Blog Archives

April 27 – May 3, 2022

Highlights this week:

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BRATTON…Sam Farr and NO on Greenway and measure D, Our Downtown our Future petitions, screeners and movies, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…on council vote for District Election maps. KROHN…Library issue, Cruz Hotel developing. STEINBRUNER… Downtown developing, County developing, measure B (hotel tax) well drilling in roadways, Moss Landing Battery storage plans. HAYES…Grass. PATTON…Socialism Rising? MATLOCK… Disney, DeSantis and Mizelle. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”May”

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A CUT NEAR DAVENPORT 1907.  Rick Hamman’s book California Central Coast Railways tells us that this is an Ocean Shore Railway hauling rocks up to Davenport’s cement plant.     

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE April 25

SAM FARR DECLARES NO ON GREENWAY AND NO ON MEASURE D. No Way Greenway sent this press release Monday noon (4/25)…

Sam Farr, Former Member of Congress: Greenway “should be soundly rejected. It’s not green and it’s not a way to move forward.”

SANTA CRUZ, CA (Apr. 25, 2022) – Sam Farr, who represented the Monterey Bay area in the U.S. Congress from 1993-2017 and has been a stalwart champion of the rail trail project, today declared his opposition to Greenway’s deceptive Measure D and said the measure “should be soundly rejected.” Former Rep. Farr’s full statement said:

“I am an enthusiastic champion of the Coastal Rail Trail and have been for many years. Now more than ever, I’m convinced the existing multi-use trail –which is already being built– and clean-energy electric rail transit planned alongside, will together become the anchor for how people get around on the sunny side of our scenic Monterey Bay.

But Greenway’s Measure D would throw out this popular plan and waste at least another decade or two attempting to replace the existing public rail line with a paved road. Greenway’s harebrained idea should be soundly rejected. It’s not green and it’s not a way to move forward.

Now is not the time to walk away from millions of new federal and state dollars that are currently available for exactly the kinds of transportation projects represented by the Coastal Rail Trail plan – a plan that improves existing infrastructure while also planning for a clean-energy future. I strongly urge Santa Cruz County voters to VOTE NO on Measure D.”

Former Rep. Farr joins a long list of elected officials and former elected officials who are opposed to Measure D. See below for a partial list.  For the complete list, click here.

  • Santa Cruz City Councilmembers Sonja Brunner (Mayor), Sandy Brown, Justin Cummings, Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, Renee Golder, Donna Meyers and Martine Watkins
  • Watsonville City Councilmembers Francisco Estrada, Lowell Hurst, Eduardo Montesino, Vanessa Quiroz-Carter
  • Leading candidates for Assembly District 30 Dawn Addis and Jon Wizard
  • Dr. Faris Sabbah, Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools
  • Cabrillo College Trustees Christina Cuevas, Felipe Hernandez, Adam Spickler, Steve Trujillo and Donna Ziel 
  • Fred Keeley, Former Speaker pro Tem, CA Assembly and Bill Monning, State Sen. (ret.) Majority Leader Emeritus

 

To learn more about the NO on Measure D/No Way Greenway campaign (FPPC # 1442272), visit www.nowaygreenway.org or find updates on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

 

Bratton’s P.S. take a look at the endorsements listed above. I thought I’d seen them all but they are really impressive. 

JUSTIN CUMMINGS AND AMI CHEN MILLS REACTIONS. Many, many thanks for the comments, ideas, and predictions from you readers/writers who responded to last week’s BrattonOnline quest for standings and positions. There’s much too much to handle and make sense of in just one week….back to it… and them, next week.

OUR DOWNTOWN OUR FUTURE & PETITIONS. According to their email they are doing well enough to get the save our Downtown on the November ballot. JR Hall stated…they have an excellent chance of having more than 4500 or even 4750 signatures, ten or twenty per cent over the required 3848. If you want to sign or get a petition or turn yours in…

  1. Farmers’ Market, Wednesday, 4/27, 1-4.30pm.
  2. London Nelson west deck, this Saturday, April 30, 9.30-10.30am.
  3. By contacting me personally at jrhall103@mac.com to arrange to pick up your petition.

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

THE NORTHMAN. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (89RT). Nicole Kidman is in this terrible mess of a movie. So is Anya Taylor-Joy and Ethan Hawke but they shouldn’t have been. This is IMHO the most violent, brutal, senseless movie I’ve seen in decades. It’s the kind of movie Donald Trump would lavish over. Supposedly about Vikings in the early 900’s and a saga about revenge, we see only blood, stabbings, and close up views of terror, fear, and needless cruelty. Do not see this picture and stop everybody you know from seeing it too. You could call it stultifying and you’d be right. 

THE TURNING POINT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.0 IMDB). An unusual Italian movie centering on a quiet, unassuming comic artist who is forced to share his room with a hunted mob member crook. It’s tense but human and absorbing and full of plot twists. Well-acted, human discoveries and worth watching.

THE MARKED HEART. (NETFLIX SERIES).(6.5 IMDB). This Spanish thrill seeking, heart breaking movie will keep you glued…no doubt about it. A rich guy’s wife is kidnapped by illegal organ/heart traffickers and is installed in another likable woman. The rich guy then begins a tricky and illegal hunt for her killers who took her heart. But then he falls in love with the woman who received her heart…odd but watchable and even sentimental!

LOVE ME. (HULU SERIES). An Australian series centering on a woman’s accident and her dealing with family pressures and the factoring of generations of family issues. She’s depressed but then meets a new guy and their relationship cause new views and a sad funeral amongst other sad scenes. The first two episodes are more than watchable.

IN GOOD HANDS. (NETFLIX MOVIE). A genuine tear jerking, heart pounding, sad Turkish movie and they call it a comedy. Set in Istanbul it’s the saga of a mother about to die from cancer and trying to protect her six year old son. A guy comes into their lives and causes more problems than he or she can solve. It’s well done but you’ll cry a lot…if that means you.

INSANITY. (HULU SERIES) (4.7 IMDB). This annoyingly dubbed Brazilian movie has a forensic scientist going to a psychiatric hospital seemingly to take care of their patients. She however is treated as a patient and goes crazy herself…or does she? There’s a reason she was sent to the psych ward and it’s intense but worth following.

FURIOZA. (NETFLIX MOVIE). A Polish movie involving nothing but gang warfare. Violent, bloody, savage, and tiring to watch. No redeeming social values here just hooligans which is a word we haven’t heard in a long time. There’s references to family relations and brotherhood but don’t expect much.

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.  

ROAR. (APPLE SERIES) (74RT). Single episodes each taking on a segment of women’s place in our lives. Clever, funny, deadly serious, and more than illuminating. Nicole Kidman, Judy Davis, and many equally brilliant stars enact our worst treatment of women today. It’s mother vs. daughter, women on a shelf, black women’s invisibility. Brilliant and well worth watching.

HEIRS TO THE LAND. (NETFLIX SERIES). A Spanish movie full of 14th century costumes and blah acting. Barcelona is full of kingly evils, religious and sacrilegious atrocities and a sad story about a young kid and how he’ll face his future. As mentioned the acting is so staged and phony that you’ll leave after five minutes.

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (97RT). A multiverse mess of colliding worlds face Michelle Yeoh in this confusing, super real sci-fi hassle. An unrecognizable Jamie Lee Curtis wears a fat suit and makeup as an IRS agent about to close Michelle’s laundromat. There’s lots of violence, special effects galore, and no one has figured it out yet. 

PARIS 13TH DISTRICT. (84RT). (Del Mar Theatre). It’s in black and white and about love, sex and relationships in Paris. Very sensuous and startling in the treatment of love and connecting. There’s porno and switching partners, and yet some very sincere looks at commitment.  Complex and intriguing and worthwhile. 

ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL (NETFLIX SERIES). (59RT) Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery steals every minute she’s on screen in this courtroom drama. It involves the Prime Minister, his friends and a secret past he hides. There’s a charge of rape that gets full time attention and some superior acting and storytelling. Sienna Miller and Rupert Friend do excellent jobs in their roles. Go for it. 

OUTER RANGE. (PRIME SERIES) (73RT). Josh Brolin plays his usual cowboy role in this genuinely original story of an outer space hole being discovered on a Wyoming ranch. It’s about death and his sickle and ownership of land issues. It’s complicated and original enough to keep you binged to the whole series. I liked it. 

BENEDETTA. (HULU SERIES). (86RT) The always dependable Charlotte Rampling is the director of a nunnery in 17th century France. This movie directed by Paul Verhoven is a very sensitive and provocative look at then forbidden lesbian sex. What the back and forth stories of the two young women involved gives us great questions about church and sex and what’s sacred and what’s erotic and normal.  

PROMISED LAND. (HULU SERIES) (100RT). Almost in our back yard we watch the story of Mexican immigrants working on grape vineyards in Sonoma Valley. Actor John Ortiz leads the action involving his gay son, the money driven grape business and the evil padre who adds to the issues. Poor camera work, half terrible acting and non-thinking casting make this one that you can avoid. But the immigrant issues involved need more exposure onscreen and in real life. 

DANCING ON GLASS. (NETFLIX MOVIE). This Spanish ballet drama gives us a lot of focus on the Ballet “Giselle”. A young girl is given the lead role in the ballet and the problems she endures in her personal life and the challenges provided by the ballet school and the director will keep you on your toes almost as long as the ballerina! Besides that all the dancers actually smoke which seems to make a statement. 

WANDER DARKLY. (HULU MOVIE). (75RT). A beautiful Sienna Miller and her husband are killed in a car crash. She comes back to life, but only maybe. Her dreams and illusions are surprising, are very real, and puzzling. Her use of pills, makes us wonder what’s real and it all happens in Los Angeles.

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SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. They’re performing two concerts…

BIRDS OF A FEATHER. Music by Bach, Berlioz, Dorff and others. Kris Palmer concert director. Saturday April 30, 7:30 pm. Sunday May 1, 3:00 pm.

GABRIEL FAURE AND HIS CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, part II.

Music by Bohuslav Martinu, Zoltan Kodaly, Saint-Saens, Bloch, Boulanger & Faure. Played by the Nisene Ensemble. Saturday, May 7, 7:30pm. Sunday May 8, 3:00 pm.

Concerts are at Christ Lutheran Church, 10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA 95003. Go here for tickets and info. 

SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL.

The Festival’s “Music in the Parks, part 2” “Music of Mexico” will feature William Faulkner on Jalisco Harp and the Mariachi Eterno directed by Russell Rodriguez. They’ll be at Laurel Park (London Nelson Comm. Center) on April 30 at 5:30 and May 1, 5:30 at Beach Flats Park. Free admission. 

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

 

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April 25

CARVING UP THE CITY

The worst possible district map imposed on the city by Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson and four others

In a stunning slap in the face to the neighborhoods of Santa Cruz, the city council majority voted last week to bisect the lower westside and dilute the Latino vote by choosing a district map that does both. Led by Council-member Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson and supported by Myers, Golder, Brunner and Watkins, their vote will create community divisions and discord far into the future. It thwarts the aim of moving to district elections which is ostensibly to maximize the ability of low-income and Latino voters to gain representation on city council. Granted, district elections are not in the interests of a small city of 64,000. When asked about district elections in Berkeley, a Berkeley council member shared that they have proved divisive. Our council decided to not fight the state-wide lawsuit that led to the demand for district elections. Other communities such as Santa Monica decided to fight back. Given that we are stuck with districts, how such districts will be created was of utmost importance and few, including me were sufficiently engaged.

City staff and consultants worked hard to produce district map options to achieve the goals of uniting Beach Flats with lower Ocean, keeping existing neighborhoods as intact as possible, uniting Seabright and minimizing the blending of UCSC with its surrounding neighborhoods. Their recommended maps, 604 (b) for 6 districts (plus an at-large Mayor) and map 101 (b) for 7 districts (without an at-large Mayor) were carefully selected to achieve these goals.

Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson and the other four ignored staff’s work and recommendations, ignored existing neighborhoods, ignored maximizing access for registered Latino voters and chose map 602 for 6 districts (shown above) and map 101 for 7 districts. Both maps split the lower westside down the middle vertically so that even the Circles neighborhood in map 602 is split in half with one side in future district 3 and the other side in future district 6. The upper westside is similarly split vertically and joined with its lower westside half. You don’t have to be a long-time local to know that the upper westside and the lower westside are different neighborhoods with different issues. 

Some issues impacting the lower westside but not the upper westside include summer beach traffic, ever-increasing events along the coast, children crossing Delaware to get to school, and the impact of cut-through traffic should West Cliff ever be converted to one-way. The upper westside has its own, different issues. Splitting both upper and lower down the middle is guaranteed to make the airing of common issues and finding solutions much more difficult compared to the commonsense maps proposed by staff and supported for all the right reasons by councilmembers Justin Cummings and Sandy Brown.

One wonders at the motivations of the council majority in bucking staff recommendations and choosing districts that will prove difficult to manage as well as diluting the Latino vote. The majority rarely strays from staff recommendations. Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson’s explanations for choosing the worst possible maps rang hollow. She never explained why the staff recommendation that achieved the stated goals wasn’t to her liking or how splitting the lower westside in half was in its interests. In explaining her choice to split the Latino community she said that creating districts based on race or ethnicity is illegal. That’s a clever, manipulative distortion of what staff was trying to achieve.

Perhaps Meyers, who lives in the lower westside, needs upper westside supporters to be re-elected. Her pro-development voting record and enthusiastic support for relocating the library have not endeared her to many on the lower westside. Given that not one of the other four besides Meyers had anything to say about Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson’s motion, one can assume that many behind- the- scenes discussions took place prior to the meeting.

This is now a done deal. The district maps are set in stone. What we get to vote on in June is limited to whether we want 6 districts and an at-large Mayor who will serve for four and up to eight years if re-elected or 7 districts with no at-large Mayor. 

This particular carving up of districts is an affront to the community. History will show that future discord among neighborhoods with an inability to craft workable solutions to district problems stemmed from this vote from these five elected officials on April 19th 2022.  

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association  http://darksky.org    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

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Santa Cruz Political Report by Chris Krohn

April 25

POLITICAL STORM CLOUDS 
The rain was so good this past week. If you are an elected official, water is always in the back of your mind if not right there in front. Droughts and fires are constant worries. When it’s raining, it’s much easier to move on to other pressing matters. And what is pressing this week in the city of Santa Cruz? Seems like the full-court press is on the library-garage. The city has come out, guns blazing, in order to tell the community that what they voted on in 2016 was not actually for a remodeled library, but really a garage with a library attachment. First, this subject is the main thing on the city’s main web page. Go to the city of Santa Cruz official web site and the first thing you run into is a picture of the “natural bridge,” the one that’s still left off of West Cliff, and then right below the picture there’s an unpretentious, in your face headline scream:

LIBRARY MIXED USE PROJECT | With 40,000 square feet of programmable space and up to 125 100-percent affordable housing units, the new Library Mixed Use Project will serve as the civic anchor to a pedestrian-centered downtown that prioritizes equity, inclusion and environment and preserves the eclectic culture that is unique to Santa Cruz.

I kid you not. The above announcement is the first thing anyone coming to Santa Cruz virtually, for perhaps the first time, currently sees.

Status Quo Seeks to Lay Siege to Our Downtown, Our Future
Last Thursday, Bonnie Lipscomb the Economic Development Director who is leading the bureaucracy’s charge against the official 2016 vote of the people and towards the developer pockets of the Cruz Hotel, offered yet another show de perros y ponis on what they are fond of calling, a “mixed-use project.” If you are a developer and you call something a mixed-use project these days, your application goes to the top of pile. Then there was Don Lane‘s scare blog. It was refreshing that he told readers in his preamble that the writing would be “snarky,” “long and slow,” but yet all the while informing readers about “the misinformation traveling around the community.” The Lane blog was followed by Mayor Sonja Bruner’s non-argument argument in favor of a garage-library. Everything she touted for the new library can be done, more cheaply, in the old library without cutting the heritage trees, building a last century parking garage, and displacing the community’s Farmer’s Market, but never let facts get in the way of development.

Community Strikes Back
Then the community spoke back to the city bureaucrats. Micah Posner wrote a strong commentary outlining why building a garage on Lot 4 is nothing more than a public subsidy for the planned private Cruz Hotel. Of course, Judi Grunstra, Rick Longinotti, and Stephen Kessler have all written eloquently and informatively before about why the community wants to remodel the library where it now stands on Church Street and commit to a permanent home for the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market on Lot 4. All the information voters need to know is out there, and that is perhaps why the city’s rhetoric only increases in volume. Are they afraid of a public vote?  Perhaps they know something not yet revealed, namely that the Our Downtown, Our Future initiative may very well be headed to the ballot in November, and it’s only April and the city elite seem to be running scared. How many more Sentinel op-eds, city presentations, and conversations about which department will move into the old library building will there be before the vote? Should the initiative get enough signatures, will the Economic Development Department-types still continue to move their chess pieces around and plan for a library-garage on Lot 4 before the voters can weigh in? That would seem rude, but stay tuned, it ain’t over ’til it’s over! Remember desal?

“And before people start trying to explain this away as a status/statehood issue (Puerto Rico), ask yourself why *any* US citizen is denied the right to vote because of where they live. Even US citizens living ABROAD have the right to vote but US citizens in Puerto Rico cannot. It’s colonialism.” (April 21)


In the KSQD studios with former Congressional candidate Adam Scow. Find out what Adam is up to here. KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org is some of the most timely and informative radio on the Central Coast.

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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April 25

WILL THERE BE 200′ TALL BUILDINGS IN FUTURE DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ?  MAYBE!

Last Wednesday (4/20), a small crowd of people visited the Kaiser Arena for an in-person Open House look at what could be coming to that area of Santa Cruz.  Some, including me, were shocked to see that all versions of the plan include 100% demolition of existing structures in the area from the River to the base of Depot Hill and beyond, replacing it with a large permanent Warriors Arena surrounded by buildings as high as 200′ tall.  Wow.  

It was really great to have an in-person meeting, be able to look at the renderings and have a real discussion with staff on the spot.  A continuously-looped video greeted people, welcoming us to “The Zone”.  We were given colorful index card Post-its to share our comments on an easel placed next to the various stations that included Sustainability, Traffic and Circulation, Development, Housing, and more.   I saw what I suspected were some early staff-seeded Post-its that said “I love this new high-density!” but as the evening progressed, I also saw “Santa Cruz is NOT Oakland or San Francisco!”  

When I asked the staff about the parking space for the proposed new permanent arena, he said “well, there will be a little bit at the site, but mostly it will be spread out in the area.”  Hmmm…I wonder if this is related to the City’s zeal for a new downtown parking garage?  Another station discussion illuminated that staff is trying to decide where to position the very-high-rise buildings…near the River, in the middle of and next to the historic district?  How about “none of the above”?  When I asked about liquefaction concerns, staff basically shrugged and said it would all be engineered.  Water supply?  No problem.

“I just don’t like it!” I heard a man say, having asked about bike routes and secure bike parking, but I recognized a number of big developers roaming about with big smiles.  

Take a look at the attached photos I took.  Send your comments in now to Ms. Sara Neuse: sneuse@cityofsantacruz.com

[City of Santa Cruz – Downtown Plan Expansion ] Make sure to scroll to the bottom to read the “Real Estate Markets in Santa Cruz” study.

In case you haven’t been downtown recently, here is a photo of the seven-story development currently underway in the area nearby…

DRAFT EIR FOR SUSTAINABLE SANTA CRUZ COUNTY DEVELOPMENT NOW OPEN FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
Start wading into this important document now and submit your comments before May 31, 2022.  Public comment on this Draft EIR ends on May 31, 2022, at 5 pm. Please submit any comments to CEQA-NEPA@santacruzcounty.us

Planning Department – CEQA – Environmental Documents Open for Public Review

The only virtual public meeting for this is scheduled for May 9, at 6:30pm

Do what you can to read any amount of the Draft EIR and Draft County General Plan / Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan if you care at all about what the quality of life here will be in the future. 

NEW STATE FIRE DEFENSIBLE SPACE REGULATIONS WORKSHOP
If you live in rural areas and urban areas near rural spots, you need to pay attention to the new fire defensible space regulations coming down the pike. 

The State Board of Forestry will hold a hybrid Workshop on May 4, 9am-3pm, to discuss and take comment on the Changes to Fire Defensible Space Codes: Implementing Zone Zero.  The event is free, but the deadline to sign up is May 2.

 Specifically, AB 3074 (2020) directed the Board to establish a 0-5 foot “ember resistant” zone around structures adding to the existing two-zone defensible space system that requires fuel and vegetation management out to 100 feet from the structure. 

[Here is a link to the flyer]

The Board of Forestry will hold a Full Board meeting on May 5, beginning at 9am and is also a hybrid format.    You can click on the May 2022 Notice and Agenda and find information.

Note there is legal action on the Closed Session regarding the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) taking action against the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.  The RCRC has been a strong advocate for rural property owners and continues to participate in the Board’s Draft Emergency Fire Safe Regulations process.

  1. RCRC vs. Board of Forestry and Fire Protection (Case No. 22CECG00123)

Here is a link to the proposed but not-yet approved Draft Fire Safe Regulations that will make it economically unfeasible for many in the CZU Fire areas to get CalFire approval to rebuild:

Why isn’t Santa Cruz County one of the 39 rural county members in the RCRC??  People who have asked County staff were told there just isn’t money for that.  Hmmm….

DON’T BE FOOLED INTO THINKING THAT MEASURE B WILL REALLY FUND ANYTHING RELATED TO FIRE PROTECTION
Local Measure B is overshadowed by discussions of other high-visibility transportation issues, but don’t let yourself get fooled into supporting the County CAO’s deceptive plan to increase the General Fund with unfair increases to the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) This is the tax people pay when they come to visit the area and rent a hotel / motel room, or a vacation rental, or a room in a resident’s home for a short time.  

Measure B wants you to vote on whether to increase that tax on hotel/motel rooms by 1% and increase hosted room rentals and vacation rentals at a higher rate, 3%.  I have met many of the hosted room rental folks, often widows who need to sometimes rent out a room in their home for a few days to get enough money for medical bills or to pay property taxes.  They would have to increase what they charge at a much higher rate than would the large hotel corporations.  Is that fair?  The CAO is seeking to capitalize on neighborhood complaints related to vacation rental problems…but what exactly would an increase in the TOT revenues do to address those issues?  There is no plan and no guarantee that it would.

Once again, the County Board of Supervisors and CAO want to fool you into thinking this money would fund fire protection, the very same trick they used in 2018 for a countywide half-cent sales tax increase, known as Measure G.  In fact, the language in the two ballots is nearly identical.

To date, ZERO dollars from Measure G has funded fire protection.

Don’t be fooled again because the Board of Supervisors is not holding the CAO accountable for how Measure G funds are spent, and it is unlikely they would do anything differently with Measure B revenues. Please vote NO on Measure B this June.   

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT CONTINUES TO DRILL WELLS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PUBLIC ROADWAYS
Traffic on Kennedy Drive in Capitola is restricted to controlled one-way travel as Soquel Creek Water District continues drilling yet another well in the middle of the public roadway for the plan to inject treated sewage water into the pristine aquifer. 

https://www.sccoplanning.com/PlanningHome/Environmental/CEQAInitialStudiesEIRs/CEQADocumentsCOPY.aspx 

These types of well locations are cheaper than paying land owners, like Cabrillo College, money for easements, but what will it do to the integrity of the publicly-maintained roadways??

Meanwhile, the empty lot the City of Santa Cruz kicked Food Not Bombs out of in order to provide a construction staging area for Soquel Creek Water District’s plan to attach their large pipe holding pressurized treated sewage water laden with toxic chloramine to the Laurel Street Bridge sits completely empty…except for the ironic portable toilet.

And thanks to last week’s wind blowing the construction fabric over the fence at the site next to the County Sheriff Headquarters on Soquel Avenue, we can take a look at the status of the treatment plant project site where incredibly noisy and high energy-demand treatment plant will be.  Modifications to the PureWater Soquel Project have required the energy demand triple from the original guess made in the 2018 EIR the District’s Board certified. 

LARGEST POWER BATTERY STORAGE FACILITY IN THE WORLD IN MOSS LANDING
Large energy-hog projects like the Modified PureWater Soquel Project as well as the City and County’s high-rise, high-density plans will all place enormous demands for energy.  Right in time is the installation of the world’s largest battery storage facility just across the Bay.  Hopefully, more photovoltaic panels will become required for all new development to help offset demands, and the power can be stored locally.

[East Bay Times article]

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to require solar panels on all new development?

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  READ ONE CHAPTER OF THE DRAFT COUNTY SUSTAINABILTY PLAN AND EIR AND SUBMIT YOUR COMMENT. 

MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING 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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April 24

GRASS

A sometimes mysterious and much underappreciated plant family – grass. We eat it, weave it, build with it, wear it, make fuel out of it, livestock depend on it, it blankets lawns and playing fields, holds roadsides and hills in place, serves as winter cover crop in agriculture, and waves about in the prairie breeze providing bison food, grassland bird nesting habitat, and forage for the many small creatures that feed predators – wolves, coyotes, eagles, and bears.

What’s a Grass?

Grasses are all in the family Poaceae and are set apart from similar-looking plants by having a hollow stem. The rhyme goes: sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses like asses have holes in their stems. Patrick Elvander taught me that- he was an inspirational botany professor at UCSC who died too young. That rhyme deserves some decoding. Sedges mostly have triangular stems and leaves, with 3 edges to their leaf blades. Most rushes have round leaves and stems, both are solid, filled with a pith. Grasses have hollow stems like a straw.

There are more than 500 species of grass in California; around half are introduced. There are more than 200 varieties of grass in Santa Cruz County, so there’s lots to learn locally just with this group of plants!

Food from Grass

Corn, rice, sorghum, barley, wheat, oats, and rye are the commonly known human food grasses. You might have a hard time telling barley, wheat, oats, and rye seeds apart when they are whole…but corn, whoa- what a different looking seed! Corn is a New World grass, the others are from the other side of the world. Rice is pretty different looking (New World wild “rice” isn’t related). Each of these grasses has distinct flavors.

Grain species have been bred into varieties for different uses. For example, corn has varieties divided into: flint, flour, dent, pop, sweet, and waxy. Wheat has seven such varieties. And so on.

Native peoples ate native grasses, but we’re not sure all of the ones they used. European wild oats spread so quickly that when Old World ethnographers first encountered native peoples in northern California, they had already incorporated them in their dietary repertoire.

Holding the Soil in Place

Beyond food, grasses are useful for soil conservation. Have you ever stood in a parking lot or listened to the rain on a roof during a rainstorm?  It is noisy! That same heavy downpour falling on a grassland is quiet. The flexible grass blades intercept raindrops, lowering them gently to the ground, springing back up to catch the next one. If the rain is very heavy, the soaked blades fall over, protecting the soil.

People have long appreciated the erosion control utility of grasses around California. In Santa Cruz County, there was for a time a specific County-government mandated erosion control seed mix that was mostly grass seed. Alas, the well-meaning County had prescribed a host of species that were non-native and quite invasive, so I’m hoping no one uses it anymore. At about that same time a similarly poor policy was widely implemented across the state: seeding nonnative invasive annual rye grass seed after wildfires. There was concern about the species’ invasiveness, but the practice was only halted after scientists documented slope failure caused by the unnaturally weighty grass biomass and increased fire danger from tons of fine, flammable dead grass the next summer.

Other Uses

You probably know many interesting and useful grasses: lemon grass for Thai cooking and bamboo for stir frying new shoots and use of older shoots for plant stakes and buildings. A local woodland species, vanilla grass, has been grown in plantations for the flavoring of pipe tobacco. Many species have been woven into baskets. Broom corn, a type of millet, makes natural brooms and some midwestern towns were economically supported by this industry in the early 1900’s.

Then there is chicken scratch, cattle and horse pasture, silage for dairies, grains in the feedlots, and bales of hay in the barn: the many ways that grasses feed livestock. 

Evil Grasses

Not all grasses are welcomed by livestock. Interestingly, a terribly invasive toxic perennial grass is being sold for seeding horse pastures: tall fescue. This grass easily gets infected by a fungus that is mutagenic and causes horses to miscarry! And, people seed pastures with rye grass despite its tendency to mold and cause something called ‘the staggers’ with poisoned livestock wandering around like they are drunk, losing weight and seeming quite sick.

Besides some species poisoning horses and cattle, other grasses have been bad problems. Some suggest that the collapse of the Mayan civilization was due to the invasion of their agricultural systems by uncontrollable weedy grasses (and drought). Modern agriculture is also plagued by grassy weeds. Some were enthusiastic about using herbicides for grass weeds and even genetically engineering the crops to be resistant to herbicides. Very soon, strains of Italian ryegrass became resistant to herbicides and the presence of that species on farms vastly devalued the resale value of the land. 

Achoo!

Italian ryegrass has more notoriety: it is the most allergen filled plant known to humankind. The species proliferates with the nitrogen raining down from air pollution, and so it lines highways and takes over meadows around the Bay Area. When it blossoms, everyone gets sick- even people who don’t know they have grass allergies report sore throats and coughing for the 2 weeks of its peak bloom. So, invasive non-native grasses are a health hazard – and grassland restoration and management is important for human health. 

Invasion

Walk in a California grassland and 80% of what you step on is non-native, mostly invasive grasses. Each year, new invasive species show up in the grasslands introduced accidently through global trade or purposefully through the nursery or turf grass industries. Once naturalized, new species evolve to become better fit and can be even more invasive.

Moseying Grasses

Did you know that bunchgrasses move around? Many of our native perennial grasses are called bunchgrasses because they grow in clumps, without runners. And yet, the stems of each clump might die on one side and new ones might sprout on the other side, so the grass clump can move around. Long term studies have monitored meters of movement in bunchgrasses over decades. 

Soil Carbon and Perennial Grasses

There has been a lot of bogus hand-waving about the differences between native perennial grasses vs. non-native annual grasses. I have been hearing a lot recently that native perennial grasses have much more extensive, deep, carbon-storing root systems in contrast to exotic annual grasses. These distinctions miss the troubling invasion of non-native perennial grasses into our coastal prairies…some of those species are more robust than native perennials. Also, native perennial grasses come in many sizes with many different morphologies- some are teeny tiny (Blasedale’s bent grass, an endangered grass of Santa Cruz’ North Coast), others are very medium sized (meadow barley). I would wager that an annual exotic oat grass on rich soil would have a larger root system and sequester more carbon than the native perennial meadow barley growing alongside it. 

This hand waving seems to me to be unnecessary jingoism for soil carbon sequestration via restoration of a very few species of big, burly native bunchgrasses. This is dangerous because our prairies are so much more rich than those few species of large, common native perennial grasses. Planting/stewarding just a few native grasses will cost us a wealth of other species diversity and potentially the resilience of the prairie ecosystem as a whole.

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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April 25

#115 / Socialism Rising

Hillsdale College, an extremely reliable bastion of ultra-conservative, religious-based education, has put me on its mailing list. I make no complaints about that. I try to listen to voices with which I am, more often than not, in profound disagreement. For those not familiar with Hillsdale College, and who might want to know more than what the link to the college website will tell you, Wikipedia provides this information

 

Hillsdale College is a private conservative liberal arts college in Hillsdale, Michigan. Founded in 1844 by abolitionists known as Free Will Baptists, it has a liberal arts curriculum that is based on the Western heritage as a product of both the Greco-Roman culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition. Hillsdale requires every student, regardless of concentration of studies, to complete a core curriculum that includes courses on the Great Books, the U.S. Constitution, biology, chemistry, and physics.

Reproduced below is the beginning text of an email I recently received from Hillsdale, urging me to take a survey on “socialism.” The headline on the email rather flamboyantly posed the following question:  

Socialism Rising?

 
Candidly, the implication of the mailing from Hillsdale was not only that socialism is rising, but that socialism has the dread potential to be like one of those waves that could “drown the whole world.” Clearly, the mailing wants me to believe that we are in very deep trouble here in the United States of America, if it turns out that socialism really is “rising,” and that’s what Hillsdale finds out from its survey.

Hillsdale College is not the only place you will hear the claim that “socialism” is coming for us. Name a Republican elected official; that official has almost certainly warned us about socialism. The Wall Street Journal mentions “socialism” almost every day on its editorial pages and in its opinion columns. Did I mention Fox News?

 

I think we might best understand the expressed concern about “socialism rising” as the red cape technique employed in Spanish bullfights. That’s the rag that focuses the bull’s attention on a non-existent danger, so that the real danger, the killing sword, never really comes into view. 

 

May I suggest that we not be fooled? 

 

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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April 25

FLORIDA, FLORIDA, FLORIDA WITH GEORGIA ON MY MIND

Disney, DeSantis and Mizelle – not a law firm, but it sings with echoes of the phrase, “Florida, Florida, Florida!”, as popularized by the late newsman Tim Russert, which is where much of the nation’s news was centered this week. Leading off the barrage was U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s striking down the federal travel mask mandate, with major airlines then telling domestic passengers to show their faces! Mizelle, a 2020 Trump appointee with just over a year’s service was promptly in the spotlight, with critics reminding the public that she was confirmed even after being given a ‘not qualified‘ rating by the American Bar Association, based on her limited experience. The judge maintains that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had overstepped its authority in requiring masks on public transportation, but which most legal experts considered to be valid to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The CDC is appealing the decision to put the issue before the appellate court, which is, unfortunately, the conservative 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Unless the ruling is overturned, experts worry that Judge Mizelle has hampered the agency’s ability to respond to future health crises. Generally speaking, the states have responsibility for health measures, with the feds having a more limited role; but, Congress has the authority to pass a law giving the CDC more power – or to curtail its judgements. For now, our doctors don’t have to ask the local judge for permission to write our prescriptions, but if attacks on health agencies which erode the public trust continue unabated who knows where we end up? “Oh, you say you have a slipped disc…well, what was the judge’s verdict?” “Think you have an STD? Not on the docket for six more weeks!” Can’t wait to see the stethoscope draped over the black robe as the magistrate holds court!

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis concluded his feud with Disney World by signing the bill stripping the corporation of its self-governing ability, which in 1967 was entitled the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, giving the park its tax privilege in a special district status. Disney, as the state’s largest private employer with 80,000 on the payroll, ran afoul of DeSantis and his mob after speaking out against Florida’s recently enacted Parental Rights in Education Act,’ commonly known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay‘ bill, which outlines new statutes for primary education, gathering criticism far and wide for prohibiting primary students from learning about gender identity. Opponents of the bill state that it could further stigmatize LGBTQ students, and that schools should be the place where such topics are discussed, with some legal scholars suggesting the vaguely worded bill might eventually be ruled unconstitutional. While DeSantis stays on his crusade to out-Trump Trump on the path to 2024, he is likely to see hackles raised among property owners in counties neighboring Disney World, with their property taxes increasing up to 20 percent annually. A $2 billion shortfall will have to be made up by residents with an average $2,200 per household, with local municipalities being responsible for roads, sewage and approval for any expansion of the park.

Florida Conservative’s punishment against a corporation that dared to take a side in politics is being watched closely by other state parties, with the GOP traditionally being business-friendly while garnering contributions from those protected entities. One individual predicted that if right-wingers tend to stay away from Disney World and Disneyland, they will TRULY become ‘The Happiest Places on Earth.’ 

Unable to leave well-enough alone, the Florida Commissioner of Education announced the rejection of 54 MATH textbooks submitted by publishers for the coming school year, saying that 26 of those contained ‘prohibited topics,’ including Critical Race Theory and Social-Emotional Learning. Governor Ron DeSantis chimed in with, “It seems that some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on the old house built on the foundation of Common Core, and indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary students.” Scant proof was offered to support these claims, but it seems that if one is afraid to use or read a book that might change one’s thinking, then you’re not afraid of books, you’re afraid of thinking. As Oscar Wilde maintained, “The books that the world calls ‘immoral,’ are books that show the world its own shame.” That goes for math books, too, Guv’ner!

Posted notice in a bookstore: ‘PLEASE NOTE – For your convenience, the Post-Apocalyptic Fiction section has been moved to Current Affairs.’ Actor and Reading Rainbow host, LeVar Burton, says, “There are plenty of books to choose from, but you know what? No, read the books they don’t want you to. That’s where the good stuff is…read the banned books.”

This just in to the email folder (twice now): 

Patriot:
The Deep State is trying to kick me off the ballot.

Despite donating millions to my opponents, they know they can’t beat me in a fair election. So, they do what Deep State Elites do best – they try to change the rules to benefit them.

They’re trying to prevent me from winning before the election starts! All because I supported the right to peacefully protest the election stolen from Donald Trump in 2020.

Frankly, I’m worried that without your help, they might succeed.

Thank you. God Bless America.

Marjorie Taylor-Greene
Congresswoman (R-GA)

Poor Marj! The help she needs is way beyond our capabilities after seeing what those Jewish Space Lasers did to her brain, as exhibited in the Alabama courtroom on Friday – she failed to recall events from the past three years that still reverberate in our own minds. The three hour testimony to defend herself against a group of Georgia voters, calling themselves ‘Free Speech For People,’ are challenging her suitability for the ballot in her reelection bid, based on the so-called insurrection disqualification clause of the 14th Amendment. It’s bound to lead to more questioning before the House January 6 Committee before it’s over – surely they can provide some assistance in restoring her jumbled synapses. Missing from her Memory Box (but not from audio/video-recordings) are references to insurrectionists being referred to as ‘patriots,’ while those arrested are ‘political prisoners.’ She seems to have no recollection of opposing a peaceful transition of power to Joe Biden or to acknowledge Trump’s loss, as she called for a mass convergence on Washington for “our 1776 moment.” Discussing declaration of martial law with President Trump? Nope – didn’t deny it, just couldn’t remember doing so. Support of QAnon? Nahhh – but rigorous support of their theories!  Myth has it that humans only use 10% of our brain power, which flies in the face of evolution. Why would nature give us such a large, energy-consuming instrument for partial use? Scientists tell us that no part of the brain does nothing, so our little Marjorie may be a perfect specimen for some research. Her deposition in the hearing could result in a judge ordering her removal from the ballot, and since she perjured herself constantly, with opposing counsel calling out her lies with proof, it provides grounds for a judge to favor her opponents. Perjury charges rarely follow a civil suit, though possible, but Taylor-Greene could appeal should her ballot presence be disallowed. But even so, this is a momentous case and we can be certain that the Department of Justice was watching closely, along with other potential prosecutors. Madison Cawthorn, take heed! And, Lauren Boebert, you may be next in line!

Fox Nation is airing Piers Morgan’s new show, Piers Morgan Uncensored, featuring an interview with former president, Donald Bumbledore, purported to be a fiery one-on-one with Donny ‘foaming at the mouth.’ Morgan says he was called a ‘fool’ six times by the orange-hued interviewee, who also had choice names for former VP Pence, and Senate Minority Leader McConnell. Release of several video clips show some contentious moments, with the former prez asking that the interview be concluded – “We’re done!” But somehow, Morgan lured him back, probably with a promise of a Mac ‘N Fries, ending the interview with Trump’s braggadocio of scoring a recent hole-in-one in his golf game. Whew – a hard-hitting exchange in the end! Don’t miss it. 

In closing, let’s all sing or hum along:
It’s a small-minded world, after all; It’s a small-minded world, after all, 
It’s a small, small-minded worrrrrllld! 

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

    “MAY”

 “The flowry May, who from her green lap, throws the yellow cowslip and the pale primrose. Hail bounteous May that dost inspire mirth and youth and warm desire. Woods and groves are of thy dressing. Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.”
~John Milton

“I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May.”
~Smokey Robinson 

“Warm, wild, rainy wind, blowing fitfully, stirring dreamy breakers on the slumberous May sea. What shall fail to answer thee? What thing shall withstand the spell of thine enchantment, flowing over sea and land?”
~Celia Thaxter

 “And after winter folweth grene May.”
~Geoffrey Chaucer

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