Blog Archives

August 11 – 17, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Goodbye Palace Arts, Still more on Rail Plus Trail, movie critiques. GREENSITE…will be back next week. KROHN…Tough To Keep Up. STEINBRUNER…Scotts Valley Water issues, UC’s Natural Resources $ increase, LAFCO report coming soon. PATTON…Public Service. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Railroads”.

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THE SOUTH PACIFIC COAST LOCOMOTIVE AT BOULDER CREEK. 1895. This sturdy engine would leave Boulder Creek and make its way to the fish hatchery, Newell Junction, the golf links and finally, Santa Cruz. That’s according to Rick Hamman’s book, “California Central Coast Railways”.

photo credit: courtesy of Neighborhood Moving Services…see below
Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE August 9

PALACE ARTS CLOSES. It doesn’t seem that long ago (1970’s) when I would shop at the Pacific Avenue original location which is where Artisans art store in the Odd Fellows Building is today. Colonel Frank Trowbridge himself worked the counter and sold not just stationery and print goods but bibles and greeting cards. They also had a frame business in the basement. Sure Amazon and the internet caused the loss of onsite business. It’s a very real part of Santa Cruz that we’ve lost. 

RAIL PLUS TRAIL CONTINUED. Some F.O.R.T. (FRIENDS OF THE RAIL AND TRAIL) sent this letter to the Regional Transportation Commission. It covers everything from dealing with Roaring Camp Railroad to many other Greenway claims. Complex and many sided but well worth staying involved with this very divisive issue that Greenway continues to pursue.

Dear Director Guy Preston and RTC staff,

I’m appealing and asking that the Director’s Report for the August 5, 2021RTC meeting address concerns raised by the Yes-Greenway initiative.
Petitioners are seeking signatures to put the Yes-Greenway Initiative on the ballot that seeks to rewrite sections of the Santa Cruz County General Plan that impact our county. The Initiative language can be found on their site, and also here. The initiative seeks to remove essential transit-related sections from the General Plan while adding new language that constrains our transit options for the future which benefit everyone. 

Removed sections include these:

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MONTHLY-ISH PITCH

Bratton Online is a work of passion; the writers don’t get paid for all the time they put in. There are costs associated with running a website, however. If you feel so moved, you can make a donation for the running of BrattonOnline. Every little bit helps, and is most appreciated!

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Thank you!

Objective 3.7: Rail Facilities
To preserve and protect the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway (owned by RTC), for availability to carry freight, for possible future passenger rail transportation.

3.7.1 Rail Ridership Potential
…to preserve and protect existing railroad right-of-way and existing rail facilities for current seasonal recreational travel, for availability to carry freight, for possible future passenger rail service within the County, and for possible future passenger rail transportation for intra-County commuter use.

3.7.3 Rail-Trail Planning  — Santa Cruz/Watsonville; Programs

  1. Identify land use policies which will support future passenger rail use and prepare recommendations for General Plan and LCP Land Use Plan amendments at such time passenger rail use is approved and funded. (Responsibility: Planning Department, Regional Transportation Commission, Board of Supervisors)
  2. Participate in planning and consider funding for fixed guideway/rail service in the Santa Cruz/Watsonville corridor. (Responsibility: Planning Department, Public Works, Regional Transportation Commission, SCMTD, Board of Supervisors)
  3. If initiated by the RTC or other agencies, participate in a Santa Cruz to Los Gatos rail study and an around the hill recreational and commuter or passenger rail service study. (Responsibility: Planning Department, Public Works, Regional Transportation Commission)

 
PLEASE address the potential impacts of the passage of this initiative ASAP so that the public being asked to sign the petition can be fully informed:

  1. In what ways would passage of the initiative deter our ability to plan for rail transit?
  2. In what ways would passage of the initiative inhibit continued maintenance of the rail line?
  3. In what ways would passage of the initiative interfere with or delay construction of the Coastal Rail Trail?
  4. Please detail any of the known or potential costs to the county and/or losses of funding that could result from the passage of this initiative, including legal costs and the costs of delayed construction of projects already under way?
  5. What are some of the potential impacts to Roaring Camp/Big Trees operations and business viability?

Thank you for your hard work, and please continue to care for our invaluable rail line.  

 
Measure D provides funding for maintenance and must not be redirected toward other expenditures at the risk of maintaining and restoring the rail line.

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 RESORT. (HULU SINGLE) (38RT). After the commercials this poorly made supposedly scary haunted Hawaiian resort flop of a movie will bore you for what seems like hours. A silly foursome book a tour of a falling apart resort on Kilahuna Island and try to get us scared. It fails miserably, and is not to be confused with White Lotus on HBO, which is excellent and not haunted. 

VAL. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE) (93RT). Val Kilmer was and is a very half good actor. He’s got throat cancer now and has to speak through his throat. He amassed a zillion hours of himself during his acting career and made this documentary. Odd appearances by a very fat Marlon Brando, Tommy Lee Jones, and Nicole Kidman. It details his temper and ego in dealing with directors and only watch this if (a big IF) you like, or liked watching Val Kilmer .

THE SUICIDE SQUAD. (HBO MAX SERIES). (92RT). This is another very popular DC Comics silly hero worshipping gang. The squad has Idris Elba, Viola Davis and even Sylvester Stallone in it. Stallone plays the voice of King Shark, the shark wearing pants is one of the squad. I can’t watch this kind of comic violence and quit after 30 minutes. It is of course one of the biggest box office hits of the year….go figure.

CORMAN (APPLE TV SERIES). (64RT). Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the funny/ sympathetic fifth grade school teacher in Los Angeles. He’s got internal issues and many, many external ones. Even Debra Winger as Levitt’s mom doesn’t add enough depth to the plot, and it just keeps fading away. Not too bad but save your time and subscription money for anything better.

MORTAL. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). A very twisted plot that has you rooting for and against the main characters. It’s a Norwegian production that is maybe telling us that Jesus has returned deep within this guy who definitely has other world powers and deep problems. Then we see that it’s not Jesus but Thor who gets his hammer back!! Not too bad to watch it all depends on your mood…go warned.

SON OF THE SOUTH. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE). Another view of racism and politics and protests especially in Montgomery, Alabama. Spike Lee was in the production of this one and it shows. A much older Brian Dennehy plays a white racist. (61RT), and Julia Ormond is the understanding mother figure. Old timers will enjoy the history of SNCC (snick) and even Rosa Parks figures into the toughest scenes. The KKK are featured villains and it’s an important document of our not Critical Racist Theory times, as shameful as they were and are. It’s based on a very true story, so watch the closing credits.

OUR FRIEND. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE).(85RT). Casey Affleck is one of three tightly bound friends…Jason Segel is the nearly nutty buddy and Dakota Johnson is the misunderstood wife with terminal cancer. It’s based on an Esquire Magazine article written by the hero in the film. It flips backwards and forwards in time and is tough to remember where they/we are in the plot. There’s two young daughters who have to be told about Mom’s impending death and it becomes a heavy weeper but worth watching….when you’re in a good mood.

EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE. (HULU SINGLE). Again Casey Affleck has the lead in this (19RT) would be dramatic thriller. He plays a psychiatrist who has a woman patient commit suicide. The psychiatrist’s wife gets involved with the suicide’s surviving brother and it gets even more complex but worse as a movie. There is absolutely no reason to watch this movie, be kind to yourself instead. 

A FORTUNATE MAN. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (86RT). This is one fine movie. It’s from Denmark and has a deep enough sub plot centering on Christians and Jews that will keep you very attached. It’s a love story, a social commentary of that period in history, and a portrait of a young man with a destiny…at least he thinks so. Go for it.

THE PURSUIT OF LOVE. (AMAZON PRIME SERIES).(84RT) Covering the period between 1927 and 1941 this is the story, a romantic story of the relationship between two young women who are cousins. It’s light, airy, diverting and a big change from all the violent screeners we are offered nowadays. Underneath it all there’s a clever satire about the “upper class”  and their virtues. When you’re feeling down this one will definitely work.

 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, 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.  

A FORTUNATE MAN. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (86RT). This is one fine movie. It’s from Denmark and has a deep enough sub plot centering on Christians and Jews that will keep you very attached. It’s a love story, a social commentary of that period in history, and a portrait of a young man with a destiny…at least he thinks so. Go for it.

THE PURSUIT OF LOVE. (AMAZON PRIME SERIES).(84RT) Covering the period between 1927 and 1941 this is the story, a romantic story of the relationship between two young women who are cousins. It’s light, airy, diverting and a big change from all the violent screeners we are offered nowadays. Underneath it all there’s a clever satire about the “upper class”and their virtues. When you’re feeling down this one will definitely work.

LET HIM GO. (HBO MAX, PRIME VIDEO SINGLE). (84RT). In every sense of the words this movie stars Kevin Costner and Diane Lane and that means something nowadays. It means good (not great) acting. So many of the movies in the last two years especially, are cheap, amateur, thrown together productions just for the online streaming. This movie has a plot that takes place in the 1960’s in Calgary, Canada. A grandmother tries to get her grandson back from a cruel, unlikable, mean, bloody family. Not a great film but a treat to see a genuine motion picture production instead of the eyewash we subscribe to. Go for it.

A STONE IN THE WATER. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE). (60RT). A demented woman kidnaps a pregnant woman in order to steal her baby…and that’s not all…it’s in Oregon and the plot jumps to 35 years later plus a car crash, a disappearance, a retarded young boy now in his manhood. For some reason I noted that the script was bad, and it is , or was but the movie is too convoluted the acting even with Bonnie Bedilia is just not anything that will take your mind off anything lately.

THIS LITTLE LOVE OF MINE. (NETFLIX SINGLE). It’s a cheap Australian version of White Lotus (which I like). A woman attorney who can’t act goes to another beach town, with another over developed beach community. Both actors work at having American accents and fail miserably. A zero plot, great photography but not worth your time or rental monies.

DOM. (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO SERIES). It’s a long fight between father and son in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. The son is an addict and dad is a military agent. It’s sad, violent, and will keep you involved. Rio looks like a very developer friendly city by the beach. It’s how Santa Cruz would look if Barry Swenson and Bud Colligan had even more power. Not great abut time consuming.

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Gillian will be back here next week.

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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August 9, 2021

TOUGH TO KEEP UP.
If you are like me, you read a lot, listen to even more, and still are overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of development coming down in Surf City. Take a look at the city of Santa Cruz Planning Department’s web site and you will see the climate disruption issue on full parade. It is not somewhere out there in China or India or even Los Angeles, but right here ready to rip out the soul of our community if we stand by and throw our hands up. The United Nations climate report was released today, as I write this, and the prognostication is not a pretty one if we keep building the way our Planning Department, with direction of the current city council, is calling for. All the green buildings in the world will not put our humpty-dumpty planet together again. Santa Cruz developers will be pouring cement, lots of it, and they will be cutting down trees, heritage trees. And for what? To build some $800k condos for those who already have a home? Or for those who want to relocate to Santa Cruz so they can work from their near-the-beach villa? We need to stop. Stop the “Cruz Hotel” bait and switch ruse on Front Street where a hotel will replace the credit union building; stop the 233 “single room residencies” and 209 parking spaces (!!!) on Center Street; stop the Soquel-Front 172 condo project (why is 172 parking spaces called for?). All we have to do is look at what is taking place at Laurel and Pacific…a 205-unit condo complex and NOT one affordable unit will be integrated into what appears to be an upscale project, to comprehend what is taking place. There’s more, unfortunately, but it’s tough to keep up. Are these forces larger than the sum of our collective community angst, activism, and stamina? I guess we will find out soon.

What We Know
The UN Report looks to be only 41 pages, so I hope you will take a look at it. Here is where it begins: “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.” It’s all here, have a read.

Replacement Development
Okay, if we do not proceed with the luxury condo, second-homer, let’s fix up dingy Santa Cruz plan that Swenson, Lay, Lawlor, Carr, Meyers, and out-going Bernal have wrought, then what? We come together for a community-wide discussion, an on-going series of workshops and charrettes with the over-arching purpose of addressing climate change. We begin with the recently-released UN report and move to a community solution to our community housing and homeless/houseless crisis. Not easy stuff, I know, but it is time to develop and nourish the leadership needed now, integrating old and new ideas, and face up to what is in front of us: rising sea levels, less predictable temperatures, and challenging weather patterns, drought and fire in our case. This report is sobering, and yes, we have both a responsibility and the agency here in Santa Cruz to address climate change. Pouring more cement and building more parking spaces are the antithesis to what’s actually needed. The emperor has no clothes, not even a toothbrush, but the community has agency and education. Now, we need to find our way beyond allowing the greed machine, aka read this list of moneyed interests, to walk over us. Ready?

Watch Out Status-quo: Brown and Filippini Loom Large
I like to highlight the work of others, in this case, Sandy Brown and Lira Filippini recently posted outstanding work. Our local city council hero, Councilmember Brown wrote eloquently about why she could not vote for a sales tax increase if it did not place city workers first when it comes to budgeting the new money. Ms. Filippini’s work is quite important too. She questions the legitimacy of SB 35, which looks to supersede the democratic rights of locals. Have a read.

Sandy Brown Stands with SC Workers…(Her statement)
Recently, I cast the lone “no” vote to declare a fiscal emergency in the city of Santa Cruz. A unanimous vote was needed to place a half-cent sales tax on the ballot outside of the usual process of a consolidated general election.

In Spring 2018 I reluctantly supported a similar proposal, in spite of my concerns about the regressive nature of a sales tax, which disproportionately burdens those with the least ability to pay (though it does apply this same tax on visitors who place pressure on city services when they visit).

City leaders insisted that critical issues could only be addressed after passage, and that a sales tax was the only option. The tax passed in 2018, bringing the city much needed revenue for a variety of critical needs. Since then, city leaders have continued to underinvest in critical services and the essential workers who perform them and to prioritize consultants, studies, and expanded staffing at the top of the pay scale, those farthest away from on the ground realities that our community faces.

There are consequences to these choices. Public services, including maintaining our parks, open spaces, civic center, and other public spaces, are undermined; worker morale declines; recruitment and retention challenges increase. I consistently hear from city workers about the struggles they face due to low pay, from housing insecurity, to taking pay day loans, to becoming seriously ill due to COVID-19 exposure, and other hazards on the job. They are understaffed, overburdened, and paid far less than their counterparts at comparable public agencies. Many classifications continue to earn less than the city’s prescribed “living wage” (currently $18.10-$19.74/ hour, depending on health insurance provision). When the city adopted a living wage policy in 2000, it excluded its own workforce, committing instead to address the issue through labor negotiations. Since then, city leaders have refused to fulfill that promise. Twenty years on, it’s time for the city to finish what it started and raise the floor for its own workforce. This year, I asked my colleagues to make a meaningful commitment to address low pay and understaffing prior to a vote on the fiscal emergency. I also wanted to see more than a theoretical commitment to tackle affordable housing and homelessness response, the issues that voters told us were of the highest priority in a recent poll conducted by the city. What we’ve been doing is clearly not working. While the pandemic did reduce city revenues, workers stepped up by agreeing to furloughs and other measures to maintain core city functions. Money can be found in the city’s opaque budget, if one looks hard enough, including salary savings from unfilled positions, placeholder line items, and funds set aside for labor negotiations.

Additional revenue would surely help the city recover from pandemic-related revenue losses. It would provide resources for critical services performed by essential workers, support affordable housing investment, assist in city buildout of homelessness response, enabling parks maintenance and other workers to productively and safely do their jobs.

For the past month, I have done all I could to do right by the city residents who rely on these services and the people who do that work under challenging conditions. I worked with two council members to try to find ways to take some of the small steps that would give our community confidence that city leaders do value the workforce. Sadly, city leaders opted to foreclose the possibility of raising up to $7 million in sales tax revenue in the coming year because they refuse to address the underinvestment in city workers and services our residents need.

Sandy Brown can be reached at: sbrown@cityofsantacruz.com

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Lira Filippini Calls for Local Democratic Decision-making

Whether you want Santa Cruz to be an eccentric beach town or a buzzing high-rise city, don’t you think we – as a community – should retain an ability to influence how it changes?

Right now, our city is assessing its first ever Senate Bill 35 application for a large development at 831 Water Street. There is one great thing about Novin Development’s massive development application: 50% of the units will be set at “affordable” rates.

Unfortunately, there are also a number of major issues with this application that bring up substantiated concerns over public health, public safety, inequitable segregation, and the probable destruction of very important underground historical adobe foundations and artifacts from our intriguing Villa de Branciforte heritage. But more on all that another time; right now, what is most concerning is that our community is facing unprecedented loss of any meaningful input on developments that achieve SB 35 approval. And no one seems to know about it. SB 35 is a law passed in 2017 that had commendable “intent” in that it promotes affordable housing in areas that have not produced enough.

The state keeps track of our housing production and annually reports which cities and counties will be subject to SB 35. Santa Cruz has worked hard on this front and fulfilled all market rate and affordable housing development categories, except one: the “very-low income” category.

This single deficiency, makes our city subject to SB 35 and what is called “ministerial streamlining” for developments that set 50% of their units as affordable housing. Ministerial streamlining means that the city will fast-track the approval and permitting process without public hearings, taking away your voice. You might think we could benefit from removing barriers to building affordable housing, and build it fast. But let’s look at the implications in more detail. For instance, a developer can get SB 35 streamlining by only providing housing in the form of tiny studio apartments … and lots of them. A land of little boxes made of modular building sections in the “brutalism” architectural design. Sound appealing? Where’s the responsibility to provide for low-income families in that? And imagine sheltering in place in a tiny concrete box.

Quality of living, not requiring housing for families, and pandemic implications aside, SB 35 means no CEQA. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is an important law that dictates our need to be stewards for the health and safety of our built environment and our natural environment; it has been painstakingly set up for decades — by professionals in many industries — to ensure we don’t do irreparable harm when we create substantial changes to our infrastructure, including housing developments. But who needs environmental responsibility? 

Also, who needs assurance that the due diligence has been put in to make sure health and public safety are considered in the development’s permitting process? Does it make sense to throw all that CEQA work out the door because we need affordable housing? How about that the entire project — including the expensive, market-rate units, at about the same size and packed density — will be geared almost entirely toward singles? What effect on the overall expense of living here per square-footage will that have? We can talk about AMI (Average Median Income) and how what’s technically deemed “affordable” is disastrously affected by all this another time, but I’ll just say for now — it’s not looking good.

That brings us to the final straw, the nail in the coffin for an engaged and equitable process for developing our community. If you identify ways in which an SB 35 development will harm you, your family, the environment, or community — too bad. SB 35 and city staff tell us we will have no say. But stay tuned, because our elected representatives, our City Council, have more power than they think in this process — and we’ll have to demand they use it.

Lira Filippini can be contacted at: lirafilippini@gmail.com

 Addendum: And please don’t forget what my colleague, Gillian Greensite wrote last week:
Senator John Laird is waffling on SB 10 and Assembly member Mark Stone, who has not taken a position on SB 10, voted for its evil twin SB 35 last time around. Both need to hear from you. Go to Lairds and Stones websites and email them your views. Request a zoom meeting. The bills still have to pass the Assembly.  August 16 is the deadline.  The future of Santa Cruz cannot be further ripped from local control and dictated to by a clueless Sacramento.

“I’ve heard a lot from the punditry as to why Nina Turner lost her race in Ohio. Well, maybe it had something to do with drug companies, Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry spending millions trying to defeat her. Is that the kind of Democratic Party we want? I don’t think so.” (Aug. 7)

I am running this picture again because these 15 progressive members of the US House of Representatives have the power to implement real change. Changes like Medicare-of-All and free state college tuition, if they decide to stick together and vote together as a bloc. It’s time.

(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 16 years. Krohn was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. That term ended when the development empire struck back with luxury condo developer money combined with the real estate industry’s largesse. They paid to recall Krohn and Drew Glover from the Santa Cruz city council in 2019.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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August 9

PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD NOW OPEN FOR DRAFT WATER PLAN IN SANTA MARGARITA BASIN
If you are interested in how the San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley areas will address water supply issues into the future, please take the time to review the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency’s Draft Groundwater Sustainable Plan (GSP).  It will be out for a 60-day public comment period, having been noticed on July 22, 2021.  

The Agency Board will review public comment and ultimately submit the final document to the State Water boards by January 31, 2022. [Groundwater Sustainability Plan]

PUBLIC MEETINGS ABOUT BUILDING A BAR ACROSS FROM FOUR SCHOOLS
This five-story twin tower at proposed for the cornier of Water Street and Branciforte would put a large bar on the rooftop….smack in the middle of a quiet historic neighborhood and directly across the street from the Branciforte Small Schools Campus in which three of the four schools include high school students. Does this make sense to you? Not me.

The Santa Cruz City Council will weigh in about this stupid project on Tuesday, August 10.

You may or may not be aware that the developer of the proposed 831 Water Street project will hold an online “Community Meeting” on Thursday, August 12, AT 6pm. Here is a link to more information

Zoom in and make your voice be heard!

2021-22 State Budget Act Includes Historic Increase for University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

On July 12, Governor Newsom signed the 2021-22 State Budget Act, which includes a historic increase for the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). In addition to restoring UC ANR’s budget to pre-COVID levels of FY 2019-20, the division’s budget was augmented with an additional $32 million in ongoing funding, bringing total state support to $107.9 million. UC ANR, which includes the county-based UC Cooperative Extension, Integrated Pest Management and 4-H Youth Development programs, is expected to use the budget augmentation to fill scores of vacancies throughout the division, including the several dozen vacant positions at UC Extension.

Over the past 20 years, state funding for UC ANR decreased by almost 50% (adjusted for inflation), resulting in a significant reduction of UC ANR’s Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists – from 427 positions in 2001 down to only 269 in 2021 – creating vacancies in many critical positions.

With this new funding, UC ANR will begin recruiting for 20 UC Cooperative Extension academic positions and prioritizing many more critical positions for hiring during the next several months. 

To learn more about how UC ANR contributes to economic prosperity, protects natural resources, develops an inclusive and equitable society, safeguards food, develops the workforce, builds climate resilience, and promotes the health of people and communities in California, see the stories in its 2020 annual report here 

LAFCO REVIEW OF FIRE AGENCIES IN THE COUNTY 
At the August 4 LAFCO meeting, Director Joe Serrano announced that his Service and Sphere of Influence Review of all Fire Agencies in the County is complete and on the desks of all Fire Chiefs.  The administration will have until mid-September to comment, then the Report, with modifications, will go before associated Boards and Commissions for public review.

Mr. Serrano said it is the most comprehensive review he has ever done, and chose to use ISO ratings (related insurance and the ability of fire departments to respond and protect) as the common denominator among the jurisdictional evaluations, to allow an “apples-to-apples” analysis of effectiveness and how well the public is being served.

ISO Rtings for Fire Departments

We can all look forward to this excellent report.

THERE IS NO ISSUE HERE?
Why would the Director of County Public Works make a special point of photographing a hazard and proclaiming there is no hazard to cyclists??? That is exactly what Matt Machado, Director of Public Works and the Deputy County Administrative Officer did when I filed multiple requests with the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) Bicycle Committee and County Public Works tthat the shoulder be cleared for safety reasons.

Since last December, I have continued to report a vegetative hazard for bicyclists on eastbound Soquel Drive as they approach Spreckles Drive and the Aptos Creek Bridge. County Public Works staff sometimes has responded that they will “look into it”, but nothing has ever happened to clear the nasy thorns of the HImalayan blackberries and ivy that really chockes the area and forces cyclists into the lane of fast-moving and distracted vehicle traffic.

I used to ride a bicycle exclusively, and still see the roadways through that lens. More shoulder room is always better than less, especially when there is broken glass and other hazards that can cuase a crash. Take a look at the attached photos and let me know what you think…should the County Public Works Dept. get out the mowers and clear this area for safer bicycle travel?

In my opinion, this is a simple thing to help improve public safety. Mr. Machado recently looked me in the eye and informed me that my concerns bring “no value added” and are “toxic”. I was shocked then and continue to be when I think about it. I guess he has an agenda to keep, but one that disregards safety for bicyclists in the Aptos Village area.

THE WORST TRASH PROBLEM IN THE COUNTY
The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Manager gets  a first-prize ribbon for having the worst trash problem in the County, creating a rodent hazard and a stench that is unbelievable.  Despite County Recycling Staff appearing at multiple Fair Board meetings since 2018, pleading for the Fairgrounds to become compliant with local and state rules,  CEO Dave Kegebein is not willing to take measures that would address the violations…or the rats and stench.

Take a look at the nearly-overflowing dumpsters.  The problem could be addressed, according to the very patient County staff, by replacing the two large dumpsters with four or five smaller dumpsters that would be emptied more regularly.  CEO Kegebein is unwilling to do anything, other than berate the County staff after they have left the Board meetings.

What can you do?  Call the County Recycling Dept. staff (Tim Goncharoff  831-454-2160 or Tim.Goncharoff@santacruzcounty.us and urge them to start imposing fines for these public health and safety violations, as well as local and State laws regarding waste reduction rules.  CEO Kegebein is nothing but disrespectful when staff and members of the public try to plead for compliance.

Santa Cruz County Code reads:

7.20.110 Garbage containers—Removal and disposal.
Garbage containers on all premises shall be emptied and garbage shall be collected and properly disposed of not less than once a week. Such collection and disposal shall be by the authorized collector, except that the premises’ occupants may dispose of garbage in such manner and place as may be prescribed by the enforcement officer. More frequent collection or disposal may be required by the Enforcement Officer of premises where garbage is produced in such quantities, or is of such nature, that such increased frequency is necessary to prevent the occurrence of rodent and insect infestations or odor nuisances. [Ord. 4441 § 1, 1996; Ord. 4337 § 2, 1994].


Putrid odors?  You cannot imagine how disgusting the stench is at the Fairgrounds near these large, overflowing dumpsters.

  • Any putrescible waste needs to be in a covered bin and emptied at minimum once per week.
  •  AB 341: Mandatory Commercial Recycling (they do separate their cardboard and bottles but they are not capturing the many other recyclable materials collected by our hauler. If they were in compliance with this law, their trash will greatly be reduced and this would save them money.
  • AB 1826: Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling- food waste collection
  • AB 827: Commercial and Organic Waste: Recycling Bins- They must provide their customers access to a three steam system throughout the fairgrounds, clearly market and adjacent to one another

Here is what staff is asking CEO Kegebein to do:

“It is very important that the fairgrounds management educate and inform any vendors or rentals of our Environmentally Acceptable Packaging Ordinance which mandates all take-out ware to be compostable or recyclable and this waste can go into the commercial organics bin and it will be composted.
Ideally, this is what we would like to see:

  • Regular 1-2x/week pickups year-round with our hauler GreenWaste Recovery – especially for the many long term trailer residents (trash, recycling, organics).
  • Scheduled daily pick ups for large events for trash, recycling and food waste.
  • Secure monitors for the waste management areas at events
  • Provide signage and on-going education to the residents, vendors, renters and customers that attend the fairgrounds” 

Write the County Fair Board and let them know you want them to do a better job of recycling and trash removal at the County Fairgrounds:  Fair Board info@santacruzcountyfair.com they meet next on August 24, in person.

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.  ZOOM IN ON A PUBLIC MEETING.  JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK, AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

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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August 9

#221 / Public Service

Elizabeth Spiers’ column in the August 8, 2021, edition of The New York Times is titled, “How Cuomo Nearly Got Away With It.” For those not following this story, Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, pictured above, is accused of sexual harassment (plus being, generally, an overbearing and unsympathetic human being). A comprehensive investigative report, undertaken at Cuomo’s own request by the New York State Attorney General, has substantiated the sexual harassment accusations against Cuomo, and has documented a pattern and practice of sexual predation on his part. The report also confirms that Cuomo is an overbearing and unsympathetic human being. 

If Cuomo doesn’t soon resign, he will likely be impeached. That’s the prediction, anyway, and lots of people have called for his resignation, including the President of the United States. However, neither a resignation nor an impeachment has yet occurred. Thus, The Times’ headline seems just a bit premature. 

Spiers, the author of the column, is described by The Times as a “Democratic digital strategist.” Wikipedia reveals that Spiers was also the founding editor of Gawker, a Manhattan-based gossip blog that was driven into bankruptcy “as a direct result of the monetary judgment against it related to the Hulk Hogan sex tape lawsuit.” This lawsuit, brought against Gawker, “was bankrolled by the billionaire investor Peter Thiel who held a deep grudge against Gawker for outing him” as gay. Spiers, in other words, definitely knows how much the public enjoys and revels in salacious gossip about prominent people. This is of course, not news. 

My commentary in this blog posting is motivated not really by the salacious gossip about Cuomo (although that is interesting). Rather, I was struck by one phrase that Spiers uses as she discusses Cuomo’s situation:

All of these things have given people around Mr. Cuomo — and often, the general public — a sense that he operates like a macho Machiavelli who views other people as instruments for accumulating power and that he believes he is entitled to that power regardless of what the public thinks or wants. It is his political birthright, and public service appears to be a secondary consideration (emphasis added). 

While she doesn’t say so directly, Spiers seems to imply that if Governor Cuomo’s primary motivation had been “public service” that might have provided at least some excuse for a number of the sins of which he is accused. I would like to take exception to the idea that politicians who say their goal is to pursue “public service” are the right kind of politicians, the kind we ought to be trying to elect. I would like to advance the idea that when any politician suggests that his or her motivation in doing the job is somehow related to a commitment to “public service” the public should be immediately suspicious of that politician.

You do hear that a lot – that thing about politicians having dedicated their lives to “public service.” I think it is a bogus claim. It is a claim that is intended to distract. Many politicians are in it for the power, the glory, the money (and the sex), and that is one extremely good reason that so many members of the public don’t have a high opinion of politicians. 

But aren’t there some good politicians? Absolutely! Maybe even more than the other kind. The good ones, however, don’t claim that “public service” is their life’s goal. I was a politician for twenty years (at the local level, admittedly), and I would never have said that I did that job because I was dedicated to “public service.” 

Why then did I do the job? Why was I a politician? 

I was a politician because I was supported by and represented members of the public who wanted to achieve a certain kind of public policy objective. While I voted on hundreds of items each week, and had general responsibility for the conduct of Santa Cruz County government, I was first elected (and then re-elected four more times) because of my commitment to controlling and managing growth in Santa Cruz County, and because I wanted to provide local resources (money) for community-based human service programs. More than a majority of the people who could vote for me supported those objectives. I was a politician because I, like those who voted for me, wanted to have our local government deal, successfully, with those two issues – growth management and environmental protection, and a commitment to community-based human service work. The other things I did were part of my responsibility as an elected official, but the reason I ran for office (and was elected five times) was because I wanted to advance a specific political agenda, and the majority of the voters in the Third Supervisorial District in Santa Cruz County wanted that, too. That is, in fact, “the way it’s spozed to be.”

Let’s start understanding “government” for what it really is, and not try to idealize politics as some kind of general pursuit of “public service.” Politics is our way of deciding (among many alternatives) what we, collectively, will do about key issues of concern. Individuals who get involved in government – and we do call them “politicians” – should be there to accomplish particular public policy objectives. If a politician says something else, be careful. “Public service” is an “all things to all people” kind of phrase. The voters should not be looking for some general statement about devotion to “public service.” The voters should be asking themselves what is this person, this politician, actually going to try to do, specifically!

Any statement by a politician that he or she is devoted to a “life of public service” is almost always meant to district the voters. When you hear a politician say that, my advice is to run the other way (and to find someone to support who wants to advance the political agenda to which you are dedicated). 

Politicians who say they are seeking office, or are in office, because of their dedication to a life of “public service” are probably in it for the power, the glory, and the money (and the sex). 

My opinion – but an informed one! 

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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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

Railroads

“As a child I found railroad stations exciting, mysterious, and even beautiful, as indeed they often were”
~Paul Johnson

“Black people lived right by the railroad tracks, and the train would shake their houses at night. I would hear it as a boy, and I thought: I’m gonna make a song that sounds like that“.    
~Little Richard

“The close relationship between railroad expansion and the general development and prosperity of the country is nowhere brought more distinctly into relief than in connection with the construction of the Pacific railroads”. 
~John Moody

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Myles Weber is a stand-up comedian, and here’s a set of his from Drybar Comedy. Enjoy!


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

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

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
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