well worth reading and working on…It’s about our ascribing the poverty in Cuba to socialism and the poverty in other countries as just poverty.

“I’m increasingly frustrated with the spin given by even the most liberal of political commentators when it comes to describing immigrants. Consistently, without fear of contradictions, immigrants who come from economically struggling countries are described as fleeing poverty – except for Cuba.  Cubans they say are fleeing communism.

Are they? Or are they fleeing the food shortages and the substandard living conditions that must be attributed to a major extent on the 60 year blockade as much, or more than, their economic system? After all, reducing the island to the lowest possible economic level – humans be damned in the process – is the entire purpose of the decades long policy.

If Cubans are fleeing communism, why aren’t Mexicans, Haitians, Guatemalans, Asians and Filipinos fleeing capitalism? Aren’t they fleeing an economic system that isn’t working for them?

There’s a subtle message here that’s easily ignored by readers and listeners and woven into the accepted belief in this country that Cubans flee communism. In reality, Cubans don’t flee the abject poverty and violence of developing countries, but they come to this country for the economic promise held out to them by a government that welcomes them with open arms, greets them with a monthly stipend, eases their path to a green card and, ultimately, to citizenship.

Do Cubans enjoy the political freedom we do?  No, they don’t. With a major enemy 90 miles from its shores, political freedom is curtailed to an extent greater than ours. (One does have to ask though, if Iraq and Iran were 90 miles away, would someone advocating for the Taliban be free to walk the streets? Or, wait a sec – are they free to do that now?)

Contrary to popular belief here, dissidents do live and operate in Cuba until they cross the line to work with the U.S., and Cubans complain non-stop without fearing reprisal. Were in-the-street protestors last October met with a police crackdown? Yes.  Were they protesting their government? Yes. They were angry about blackouts, shortages of food and medicine, and they blamed their government because their government is supposed to assure a decent standard of living.

Were they protesting communism?  I wouldn’t pretend to answer that question. Do we protest capitalism when we march in the streets?”.

PAUL LEE IS GONE! Santa Cruz won’t be the same now that Paul Lee passed on to the next place last week. He had great ideas and those ideas changed our community in a very good way. His teaching at UCSC, his support of the homeless, his restaurant in the old Cooper House, leading the Penny University and dozens more will never be and can’t be forgotten.

I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). A serious story from a book about a very young girl who was deserted by her family and forced to live her life known as the Marsh Girl. Perfectly acted by Daisy Edgar-Jones and aided by David Strathairn as her attorney its deep, colorful, and threatening as she learns how to cope with the few humans in her life plus a murder.  The ending is a shocker and it’s very worthwhile watching.

THE CROWN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.7 IMDB). This is the fifth (that’s 5!!!) season of this Queen Elizabeth saga and it does lack something. We Americans (and much of the world) have always been so fascinated by the British throne and surroundings so we watch anything and everything about those royals. Here we watch Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s marriage remain in hell especially having Dominic West playing Charles. He just isn’t right for the part, but watch it anyways just to get one more take on all the sadness and mistakes the royals make decade after decade.

CICI (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.3 IMDB). A Turkish movie that starts off in black and white and goes to full color as the movie works hard to reveal the terrible intra family relationships between father and mother and all their children and relatives. It’s depicted as some of the relatives reunite while they attempt to film their own movie of their families past. Its slow moving, flips from present to their past many times and even gets confusing and requires careful paying attention.

BANSHEES OF INISHERIN. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (8.2 IMDB). A nearly perfect movie that I would give many Academy Awards to. First of all to Colin Farrell who plays a longtime friend to the older Brendan Gleeson. These two guys live on a very small fictional island off the coast of Ireland and suddenly Gleeson tells Farrell he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. It baffles Colin and all of their friends on the island. It’s a deep but nearly humorous self-inspection that Colin goes through that makes us all relate to our own friendships. Well worth watching and admiring such talent.

ROBBING MUSSOLINI. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.5 IMDB). This silly movie starts off with a bunch of thugs from Milan trying to decide and plot how to steal Benito Mussolini’s wartime treasures back in 1945. Then 10 minutes into the plot it turns to cartoons and Marvel Comics tricks and lost me completely. I stopped it after 25 minutes.

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.

ENOLA HOLMES 2. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.9 IMDB). This is take 2 about Sherlock Holme’s sister Enola. Henry Cavill is back as Sherlock and it’s a semi-serious comic look at how Enola Holmes solves crimes and she looks at the camera a lot which was clever once or twice. Helena Bonham Carter has a small role, and it’ll take your mind off politics.

GOD FORBID. (HULU MOVIE) (6.9 IMDB). An amazing shocking beautifully done documentary about Jerry Falwell’s fall from power and his secret sex life. It covers Falwell’s Christian church manipulations and digs right into his relationship with Donald Trump and the whole Florida fiasco…don’t miss it, you’ll be surprised.

BLOCKBUSTER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (5.4 IMDB). There really is one Blockbuster Store left open and running but this isn’t in this simple minded comedy. It’ simple minded not clever and I’m not sure why it was produced. Don’t waste your time.

THE PERIPHERAL. (PRIME SERIES) (8.4 IMDB). Chloe Grace Moretz is always a pleasure to watch and she’s the lead in this trippy sci-fi adventure. It’s just outside of London in 2090 and she has a brother who obtains nerve bending headsets that projects Chloe into simulations that will keep you very near the edge of your seat.

THE WHITE LOTUS. (HBO SERIES) (8.4 IMDB). Back again with a new locale and almost all new cast set in Sicily. Again it’s about tourists staying in a fancy hotel and some dead bodies are discovered. Jennifer Coolidge returns as the extra-large and outgoing married babe with issues. Intrigue and suspicions bounce around and there’s lots of Italian scenery to look at as well as the very clever twisted plot.

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.9 IMDB). If you’ve seen the original 1930 movie from the book by Erich Maria Remarque you’ll almost recognize many, many of the bloody cruel scenes all over again. There’s little plot except to show us once again just how pointless and evil war has and will always be. It’s in German and centers on World War I and how it ended. Excellent and 5 thumbs up!!

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Gillian is in Cuba and will return shortly

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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(Chris is covering the UC Strike and will be back next week)

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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November 14

1000’S MORE COMING TO DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ

If you haven’t been in downtown Santa Cruz lately, you may be amazed by what you see happening near Front Street and Laurel.  Here is what’s coming…

Six Blocks: Downtown redo aims for 1,000s of new residents, 6 multistory buildings — and revived riverfront

This is only the beginning….

LAST CHANCE FOR YOUR COMMENT ON DRINKING TREATED SEWAGE WATER 

Finally, the Soquel Creek Water District website has information about the important December 1 Virtual Public Hearing for the Title 22 Recycled Water Engineering Report

The Virtual Public Hearing will open at 5:30pm to review the critical 1552-page document that essentially outlines the PureWater Soquel Project with environmental analysis that should have been done long ago before embarking on this cost-inflated Project.

Will it work?  Recently, District Director Bruce Jaffe admitted he’s not sure.

Read through this important information if you care about what the PureWater Soquel Project will do to our drinking water supply.  Note that Public Comment period ends December 8.

SANTA CRUZ CITY COUNCIL WILL CONSIDER NEW WATER SUPPLY PROJECTS NOVEMBER 29

Last Monday (11/7), the Santa Cruz City Water Commission heard the final presentations regarding potential water supply augmentation projects to provide water during future droughts.  The group approved the recommendation to present a very lengthy Resolution to the City Council that includes a palette of possible projects, including desalination and using treated sewage water from the PureWater Soquel Project or a new independent treatment plant at the wastewater treatment plant.

The cost of the option to inject treated sewage water into the aquifer was the most expensive…over $10,000/AcreFoot.  Wow.

Listen to the excellent presentations about the project options (minute 1:16 or so) and the stark Curtailment Goals (minute 2:07)

The interesting issue raised was just how much sewage water would Soquel Creek Water District be allowed if the District doubles the production volume of recycled water to share with the City of Scotts Valley (via a new pipe along Graham Hill Road)?

Please plan to participate in the November 29 City Council review of this important question….”Where will the water for all the future development come from?”

TWO PUBLIC HEARINGS FOR THE SANTA CRUZ COUNTY GENERAL PLAN UPDATE

The first of two public hearings for the sweeping changes our County General Plan will see come before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, November 15.  The second hearing is happening December 6.

Get Involved

Take a look at the notable Impacts this new General Plan would cause (beginning on page 11)

*Significant loss of farm land (page 12)

*Significant loss of riparian habitat by dense development at Thurber Lane /Soquel Drive (page 14)

*Significant loss of historic structures (page 16)

*Significant and unavoidable traffic congestion and increased vehicle miles travelled (page 24 and 25)

But take a look at this on page 20!

Impact HYD-2: Groundwater. Adoption and implementation of the proposed Sustainability Update would not directly or indirectly substantially decrease groundwater supplies or interfere substantially with groundwater recharge such that the project may impede sustainable groundwater management of the basin.  NO IMPACT???

But this is reversed on page 25:

Impact UTL-2: Water Supplies. Adoption and implementation of the proposed Sustainability Update could lead to development that could result in future increased demand for domestic water supplies, but two existing providers (City of Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek Water District) may not have sufficient water supplies available to serve the development indirectly resulting from implementation of the Sustainability Update and reasonably foreseeable future development during normal, dry, and multiple years

Maybe the plan is to have everyone drinking treated sewage water by then…

The Final EIR is worth reading, especially the Comment Letters.  Amazingly, there were only 14 submitted for this massive document that will change the face and feeling of our County.  Of note, the comment sent by AMBAG Planner Heather Adamson leads one to believe that the Plan would build even more than what AMBAG is mandating (see page 66)

And on page 68:

While the projected growth in the Draft EIR is this greater than AMBAG’s population forecast, the growth rate resulting from the project would continue to be consistent with historic growth rates and the County’s Measure J annual growth rates as discussed on Draft EIR pages 4.13-13 to 4.13-15. As indicated, the proposed Sustainability Update could accommodate an increase of approximately 4,500 new dwelling units between 2020 and 2040, which could generate approximately 11,385 new residents based on the average household size in unincorporated Santa Cruz County. This estimate provides a worst-case scenario of theoretical maximum project buildout for the purposes of CEQA analysis, and it is not known whether this growth would actually occur. 

Santa Cruz City Water Dept. Manager Rosemary Menard did well to gently suggest the EIR Hydrology section should include discussion of the County Water Quality Ordinance (Chapter 16.24) (see page 71)

Read the interesting Comment Letter from the Coastal Commission (page 86-87) pointing out that the proposed annexation and dense development to the west of Watsonville, near the Pajaro Valley High School, would violate the MOU with the Commission that was made when the new school was approved. “The objective of making any changes at all is unclear.”  “…and would not serve anyone well.”  The Coastal Commission recommended all land use changes in areas west of Watsonville be dropped.

Read the Comment Letter from California Highway Patrol opposing the reduction in the amount of lanes on Portola Drive. (page 105)  The Consultant dismissed the opposition, because the Kimley-Horn consultant study said it will all work just fine.  Hmmmm….

Participate in these public hearings, as overwhelming as they may seem, because this is what is shaping the future of our neighborhoods.

KAISER MEDICAL OFFICE PROJECT HEARING LIKELY DECEMBER 14 TO PLANNING COMMISSION

As usual, many large critical projects are flooding in during the upcoming holiday season.  If you are concerned about the impacts of the proposed 4-story Kaiser Medical facility and attendant four-story 700+ car parking garage in Live Oak, keep your calendar open for December 14.  The County Planning Commission will be reviewing this massive project then in a morning virtual meeting.

Here is link to the Plans

No public transportation service there?  Hmmm…..

Based on this comprehensive contamination assessment of the site, there will have to be a lot of remediation, possibly involving contamination monitoring of the shallow groundwater table

NEW LARGE COUNTY FREEDOM CAMPUS QUIETLY MOVING FORWARD

Very soon, the former site of the County Courthouse on Freedom Blvd. in Watsonville could become a two-story complex, with 160 residential units filling up the five acres that once housed the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake survivors in over 100 FEMA trailers.

I happened to find the extensive environmental review for this Project, whose CEQA public comment period quietly ended on Halloween.

The site is potentially archaeologically-sensitive, relating to Native American uses of the nearby Corralitos Creek area.  Local tribal leaders requested to be involved in any ground disturbing construction activity. (see page 44 and page 144)

I do wonder why Rincon consultants have seemingly copy-and-pasted certain aspects of this CEQA document in a rather sloppy fashion, evidenced on page 60 with a discussion about Bonny Doon geologic hazards??  Hmmm….

And imagine this:

Policy 7.18.2. Written Commitments Confirming Water Service Required for Permits. Concurrent with project application, require a written commitment from the water purveyor that verifies the capability of the system to serve the proposed development. Projects shall not be approved in areas that do not have a proven, adequate water supply. 

The Rincon Consultants do not really address whether or not there is water available for this large new County Government Freedom Campus facility, merely describing the sewage treatment facility existence. But here is a shocking tidbit of information from page 154:

In the City’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan, it was determined that the City’s 2020 water consumption was 87 gallons per capita per day (City of Watsonville 2020). Wow.  That’s nearly double the per capita water use of other areas of the County.

Hmmmm….

Well, never mind.  The consultants deemed the Project deserves a Mitigated Negative Declaration and will move forward.

Here’s the description, with no mention that the existing Master Gardeners’ Teaching Garden will be obliterated.

The Master Plan would involve a multi-stage redevelopment of the project site, including demolition of all six existing on-site buildings, construction of up to one or more new health services and other County buildings that would consolidate existing County health services and other County uses, and designate an approximately four-acre portion of the site for residential development consisting of one or more residential buildings with a combined total of up to 160 housing units. The building or buildings would be two stories in height, with an average floor-to-floor height of 15 feet and a total building height of approximately 35 feet. Regardless of the number of buildings, the building(s) would comprise a total of 70,000 to 85,000 square feet. Up to 5,000 square feet of the building(s) would be dedicated to community-serving uses, which may include but would not be limited to a community teaching kitchen and a multi-purpose community room. The project would also involve providing on-site parking for the health service building or buildings. Parking would be either surface parking or a new parking garage, or a combination of both.

WHAT THE NEW STATE-MANDATED HOUSING CONSTRUCTION MEANS FOR THE UNINCORPORATED AREAS OF SANTA CRUZ COUNTY

Last Wednesday, the County Planning Commission heard a clear report from the new Senior Planner, Mr. Matthew Sundt, about the new State-mandated housing construction numbers the County will be required to get built by 2031.  It was sobering.

This big stick is known as the Regional Housing Number Allocation (RHNA).  Contrived by regional agencies for each area of the State, the goal is to require all cities and counties to “build their fair share” of housing, especially affordable housing, for what the State determines is the likely future demand.  In our area, the Association of Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) did that formulation for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties and cities within, based on economic development models, but who knows exactly how those forecasts were developed?

Under the new RHNA 6th Cycle requirements, any vacant and “underutilized” parcels that have been on the books as such for the last 15 years and not built upon will not be allowed to be included for consideration to meet the new mandated dense building areas.

By December 15, 2023, Santa Cruz County has to have all vacant and/or “underutilized” parcels rezoned for dense infill housing, with taller buildings, larger Floor Area Ratio (aka, less green and open space likely and small trees to replace the large ones cut down) and the Board of Supervisors must have it all approved.

The report lists a timeline and “we intend to stick to it” said Mr. Sundt, showing the County Planning staff inventorying all parcels in the Unincorporated Area and within the Urban Services Line to see what is vacant or “underutilized”.

“Builder’s Remedy” would allow any developer with a Project that meets code and CEQA (which the County always declares “exempt”) would have AUTOMATIC APPROVAL of their Project upon submitting the application.  No public hearings.  Just imagine what a heyday Barry Swenson would have.

NO one addressed any of my questions.  It was an informational item only, so the Commission took no action.  I phoned Mr. Sundt afterward to again ask my questions, but added one: “Will the County consider using eminent domain at all to achieve these RHNA housing numbers be met on these vacant or underutilized parcels to be identified?”  His quick answer was “NO.”

He said he knew nothing of the sewer hook-up moratorium in the Rodeo Gulch Basin area of Live Oak, the area targeted for dense in-fill tall buildings.  He had mentioned to the Commission, but did not explain, the use of a “Wisdom Council” concept to gain public acceptance of these shockingly massive developments, currently focused on Pleasure Point.  This is something new that Chair Manu Koenig proposed and the Board approved unanimously to try in an effort to bring the public onboard.   Mr. Sundt took time to explain to me how the Healthy Democracy consultants had assembled the panels in Eugene, Oregon and Petaluma, CA, then said he needed to get back to work.

I later learned that Mr. Sundt was the former Planning Director for the City of Gonzales, and successfully annexed 1,300 acres with a goal of building 6,200 residential units there.  Wow.  He began his work for Santa Cruz County Planning Dept. just three months ago. Here is his LinkedIn profile

Read Mr. Sundt’s staff report about the RHNA numbers coming our way

COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION MEETINGS RESUME IN-PERSON ON JANUARY, 2023

For those who like to see slide presentations and feel that looking Commissioners in the eye when you speak with them is important, take heart.  According to the report given at last Wednesday’s County Planning Commission, those in-person meetings will resume next January.

Call-in option will be kept available for the public but all Commissioners must be in-person.  It will be interesting to see who will represent Districts 3 and 4, with the new Supervisors in place.

WATCH THE RIVER RISE IN THE NEXT RAIN

When it rains, I enjoy watching and listening to the rivers and creeks swell. Here’s a way you can watch those levels from your computer, rather than the riverbank

Let’s hope for some good rains, in measured amounts.

How will you save some of the rainwater for later use in your landscape?  That’s something we all can do, and that local water agencies need to do, given the information of Climate Change models showing less frequent storms but more intense rain when they do arrive.

THE LIBRARY THAT WILL HAVE NO BOOKS OR LIBRARIAN CONTINUES UNDERWAY

The Live Oak Library Annex, being funded by Measure S Library tax money, is moving along, blocking access to the Simpkins Swim Center and existing community spaces.

How can anyone ever accept this can be called a “Library” when there will be no books or library staff available?  This is precisely what the Grand Jury asked in their investigation

BALLOTS ARRIVE IN A DARK PARKING LOT, HALLWAYS EMPTY

I used to take my young children to the County Building on Election Night to watch the ballots come in from polling stations.  There were floodlights to secure the area, and Poll Managers had to show ID as they entered and turned over the precious boxes of votes.  The basement hallway was buzzing with activity, checking in and verifying the locations of the polling stations and the people handling the boxes of ballots.  It was exciting, and meaningful.

Things have changed.

Last week, my daughter and I went to the County Building as the polls closed on Election Day, having observed at a couple of the Vote Centers.  The parking lot was mostly dark.  A solitary security guard was guarding the first floor entrance to the building as the vehicles filled with boxes of votes pulled up to the nearby basement entrance.  There, the hallway was empty:

Up on the third floor, tables set up in the hallway were ready, with a few volunteers opening boxes and verifying Vote Center origins.  The busiest action was in the room where scanned ballots had irregularities and had to be adjudicated.  A team of two worked at lightning speed, their split-second decisions visible to observers from the hallway monitors.

Having watched new voter after new voter enter the Voting Centers we had observed (one Station had averaged 6-10 voters in a day but got nearly 400 on Election Day) register to vote on the spot but showing no proof of ID made me wonder about whether our Country is doing all it can to preserve the importance of secure informed voting while supporting the ability to vote?

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A VIRTUAL PUBLIC HEARING IN YOUR PAJAMAS. ASK THOUGHTFUL, INFORMED QUESTIONS AND DEMAND MEANINGFUL ANSWERS.

TAKE A BOUQUET OF FLOWERS AND A RAIN GAUGE TO A FRIEND.

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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November 14

HUMAN-NON-HUMAN COMPATIBILITY

How is it that we humans can be more compatible with the many non-humans around Santa Cruz? This was the theme recently when I joined hundreds of others to experience Chris Eckstrom’s and Frans Lanting’s fascinating illustrated discussion of their newest project ‘The Bay of Life.’ That experience made me think more about how we live in this super-biodiversity hotspot and how we might be more responsible and compassionate in our day-to-day lives.

Compatibility Histories

Peregrine falcon, California condor, whales, sea otters, and mountain lions: all examples of species that have rebounded after humans realized how to be more compatible with them. It took Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to catalyze a movement leading to the ban (in the US, but alas not elsewhere) of DDT, a pesticide responsible for the thinning of bird eggshells, resulting in the endangerment of many bird species.

There is a more recent history of toxin control for bird species. Because of the work of dedicated scientists and regulators at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California recently banned lead bullets for hunting. After DDT was banned, lead was the major threat to the recovery of the California condor. This toxic metal was causing terrible health impacts to condors who scavenged animals that had been shot by hunters.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act along with work by the Sea Shepard and Greenpeace has gone a long way to bringing back whales on our central coast. Sea otters also benefited from that Act, recovering so well that we are discovering behaviors never seen before like using the Elkhorn Slough as their favorite nursery…leading to a possibility that they’ll further recover in the extensive tidal wetlands of the San Francisco Bay.

In 1990, a state law passed banning sport hunting of mountain lions, which were elevated to being ‘candidate’ species in 2020- meaning they receive protection as if they are endangered until the State makes that finding. Mountain lion conservation is a very modern effort by leaders in nonprofit conservation organizations working with scientists and the State to create laws that protect the species.

Current Compatibility Efforts

There are important things occurring right now that are improving upon the historic legacy of human compatibility with non-humans. The Highway 17 wildlife tunnel has just been completed and wildlife are already making tracks in the loose soil under the highway. This allows wildlife to move safely from the southern Santa Cruz Mountains to the north, improving the ability for mountain lions specifically to move around to hunt and to get fresh bloodlines to avoid inbreeding depression. The tunnel will allow other species to move past Highway 17, including deer, which will reduce highway accidents that can also kill and injure humans.

New measures are being taken to protect whales, as well. This year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife restricted the timing of crab fishing to ensure safe passage of blue and humpback whales, orcas, and leatherback turtles which have been entangled in the trap equipment and died. There is some talk about new ‘whale safe’ technology to be used for trapping crabs.

Another notable wildlife compatibility effort underway is by the private, nonprofit conservation partners managing the San Vicente Redwoods property in northern Santa Cruz County. The property will soon be open to the public who can visit newly created trails. This is the first time in our region that recreational use of a natural area will be governed by a modern carrying capacity analysis that defines limits of acceptable change. If those limits are surpassed, the land managers will change their approaches to address the issues. For instance, if a certain number of recreationalists do not abide by restrictions limiting their visitation to the ‘open’ areas of the park, the property managers may limit or close visitation; they may also delay opening of more trails until the unauthorized uses come into control.

Future Compatibility Needs

The Bay of Life presentation covered much of what I outline above and closed by featuring a series of speakers from local conservation organizations. Each of those speakers asked for public support to better address human-nonhuman compatibility issues around the Monterey Bay. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County focused on redesigning agriculture to have less toxic runoff and more wildlife-friendly buffers in the southern parts of the county. Watsonville Wetlands Watch focused on urban tree planting as a way to address climate change while providing more shade and habitat. The National Marine Sanctuary asked for volunteers to monitor wildlife and recreation compatibility on the Bay. And yet, these actions are a fraction of what needs to happen if we are to have healthy wildlife populations for future generations in our region.

Pesticides, Toxic Runoff, and Trash

Not enough has occurred to ensure that our agricultural systems are compatible with wildlife. For instance, more work is necessary to assure that pesticides are used in ways that are compatible with non-human animals. Fungicides and neonicotinoid pesticides have been shown to impact non-human animals such as monarch butterflies, which have plummeted in numbers in recent years.  The US EPA doesn’t have the political support it needs to address the huge backlog of pesticide reviews in cue. Runoff from agriculture continues to carry massive amounts of nutrients into the Elkhorn Slough each day, poisoning habitats and leading to the degradation of marsh soils. As I previously reported in this column, urban pollution from roadways and cityscapes is often very poisonous during ‘first flush’ – and yet, there is little enforcement by the Central Coast Regional Water Board of water quality standards to address these issues.

Trash is an ongoing issue for wildlife. Out in Monterey Bay, marine life gets entangled in trash and eats indigestible plastic clogging their digestive tracks. On land, condors feed bits of plastic to their chicks who can starve with their stomachs full of trash. As much as we ask volunteers to clean beaches, I watch trash hauling trucks from the City of Santa Cruz spewing trash out their back going to the dump every day. Many people seem careless about their trash at local beaches and in their backyards. More needs to be done.

More Habitat Connectivity

There is a need for more wildlife movement across our landscape, and habitat connectivity needs to account for more than just large creatures. Wildlife connectivity projects are planned for Highway 101 near Prunedale, Highway 101 north of Morgan Hill and along Highway 17 towards Los Gatos. These will be tunnels or wildlife bridges, and these projects will join the many popping up across the world. Those projects need to be designed so that plants, insects, amphibians, and all manner of life can move through them: climate change will require migration of many species. Also, bridges and tunnels are not enough for species like badgers and salamanders that will still try crossing roads unless they are guided to crossing points using fencing or other means.

Core Habitat Management

Crossing roads is a big issue, but it’s not enough. Wildlife needs core habitat areas, but we often do not know how to design those core habitat areas or how to manage them once they are set aside. Referring again to the San Vicente Redwoods property, the private conservation group landowners have designed what they hope will be a sanctuary for mountain lions, with no public access. They hope that they can manage to keep recreational users out so that mountain lions keep using that habitat to raise their young, but only time will tell.

The preserve area at San Vicente Redwoods is the only place in the Santa Cruz Mountains designed specifically to protect core habitat for wildlife. There will likely need to be more of these kinds of wildlife sanctuaries – managed and enforced to keep recreational visitors out. That will likely mean closing areas to visitors that currently have either renegade or legal trails: this will take a lot of public support that isn’t currently organized. Hopefully, we can learn more about which animals are sensitive to visitation and how to design and manage core habitat for their use. Can you think of a single environmental organization in our region that would champion this cause in public parks? I can’t.

What You Can Do

I hope that you will work to help humans be more compatible with nature. Clean up every bit of trash you see, make sure you aren’t contributing to toxic runoff or pesticide use, don’t use renegade trails on conservation lands, and only hunt with legal, non-lead bullets.

Political support is also important. Support political candidates that publicly support environmental regulations to protect our air, water, soil, and wildlife needs. Politicians and environmental groups that champion wildlife protection, habitat connectivity, and ways to reverse climate change deserve your time or financial support. Working together, we can keep the momentum to become more compatible with nature in the super biodiversity hotspot we call home.

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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November 9

#314 / Growth ? Good

For the twenty years that I served as an elected Member of the Board of Supervisors in Santa Cruz County, California (from 1975 to 1995), I was known as the guy who didn’t want more “growth.” I led the fight to set aside important environmental areas, and to ban developments that could damage them. I led the fight to prevent any development of economically productive agricultural lands. In lots of ways, I was the “No Growth” candidate and the “No Growth” public official.

The person pictured above, Herman Daly, who died on October 28th this year, and whose obituary was published today in The New York Times, was a respected economist. Daly took a similar “no growth” position. I was happy to read his thoughts in the Sunday, July 24, 2022, edition of The New York Times Magazine, in one of David Marchese’s “Talk” columns.

Online, the conversation between Marchese and Daly is titled, “This Pioneering Economist Says Our Obsession With Growth Must End.” The paywall gods permitting, I hope you’ll be able to read the entire thing for yourself. Here is one, brief excerpt:

Historically we think that economic growth leads to higher standards of living, lower death rates and so on. So don’t we have a moral obligation to pursue it? In ecological economics, we’ve tried to make a distinction between development and growth. When something grows, it gets bigger physically by accretion or assimilation of material. When something develops, it gets better in a qualitative sense. It doesn’t have to get bigger. An example of that is computers. You can do fantastic computations now with a small material base in the computer. That’s real development. And the art of living is not synonymous with “more stuff.” People occasionally glimpse this, and then we fall back into more, more, more.

Bottom line? Just like my headline says: “Growth ? Good.”

Accelerating global temperatures make clear the importance of this lesson:

Learn or Burn

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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November 14

A RED RIPPLE AND VOTING IN THE STREETS

Delusion, confusion, contusions, and transfusions…all descriptive terms for our pre- and post-mid-term election conditions. The organized and well-funded legal challenges by Republicans prior to the election over voter registration, voter access, voting machines, and procedures with mail-in ballots seemed to have so far been less successful for them than desired. Party leaders and allies are likely preparing challenges to the results as they search for evidence of shenanigans; and, as Benjamin Ginsberg, co-chair of the Election Official Legal Defense Network says, “Republicans charge fraud. Democrats charge suppression. Each side amplifies its position with massive and costly amounts of litigation and messaging.”

The Republican National Committee’s  ‘election integrity team,’ with its 37 lawyers in designated states, has trained a volunteer group to look for voter fraud, and has filed 73 lawsuits in 20 of those key states. RNC Chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, maintains that this team ensured that November’s vote was “free, fair and transparent.” As if they weren’t in the past, Ronna? Needless to say, Trump’s America First Legal which is run by the Orange One’s advisor, Stephen Miller, is in the midst of the scrimmage to contest results, as they continue their assault on democracy. These attacks go on despite the futility of the multitude of lawsuits filed by DJT’s crack team prior to and after the 2020 election, which then went on to become the catchword, the maxim, of the GOP to cry foul.

The Democrats have attempted to encourage registration and voting, assisting those who have been denied through intimidation, misinformation and delay by election officials, or threats and aggressiveness of ‘observers‘ at ballot drop box locations, or polling places. Elections workers themselves have been vilified and abused with threats of violence, have been followed and intimidated for doing their duty. On Election Day, the Oklahoma ACLU had several reports that poll workers in Oklahoma County and Cleveland County were telling voters to simply vote a straight party ticket, an option provided on that state’s ballots. Although the ACLU contacted all county election boards requesting they remind poll workers not tell voters how to vote or who to vote for, the Oklahoma State Election Board has made no public comment. However, the final vote tallies show not the slightest tinge of blue…go figure!

Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, Laurence H. Tribe, weighed in this week on the attempt to thwart the vote by Republicans. “It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Republican officials, too often abetted by federal judges appointed by Republican presidents, are making up technicalities enabling them to shred mostly Democratic ballots,” he says in an essay printed by the LA Times. By urging their supporters to spurn voting by mail and waiting until Election Day to vote in person, Republican officials have begun an effort to disqualify thousands of mail-in ballots in their scheme to disenfranchise voters through phony technicalities, who in all likelihood voted for the opposition. Michigan’s Republican candidate for secretary of state sought to toss out absentee ballots not cast in person by someone with a valid ID, was unable to offer a legitimate reason for doing so, leading any rational observer to conclude that it was targeted at the heavily Democratic, majority-Black city of Detroit – not the entire state. Tribe fears that technicalities of judicial timing and procedure will be piled atop technicalities of voting administration, all of which are directed toward tripping up Democratic voters, with the current judiciary wearing away our right to vote, the very foundation of American democracy.

With recently announced election results from Arizona and Nevada, Democrats will retain control of the US Senate, leaving Senator Joe Manchin out in the cold for the time being. The cliffhanger runoff election in Georgia, between Walker and Warnock is important but doesn’t hold the significance it had initially. Senator Rick Scott, the head of the campaign arm to elect GOP senators called the 2022 midterms a “complete disappointment for the party, with the predicted ‘Red Wave’ being a ‘Red Ripple.” Scott told Sean Hannity on Fox News that the tsunami of GOP voters simply did not turn out in sufficient numbers to counteract the Dems. With the constant criticism of President Biden and his administration, the GOP failed to offer a positive vision with which voters could identify, “we have to have a plan of what we stand for.” History has not been kind to sitting presidents in maintaining their power in the Congress, but this year defied the conventional wisdom, even with Biden’s low approval ratings and a frustrated electorate faced with an unmerciful economy. Perhaps Senator Mitch McConnell’s early campaign comment regarding “candidate quality” was spot-on? What say, Mitch? And, perhaps Senator Scott should have stuffed a sock in it before spouting that, “We have to do everything we can to help Herschel.” What’cha say, Mitch?

The story with the US House of Representatives is meeting expectations of control by the GOP, thanks in part to something much more mechanical than polling or historical patterns, with a nod toward a Republican majority being able to redraw district boundaries following the 2020 census. So, if current results hold the GOP will have control of the 435 seat body, led by Rep. Kevin McCarthy if he has his druthers. The state of Florida ended up redrawing a whole new districting map, approved by its legislature and signed by the governor, which in the end also gave them an extra district. Coupled with Governor DeSantis‘ overwhelming win over Charlie Crist, the state became a king-maker of sorts, sending a coattail-contingent to be seated in the House.

Four other states – Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Ohio – were allowed to use contested maps for this election cycle, even though significant legal challenges and outright recognition that legal requirements were violated – rulings that alone would have assured extra Republican seats. In Louisiana, a judge had rejected that state’s redrawn maps, pointing out the state’s history of disenfranchising Black voters; enter the US Supreme Court to block the judge’s order, a similar move to one they had approved in Alabama, both of which in essence had shuffled Black voters into districts that would lessen their voting power.

Taking much of the blame for the poor showing of the GOP is The Orange Albatross himself, who saw many of his endorsed candidates fall to Democrats (see Mitch McConnell’scandidate quality’ comment). Pennsylvania’s voters rejected Dr. Mehmet Oz, who Trump had supported (and was it Melania’s and Hannity’s fault that he was led astray on this endorsement?), but his early support of “ass-kissing” author J.D. Vance led to a successful Ohio election victory over Tim Ryan. The Don’s support of Adam Laxalt of Nevada was not sufficient to ward off a Catherine Cortez Masto senate victory, nor was support of Blake Masters effective in keeping Mark Kelly from returning to Washington. At of this writing, the Arizona governorship is still hanging, with Democrat Katie Hobbs maintaining a one percentage-point lead over Republican, and Marjorie-Taylor-Greene-wannabe, Kari Lake. Will she, or won’t she, accept defeat?

More hand-wringing is probably evident in GOP circles, than in Democrat environs about the pending candidacy of the former president. Republican leaders, and the Orange One’s own staff have cautioned him about declaring a run for the presidency before the New Year, or even before the midterms have been put to bed. When did this man-child ever listen to rational advice? With his declining popularity, and talk of possible contenders, he feels the need to start grabbing the cash, and attempt to garner the attention his ego craves. It’s not that he likes the job…it’s the grifting and the possibility of escaping prosecution from his monstrous evil-doing that spurs him on. Oh, and his sadistic revenge-factor to punish his Republican detractors who look on in horror!

Democrats had hoped to win big in the midterms with young voters and women, winning small majorities in each group, but winning big with young women. Exit polls showed that 72 percent of women in age group 18-29 voted for Democrats, which helped propel Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman over Mehmet Oz. As one absentee voter said, “As the Republican Party becomes more extreme and moves away from the core American principals of democracy and rights for all, voting Democratic is the only path forward.” Edison Research exit polls revealed that fifty-three percent of women overall voted blue in House contests. Women over 45 brought the party no advantage at all, while Democrats won a low 54 percent of votes from young men. Over the past two decades, Gallup Polls show young women trending liberal, while young men have remained relatively centrist. Competing AP VoteCast poll shows 58 percent of young women voting Democratic, compared to 47 percent of young men. The same poll shows only 49 percent of all women voting Democratic, compared to 43 percent of men.

The under-30s forcefully voted for Democrats, driven mainly by women. The over-40s went Republican, with Blacks overwhelmingly for the Dems, Hispanics and Asians favoring Dems, and Whites, including White women, going Republican. Married women were mainly in the Red column, with unmarried women for the Blue. President Biden praised the female vote after Tuesday’s vote, saying, “Women in America made their voices heard, man. Ya’ll showed up and beat the hell out of them.” However, the reality is that women as a group gave more votes to Republican House candidates from White, older, married, Southern, rural, and middle- to upper-income women.

“As you look over the election results across the country, please, I beg of you, do not forget that White women are white first,” wrote Jenn Jackson, a political scientist at Syracuse University, in a post-election Twitter post. “White men are not the only forces to struggle against. I assure you.” She goes on to criticize Hispanic women, who nationally favored Democrats, but were instrumental in reelecting Governor DeSantis in Florida, though favoring Beto O’Rourke in Texas. It was White women who pushed Governor Greg Abbott into another term. Political scientists attribute the ‘Me Too‘ movement, rising LGBTQ identification and former President Trump as factors in pushing young women to the left, with the recent motivator being the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision.

The post-midterm post-mortems continue with many saying that the GOP has followed Donald Trump over the cliff, with one Republican source saying, “If it wasn’t clear before it should be now. We have a Trump problem.” The ex-president’s criteria for picking his candidates had to do with their supporting the Big Lie, which probably kept his base in line, but the independent voter has sway here, usually known for voting against the party in power. But the GOP was too extreme on many issues. Even Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post ran a front-page headline reading ‘DeFuture‘ along with a photo of a smiling, victorious Governor DeSantis. And, to add insult to injury, the following day featured a front-page cartoon of Trump teetering atop a wall, labeled ‘Trumpty Dumpty.’ Another Trump loyalist forsaking the King of the Oompa Loompas?

President Biden has emerged from the midterms in a stronger position to run for a second term, but there are rumblings within the Democrat base that he will be too old to run again, that his lackluster ratings are too much of a drag, and younger candidates should be considered. Even Biden this week says that while his plan is to run again, it will be a family decision when that time comes, probably early next year. Exit polls show two-thirds of voters don’t want to see him on the ticket again. So, who could the Dems nominate instead to defeat another Trump run, or a DeSantis candidacy? VP Harris would certainly be given a high priority, though many think she needs to develop her chops a bit further to be a contender. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has a recognizable face and has managed to stay above the conflicts and political strife. Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer defeated a Trump-endorsee by double digits, turning her state blue and raising her star status a bit higher, especially considering she was on Biden’s short list for VP. California governor Gavin Newsom is viewed as a strong contender who is not afraid of standing up to Republicans, especially Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott. Other names will no doubt be thrown into the mix before it gets settled, but let’s all enjoy this brief hiatus before it starts to heat up again.

As reported in The New Yorker magazine’s satirical column, The Borowitz Report, Senator Lindsey Graham warned that Joe Biden’s “incendiary pro-democracy rhetoric” could lead to “voting in the streets.” Pray that Graham is right on!

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.

    “THANKSGIVING”

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence”.
~Erma Bombeck

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day”.
~Irv Kupcinet

“Even though we’re a week and a half away from Thanksgiving, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”.
~Richard Roeper

“My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor”.   
~Phyllis Diller

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