Blog Archives

August 16-22, 2023

Highlights this week:

Bratton… California Senate race endorsements, Dave Stamey & Ann Lydon return. Greensite…on San Lorenzo Park hot-air balloon. Schendledecker…does a linear left-right political spectrum make sense? Steinbruner…land use permits and height, city survey issues, Soquel’s farm park, Soquel Creek’s new board member, Zach Friend won’t be missed. Hayes…humanity. Patton…naming some names. Matlock…the deep state, other people’s money and irrelevancy. Eagan… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress pick of the week: 18th century automata Quotes “Lighthouses”


GERMANIA HOTEL, 1877. This was one of many “railroad hotels” in the Santa Cruz Watsonville area. It was known as the Railroad Hotel, then it became, and is known today as, the Santa Cruz Hotel. It’s at 200 Locust Street and is primarily known for its very active bar and cozy atmosphere upstairs on the second floor.

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

DATELINE August 14

AN ONGOING DISCUSSION. The campaigns for California State Senate are getting deeper and deeper. I’ve liked Adam Schiff for a few years now. Checking out his campaign pages I see that he’s got a very impressive and familiar list of endorsements. They include Nancy Pelosi, Jimmy Panetta, Sam Farr, John Laird, Aaron Peskin, Leon Panetta and Fred Keeley among many others.

Then when you see Katie Porters endorsers you start wondering. There’s Carol Fuller, Hollie Locatelli, Martine Watkins, Renee Golder, Shebreh Kalantri-Johnson.

But now think about Barbara Lee’s endorsements such as London Breed, Dolores Huerta, Anna Caballero, Dr. Cornel West, Fiona Ma, Ro Khanna and Justin Cummings too. This discussion will go on, so send me any and all news and info that seems missing.

DAVE STAMEY & ANNIE LYDON RETURN. Country and western music fans know about this and tickets are going fast. Dave and Ann will be at the Hallcrest Vineyards Sunday August 27. The outdoor show begins at 4 p.m. Hallcrest Vineyards are at 379 Felton Empire Road just up the hill from town. Come early bring a picnic, enjoy the wines. Tickets online at

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

PAINKILLER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.4 IMDB).      Mathew Broderick does a perfect job as the reigning head of the Sackler family. As we’ve learned in the last years the Sacklers invented and pushed OxyContin and created Purdue Corporation. OxyContin contains heroin and still the FDA passed on it. An amazing and very true story about how they were finally confronted. The Sacklers are no longer in the Purdue business and they never paid a fine or did time for all the deaths they’ve caused.

HEART OF STONE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.1 IMDB). Gal Gadot (Wonderwoman) is back with a story that flops miserably. Too much violence, too many car/truck chases and it tries to develop an AI theme involving a girl hacker. No character development so we don’t care or know enough to care about any of the characters. Gal Gadot was once crowned Miss Israel and is herself now worth over 30 million dollars!!

PARADISE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.3 IMDB).   A German Sci-fi adventure movie that is complex but intriguing. The AEON corporation sells a treatment that takes years off your life…but at a special price which isn’t made too clear. It’s about class differences and power and sexism too but it doesn’t develop any theme or plot too closely.

HIDDEN STRIKE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.3 IMDB). When you have a 69 year old Jackie Chan who never was a contender for an Oscar, sharing the screen with John Cena who tops almost everyone’s worst actor list together in a stale saga about rescuing employees and nearby civilians from an oil refinery in Iraq you’ve got a genuine flop of a Mad Max Fury Road counterfeit failure. I lost all interest after about a half hour.

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 and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

QUEENMAKER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.6 IMDB). Another meaningful and well-made Korean movie. This one tells the dynamic story of a Korean woman who is a public relations chief for a huge corporation who gets into politics. She fights developers and leads a campaign for the mayor of Seoul and realizes where she’s both powerful and weak. Almost reminds us of our very local political scene!

LITTLE WOMEN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.8 IMDB). Definitely NOT the Louisa May Alcott story or from any other Little Women sagas playing on your video now. This Korean movie tells the tricky and complex story of three sisters who have a cruel mother and face poverty and corporate theft plus alcoholism and even suicide. It does have some plot holes later on but it’s well worth watching.

THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART. (PRIME SERIES) (8.0 IMDB) It’s good to see Sigourney Weaver back on screen in this Australian movie.  She does a wonderful job as the prime mover in this series dealing with children and women who have been abused. They live in a community named Thornfield and help each other survive and return to their lives. The stories start out with a nine year old’s fate, then a fire and deeper and deeper. Very well done as far into the series as we’ve seen so far.

THE ENGLISH. (PRIME SERIES) (7.8 IMDB). A very serious almost pageant like saga about the relationship between the American Indians and the settlers from England and the rest of the world. Emily Blunt is the English woman who is hunting for the man who killed her son. She runs into such evil doers as Toby Jones and Ciaran Hines but makes close friends with Chaske Spencer who is a real Lakota Sioux. Together they make their way through all the usual western movie plots and scenes. It’s very heavy and serious…especially for a western.

THE LADY OF SILENCE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). This documentary is from Mexico and deals with the 49 murdered senior women from 1998 to 2005. There are many suspects…all the women were strangled with cords, ropes, or wire. The governor of Mexico is involved and much also happens in Juarez. It comes down to the terrible job the police do in finding and pursuing the killer. It’s well done and has a few surprises which I won’t divulge here.

August 14


The photo above captures the San Lorenzo Park benchlands during a winter flood. While this year’s flooding was more extreme than other recent years, flooding of the benchlands is a normal, natural process. It was one reason, before the winter rains, the city required the removal of the two hundred tents and campers in the city- sanctioned benchlands campsite.

This section of the San Lorenzo River on its east bank is the only area of the river south of Highway 1 that has not been armored with levees. It is wholly contained within San Lorenzo Park. The Park consists of these lower benchlands plus the upper area that has the duckpond, bowling green, restrooms and children’s playground with its distinctive 1964 serpent, recently repainted by volunteers.

My first encounter with San Lorenzo Park was in 1977, at the Spring Fair and then the Pride Parade. Besides these two annual events, I also took my four-year-old son to play on the serpent which became a favorite. So, when the city Parks and Recreation Department embarked on a San Lorenzo Park Redesign Process, I was more than a little interested.

It is no secret that San Lorenzo Park had fallen on hard times with the anti-social behavior of some of the campers making the Park unsuitable for children and nearby senior residents. Erecting a chain-link fence around the playground did not solve the problem nor add to its former welcoming charm.

By the time Bionics Consulting and staff came before city council on August 8th for a vote to continue the process, the redesign had already secured extensive public input from well over a thousand online survey responses, from numerous stakeholder meetings, and been reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Commission. All agreed that the outreach had been stellar. Congratulations to staff and consultants was unanimous and well-deserved. So, what’s not to like? As it turned out, quite a lot.

My radar pinged when I heard “the more you keep people present, the more you eliminate uses you’d rather not see there” (consultant), and its equivalent, “the more active participation the less we have to think about safety” (council member). Such statements are often used as a rationale for urbanizing open space, especially if there have been some “problems”. We must occupy the land to save it line of reasoning. However, the research is clear that anti-social behavior is more common where there are more people congregating not where there are fewer. So, what really is being addressed is “certain kinds of people.” Not to minimize anti-social, illegal, or aggressive behavior but we have a whole department which is supposed to take care of those problems short of “populating” the land with assumed well-behaved people.

My radar pinged louder when the consultant, after acknowledging that this is a neighborhood park, stated that “the Park redesign is an opportunity for it to be a real asset for downtown growth; that it can serve a wider population and be a destination for many more people; that it can be a real offering for the Bay Area.”  What! We are talking about a 13.8-acre neighborhood park most of which is in a flood plain. Maybe this is the problem with having consultants do the job that in my opinion could be done by staff: the tendency to go beyond what is feasible, to be grandiose and lose sight of reality. And not always be accurate. A member of the public, long-time San Lorenzo River expert and former council member Bruce Van Allen corrected the consultant’s claim that the benchlands lacked wheelchair accessibility, which he had been instrumental in securing many decades ago.

In their stellar outreach efforts, staff and consultants cast a wide net, asking hundreds of community members what they wanted to see in the park. Chances are some or maybe many who responded had never been to San Lorenzo Park, had no idea where it is located nor that it includes a floodplain. As a result, the long wish list included zip lines, Ferris Wheel, pump track, pickleball, disc golf, roller skate dance area, weddings, SUPs, a seasonal dock, yoga, exercise classes, damming the river, playgrounds for different abilities along with events, native habitat restoration, nature trails, and bird walks. Many such suggestions were enthusiastically supported by councilmembers.

Laurie Egan of Coastal Watershed Council did include the topic of how to improve flood protection in her public comments, but it was up to Mayor Keeley to bring the hot air wish-list balloon back to earth. He noted that the lengthy list most likely was a public expression of a shortage of park facilities which then became focused on this one park, which could not possibly cater to all. The mayor stated the need to recognize the flood control aspect of the benchlands; that there should be no permanent structures planned for that area although special events in the off-winter period would be fine. When it became clear that nowhere in the consultants’ Design Goals and Guiding Principles was the flood plain section of San Lorenzo Park acknowledged (despite the above photo in their slide show), an amendment stating that fact was added to the main motion and passed unanimously. The item will be back before council later in the year as specific design elements and environmental review are completed.

There is a cautionary tale here. More and more city projects are being handed over to consultants with apparently no reality-based limits to what their imagination (and commercial interests) can conjure up. West Cliff Drive is another example. A consulting firm, many public meetings, two special council presentations and countless hours of staff time spent on a vision for West Cliff fifty years into the future! Meanwhile we are told the city is strapped for funds and is contemplating yet another sales tax increase on the next ballot. Perhaps they need a consultant to help figure out why the public has lost trust in its city.

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.


August 14


Within the organized left, some colloquially invoke terms like moderate, conservative, or right-wing, often in derogatory ways towards and against the perceived political opposition, both outside of and within the left.

I’ve been thinking about this kind of linear left-right political assignment for a few reasons. Of course it has long been a big topic in national politics, perhaps more vociferously since the Tr*mp years, or maybe the Bush years. Or was it the Reagan years? Basically, the divide has been intensifying over the course of my life. And it seems like most people in our country are sick of it. People want change for the better, but instead we’ve ended up with increased confusion and polarization.

The right-left argument comes up in Santa Cruz politics, like last election season’s public squabble over who gets to use the “Progressive” label (that squabble also has a long history). And it has been a recurring theme in some of my smaller political organizing groups as a kind of litmus test, with accusations of people moving to the relative “right” or “left” as a result of the strategies and tactics they want to employ (i.e. rank and file worker organizing versus electoral politics).

Image caption: my 11th grader’s AP US History textbook cover and explanatory page on “who were the progressives”

More and more, I think that this language, especially when used to categorize people within the same movement, who are otherwise acting in solidarity, is counter-productive: it sets up false oppositions and flattens people into this or that categories. It also just doesn’t work, because people who are inevitably complex invariably don’t fit neatly into a single spot on the line. I find it misleading and divisive, both broadly speaking and particularly in my own organizing efforts–even while I acknowledge that it is deeply ingrained in me to speak of political positions in this way, so practicing using more descriptive rather than evaluative language is also a personal challenge.

Caption: image origin unknown; this is an example of an inadequate and confusing attempt to graph complex political positions on lines

Focusing In on the “Larger Left” 

I can see that from one perspective, rooted in the history of revolutionary France, it could seem technically true that there is a political spectrum within the left that runs from ultra-left to near-moderate and  relatively to the “right”–even though its application to specific strategies and tactics is far from universally agreed upon. This framing tends to encourage sectarianism and harden internal conflicts, in turn eating away at movement-based solidarity.

For many people, it is easy to perceive being labeled “right” or “left” as dismissive, name-calling, derogatory, alienating, confusing, and insider-jargony. The result is counter to our shared goal of building a diverse working-class movement.

It can lead to people thinking that they must be misinformed, or feeling inadequate or dismissed, as if they have to endlessly argue their position to survive, or they shouldn’t even share their thoughts. Sometimes it causes them to leave the political arena altogether. A winner-take-all logic is the exact opposite of consensus-building relationality, and can come with authoritarian-like results in aiming to shut down the “other side” by invoking a simplistic label, instead of compassionately understanding difference and building shared ground from there.

Often the interpretation of “right” and “left” is based on tactics and strategy. For instance, sometimes one hears that electoral politics is a “rightward” or moderate position. The rationale is that electoral work (especially in relation to candidates and electeds) means compromising and working within neoliberal systems of governance from a minority working-class minority position that can often achieve mere superficial reformism, owing to the anti-democratic and pro-capitalist structural conditions of the electoral framework in the US, including lobbying and corrupt practices that end up serving the ruling class.

But calling electoral work “conservative” unfairly shoehorns an important tactic into near uselessness, if it is granted utility at all. What about electoralism within union rank-and-file organizing? What about socialist electoralism? What about seeing electoralism as a necessary part of a strategic diversity of tactics, one that can and should complement other forms of work-place and social-movement organizing?

It may be true that elections will never secure a socialist future on their own (and who is suggesting this anyway?)—for that we need worker-self-organization, where “worker” is extended to all its diverse representatives, including unpaid domestic workers, migrants, gig-economy and precarious laborers, and so on. But neither will labor strikes guarantee emancipation either, especially if all they aim for is a better contract. The point is to come up with a strategy that integrates and mobilizes multiple interlinked approaches, carefully deployed and backing each other up, for structural transformation, including non-reformist reforms (reforms that are never simply an end in themselves) that can help us get there one step at a time.

No organizing strategy or tactic is inherently “left” or “right,” but is always situational and context-dependent. Labor unions can be extremely conservative, even, in the case of business unions, outright capitalist (total bummer that our Building Trades Council donated $1,000 to Santa Cruz Together in 2018 to help defeat rent control), while base-building social movements can be reactionary or even fascist (hello neo-nazis in our backyards).

Similarly, the most radical rank-and-file unions, as well as democratic revolutionary movements, will include electoral and representative components within their inner organization (for instance, electing leadership, labor reps, and convention delegates), just as leftist electoralism should necessarily have deep connections to labor organizing, base building, and class struggle.

We should also avoid lumping less visibly active co-organizers in with the “right” or assume they are “moderates” just because they’re not out in the streets with us. In reality, one could have an infinite variety of political positions, as well as life circumstances, that determine one’s political involvements—paid work, care work, neurodiversity, temperament, alienation from the organization, illness or disability, access and functional needs, distance, financial hardship—or draw them to this or that tactic. In the end, “we” are not all the same, even if our side shares a broad-based political analysis in its opposition to capitalist exploitation and its embrace of social welfare that answers to the needs of the many rather than the profits of the few. Our movement should hold a place for everyone’s engagements, and we should recognize that this diversity makes us stronger.

Image credit: screenshot of

Here’s what I’m thinking about and trying to practice right now, to avoid all those pitfalls outlined above:

I really like this Political Network Map by Christian Spreafico, and not just for the cool rhizomatic visualization, clickability, and obscure information. I think it more accurately represents the complex web of relationality and positionality that actual people experience, without reducing them to simple binaries. With all of our complexities, positionalities, and inconsistencies, none of us can fit neatly onto a line. We are multidimensional beings in a web of interconnectedness. Intersectionality–which registers the fact that we lead multi-issue lives and therefore must have a multi-issue politics–is, I believe, the only way to go.

Practicing the use of descriptive rather than evaluative language helps us minimize making assumptions about others’ motivations and positions (and is good practice for any and all relationships).

Trying to slow down and move at the speed of trust (much easier said than done!) is also important, as argues Adrienne Maree Brown’s book Emergent Strategy: “Inspired by Octavia Butler’s explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.” Borrow it, buy it, listen here, or download here.

Strategically we must use a diversity of tactics, working inside and outside of existing power structures. In this case, factionalist name-calling within the left, which reinforces the divide-and-conquer tactics of the right, is a hindrance to much-needed solidarity in an era of real fascist threat.

In my column last week (scroll down to see it) I “called-in” Brave and Free Santa Cruz to critically re-examine their website links and disavow the discrimination contained therein. I’ve looked at all of the “resources” and “important links,” and I feel even worse about their organizational alignments to: curtailing access to reproductive health care; content that is anti-trans, pro-gun, anti-“woke”, anti-vegan, and pro-voter suppression (support for requiring photo ID); anti-democratic views (against DC statehood); and opposition to the Special Counsel investigating Tr*mp’s Jan. 6, 2020 actions.

I’ve been accused of fomenting antagonism towards BnF members, and those who are unvaccinated. Some readers may have missed the care I took to say that I don’t think any of the local members of BnF intend to be discriminatory. The messages that I’ve received defending BnF have focused almost exclusively on covid-related issues. I barely mention covid in my column, and in fact explain that I’m not very concerned about vaccine-skepticism even though it turns me off. I have barely even gotten acknowledgement of the linked content that seriously concerns me and was the central point of my column. I find it troubling that there seems to be an insistence on addressing the thing that I find least problematic while avoiding the long list of dangerous content that I detail with examples and links.

So, I invite Brave and Free Santa Cruz once again to look closely at its own questionable connections. Put some thoughtful statements about the need to counter discrimination on your website; get rid of links to hate and hate-adjacent content; and show up for minoritized groups in Santa Cruz, with a commitment to listening, learning, and supporting.

Joy Schendledecker is an artist, parent, and community organizer. She lives on the Westside of Santa Cruz with her husband, two teens, mother in law, and cats. She was a city of Santa Cruz mayoral candidate in 2022. You can email her at:

August 14


You will be shocked when you take a quick look at the Active Building Permit Applications for Significant Projects in the City of Santa Cruz and see the parade of very tall and dense structures planned for downtown:

Active Planning Applications | City of Santa Cruz

Accordingly, an OpEd CalMatters article in Sunday’s Sentinel caught my attention.  A possible Constitutional Amendment on the ballot to restore local land use discretion?  That would be great to push the State’s big stick back, wouldn’t it?

Here is what I learned.

Here is example of what this amendment would provide (see pages 5 and 6)

(2) A county or city shall not supersede or otherwise interfere with any voter approved local initiative. 

 (b) (]) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a local law shall prevail over conflicting land use planning and zoning statutes. 

(c) (l) State funding appropriated before the effective date of the act adding this subdivision shall not be modified due to a city or county adopting or enforcing any local law that pre-empts any land use planning and zoning statute pursuant to this section. 

(2) State funding appropriated after the effective date of the act adding this subdivision shall not discriminate in favor of, or give any preference to, a city or county that voluntarily complies with any land use planning and zoning statute. 

Here is CalMatters analysis of the impact of this Initiative, brought about by the State’s mandate to build 2.5 million new housing units by 2030, double the number in the previous 8-year cycle mandate:

How a ballot measure and population revisions complicate California housing war

But here is the rub:

State Demographers have revised the projected growth and housing needs and now reveal that California’s population trend is stagnant, with no real increase through 2060.

After decades of historic growth, California switching to a period of chronic stagnation

So, shouldn’t the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) also revise the Regional Housing Allocation Number (RHNA) mandates that are currently causing our County and Cities to feverishly re-zone to have dense, tall infill that will obliterate the character of our Communities?

Here is the Attorney General’s analysis of the 2021 Constitutional Amendment Initiative proposed for this same matter, but that was not put on the ballot.

If you want to get involved, join  “Our Neighborhood Voices”, the group of movers and shakers behind trying to preserve our local discretion on land use issues: Our Neighborhood Voices – Our Neighborhood Voices

The “Catalysts for Local Control” also has excellent information about this:

ABAG’s Bay Area population projections are way too high | Catalysts for Local Control

Sign up to participate in their District-wide meetings with elected representatives about this issue.  By and large, the representatives are not up to speed with what is really going on.

Recent Santa Cruz Voice online radio interviews with Lira Filippini and  John Hall from “Our Downtown, Our Future”, and Keresha Durham and Frank Barron from “Housing for People” revealed that the State’s housing mandates would actually reduce the number of affordable units overall, because developers would be allowed Density Bonuses to build many more market-rate units if their plans include a small percentage of the baseline number as “affordable”, sometimes increasing the total size of a development by 50%.

Such is the case of the proposed 908 Ocean Street NEW proposal for 389 units with mixed use retail on ground floor.…demolishing eight commercial buildings, 12 residential units, remove 13 heritage trees, requesting a 42.5% density bonus from a base density project of 273 units. 

Does it concern you that in 10 years, our Communities will be gone, in the interests of the greedy developers who have convinced elected officials to allow them to erase the quality of life and character of our communities, and not provide any real increase in affordable housing, not to mention bypassing developer impact fees for infrastructure?  Please get involved with like-minded people in “Catalysts for Local Control”, and “Our Neighborhood Voices”, or contact your elected representatives with your thoughts and solutions

Pencil in October 14 on your calendar now to attend what promises to be a great public discussion at the London Nelson Center with panelists to address the issue of local affordable housing, RHNA mandates, and what we want our Communities to look and feel like decades from now. 


Last week, the City of Santa Cruz sent a link to a survey, wanting to better understand public concerns about environmental issues.

Oddly, the survey could only be accessed by a cell phone scanning the QR code

However, digging around in the City’s website revealed a link to the actual survey

What’s on your mind?  Take the survey and let the City know, but beware the veiled grab for personal property restrictions.


Recently, I saw tractors parked at the Farm Park area along Soquel Drive near the Quik Stop in Soquel, at Hardin Way.  I thought it must finally be progress being made on the bike jumps that County Parks officials have long promised to get built there.

I was wrong.

In reading the County Parks Commission agenda packet for August 14, 2023, here is what I learned:

An undeveloped portion of The Farm County Park is being leased to Monterey Peninsula Engineering, for the next approximately 15 months to use for staging of construction equipment and materials for the County’s Soquel Drive Buffered Bike Lane and Congestion Mitigation Project. Public Works is the contact for any questions. 

(see page 5)

This view of Farm Park is from Soquel Drive, and was supposed to be a bike jump place for the kids, with work donated by the local cycling clubs.

Here is the view from the small parking lot within the Farm Park entrance on Cunnison Lane.  It seems that MPE is already quite at home, but what about the Park promised to the people, decades ago?

Will this equipment be eventually used to help construct a Farm Park for the people?  The soils may get contaminated with oils that leak (see small puddle in the foreground?)

Meanwhile, this bridge. aka “Bridge to Nowhere”, that County Parks Dept. purchased nearly a decade ago to connect the two areas of the Farm Park is still just across the ravine and part of the Farm Park, rusting and in disrepair.  It is an ugly nuisance and hazard for the Tee Street neighborhood.

Please contact Supervisor Manu Koenig and ask why the County’s Farm Park is such a disgusting eyesore, and why the people still have no recreational park there.  831-454-2200   Manu Koenig

Public Works Director Matt Machado responded to my query with “I suspect the agreement will generate revenue for Parks, I further suspect the agreement and use does not conflict with Parks plans to develop the park further.  All that said it seems this current use is good for everyone, including the community. New revenue, Soquel Drive improvement.


What an odd statement from a public servant.


How can it be that the County Parks Dept. can in good faith move forward to purchase 38 acres at 181 Whiting Road for a new County Park, yet has shuttered the Bert Scott Estate Park for over 20 years, an incredible gift from the founders of Granite Construction Company? Bert Scott Estate Santa Cruz County Park, Corralitos, CA

Take a look at page 7 of the County Parks Commission agenda, and see that:

South County Parkland Acquisition County Parks is negotiating with the owner to purchase the property via owner-provided financing.


This proposed new County Park will have no safe access for kids to ride bikes to attend future athletic activities, other than riding or walking on Highway 152.  Is this the best use of Parks Dept. public monies?


I was able to attend most of the interviews last week that the Soquel Creek Water District Board conducted of the 13 applicants for the vacant Board seat.  There were some excellent applicants that would have brought real professional expertise to the Board.

It was nearly comical to witness the haphazard approach the Board took to decide who the finalists would be, and what questions to ask them.  It was painfully obvious that General Manager Ron Duncan was pulling the strings of the puppet Board.  He handed them the questions to ask, and further suggested the Board ask finalists: “Where were you when you found out about the application process?  How did you feel?”

The answer to that odd and seemingly lame question revealed that Ron Duncan had text-messaged the women who were ultimately chosen as finalists to encourage them to apply initially.  They were given priority over other applicants because they had already been hand-picked to serve on the District’s Standing Committees.  Hmmm…Ron did state at the Board meeting when it was quickly decided to fill the vacancy by appointment rather than election that choosing someone from the Standing Committees would be a real possibility.

It sure was a priority for the Board last week.

The new Board member is Ms. Jennifer Balboni, floating to the top of the Applicant list because of her involvement on the Infrastructure Standing Committee and her abundant energy.  It will be interesting to see how she blends with the establishment.

She will be officially sworn in next Tuesday.


A great Letter to the Editor last Sunday summed up the sentiments of many regarding the announcement  of Supervisor Zach Friend not seeking a fourth term of office.  Rest assured, we have not heard the last of this arrogant politico, bound for climbing the ladder at the expense of constituents.  No one can remember when the last time he held a town hall meeting of any sort…and good luck ever getting a reply to your correspondence.

“The announcement by the 2nd District Supervisor on not seeking reelection has been a long time coming. The irreversible damage to my community in Aptos will last forever while he moves to his next political position. When a politician comes into a community without any historical knowledge of previous agendas and the disdain they caused and then carries one of the most contentious developments in this community’s history, it’s time for him to go.

By the way when is the Army Corps of Engineers going to begin repairing that levee? You helped get the funds but what’s the start date? Before or after the next break?

— Arnold L. Versaw Jr., Aptos”





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

August 14


Compassion for others in a political setting is a challenge that, as citizens, we must all ponder. As citizens in a democracy, we are active participants in the global experiment on Nature and how future generations will fare based on our individual decisions in the moment. We purchase things, we vote, and we make thousands of choices that each has an impact on other species. Each of us has our way and our reasons. A compassionate approach to others may open the many stuck doors to create a more lasting environmental conservation movement. And, we must ponder how institutions and individuals interact to enact that compassion.

The Government

Our style of democratic government reflects the will of the Nation’s people, over time. We vote directly for one of the three branches of government – the Legislative branch – and the House directly reflects representation of the majority of the population. The Senate changes the ‘majority rules’ notion to evenness of geographic representation, no matter the population, giving small numbers in sparsely populated geographies more power. Election of the Executive branch has a system of election using delegates, which also reflects an intention to create more even geographic distribution of power, but also has aspects that embed extra-democratic power relationships including freedom of delegate choice into the equation. Judicial branch members are appointed by that Executive branch and seated when confirmed by the Senate and so also reflect the problems associated with the elections of those two portions of the government.

In short, we have a system of government designed to amalgamate the geographies, popular opinions, and existing power relations in order to make choices that we are meant to respect as ‘representative.’ The way this works is particularly challenging to issues that do not raise to prominence for voters. When votes matter, politicians and the power network that supports them sway government actions. Environmental conservation is one of those issues that the power structure never wants to see come to the fore, and citizens are easily swayed in other directions. News media and social media, which are easily manipulated, herd citizens towards issues that are both divisive and convenient for those in power. Environmental conservation threatens all members of those in power, no matter what the political persuasion.

The top issues that sway US citizens’ votes are the ones that the media focus on: the economy (always first), healthcare, and safety – e.g., police (local), military (global). Environmental concerns always rank Way Down the list, despite being the single greatest element to having a sustainable economy, healthy humans, and a safe society.

When considering environmental conservation, it is the will of those in power and the government they manifest that creates the challenges to having compassion on two factions of our society: your fellow citizen, who is in some way responsible for the government, and the employees of government institutions, who act within governmental decision frameworks.

The Citizen

How do we approach compassion, to see the humanity in our fellow citizens when the government does so little for environmental conservation? It is easy to blame governmental actions on the citizens of the country, but is it fair?

It is also easy to understand why your neighbors, friends, and relatives do not prioritize environmental conservation with their actions. We are creatures of habit living in a difficult world. It is difficult to change our behaviors, even if they negatively affect the environment. It is difficult to see our individual choices as mattering and easier to blame the impacts on the environment on other people, other nations, or even evolution, fate, or a Deity. We all do these things. When we listen to the news or tune into social media, the messages there do not help us to understand elements of environmental conservation and what we can do about them. Even the supposed ‘neutral’ (really ‘centrist’) NPR rarely covers much of the breadth of environmental conservation import and then mostly with disempowering messages. Because the US has become so expensive and the pace so breakneck, citizens are afforded almost no leisure time to learn about environmental issues. And, with the decline in broad, critical thinking education, environmental conservation has become a tiny part of anything students are exposed to, favored by Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) focus. The term ‘Science’ in STEM doesn’t mean organismal biology nor does it include any conservation elements. Highlighting this STEM education is a real success of the power structure in the US as they hope to create a (somewhat) skilled workforce.

In sum, citizens do not know, and cannot find a way to know, about environmental conservation and without such knowledge they act innocently and ignorantly in ways that collectively negatively impact the environment. Aren’t we all like that? Let’s have a little compassion for everyone and figure out where to go from there.

The Government Worker

Government workers are citizens who have even more burdens on their environmental conservation actions. Those people who work for governmental institutions that are supposed to protect the environment face all the challenges of the average citizen described above. While it is true that the government requires some of those workers to have higher levels of education to qualify for their jobs, the required bachelor’s or master’s degrees never train them for the environmental conservation elements of their jobs. The most relevant field is called ‘conservation biology.’ There are very few institutions of higher education that offer this focus, and the combined top ten programs in the US graduate fewer than 100 undergraduates, and far fewer graduate students, each year. Once out of school, these individuals have a high incentive to work in a lucrative field, environmental consulting where they can earn 5 times more than a government employee. And so, government institution personnel that are responsible for environmental conservation have not received the education they need for their jobs, have not been raised in a culture that supports inquiry, and are strained by economic and social situations that make it difficult to prioritize environmental conservation. And then they go to work in institutions with similar individuals under conditions of extreme political pressure exerted in contravention to environmental conservation.

Governmental Institutions

The government institutions that have responsibility for environmental conservation have never been designed to be effective with that responsibility. Because conservation rarely and briefly rises to the fore for politicians, consistent oversight and policy development is lacking. Instead, environmental conservation frameworks are weak and up to the interpretation of the agency. Locally, State Parks is required to have General Plans for all of their lands, but there is no required timeline for creating them, no mandate to update them (ever), and little guidance on key features of those plans such as what a ‘carrying capacity’ analysis might be. Locally, County and City Parks have no guidance at all about environmental conservation and there is none in the making. Locally, the Bureau of Land Management has guidance documents for environmental conservation, again with no timelines for enacting them and insufficient guidance to maintain the scientific integrity of those efforts.

Workers are Human, Too!

Even if they don’t recognize it and can’t hear it, the too few employees charged with environmental conservation at governmental institutions find themselves without sufficient means and support for substantive, science-based environmental conservation action. And so, they go about their jobs doing what little they can to try to make a difference. Most of them are proud of their accomplishments. Being social humans, they form bonds with their workmates and take their personal pride and form institutional pride. They are proud of the work of State Parks, they are proud of City and County Parks Department accomplishments, and they are proud to be part of the BLM team.

Many of us can relate. Many people find themselves in institutions that have elements of good and elements of bad (which sometimes we don’t want to see!); we choose to focus on the good work we are doing within those institutions. We make friendships at work and want to support those friends. Some of us work for institutions where the public believes that our work is good and just, and so it is easy to become proud of our institution and even to defend our institution when challenged. Let’s have a little compassion for the people we see who have ended up like that and figure out where to go from there so that there is better environmental conservation even by governmental institutions.

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at:

Email Grey at


Thursday, August 10, 2023

#222 / Naming Some Names

In case you don’t recognize him, that’s Jeffrey Epstein with the Harvard pennant. Wikipedia identifies Epstein as “an American sex offender and financier.” Epstein died in jail on August 10, 2019, exactly four years ago today. Officially, the cause of death was determined to be “suicide.” Others are not so sure about that.

The Nation Magazine published an article about Epstein, which appeared in its August 7/14, 2023, issue. The article is titled, “How Jeffrey Epstein Captivated Harvard.” How? How did he do that? In short, money!

What I thought most interesting in The Nation’s article were the names of all the “famous” people associated with Epstein. Here is a partial list. Read the article for more names. If you don’t recognize someone in the list that I am providing (for instance, Leon Bottstein, the President of Bard College, isn’t known to everyone), just click the link for some biographical information.

All of these people were associated with Epstein. All of them are “famous,” in some way:

Here’s what I thought, when I read the article in The Nation, and started tallying up the names: Ugo Betti.

No, I wasn’t thinking that The Nation had missed adding Ugo Betti to the list of those seduced into a relationship with Epstein by either money, or sex, or both. If you don’t recognize Ugo Betti’s name, click the link. Betti was both an Italian judge and a playwright. And I wasn’t thinking about Betti as an individual so much, but was really thinking more about a speech from one of this plays, The Burnt Flower BedI often think about this speech, and often quote it, too – particularly to students who take courses from me at UCSC:

That’s what’s needed, don’t you see? That! Nothing else matters half so much. To reassure one another. To answer each other. Perhaps only you can listen to me and not laugh. Everyone has, inside himself … what shall I call it? A piece of good news! Everyone is … a very great, very important character! Yes, that’s what we have to tell them up there! Every person must be persuaded – even if he is in rags – that he’s immensely, immensely important (emphasis added)!

Our system of democratic self-government is premised on the idea that each one of us is “immensely, immensely important.” We are so important that we get to run the country ourselves. That’s the idea, anyway!

Letting the rich run the world – and Jeffrey Epstein’s life is an example – underrates our own importance.

Let’s listen to what Ugo Betti tells us.

Let’s not forget it!

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

August 14


“It’s Joe Biden and ‘the deep state’ that are lying and unfairly trying to keep me from winning back the presidency!” That is only one of Donald Trump’s mantras along with his daily whining about the stolen election and his persecution in spite of his “innocence.” Upon closer examination he should discover that it has been an all-Republican crowd that has enlightened the investigations into his criminality beginning with the House J6 Committee and Special Counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury, both of which have found willing participants to weigh in on the former president’s schemes. Some have spoken up out of a patriotic duty, and some have done so to shield themselves legally or politically. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said to his Senate colleagues, “Trump didn’t get away with anything – yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation, and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one,” as he cast a vote to absolve the president of any wrongdoing after the J6 insurrection. What do you say now, Mitch? The man continues to destroy the Grand Old Party, casting himself as a leader of the MAGA subversives, using party funds to pay his legal team as he continues his grifting within the base to secure even more money. “I love other people’s money,” The Don is captured saying on video.

Many in the Congress have been quieted since the indictments began, but too many others create Trumpian distractions, while emphasizing a need for revenge, taking up The Don’s lead of “Go after me, I’ll come after you!” And as we’ve seen and continue to see, the crazy MAGA base is all too willing to heed the call. Following the Smith indictment, a Reuters/Ipsos poll indicated 45% of the GOP voters would not give Trump their vote if he is convicted of a felony; yet, 35% side with him anyway, with others being undecided. The party needs its leadership to step up, grow a backbone, and get back on course from the right-turn it took after the Nixon debacle, of catering to older, white and rural base, especially with the country becoming a racially diverse, younger and urban crowd. ‘Wokeness‘ cheerleader, Ron DeSantis, has seen his campaign flounder, mainly because he is an unlikeable jerk, but because the ‘anti-woke’ mantra has become boring…imagine, voters being more interested in economics and security! And, hopefully, sensibility! This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around!

Court testimony in Trump’s appearances by an all-Republican retinue will likely favor public support for the legal process, and remind the GOP about its supposed law and order planks of the past. Former VP Mike Pence will surely be a witness, with his recent statement ringing in our ears, “Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be President of the United States. Our country is more important than one man. Our Constitution is more important than any one man’s career.” Can’t you hear it now, the applause…or, wait, are they saying, “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!” Yep, that’s more like it. Or will we have the likes of the Utah man who fought the FBI’s incursion before Biden’s visit to the state, “dusting off my M24 sniper rifle” which he called ‘the Democrat eradicator?’ We have to end these attacks on democracy, the intentional tactics to divide us, and the vicious hate engendered by the MAGA crowd!

Senator Lindsey Graham’s on-again-off-again relationship with Trump, as he tries to stay in the good graces of the MAGA base, has resulted in his being accused of belittling himself in his home state. He was booed at a recent Silver Elephant Gala where Trump was keynote speaker, when he joked that the former president “beat him like a drum,” in reference their golfing together. Graham exhorted the attendees to “not screw with Trump or you’ll regret it.” Though the senator is not up for election until 2026, possible challengers are testing the waters already, seeing some vulnerability. Graham will likely be called to testify in Georgia, as Fulton County DA Fani Willis presents her case in Trump’s election interference. The Senator claims a commonality with the Former Guy, and “I’ve come to like him.” Maybe they can assign adjoining cells to accommodate this mutual admiration society.

A recent Mike Luckovich cartoon has Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Assistant Supreme Court Justice Ginni Thomas, reacting to the duress of new revelations of even more gifts and travel. Ginni’s word balloon has her saying, “Being criticized for backing the coup and revelations Clarence repeatedly accepted financial gifts is very stressful.” Clarence appeals, “Hey, wealthy benefactors. We could use a vacation!” Sounds very true to life, no? ProPublica and The New York Times aren’t letting up, discovering more and more about the largesse accepted by the Thomases over three decades of Supreme Court tenure from industry titans and the ultra-wealthy.  Vacations aboard their yachts, premium suites at sports arenas, private jets to pick him up to join them in their squalor of riches, by the benefactors who share the ideology that propels his jurisprudence. The tally at this point, includes 38 destination vacations, one of which was a voyage on a yacht around the Bahamas; 26 private jet flights and eight helicopter trips; at least a dozen VIP passes to pro and college sports events, most viewed from a skybox; two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica, with a standing invitation to an exclusive golf club on the Atlantic shore. This is probably only a partial list, an undercount, due to the difficulty in researching such information. Stays in private residences may not be unethical, but non-disclosure of the other generous gifts is over the line. The consistency of these violations is unprecedented, just for those gifted by Harlan Crow, originally pointed out by ProPublica; but now Berkshire Hathaway exec, David Sokol, is now on the list, as is late billionaire H. Wayne Huizenga. A Christmas tree and stockings hung by the fireplace are left year ’round in the Thomas household, ‘cuz the gifts keep rolling in.

Oil baron, Paul ‘Tony’ Novelly’s gifts have not been reported. Only Crow’s name appears in Thomas‘ financial disclosures as required by law, and who knows what value was given Crow’s largesse. Since 1991, Thomas has probably benefitted in the millions of dollars. Don Fox, the former general counsel of the US Office of Government Ethics and the senior ethics official in the executive branch, said, “It’s just the height of hypocrisy to wear the robes and live the lifestyle of a billionaire.” Working under both Democrat and Republican administrations, he advised every new political appointee the same thing: “Your wealthy friends are the ones you had before you were appointed…you don’t get to acquire any new ones.” The American taxpayer has the right to expect that Supreme Court justices are not living on the dime of others. Thomas and Novelly have not responded to questions, and Huizenga’s son, who survives his father, offered no response. Sokol defended his 21 year friendship with the Thomases and acknowledged trips together, defending the justice as upright and ethical, with conversations about helping young people, about sports, and discussing family matters. With security concerns nowadays, he feels justices should fly privately or on US government aircraft…not commercial. Especially with First Class being phased out by most carriers, huh? As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Both Thomases are well short of understanding anything and we just keep giving our tax dollars to him, as well as to his benefactors. Talk about double jeopardy! Comforting to know that Thomas accepts BOTH MasterCard and Visa, as well!

Of course, we can’t forget the $270K Prevost Marathon, the ‘Rolls Royce of Motor Coaches,’ mysteriously purchased for the Thomas Twins with a ‘loan’ by healthcare executive Anthony Welters, a loan never disclosed in 1999. But hey, it allows the part-time RV nomads to travel the country, just being regular schmoes, as they mix it up with the other Unethical DC Road Warrior Sugar Babies, looking for another handout. His accomplice, Supreme Court Justice aka Sugar Baby Alito, purple robed and wearing a tiara, is diligently scoping out the territory on that same trail. Poor Chief Justice John Roberts is probably still lamenting the loss of the retired Justice Stephen Breyer, who he confided was his “only friend on the Court.” That in contrast to Clarence Thomas‘ referring to the court makeup prior to Roberts appointment, as a “fabulous court…we were family.” Sadly, it’s the ‘Robert’s Court’ in name only. “I don’t think I would want to be Roberts right now,” says USC law professor, Lee Epstein, whose specialty is examining voting patterns of the court. “He has some very aggressive, ambitious colleagues on this right who want to do a lot very quickly, and that’s just so not Roberts. He tries to slow things down, but they’re not going to be slowed.” 

Mike Davis, who worked to get Trump’s judicial nominees confirmed, now heading the conservative Article III Project, says of Roberts, “He’s just less relevant now. Trump transformed the 5-4 John Roberts court into the 5-4 Clarence Thomas court, meaning the court’s just going to follow the law and not be concerned about the political fallout.Harvard Law School professor emeritus, Laurence H. Tribe, co-author of the book on the Roberts court, made the same point from the opposite ideological perspective. “He’s largely irrelevant, except that the court has gone so far, so fast that he may become more relevant depending on whether anybody else is chastened,” Tribe says. Roberts risks appearing weak if he insists on a slower approach, losing what little ability he retains to influence and constrain the conservative majority. If he votes with that majority, it’s a risk that he contributes to what he is trying to prevent: the decline of the institution. The vote of the Chief Justice is just one of nine, with his authority of being able to assign the authorship of opinions when he is in the majority. Roberts, with his eye on history has been quoted as saying, “It’s sobering to think of the seventeen chief justices; certainly a solid majority of them have to be characterized as failures; the successful ones are hard to number.” He would prefer that the nine would speak as one, and not with discord and dissent…a charming and old-fashioned idea, not seen for at least thirty-five years or so.

Not likely to make it to the Supreme Court, or even out of the county, Ocean Fathoms, a company which ages $500 wine under the ocean, has been busted by Santa Barbara’s DA over alcohol being stored offshore without any permits. Seems that the firm failed to procure an ABC sales permit, while also failing to pay sales taxes on their limited sales, then abandoning the cache which they claimed would be a developing reef ecosystem, a violation of the Water Code. The FDA considered the wine unfit for human consumption after a prolonged submersion, so what were these guys thinking?

Following Trump’s 2016 election victory, the Obamas invited Donald and Melania to the Oval Office for a preview. After some pleasantries, The Don asked to use the bathroom, and was astonished to see a solid gold urinal, later telling Melania excitedly about his discovery. That evening, Barack and Michelle were discussing the visit, with Michelle asking her husband, “Guess who peed in your saxophone?” Whatever your path there are always a few puddles!

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email:


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.


“If you want to help a lighthouse, just don’t block its light, that’s the greatest help!”
~Mehmet Murat ildan

“If you close your eyes, no lighthouse can help you!”  
~Mehmet Murat ildan

“Light-houses, my boy! Beacons of the future! Capsules with hundreds of bright little seeds in each, out of which will spring the wiser, better England of the future.”

~Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes


This is a film about automata, mechanical robots from the 18th century. Engineering meets art – this is AI 300 years ago. At an hour long, it’s a short movie, and it’s fascinating and worth the time. Go on, grab some popcorn and marvel at human ingenuity!

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