Blog Archives

April 24 – 30, 2024

Highlights this week:

Bratton… is back!…Greensite …Gillian will soon return with her regular weekly piece… Steinbruner…apply for the Civil Grand Jury! Deadline Monday…. Hayes… Environmental Education Without Civics Lessons… Patton…… Matlock…motion to vacate… Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…Alan Tudyk… Quotes….”Sunshine”


SALINAS RODEO GROUNDS, 1942. The photo is a bit dark and fuzzy, but so are our memories. This is the Japanese and Japanese-Americans holding camp before they were transported to Manzanar and other prisons.

[Webmistress comment, affiliate link below]
George Takei just released a new book about his time in the WWII internment camps. It’s beautifully illustrated, and aimed at children 6 – 9. Grownups can, and should, read it too!

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.
Additional information always welcome: email

MORE ABOUT UCSC. last week I wrote in this space…

UCSC AND WHAT? There’s little doubt that UCSC influences all vibes in Santa Cruz. We can easily say that it certainly makes Santa Cruz what it is. But due to budget items UCSC has almost completely eliminated its cultural attachment to the community. Gone are Shakespeare Santa Cruz, dozens of plays and concerts that drew so many of us to the campus and probably lots of sports attractions as well. It raised some notices/hassles …such as this one from longtime friend and noted UCSC Plant Biologist (now retired) Lincoln Taiz. He wrote,

Hi Bruce,

Good to have you back! Hope you’re doing well!

I always read Bratton Online and noted that item in your latest..

This is absolutely true as far as Shakespeare Santa Cruz in concerned. But let’s not forget the Arboretum, another beloved and significant outreach institution. Chancellor Larive has been stalwart in her support of the Arboretum since the day she arrived, and it has thrived under Martin Quigley’s leadership. We should give credit where credit is due.

This is especially true now because the Arboretum is coping with the fact that Martin has taken an indefinite personal leave. Herbie Lee, Rick Flores, and others are filling in, but we need to show the Chancellor how much we value and appreciate the Arboretum, and to encourage her to remain faithful to the institution during this period of uncertainty.

Warm regards and all the best,

More about that….

Maureen Dixon Harrison who is UCSC’s director, communications, events & Marketing Office wrote…

Hi Bruce,
I was reading through your newsletter today and I noticed that you said that… But due to budget items UCSC has almost completely eliminated it’s cultural attachment to the community. Gone are Shakespeare Santa Cruz, dozens of plays and concerts that drew so many of us to the campus and probably lots of sports attractions as well.
As you know, Shakespeare Santa Cruz parted from the campus over 10 years ago (where its season was mid-July through August) and has, since 2014, enjoyed a very successful run as Santa Cruz Shakespeare in a much more expansive performing arts space at DeLaveaga Park.
As far as sports, UCSC participates in NCAA Division III men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. You’re welcome to attend!

UC Santa Cruz continues to offer dozens and dozens of outstanding events that are open to the public throughout the year, including concerts, plays, art exhibitions and well-known speakers.
Our events are listed each week in a full-page ad in the Good Times (with the headline The Line Up), on our various UCSC events webpages, and in our various UCSC newsletters. We also have posters distributed around town about many of our events, as well as a robust social media presence.
For example, these are some of the wonderful Arts Division events that have happened recently and that are coming up on campus. They are all open to the public and most are very low cost or free. I hope you can join us!

UCSC Arts events can be found at:
All UCSC events:

Her letter goes on to list dozens of events suitable to just about everyone imaginable. I guess we are left to our own conclusions…including me and my 19 years with UCSC’s own radio station KZSC 88.1fm.

FAREWELL ABBI HARTSELLAbbi Hartsell died last Saturday night, April 20. She died from pancreatic cancer. As many, many Santa Cruzans know, Abbi led and managed the Jazzercise classes for years. Her sister Kelly and mom Nancy Abbey were with her at the end.

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

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

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

CROOKS. Netflix Series (7.0 IMDB). **- A German film made mostly in Berlin. Taking a deep look, after much thought, it’s a deep look at the psychological makeup of two gangs of bank robbers with their opposing points on what life is all about. They both get involved in a very complex robbery, not of jewels as we are led to believe, but of a very valuable coin. It really centers on one robber who wants to go straight, but is tricked into helping the two gangs. Complex, tricky, well done and well worth puzzling through.

ONE DAY. Netflix Series (8.1 IMDB). *** Let’s face it every one of us has had or will have had deep meaningful relationships. This series is titled a comedy by Netflix but you’ll go much deeper than a laugh watching this introspective, meaningful insight.  Two people meet on their graduation night and we all spend the rest of the story watching what go through, NOT being together but keeping each other in their thoughts, and hearts. You’ll be forced to project and identify with many moments in this beautifully produced drama, except for the ending. Don’t miss it.

SHIRLEY.  Netflix Movie. (6.3 IMDB) *** If you’re into politics, which most of us are, you’ll be delighted to watch this saga about Shirley Chisholm’s role in the 1972 presidential campaign. Chisholm was the first black USA congresswoman and was elected in 1966. But this movie is all about her 1972 run for president and takes us back to those very different political times. We see Huey Newton, George Wallace and other sad reminders of the Vietnam War. She lost to Richard Nixon and Regina King does an amazing job of portraying Shirley.

ROAD HOUSE. (6.2 IMDB) Another remake to the ever growing list of trying to make a sure buck on a one time hit. This one has Jake Gyllenhaal replacing Patrick Swayze in the 1989 hit. (Swayze died in 2009!) It’s amazingly violent boxing wise and Jake has some real violence in his past. There’s crime thugs, secret love affairs and not any other reason to see this bloody copy.

RIPLEY. (7.9 IMDB). Again a remake of another near 1999 classic. Andrew Scott (Morarity in the Sherlock Holmes/ Benedict Cumberbatch masterpiece). Dakota Fanning is in it too but it doesn’t matter much. It’s deep, filmed all in black and white and with a plot so twisted, and complex you wouldn’t believe it. Go see this as soon as possible

 SALTBURN.. (7.0 IMDB). A very class conscious drama (also listed as a comedy) about a young student at Oxford who gets completely involved with an odd and driven “upper class” family. There’s romance, mystery. Rosamund Pike has a deeply involved role in his too unreal view of life among the super rich. Don’t give up anything important to watch this one.


Gillian is still busy, but assures us she’ll be back soon!

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    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.


Last week, the Soquel Creek Water District Board heard staff explain at the Budget Workshop that the PureWater Soquel Project alone will increase the District’s annual operating costs by an estimated $6 MILLION per year, once the treatment plant and forced injection wells come online.

What amazed me most was hearing Director Tom LaHue’s confusion about whether the new 10% rate increases have gone into effect.  They have, and he voted for that in February.  Staff had to explain to him that the new rate increases had already gone into effect.

Hmm… do you think maybe it’s time for him to leave the Board?

Unfortunately,  Community Television did not record the Budget Workshop, held one hour before the regular meeting, but you can see the slide presentation here.

For the first time, staff mentioned the financial consequences of not paying CalPERS and Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) that are non-pension benefits provided to employees upon retirement, a risky move made in order to lower the first year of the four-year rate increases needed to prop up the debt incurred with the PureWater Soquel Project.  That not-so-wise decision, never explained to the Board, (and they never asked) will cost $1.2 million, a 12.5% increase over last year’s personnel operating expenses.  Wage and salary increases will add $20,000.

Director of Finance, Ms. Leslie Strohm, who  has been getting a $1000/month bonus since the PureWater Soquel Project broke ground and will continue to do so until it is operational, explained that she did not include a slide in her budget presentation to show the debt service on the Project, but estimated $4.9MILLION in the coming year. “Because of that,” she said”the District must either decrease expenses or increase revenues to balance things out.”

Well, it is obvious that the staff and Board have chosen INCREASE REVENUES by further burdening their customers with high water bills, and the recent tactic to increase fixed service rates by 60% (at the perky suggestion of new Director Jennifer Balboni) will make it impossible for anyone to conserve their way out.

Here are some comments that ratepayers wrote on their rate increase protests (the protests are public record):
“We cannot believe you are asking for 4 years worth of higher fees that increased each year.  We live on a retirement income and feel it will be quite difficult to keep paying these increases.  We are as frugal as we can be.”

“Our rates have increased tremendously over the last few years and on top of that, we are penalized for conserving water.  These unbelievably drastic increases have got to stop!”

We are protesting the proposed water rate adjustments.  ?There have been continual increases year after year and we are paying some of the highest rates in the state, with no end in sight.”

“We are retirees on fixed incomes.  Increasing rates so significantly over the next 4 years will make it a challenge for us and other low income customers.  The rates should be reasonable and proportional to needs.  It is unfair to burden residents and we ask that you explore other funding options.”

The District’s Budget will return for consideration on June 4, with final approval on June 18.
Please write to the Board and ask them to reconsider the recent fixed rate increases and volumetric rates that penalize those who are working the hardest to conserve water.

Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors <>

It seems more obvious that the Soquel Creek Water District is less interested in supporting and rewarding conservation efforts of customers, and more interested in covering their extravagant bottom line for staffing salaries and benefits.  Last week, the Board agreed with staff that, because long-time Water Conservation Specialist Mr. Roy Sikes is now retiring, his job will not be filled, and therefore, it will be difficult for existing staff to manage the water conservation rebates available to customers.

So, many of those rebates that might incentivize water conservation will disappear.

Coupled with the fact that the Board just voted to raise rates the most on customers who have been conserving most, and give cheaper water to those who use more, leads one to conclude that the District is not serious about rewarding or incentivizing water conservation to the fullest extent possible.


What are they thinking???  Well, they are eliminating the conservation specialist position now vacant upon retirement of the wonderfully helpful Mr. Roy Sikes, but will instead add a person to do inventory of supplies needed for the PureWater Soquel Project operation.  When Assistant Manager Melanie Mow-Schmacher moves up to General Manager on October 1, her Assistant job will not be filled.  Does that mean she has been doing the job of current General Manager Ron Duncan all this time?

Don’t forget, yet another Assistant General Manager job to do “all things PureWater Soquel” has been filled, and will jump on the gravy train pretty soon.

You can listen to their discussion of this in Item 7.3 (at minute 23.50).
You can read the staff report on page 110 here

Please write the Board with your thoughts: Board of Directors <>

Soquel Creek Water District Board reviewed their leak adjustment policy last week.  They decided not to help anyone with a one-time reduction in their bill due to leaks unless the customer signs up for Smart technology that allows the District to see exactly how much water you are using and when, and to do that, you have to sign up for a Smart meter.

About 125 customers have opted not to get a smart meter, according to staff, and not all areas of the District have the WiFi connection to make the Smart technology actually work.

They also said the District won’t grant any adjustment for values below $25, because these adjustments just take alot of staff time to handle.  Well, for a District that claims to value customer service so highly, I would bet there are some customers who would really appreciate any amount of help on the bills when they have a leak, even if it is less than $25…which could make a big difference for some fixed incomes.

The District staff’s arrogance is rather shocking, don’t you think?

Please write the Board with your thoughts: Board of Directors <>

Here is the link to the Community TV recording of the meeting. Discussion of the water leak adjustment policy (Item # 7.4) at minute 1:00:09
You can read the staff report on page 115 here.

Last week, as was expected by many, the California State Water Board approved new lower limits for carcinogenic Hexavalent Chromium (“Chrome 6”) levels in drinking water to 10ppb, one fifth of the existing regulatory level.  This is expected to meet with the same resistance by water agencies who must now install treatment systems as it met in earlier years, forcing the State to hold more public hearings and conduct financial feasibility studies for treatment and alternatives.

The new limit will likely go into effect October 1.  Compliance will be required by January 1, 2027.

Soquel Creek Water District Board and staff have known that 25% of the District’s production supply water from three of the wells in the Seascape and La Selva Beach areas have higher levels of Hexavalent Chromium than the new levels just  approved.  he District had contracted with a company called Ionex and had a pilot project for Chrome 6 removal, but when the State had to postpone the implementing the lower regulatory limit, the District cancelled the contract with Ionex.

At last week’s District Board meeting, during Item 7.5, the Board approved $1 million for design of a treatment plant at the Bonita Drive Well, with details due by June 30.  Staff anticipates the construction will take two years (2025-2027) and cost $14.5 million.  The new plant will likely use a different technology than the ion resin removal that the Ionex pilot project used, due to concerns about the brine effluent disposal.

You can watch the Board’s deliberation of this matter (Item 7.5) at minute 1:19:55. You can read the staff reporton page 122 here.
I wonder if any of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the Soquel Creek Water District customers were illegally charged to fund the non-existent Chrome 6 Treatment Plant have been set aside to fund this Project now?  That illegal collection of customer money was stopped by ratepayer Mr. Jon Cole in 2017 thanks to his hard work as a self-represented litigant. (Case 17CV00689) [Santa Cruz Superior Court]

Judge Paul Burdick agreed with Mr. Cole that it was illegal for Soquel Creek Water District to charge customers for a service (Chrome 6 treatment plant) that did not even exist, and ordered the District to stop collecting the money.  However, Judge Burdick did not require the District to refund the illegal money.  So….where is it?  Maybe a Public Records Act request would shed some light on that issue…

Stay tuned.

Many Californians are still reeling in shock at news their property insurance is being cancelled, as a result of State Farm Insurance cancelling 72,000 policies statewide, to reduce their financial risk.

Please contact Senator John Laird and ask that he support SB 1060.

Many thanks to my friend, Al, who shared this worrisome information that the California Unemployment Insurance Fund was deemed “structurally insolvent” by State Finance staff.  The State borrowed $17.8 BILLION from the federal government in 2020 for Covid-related unemployment payments, which included $1BILLION in payment to prisoners

The State stopped making payments on the loan, and now owes $55 BILLION.  Ms. Julie Su, who was in charge of the State’s Unemployment Dept. when this fraud all happened, has been promoted to the Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor, and will now be in charge of authorizing whether or not California’s defaulted loan payment will be waived.

Think about that for a moment.

In case she decides that is not going to be allowed, the State may move to increase the amount of unemployment tax businesses will be required to pay by five-fold, to gather the amount of revenue needed to make good on the loan for the fraudulent payments Ms. Su’s office authorized.

Please write Governor Newsom about this stupid situation, and maybe the Attorney General as well.

By Mail
You may contact Governor Gavin Newsom at:

Governor Gavin Newsom
1021 O Street, Suite 9000
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841

Due to limited resources, responses to inquiries via mail may take longer than those submitted using the email form.Please note that we are unable to accept e-mail attachments because of the risk of internet viruses; please send your attachments via traditional mail.

Contact the California Attorney General:

  1. Description: Primary public access window to the Attorney General’s Office. …
  2. Email:
  3. Phone(s): (916) 210-6276, (800) 952-5225, (916) 323-5341, (800) 855-3000, (916) 445-9555, (800) 735-2929.
  4. Hours: Monday through Friday 8 am – 5 pm.

In Aptos – this one hurts..

From Cafe Sparrow on instagram:

“Hello everybody. It is with heavy heart that we tell you that @cafesparrow will be closing its doors on April 28th after 38 years of service. Due to the inflation of the world it is not a feasible task anymore. We hope to see all of you at least 1 more time before next Sunday. We understand this news is sudden and it is just as sudden for us, but we just can not hang on any longer.

Come support our last few days of service and come say hi. We would love to see all of you before this chapter closes. Thank you to the amazing people of Aptos/ Santa Cruz for the years of support.”

(Thank you to my friend, Al, for sharing this post on social media)

If you really want to help examine issues of concern in our County, please consider applying to serve on the Santa Cruz County Civil Grand Jury

The deadline is Monday, April 29.



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


Environmental Education Without Civics Lessons?
There are so many opportunities for environmental education around the Monterey Bay, but all seem to avoid anything related to civic engagement. Why?

Whale Watching
The most impactful environmental education I recall was aboard a whale watching boat in the early 2000’s. We left the Moss Landing harbor with a full boat and shortly were surrounded by whales, then pods of dolphins. The captain knew where to go, aided by friendly radio chatter from fishing vessels out on the Bay. We learned a lot about the biology of the whales and dolphins, including about the history of whale populations. The whales were so dense that summer that you could smell them! The guides noted historical journal entries that spoke of that smell from the era when there were many more whales. We seemed to be returning the Bay to the dense whale populations of deep history. How exciting to be steeped in biology, history, and the hopeful story of whale recovery! The lessons didn’t stop there.

The captain noticed bad behavior of another boat, which was chasing some whales to get a better view. It is illegal and ill-advised to closely pursue whales, and our boat was radioing the other one to let them know. All aboard our boat were getting a first-hand education about the Marine Mammal Protection Act and civic engagement. Our captain shared information about how common this bad behavior was and about the inadequacy of enforcement by the responsible agencies. We were informed about how we could be involved: by supporting more responsible whale watching enterprises, through contacting the appropriate enforcement agencies, and by supporting advocacy groups working on this issue.

The owners of that whale watching business sold to someone else. Now, none of the whale watching boats educate about this important issue. Predictably, the issue of whale harassment has declined in the news and enforcement has never improved.

Museums, Parks, Aquaria, and Hikes
Think about your experiences with environmental education – do any of those include anything about civic engagement? One highlight is the advice from a local aquarium about buying responsible fish for your meals, a program which is expensive an no doubt has had a big impact. Are there any stories about how environmental advocacy groups made a difference? Are there any stories about a politician who pushed forward an environmental initiative? Are docents trained to help you to understand how you might be more engaged, civically? Do leaders of environmental education hikes tell the history of environmental struggles and how ordinary people made a difference? I’d love to hear if you have experienced any of this in any of our many local environmental education programs. I haven’t.

Terrace Point, Santa Cruz
Many people on the westside of the city of Santa Cruz take walks at Terrace Point, aka Seymour Center or the ‘coastal campus’ of UCSC. There is a trail network through swaths of habitat. There are even guided walks to view Younger Lagoon which, no doubt, avoid any discussion of the political struggles that resulted in their ability to have that experience. The trail network and the swaths of habitat are brought to you by the Terrace Point Action Network (TPAN) formed by a wide-ranging group of local residents with great leadership as well as coalitions of local environmental organizations. I doubt if anyone reading this remembers the names of any of the groups or leaders. Readers would also probably be surprised to learn the names of the leaders of the opposition: faculty of the University who proclaimed that the sprawling development for which they advocated would become the ‘Woods Hole of the West Coast.’ The delusional architects who were designing the site plans testified to the public that the site would be improved by such development, much like “castles along the Rhine (River).”

TPAN’s Good Work
The battle saw TPAN engaging the nation’s leading wetland scientist, pitted against the second best hired by the University. The areas set aside are based on a wetland delineation battle mediated by the only ecologist at the time with the Coastal Commission, who advised that agency to force the University to set aside the swaths of habitat you experience there now. The pro-access division of the Coastal Commission also exacted the trails from the University, despite those trails destroying areas of the wetlands the other division of the Coastal Commission had advised be set aside. And they also won the requirement that Younger Lagoon Reserve be opened to the public, even if it was by reservation at a scheduled tour. There are many other hilarious and telling parts of the Terrace Point story, which would make for an inspirational and entertaining docent-led walk, interpretive sign, or brochure for the site; but I doubt those will happen.

Coastal Campus Now
It is typical that these environmental battles are never over and if the activists disappear the protections slip. The Coastal Commission also required the University to only build buildings that supported ‘coastal dependent’ uses. Labs requiring use of the sea water intake system, for instance, would fit that bill. After not that many years, the entire University biology department moved to Terrace Point – classes are being held there, there are offices and meeting spaces. None of these are in the least bit coastally dependent: the University is getting away with blatant disregard to prohibitions of a much-changed, pro-development Coastal Commission.

When I ask biology professors who once helped with the opposition to the University’s development of the site, they note that the classes held at Terrace Point include environmental education about coastal ecosystems, allowing students to walk outside and participate in hands-on restoration.

Environmental Education Without Civic Engagement
UCSC has succeeded greatly with hands-on, experiential environmental education, but seemingly without much success getting students to be engaged civically. When I was a student at UCSC, professors taught about the social and political aspects of their class content, which was very much based on situations in and around the University. We were encouraged to become civically engaged in those ongoing issues. City Council and County Supervisor meetings commonly had students testifying on environmental issues and local environmental organizations recruited new generations of well-educated activists. Not so now.

I hear about environmental programs in local high schools: are these, too, lacking in any civic engagement components?

Has the rancorously divided politics of our nation made our environmental educators shy to raise political issues to the many eager learners?

How do we do this better?

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:

Email Grey at


MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2024
#113 / Thinking About Moby Dick

The wonderful image above, which is from Santa Cruz artist Marie Gabrielle, has put me in mind of Moby Dick, although the whales depicted are quite “local,” spouting off right here in Monterey Bay, and not in the South Seas somewhere. That image above, as I suddenly realized when I was writing out that first sentence, can be seen as a kind of visual reference to what I do right here, in this daily blog: “Spout Off.”

In case it is of interest, I do have a close family connection to Moby Dick, Herman Melville’s great novel. My wife Marilyn has written extensively about Moby Dick, and it is her argument that Ahab’s pursuit of the White Whale is actually intended to refer to a writer’s pursuit of that singular written work that both haunts and inspires the writer, but that seems always to elude capture. Click this link if you want to get a fuller argument in support of that reading of Moby Dick.

My posting from Sunday, March 10th, which was, essentially, a fragment of my own writing, and which fragment has just recently resurfaced from the depths of some long-forgotten files, has made me think, rather explicitly, about my own writing, and about what I think I am pursuing in these daily blog postings, which I began publishing on January 1, 2010, and which have appeared, on a daily basis, every day since then.

I have, metaphorically speaking, been on a long voyage, and perhaps, like Melville, I have been pursuing something more singular than what can be seen in the series of my “spouting off” thoughts that have surfaced in the more than 5,000 blog postings that have appeared right here. As that fragment of my writing said, “I am pretty sure I know some things.”

I think I do know some things, and what I must admit is that I would like to be able to set them down, in some singular form, so others can grasp their import – not as a scattered commentary but in some integrated way, as a piece of writing that can inspire action.

I believe that we all, individually and collectively, are coming to a testing point. Many perceive that we will confront this testing point in the elections coming up in November of this year. There is truth in that, I think, though I believe that the testing point we are soon to encounter – that we are already encountering, in fact – is greater, and more serious, and more dangerous than the test we will face in our presidential elections.

I am going to continue pursue the singular thought that both haunts and inspires me – that the time has come to renew the American Revolution, shifting power as significantly as political power was shifted in 1776.

Can that even be done? I do believe it can.

I think we need to try.

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

Email Gary at


Reporter Olivia Beavers of Politico posted a report last week that a sub-group of the House Freedom Caucus activated its Floor Action Response Team (F.A.R.T.) to thwart any attempts by associates of Speaker Mike Johnson from making moves to diminish the Caucus’ power…this coming prior to the key votes on foreign aid to IsraelTaiwan, and Ukraine. Calls for Johnson’s removal from his Speaker’s position in the debate leading up to the aid vote was precipitated by Marjorie Taylor Greene who has since been joined by a handful of other disgruntled House members who are decidedly in the minority at this point. Of the $95 billion, $61billion will go to Kyiv, $9 billion of which is in the form of “forgivable loans.” Kentucky’s RepresentativeThomas Massie, one of the ‘F.A.R.T.’ supporters has asked Johnson to resign, as his team works to monitor the chamber to block any sudden rule changes by the GOP leadership which might lead to a reduction in power of the Freedom Caucus through raising the vote threshold governing removal of a House Speaker. Johnson has said he would attempt no changes to the ‘motion to vacate’ rule, as did Kevin McCarthy when he held that post…but his concession is likely to be in vain as his position is very tenuous. Author and former House RepublicanDenver Riggleman, responded to Beavers’ post, “Actually, I have a source that tells me it’s the ‘Wrong Every Time Floor Action Response Team,’ a loud and slippery crew. Beware.” A New Yorker‘BrooklynDad_Defiant,’ posted, “House Republicans have just formed a Floor Action Response Team in order to fend off silent but deadly attempts to curb their influence. Total clown show, folks.” MSNBC contributor, Charlie Sykes, added his post: “Beyond parody.”

Finding no humor in the House’s new team formation will be those sitting in the courtroom of Judge Juan Merchan, where one flatulent sleepyhead, Donald J. Trump, is being tried for falsifying business records to conceal hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels as part of his strategy to influence voters in the 2016 presidential election. The former president has appeared to be dozing off several times during the trial, but Jimmy Kimmel is convinced that his attorneys are tranquilizing him to knock back his outbursts, with Judge Merchan having to caution the defense team on one occasion to instruct their client to remain quiet as prospective jurors were being questioned. Stephen Colbert couldn’t hold back with his comments, saying, “Yesterday, Trump fell asleep during the proceedings. He took a little ‘white power’ nap. But today he was sharp, focused but he fell asleep again. And in a totally unrelated story, there’s a national Adderall shortage. No relation. Trump must have snoozed for awhile because the court sketch artist had time to draw him. Well, I think we have a new mascot for Celestial Seasonings: Sleepy Crime Tea.” Social media jumped on the bandwagon with new nicknames: ‘Sleepy Don’ and ‘Don Snoreleone’…where’s the MyPillow guy when he’s really needed? JoJoFromJerz posts: “Honestly, let him sleep. Wheel him into a fake Oval Office on the back nine of Trump National Golf Course, tell him he’s president, hand him a Diet Coke and a “hamberder,” play a nature video, quietly close the door, and walk away.”

Defendant Trump dozed off intermittently during the first two days of his criminal trial, and though this could land him in prison, ending his political ambitions, he doesn’t show an interest, or understand what’s occurring, a sign of worsening senility? Day number three saw him pulling out his cell phone to check messages, prompting an attorney to stop him, which earned him a glaring look of annoyance. Trump will only continue to show his defiance, since it will have a magical ending for him in his thinking, but this immature behavior only points to mental incompetence. The Don is not one to sit around for eight hours at a time on public view, a very boring sentence for the candidate who does a rally speech, then disappears to tally the money flowing into his coffers as the highlight of his day. Unable to focus or stay awake, even forgetting that a trial is in progress, is what most clinical observers would expect from a patient with severe dementia, or is it too much posting of his rants on Truth Social until the early hours?

Bocha Blue posts on The Palmer Report that he sees something terribly wrong with Trump’s hair. At first, he thought it could only be his imagination, but a Morning Joe segment validated his concern about Trump’s appearance…verbal gaffes aside. Trump’s vanity is well known, always wanting to look ‘spiffy,’ but now DJT’s hair is beginning to “look worse than Matt Gaetz’s.” The Morning Joe panel calls the usual hair color ‘Carrot Orange.’ Blue now terms it as a cross of “orange algae coupled with bits of baby food…our insurrectionist has invented a new color.” He says Trump has taken his hair color to new heights, but hasn’t noticed how horrible it looks…looking harsh, an unbecoming color that makes him look old. The only advantage being that this newly named “Algae Orange‘ “might match his orange prison jumpsuit.” Porn star, Stormy Daniels, in the recent documentary entitled, ‘Stormy,’ tells Seth Rogan about a conversation she once had with Trump regarding his hair. He told her about a Samson-and-Delilah-like dream from which he concluded that his power rested in his hair, and losing it would mean a loss of power and stature, a superstition he still observes quite obviously.

Speaking of mental incompetence, Aldous J. Pennyfarthing writes that Trump’s first campaign ruined everyone’s mental health for a full decade, while claiming he hired “only the best people” for his administration…which translates to hiring the best in his estimation, only to fire them almost immediately. Or, keeping them around long enough for them to realize the president was a dangerous affront to democracy, resulting in a departure and becoming unqualified “losers” to their former boss. Of course, as everyone knows by now, Trump’s greatest weaknesses are compassion and generosity of spirit, so he simple couldn’t help himself at hiring awful, unqualified losers who were begging him for a job. Pennyfarthing says, “Unfortunately, when you make over your party to appeal strictly to lowlifes, your applicant pool becomes pretty shallow, and the dose of chlorine needed to disinfect it could melt the eyeballs out of every skull within a 15-mile radius.”

Which brings up the subject of GOP vetting as revealed by a HuffPost article: A DJT county campaign chair in New Hampshire lost his job as a police officer after threatening to kill colleagues in a shooting spree, to murder the department chief and rape the chief’s wife, simply as retaliation for his suspension over a relationship with a high school girl…Trump’s kind of guy? Ten years later, this guy, Jonathan Stone, currently a second-term state rep, was picked as Trump’s Sullivan County chair in June 2023, because he gifted Trump an inscribed AR-15 assault rifle at a 2016 campaign stop. Aldous J. comments, “Just a few bad apples? Well, no…sadly, this is kind of a pattern. Ever since Sarah Palin made addlepated-ignorance great again, Republicans have been trying to extra hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, but unfortunately, they tend to throw out both the wheat and the chaff, keeping Herschel Walker instead. In other words, when it comes to vetting candidates, employees, and county campaign chairs, Republicans are simply awful, and arguably getting awful-er. It should have been clear from the outset that Walker was a terrible candidate, but apparently no one knew his Georgia Senate campaign wasn’t the only abortion he’d been financing.”

Continuing, we can consider “New York Representative George Santos, the biggest vetting fail in American political history…if you disregard Trump himself. The Jew-ISH congressman was a font of scandals and controversies, all of which slipped under the GOP’s glowing red Eye of Sauron. And, we can’t forget the current Hitler-quoting Lt. Governor of North Carolina and gubernatorial hopeful, Mark Robinson, who never saw a forced birth he didn’t like. Robinson and wife, Yolanda, have filed for bankruptcy three times since 1998, and failed to file income taxes for years 1998 to 2002. Next up is Montana’s GOP senatorial candidate, Tim Sheehy, who lied to a national park ranger about the origin of a bullet wound in his arm, claiming it was a war wound. Sheehy was fined in 2015 for discharging a gun in Glacier National Park after a hospital reported his injury to law enforcement, about which he claimed his Colt .45 had accidentally discharged when it fell to the ground. Later, he told the Washington Post he sustained the wound in Afghanistan as a Navy Seal in 2012, but failed to report it in fears that it may have come from ‘friendly fire’ that would spark an investigation of his platoon. He deserves the Purple Chickenheart medal.”

It has now come to light that Texas Representative Ronny Jackson (former White House doctor who concluded that Trump could live to age 200, with a better diet, or by eating Kentucky Fried Chicken & Donuts Sandwiches, acknowledged to be a superfood chock-full of antioxidants) allegedly over-prescribed meds during his DC tenure with Trump. Sleeping/wakefulness medications were freely handed out, precipitating a power struggle with another physician, resulting in decimated morale in the Medical Unit. Jackson is also facing allegations that he drank on the job, but evidently that didn’t stop his boss from nominating him to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, from which he withdrew after charges of inadequate vetting for the position. CNN is suggesting a pattern of deliberate negligence, one example being that Representative John Ratcliffe in 2019 withdrew from consideration as Trump’s director of national intelligence over concerns that he was dangerously unqualified, having exaggerated portions of his résumé. So, what does Trump do? According to Pennyfarthing“In 2020, Trump would renominate Ratcliffe – who remained dangerously unqualified – and he skated through on a party-line vote.”

It didn’t matter to Trump that his administration had failed to perform even a cursory vetting of Ratcliffe, or any nominee, and that he made announcements without the participation of any adults…besides, that kind of work was best left up to the enemy of the people…the press! Trump explained to a reporter that he likes to disclose a name to journalists, who then do background checks, saving “a lot of money” for the government, as they uncover embarrassing details about the nominee, who then slinks away into hiding. Pennyfarthing concludes, “Of course, the half-assed vetting goes way, way back to the OG GOP embarrassment, Sarah Palin, who announced shortly after becoming John McCain’s running mate that her unwed teenage daughter was pregnant, très gauche to 2000s-era Republicans! The McCain camp had also somehow failed to discover before it was too late that her head was stuffed with newspapers – ALL OF THEM! So what does that tell us? That the party that elevated Donald Trump is lazy, irredeemable, and a really horrible judge of character? Well, yeah. But also: They don’t seem to care much about any of that. After all, what are they going to do? Hire sane, qualified people? If they did that, they wouldn’t be Republicans, now would they?”

And, just for clarification…as Trump recently stated in a New Hampshire speech, “Which is incapable of salvin’ even the swollest, smallest problem. We are an institute in a powerful death penalty. We will put this on. And they calmly walk to us see, and ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. They’ve only got 17 seconds to figure this whole thing out. Bomp. Okay. Missile launch, psheem, pfoom.” Sounds akin to the anonymous haiku: “Haikus are easy. But sometimes they don’t make sense. Refrigerator.” We have just over six months to arrive at our own sense of clarity.

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:


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 you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.


“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.”
~Jack Ma

“A good laugh is sunshine in the house.”
~William Makepeace Thackeray

“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.”
~Steve Martin

“If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.”
~Morris West

“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
~Hans Christian Andersen


I will forever and always love Alan Tudyk as Wash in Firefly, which is a series that should never have been cancelled – a pox on you, Fox, for making that happen! Anyway, apparently he has done other things, as this little interlude demonstrates.

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