Blog Archives

April 29 – May 5, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…the real Hawaii issues. Sentinel’s politics. Errett Circle Church, sugary beverages & the City council. GREENSITE… on comparing Australia and USA on Covid 19. KROHN…will be back next week. STEINBRUNER…15 billion County deficet, bad drinking water, Soquel Creek water debt, City Council and Covid laws. PATTON…on being Ruled.EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. JENSEN…her second book. QUOTES…”BOREDOM”


AN EARLIER SANTA CRUZ. This was 1894 after the big fire. It is Pacific and Cooper Streets. City water had been shut off earlier in the day. Do note the Town Clock in its original position “high atop” the old Elks building.                                                   

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email





HAWAII’S REAL ISSUES. For many years I’ve had a free subscription to Ka Wai Ola, the official monthly newspaper of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.(OHA). The April edition has a story ( titled “Aloha Rising Survey Results”. It lists the most important Hawaii issues. 1. Affordable homeownership. 2. Proper management of land and water resources. 3. Native Hawaiian representation in government. 4. Poverty in Hawaii. 5. Access to Hawaiian homelands. More than that… 88% of the survey responders plan on voting this year, and 78 % of these responding Hawaiians participated in an Hawaiian cultural activity last year. 

SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL FOLLOWUP. Area activist Fred Geiger wrote to say something like “don’t be too kind to the Santa Cruz Sentinel; they’ve been so Republican for so many decades”. He’s right, and so was the Sentinel dating back to the anti -Chinese era and today with more than enough right-wing columnists. The Sentinel never once in 20 years endorsed Gary Patton for County Supervisor as an example. Then too, there’s Bruce McPherson. He was co-editor with brother Fred and became my editor for the short six months I wrote for them. He later quit the Republican party and went “no party preferred”.  But to Mr. Geiger I say, “look at the columnists starting with Amy Goodman and their near daily choice of letters to the editor”. Besides all that, it’s owned and operated by Media News Group. Wikipedia says of Media news group… “MediaNews Group is known as a cost-cutter in the newspaper publishing industry. The company has a reputation for buying smaller daily newspapers in a single area (examples include Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area) and consolidating their operations, including sharing staff writers and printing facilities. As a result of the cost-cutting, some former employees say that the newspapers are focused on making a profit to the detriment of good journalism”. Having said which, I do believe it’s also important for a community to read about meetings, events, happenings, and as much local news as possible. I think the beleaguered Sentinel staff — even with today’s — pressures tries hard to do that.

THE CIRCLE CHURCH DEVELOPMENT. If I read the docket properly, Tuesday April 28 will be the City Council’s chance to save our community church at Errett Circle — or let the greedy developers split the property into pie-shaped pieces and make millions. The whole piece was sold for $3.3 million in February.

April 28

On Delivering the Goods

Santa Cruz library patrons received an email on Monday afternoon from Santa Cruz Library director Susan Nimitz with the following:

“We are working extra hard to plan for a future when we can safely return to providing you with physical materials.” 

Just how “extra hard” have our library system heads been working towards this goal I wondered?  This came to me after a conversation with my girlfriend in NSW Australia about the books we are reading during our respective countries’ stay at home orders. After we exchanged our favorite books and programs she added that a highlight for her has been the delivery of library books to her home by the local library during the shut down. I felt a twinge of envy. One of the top negatives for me during this stay in place order has been the shutdown of our libraries except for online access. I understand no gatherings at the libraries. I understand no book returns.  I don’t understand why books ordered online wouldn’t be delivered to an address? It surely is no more risky than delivered food, in fact probably less risky. I read a book online only when there are no other options. Our public library has given us no other options. I think it reflects a lack of imagination or lack of caring or both. Let them read online!

This got me thinking about the difference between Australia and the USA with respect to response to Covid-19.

We can speculate why Australia, Mexico, South America (other than Ecuador) India and Africa have not seen the spread and deaths from Covid-19 as have China, northern Europe and the USA. Maybe season related? We will see. Beyond this speculation, there are significant differences in the response to the pandemic that are worth noting. 

Australia has a conservative Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. In Australia the conservative party is the Liberal Party while the liberal or left of center party is the Labour Party. Tomato Tomahto. They usually form a coalition government (it’s a parliamentary not a two-party system) with either the Greens or the Country Party or others depending on the season.

Early on in the pandemic the conservative Prime Minister convened a national cabinet of all state and territory leaders who meet regularly and issue updates. Similar to the USA, states in Australia have a lot of independence yet there emerged a rare consensus for the need to act together.  The trade unions, more powerful in Australia than in the USA although their power has diminished since neo-liberalism took hold in the 1980’s, worked with the government to determine a fair package to assist workers and reached agreement, another rare occurrence. An app can be downloaded that allows Australians to be traced if they have been in contact with a known carrier. Despite concerns, 2 million people out of a population of 25 million down loaded the app in the first 24 hours. Schools are about to re-open. With few exceptions, people are following stay in place and physical distancing orders. The tourist beach Bondi remains closed but other beaches are open and people are keeping their proper distance. By and large, despite its convict past, most Aussies obey the rules. No dogs on beaches; no bikes on single-track trails; no socializing during a pandemic.

It’s been said that this virus has stripped naked our system’s flaws. Beyond the inability to deliver books to our homes, a major flaw exposed here, among others, is an individualism that works well at some times but at this time works against our common interest which is survival. 

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.


April 27, 2020 

Chris will be back next week.

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected the the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His current term ends in 2020.

Email Chris at

April 28

How long must kids have to drink water known to contain a carcinogen because the water companies say they can’t afford the treatment cost to remove it?

I listened in on a three-hour teleconference workshop by the State Division of Drinking Water to learn more about how much carcinogenic Chromium 6 water companies should be allowed to sell to customers.  Over 50 individuals participated, some of them were teachers from Watsonville schools and city government staff.  Teachers lamented that in the past five years, the incidence of students developing cancer has risen dramatically. 

Teachers and social justice advocates pointed out the EPA mandated in 2004 that State Division of Drinking Water officials develop the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Chromium 6, a proven carcinogen.  Poised to adopt a more protective health goal level in 2017, the State was forced by a legal judgement to conduct a feasibility study for water treatment to remove Chromium 6.

That is happening now.  Here is the White Paper ready for public comment

Public comment will be accepted until May 15.      Include “Public Comment on Feasibility White Paper for Establishing Hexavalent Chromium MCL”

There are a few alternative treatments that several discussed in the teleconference workshop, such as this one:

Ionex SG Debuts Breakthrough Technology For Low-Cost Removal Of Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium 6) From Groundwater — With Near-Zero Waste

Note that Ionex installed the first-in-the-nation Chromium 6 treatment station at the Soquel Creek Water District facility.  Too bad that the moment the Court ruled the Chromium 6 MCL would not be immediately lowered, Soquel Creek Water District exited the contract agreement with Ionex.  The District, however, continued to collect rate monies from customers to pay for the Chromium 6 treatment.  District ratepayers owe a debt of gratitude to ratepayer Jon Cole, acting as his own counsel for public benefit, for taking the District to court and winning his demand that the District stop collecting this money.  The judge made the District stop, but did not require them to refund any money.

One of my concerns, having listened to many comments in the teleconference workshop, was: will the expense of this treatment required to improve the health of the people drive the cost so high that the State could require small water companies to consolidate with large municipalities, in order to spread treatment costs over a larger group?

The next Board meeting of the Soquel Creek Water District is May 5 and will include many interesting items regarding the financial impacts of the expensive PureWater Soquel Project.  It will be teleconferenced, but members of the public are able to be unmuted only if a written request is made in advance of the meeting.  You can listen to the last meeting here 

Despite the video dated 4/2/2020, the meeting actually happened on 4/7/2020.

Make sure you tune in on May 5!

Soquel Creek Water District’s plan to inject millions of gallons of treated sewage water into the aquifer, let it sit awhile, then pump it out and sell it to customers is called Indirect Potable Re-Use.  The State is working away on making it so that water companies can soon put that treated sewage water directly into your tap and call it Direct Potable Re-Use.  

You can send comment to the State Division of Drinking Water and let those regulators know what you think.

Although the official public comment period ended a few months ago, Mr. Randy Barnard let me know that the State will continue to accept and consider public comment as policy is being created.

Division of Drinking Water’s Recycled Water Information | California State Water Resources Control Board  

It is chilling that the FBI raided a clinic near Detroit because the owner was administering Vitamin C to frontline medical and emergency responders to keep their immune systems strong.

FBI raids medical spa for providing false coronavirus treatments of high doses of vitamin C

FBI raids medical spa for providing false coronavirus treatments of high…

Would the FBI raid a community clinic for administering mandatory vaccination for COVID, even though it is not proven safe or effective, and the testing to prove that has all been waived?

Researchers call for relaxed standards in race to find coronavirus vaccine

Maybe not if the dose includes an Identification chip.

ID2020 | Digital Identity Alliance

I received the following this week from a friend…

On Tuesday, 4/28, the Santa Cruz City Council will consider two specific items on the agenda #17 & 18.  Item 17 proposes extending the COVID emergency for 60 days, until the end of June.  Item 18 authorizes City employees to issue citations to enforce the “shelter in place”, “social distancing”, and mask wearing requirements.

I was surprised and dismayed to learn that most City employees were ALREADY authorized to issue these Notices to Appear and Release Citations.

The following additions are being proposed:

  • Marine Safety Officer
  • Santa Cruz County Health Officer and subordinates
  • Urban Foresters and City Arborists
  • Wharf Supervisor
  • Golf Course Superintendent
  • Rangers
  • Resource Recovery Supervisor
  • Street Sweeper Operators
  • Water Patrol Officer

These changes to Chapter 4.02 “Code Enforcement Authority and Powers” of Santa Cruz Municipal Code will be voted on at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, 4/28

I asked an attorney for clarification on “Notice to Appear and Release Citations” – and received this reply – 

“The process, in other words, is equivalent to what happens with a “traffic ticket,” with which many persons have experience. If, the person charged does not admit the violation, and wants to contest the citation, then guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as in all criminal proceedings. Evidence will have to be produced in court by the prosecution. IF a person receiving a citation is found guilty, there can be penalties, probably including not only a fine, but incarceration. 

The purpose of the Penal Code Section is not only to establish that this procedure is valid, but to exempt from a civil lawsuit any authorized public officer or employee who is later claimed to have wrongly used this citation power.”

I don’t see any information about the proposed fines and have written to the City Council to inquire. 

This fact is continually stated that –  for most people the Coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough that clear up within 2 to 3 weeks.  This has certainly been the case in Santa Cruz County where the numbers continue to be extremely low.  

Negative Tests (3,090)
Positive Tests (115)=.04% –  67 people have recovered
Hospitalizations (18) = .006%
Deaths (2) = .0007%

There have been only 2 deaths, both persons with previous chronic health conditions.  **********

Does any of this worry you with respect to the personal freedoms and economic hardships that State and local officials are causing???  

CAO Carlos Palacios was the guest of Supervisor Zach Friend at last week’s Tele-Townhall meeting to discuss the economic impacts of the Health Officer and Governor  shelter-in-place orders.  He warned that the future economic conditions will be severe, with perhaps a deficit of $15-$20 Million in the County budget.

He said that, although County has not seen the surge in hospitalizations that had been predicted, the County continues to move forward to set up alternate medical treatment centers to handle the surge that may comein late May or early June.  

For this purpose, the Seventh Day Adventist Camp in Soquel and Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds are being contracted for possible homeless treatment and isolation centers if needed.  Simpkins Swim Center is already set up and in use, along with Multi-University in Scotts Valley and the Veterans Centers in Santa Cruz and Watsonville. 

CAO Palacios said that he does not expect to have to cut services  until after July 1, 2021 and beyond because the County has maintained a 10% reserve fund, totaling $58 million, that will fund the County’s needs.   Fiscal Year 2020-2021 was when CAO Palacios had warned the Board of Supervisors a tsunami of debt would arrive due to the CalPERS debt funding government employees.

The County has received no State or Federal stimulus money as of April 21.

Wow…our society needs to get back to work!


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.

Email Becky at


April 23
#114 / We Are Not Ruled

The picture on the right, taken from an article in City Journal, shows visitors inspecting the original version of the Declaration of Independence, in Washington, D.C. The article from which I grabbed this picture is entitled, “About Those Self-Evident Truths…” The article is worth reading, as a stimulus to civic engagement.City Journal is a politically conservative magazine published by The Manhattan Institute, which describes itself as “a leading free-market think tank focusing on economic growth, education, energy and environment, health care, legal reform, public sector, race, and urban policy.” 

That article on “Those Self-Evident Truths” advances the idea that our “culture,” as constituted by our “manners, morals, and beliefs,” is in a state of significant collapse. At least, that’s how I would provide a short synopsis. 

I can’t say that I am completely in tune with the article, but I was attracted to this statement, the second sentence in the article, with which I wholeheartedly agree: 

We are not ruled.

That is, we are “not ruled” unless and until the “culture” that supports our democratic self-government has, in fact, totally collapsed. I am not willing to concede that it has. 


If we want to maintain a nation that is “not ruled,” and in which “self-government” is practiced in fact, then a lot more of us will have to get involved in government ourselves.

Where self-government is concerned, there aren’t any shortcuts. 

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


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. A classic comic if there ever was one. These are from Tim’s private collection!

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Covers” 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

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “Hey, if the Rolling Stones can jam with each other online from their rec rooms, what am I waiting for? Here’s my response to the global shutdown; my “lost” second novel now available in its entirety online — for free! Nothing to join, nothing to buy, no passwords required. Just follow the links and enjoy! Doing my bit to provide a little escapism in these anxious times, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.


“Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself”. – Soren Kierkegaard 

“Boredom is the fear of self”. – Marie Josephine de Suin 

“There’s no excuse to be bored. Sad, yes. Angry, yes. Depressed, yes, Crazy, yes. But there’s no excuse for boredom, ever”. – Viggo Mortensen

This is so cool! After watching it, I fell down the rabbit hole of videos on scything and gardening and growing food for free!

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

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

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