Blog Archives

August 25 – 31, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…More about Ryan Coonerty for City Manager, Rebut from Bud Colligan, No on Newsom recall, Del Mar & Nickelodeon report, Robert Norse is sick, Grandson found new home. GREENSITE…will return next column. KROHN…No on Recalling Gov. Newsom, past and future local initiatives and effects. STEINBRUNER…County reacts to CZU fire follow-up, Soquel Creek Water District and pumping area qualifiers, mess on California Street, CalPers pensions. PATTON…Domestic Terriorist#1. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Isolation”

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DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ 1917. Going from Right to Left today, we have Bank of The West, The Swenson high rise luxury condos, and Lulu Carpenters. This is an example of how, and in which direction, Santa Cruz has changed.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE August 23

RYAN COONERTY AS OUR CITY MANAGER, part 2. In this space last week I “printed”:

“MANAGING SANTA CRUZ…OR NOT! The world may little note nor long remember what we do in Santa Cruz but plenty of locals will be surprised to learn that Ryan Coonerty has applied for the job of Santa Cruz City Manager!! But you’ll say, he has no experience in managing a lot of people! You could also say that means he’ll very soon be resigning as County Supervisor and could that be why he announced his leaving the County Supervisor job so soon? When Ryan does resign from the Supe Job the governor will appoint his successor. Is that why as we continue on with this soapy opera we have Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson and most of the rest of our City Council UNDER Donna Meyers (definitely excluding Justin Cummings and Sandy Brown) working nearly silently to manage and rearrange our city districts. Yes it’s also true that Donna Meyers, better known as “Prima Donna” is near affectionately known as “The Fabulous Five”. The future does indeed lie ahead…watch this space”. 

Many emails and personal reactions later, there’s still no follow up, no reaction and for sure no denials from Coonerty. 

What we read instead is in his latest newsletter, dated August 18, Supervisor Ryan Coonerty stated… “As we enter the second year of recovery, I want you to know I am more committed than ever to continue to do what I can as your County Supervisor to help you get through the process of rebuilding.  But today I want to reflect with you and let you know that even as the Board of Supervisors confronts new policy challenges and as new issues arise, that my staff and I will continue to be there for you and remember what this week means for all of us, especially those fire survivors”. 

Is this Coonerty’s reaction/pseudo-denial of his applying for the City Manager’s job? How can he “CONTINUE TO BE THERE FOR YOU” when he’s wanting to leave his job?   

NEWSOM RECALL? I got my No on Recall Newsom and mailed it ASAP. Every pundit and media person states they are worried that not enough Democrats will get out and vote. By now we should all know that the Republicans are counting on the laziness or uninvolved attitude from the majority of Democrats. On we go arguing about writing in some Lt. Governor name or other superfluous idea… whatever your angle, just get that ballot in the mail right now, while you’re thinking about it…we all need it.

EQUAL TIME FOR TRAIL WITH NO RAIL!!! I’m not totally sure why I’m giving equal time to Bud Colligan just because he asked for it, but I’ve received feedback from tree -overs and other types saying BrattonOnline has been lopsided in “printing” so much Friends Of The Rail &Trail    www.railandtrail.org  and Coast Connect material. So here’s what Colligan sent…

“In the interests of equal time, you should publish a response from a Greenway supporter to the “5 Reasons Not to Sign the Greenway Petition,” since what you printed has so many errors and inaccuracies it doesn’t have much credibility.  You are turning into the best possible advocate for Greenway!  Thank you!

Regards, Bud

FORT:  DELAYS THE TRAIL – This will stop all forward progress on the 32 mile Rail Trail.

RESPONSE:  NONSENSE:  The promoters of the current plan have built 1.5 of 32 miles in 9 years.  The little built has cost 2 – 3x the original budget.  And the 1.5 mile trail so far was the easiest to build (few trees, mostly flat, no hillsides or large retaining walls, etc.).  Greenway will use the existing rail bed and trestles, so it can be built quickly and affordably.  Alta Planning and Design cites existing rails to trails across the nation costing $2M – $3M per mile vs. $8M to $15M in the current RTC plan, which also includes 6 miles of detours onto city streets.  Greenway will use existing Measure D funds.  Delay?  We would say approving the ballot initiative will “ACCELERATE” the safe, continuous, and beautiful Greenway.

FORT:  KILLS RAIL TRANSIT – This measure removes all rail transit planning leaving us sitting in traffic for decades.

RESPONSE:  NONSENSE.  According to the County Counsel’s impartial summary, required by County Elections Code and printed on every page of the petition for signatures, two of the “chief purpose and points of the proposed measure” are (bold emphasis added):

  • Supporting the development and interim use of a portion of the Santa Cruz Branch Line Corridor (“Corridor”) between certain designated  local landmarks as a “high quality, multi-use Greenway” for various community uses while preserving future rail options through railbanking;
  • Prioritizing interim use of existing trestles and rail bed for the Greenway, while preserving future rail options through railbanking.  

In addition, a train will not provide Hwy 1 traffic relief–look at the SMART train in Sonoma/Marin, which has had little effect on Hwy 101 traffic.  The RTC’s own studies show only 1.7% impact on Hwy 1 car traffic with a train (besides, we don’t have the $1.3 billion to build and operate a train, so it’s really a moot point!).

FORT:  HARMS OUR ENVIRONMENT – This measure ensures we are dependent on Highway 1 and polluting personal vehicles.

RESPONSE:  NONSENSE.  Only FORT/Coast Connect could argue that people-powered zero emission transportation on Greenway would harm the environment!  With little traffic reduction benefit on Hwy 1 from a train, the REAL environmental harm is to continue the current plan:  an unused corridor for the last 9 years and heavy construction and tree cutting to industrialize it forever.  

FORT:  DARK MONEY POWER PLAY – Cynical power play by dark money donors who want to block all transit on the corridor. 

RESPONSE:  NONSENSE.  Transit on the corridor has been blocked for 9 years while the current plan has proven to be financially infeasible.  FORT supporters prefer to continue this track record for another 20 years or forever.  Dark money? All of FORT’s donations are laundered through Social Good Fund, which does not disclose their donors.  By contrast, YES Greenway is registered with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, FPPC #1439610, and ALL donations and expenses for the ballot initiative are reported as required by law.

FORT:  ISOLATES OUR COUNTY – This measure disconnects our county from the State Rail Network. 

RESPONSE:  NONSENSE.  Santa Cruz County is connected TODAY to the state rail network.  You can take Metro bus #17 to San Jose where it connects directly to the Amtrak train station (runs hourly 5 am to 8 pm).  Or take a bus from Watsonville to Salinas and do the same.

That’s Bud Colligan’s response…and there we have it!

DEL MAR AND NICKELODEON NEWS. I sent a half note, half pleading question to Jonathan White, who is part of the Landmark/Cohen Company, leaseholders of our two major missing movie houses. I asked if he’d heard or knew of any changes regarding the re-opening of one or both of our palaces. He replied… “Haven’t heard anything yet, I’ll let you know”. I’ll let you know if he gets back to us.

ROBERT NORSE IS AILING. He’s alternately known by his full name Robert Norse Kahn, and as of last week, according to Bob Lamonica (one time candidate for County Supervisor), Robert was in the hospital – and not from Covid – but is improving as of last Sunday. Bob adds…They are speculating sepsis, some kind of internal infection. He’s had at least two fairly recent operations (last 5-10 years?). 

GRANDSON’S NEW HOME. I’m very happy to report that Grandson Henry has a place to live, right here in River City. Daughter Hillary found him a fine apartment through Zillow. He’s now taking a Welcome to UCSC online class and loves Santa Cruz. 

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.

SWEET GIRL. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (21RT). Takes place in Pittsburgh, with a mom who needs medications to keep her daughter alive. The CEO of the big pharmaceutical company is the villain, and Mom’s huge hulking protector gets violent in trying to help her. Don’t watch it, you don’t need to see more of this stuff.

REMINISCENCE. (HBO MAX SINGLE). Hugh Jackman does his usual fine job as a therapist directing patients into his sensory deprivation tank. Thandiwe Newton is his conscience and partner. Jackman falls in love with a nightclub singer, who vanishes and reappears. It’s diverting and viewable while showing mob violence, scenes of New Orleans, and mind-stretching twists. 

RUROUNI KENSHIN. Another in the manga series, and if you like Japanese Samurai stuff this is an excellent example. I’s samurai versus the shogun rulers in Kyoto, starting in 1878. The main character is named Battosai, a striking young actor who performs great battles and multiple killings. For fans of old Japanese samurai films, it’s near perfect.

ANNETTE. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). An unique movie. Adam Driver acts and sings his role as a standup comic. Marion Cotillard sings her way as an opera star who loves Driver. Its half musical, half tragedy, and half an hour too long. They have a baby and we’ve never seen a baby like this one. Driver is accused by six women of abuse, her career gets better and better, but then she drowns! Driver goes to prison… and the plot then gets even more complex. Watch it for the uniqueness, not for laughs. 

NINE PERFECT STRANGERS. (HULU SERIES). (60RT) Nicole Kidman heads an excellent cast including Michael Shannon, Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Bobby Cannavale and more. Kidman has a scary near-death Russian past and opens an Esalen /Tassajara type spiritual healing spa near a mythical California town named and spelled, “Cabrillo”! (Actually it was filmed in Australia). Like White Lotus, each “guest” has significant problems, and Kidman deals with each of them. It’s diverting… depending on how seriously you take Zen, Mindfulness, and other such improvement techniques.  

THE VIRTUOSO. (HULU SINGLE). (19RT) Anthony Hopkins and the reliable but shifty David Morse work hard to make this half-action flop into a watchable movie. Anthony Hopkins is supposed to be the head of some secret killing machine, and he assigns a killer to find a specific target, giving him only a few clues. With a boring and superfluous narration, it’s not worth your time…especially on Hulu, when you have to watch ads every 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, 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.  

GONE FOR GOOD. (NETFLIX SERIES). It’s set in Nice, France around the French Riviera. Juvenile delinquents are the main theme here as a man returns after being away for ten years and learns that two people he cared for and loved have vanished. It switches back and forth from 2010 to present day as he keeps searching. He falls in love with a fellow worker and the plot will keep you involved. Only one episode released so far, we’ll stay in touch. 

BECKETT. (NETFLIX SERIES). Do not, I repeat do not confuse this with Samuel Beckett or any other Beckett. The lead actor is John David Washington son of Denzel Washington and a real star in his own. It has a twisted, even convoluted, plot involving a car crash, a very long car chase, more political charades in Athens… even including protestors! There are some excellently filmed scenes and sincere efforts to make a good thriller. You’ll stay involved, go for it. 

CODA. (APPLE PRIME SINGLE). A heart rending story of CODA (Children Of Deaf Adults) families dealing with deafness. Marlee Matlin is back and mugging her way through a half comedy- half serious drama. One daughter can hear and it’s her lifetime job to translate her families deafness messages. They run a fishing boat business in Massachusetts and she wants to leave and go to Berklee Music school and sing. Go for it, instead of trying to decipher all the virus variant “facts”.

THE HEAD.(HBO MAX SERIES). An engrossing mysterious scary thriller set in Antarctica. They have six months of darkness then the sun comes out, probably. During the dark time one or more of the Polaris VI crew are murdered and the isolated inter-connected survivors must determine who is doing it. The plot actually involves climate change and some serious survival issues. Worth watching.

BLOOD RED SKY. (NETFLIX SINGLE). For no good reason some parts of this movie are in untranslated German, beware! A very confusing plot including a terrorist takeover of an intercontinental airplane. One mother who is ill turns out to be an old fashioned Vampire and bites almost everybody. She grows fangs and sucks blood for what seems like hours. Not the worst film you could watch, not much better though.

SINALIENTO “BREATHLESS”. (HBO MAX SINGLE). A very sick and mean detective in Santa Domingo harasses his woman partner as they go searching for the murderer of a drug gang member. The detective’s daughter falls in love with one of the bad guys and it goes from there. Much domestic violence, cruelty, and a convoluted plot BUT it’ll keep you glued just trying to remember all the twists. Intriguing, time consuming, and what more can we ask for nowadays?

THE VAULT. (PRIME VIDEO) SINGLE. (54RT). It’s the old “lets rob the impossible bank vault” plot. The Bank of Spain has the world’s toughest bank vault and of course some extremely clever thugs of mixed backgrounds keep us on the edge of our seats wondering if they’ll succeed. The treasure came from 17th century gold coins once found inside a sunken Spanish ship. Freddie Highmore and Liam Cunningham lead the cast and its fun watching. 

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.

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August 23 

Will return next column. 

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 23 

GOVERNMENT BY INITIATIVE

The Recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom

Vote No. I agree, but end of conversation? That’s what the California Democratic Party (CADEM) wants you to think. They are as responsible for this recall as much as Gavin Newsom’s dalliance with the French Laundry. Both Newsom and CADEM are out of touch with rank and file Democratic voters. They seem to think that since this state votes inordinately Democratic, then Newsom is a cinch not to be recalled. Maybe that bet will pay off, but not if most big “D’s” stay home. The average democratic voter (if that really exists) likely has no relationship with either CADEM or their local Democratic Central Committee (DCC). It is a disconnect of monumental proportions that could cost Newsom the election. The governor needs motivated voters right now and it’s like he is in the desert searching. Why? Because he and CADEM only look for registered democrats at election time. I receive 2-4 emails a day from CADEM, but I’m a party delegate from AD 29 (Santa Cruz). I have yet to see any US mail about this recall, besides the actual ballot that was sent from the Santa Cruz County registrar of voters. If democrats go out and vote, I have no doubt Gov. Newsom will NOT be recalled, but will they? Drew Glover and I were recalled in March of 2020, right before the presidential election. The turnout was 65% for that recall election, but the percentage of voters coming out for the following November presidential election was over 85% in Santa Cruz. It is unlikely we would’ve been recalled had the election been in Nov. of 2020, and that’s the strategy the same one pro-recall people are using on Newsom. Although Newsom would likely win with a 65% turnout, it appears unlikely that will happen by the Sept. 14th election ballot deadline. Also, it is a “partisan” election, whereas the city council recall that involved a formerly registered Republican, Renee Golder, was deemed nonpartisan by most and we did not draw Democratic party support. Glover and I were both registered Democrats. On the other hand, Republican voters are a motivated bunch right now as were the Republicans who started the Santa Cruz recall process, so low democratic voter turnout and high republic participation should make this election a close one. Newsom has a 57% job approval rating according to a YouGuv-CBS August poll. That’s pretty good and should be plenty to avoid the recall, but only if Democrats get out and vote. Should schools and restaurants close again because of high Covid-19 variant rates and wildfires continue to sour the collective voter mood, it may be much more difficult for Newsom to prevail.

Second Ballot Question: Candidates to Vote for Should the Governor be Recalled, Choose One

Newsom and CADEM are saying don’t vote for anyone, which seems silly, and may prove chaotic should a non-democrat win with less than 25% of the vote. Silly, because while this state is overwhelmingly filled with registered Democrats, rightwing radio host Larry Elder or moderate Republican, Kevin Faulconer, might win. I guess what the strategy on the part of CADEM is to not tempt voters with someone they could live with as governor and get people to vote NO on the recall and yes on a potentially acceptable candidate. Is that what’s going on here? My main question is: how will the public respond to this kind of strategy by an out of touch California Democratic Party, one likely hatched in their Sacramento offices or Los Angeles high-rises? Even given all of this, vote NO on the recall. Recalls are inherently unfair for so many reasons. Real recalls are regularly scheduled elections every two or four years. Newsom has earned a shot to serve out his term and be “recalled,” or not, in November of 2022 not September of 2021.

Who’s on the Ballot?

There are 46 candidates on the ballot. One will serve out Gavin Newsom’s term if he is recalled. Should the governor be recalled, it will bring shame and dishonor to the Democratic party of California, but it will probably not be the end of the world and it will not be the end of Newsom’s political career. 

The recall ballot includes:

  • 24 Republicans with Larry Elder (R) leading in the YouGuv-CBS poll
  • 9 Democrats with “YouTuber” Kevin Paffrath leading in the YouGuv-CBS poll
  • 10 No Party Preference candidates
  • 2 Green Party candidates
  • 1 Libertarian

If Newsom is recalled, the likely outcome will be a severely ham-strung governor fighting with an overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled legislature. The governor will veto bills, but he or she will probably get nothing passed through the legislature. A non-Newsom governor, Elder leads in the most recent polling by 10 points, could possibly create border chaos by sending in some national guard troops or put out anti-vax messages, for example, and that would be terrible and the state would also likely be the brunt of late-night comedy. In other words, it would be a public relations disaster for everyone, not just the Democrats. If Newsom is recalled, would the Democratic Party go through some soul-searching? Would Gavin Newsom run in 2022? Would Donald Trump make inroads into California fundraising largesse in his bid for the 2024 presidential election? It’s unlikely the Republicans will rise out of their decade long spiral into the ash heap of state political history, but they are certainly hoping for one last gasp, or is that one last cash haul?

The Initiative Movement

The Fall of 2022 is shaping up to be a form of local legislating and rule-making by ballot initiative. It will involve the local library, the future of the Farmer’s Market, a permanent fund for housing the homeless, and a tax on “empty homes” with the goal of funding affordable housing. It is clear to most political observers that there is a public policy-making gap, with respect to growth, between what the five-member majority on Santa Cruz city council is leaning into and what SC voters are willing to tolerate. The Meyers-Watkins-K-Johnson council continues to legislate in favor of the kind of massive for-profit growth not seen in Surf City since the 1960’s. The community on the other hand, is playing catch-up. There are a couple of well-organized grassroots ballot initiatives now taking shape with the goals of throttling the run-away growth we’re seeing and also creating a more livable downtown. It’s shaping up to be an epic confrontation between an engaged electorate and an out of touch pro-developer and politically estranged city council. 

Brief History of the Ballot Initiative

The California “initiative, referendum, and recall” movement actually began in Los Angeles around 1900. It was the election of Hiram Johnson as governor in 1910 and, believe it or not, his “Progressive majority” (republican at the time) that introduced the initiative, referendum, and recall efforts at both the state and local level. They became enshrined in the California constitution in a special election that was held on October 10, 1911. This government by initiative process was brought to California by former-Philadelphian, Dr. Haynes Johnson. A pair of early statewide initiatives included abolishing the California poll tax (52%-48%) and also providing $1.8 million in construction bonds for the University of California in 1914 (63%-37%). Another ‘believe-it-or-not’ occurred on the 1914 ballot, forty-eight propositions appeared on it, the most ever! I urge you to look at this list of 48, many of which we are still struggling over even today. Nineteen fourteen was clearly a turning point in California history. That year too, there were two competing alcohol initiatives. Proposition 2 would have made alcohol illegal and Prop. 37 would repeal proposition 2. Well, Prop. 2 was trounced and 39 won overwhelmingly with the pro-alcohol forces voting no by 120,000 votes more than voted yes on 39 that year. The federal government out-lawed alcohol sales and consumption from 1920-1933 during a period known as prohibition. Interestingly, Prop. 33 on that same ballot would’ve “authorized municipal corporations to acquire and operate public utilities.” It lost, 55% to 45%.

November 8, 2022

There will likely be at least three significant initiatives on the November 8, 2022 election day ballot. One, which will finally address the community-council differences on where the Santa Cruz main branch of the public library will be located and whether a five-story parking garage will be built, along with designating a permanent home for the downtown farmer’s market. The second initiative will catalog and tax empty and under-used homes in the city of Santa Cruz. The Empty Home Tax petition will soon be out on the street collecting signatures of registered voters. The third local ballot issue is already proving to be quite controversial. The local Santa Cruz County Greenway group is out seeking signatures on their initiative. This endeavor basically seeks to gut, or “rail bank,” the now county-owned rail-trail project and replace it with a “trail-only” transportation pathway. It will be a gubernatorial election year, which usually spells lower turnout, but with these initiatives effecting groups and individuals from bicyclists to environmentalist to library readers, a much larger turnout will be expected in Santa Cruz on November 8, 2022.

Looking for Some Compelling Radio About Local Issues?

Try “Talk of the Bay” Tuesdays from 5-6pm, on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org 

This week’s August 24th show will feature California State Senator John Laird discussing the Sept. 14 recall of Governor Gavin Newsom. Next week, August 31, Greenway’s Bud Colligan will go head-to-head with Campaign for Sensible Transportation’s Bruce van Allen in discussing rail-trail vs. trail-only. If you want to hear other past shows, ones that include SC Local’s Kara Meyberg Guzman, SC city councilmember Sandy Brown, Empty Homes Tax board member Cyndi Dawson, The Great Morgani, Library Director Susan Nemitz, UCSC activist Ayo Banjo, former Mayor Don Lane, medical marijuana guru Valerie Coral, and community activist Kayla Kumar…then click here!

“We have a moral obligation to the Afghan people. The U.S. role in this crisis is indisputable. We must waste no time or expense in helping refugees safely & swiftly leave Afghanistan. We must immediately welcome them to the U.S. & provide real support as they rebuild their lives.” (Aug. 16)


Come join us at the Squid, KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org on Tuesday’s from 5-6pm.

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Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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August 23

READ THIS AGAIN…COUNTY’S RESPONSE TO CZU FIRE LEAVES MANY QUESTIONS STILL UNANSWERED
One year ago, as 70,000 County residents were displaced and everyone was choking on the smoke of the horrible CZU Lightning Complex Fire.  CAL FIRE and the County administrators were scrambling…or were they?  Why did the Board fire the County’s incredibly capable full-time Emergency Response Manager, Rosemary Anderson, just as the CZU Fire began, claiming Budget cut needs?

The County Grand Jury brought many unanswered questions to light in this year’s investigative report. It is worth reading again and holding our local officials accountable.  

“The Grand Jury received complaints from residents angry over not fully understanding how everything went so wrong, and frustrated about feeling unheard by their local government leaders.[12] [13] Many are afraid that the county is unprepared for the next event.[14] This disaster began in mid-August, was contained by late September, yet it took until mid-March 2021 before Cal Fire held two information sessions via Zoom.[1] [15] This delay, per Cal Fire, was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges created by the stay-in-place order. [1] Yet, the use of virtual meetings such as Zoom, was a common practice months prior to these presentations.”

[Grand Jury After CZU Report]

“These were Cal Fire presentations, but it was announced that the Board Supervisor for that particular district was online and listening, as well as some other county personnel. Neither district’s supervisor commented during the presentations, nor spoke at the Q&A’s that followed.”

These public meetings failed to provide meaningful answers, discussion or analysis of what went wrong.  CAL FIRE and the County normally conduct this type of analysis soon after large incidents, for the benefit of more effective future planning, and release it as an After Action Review.

When I filed a Public Records Act request with Santa Cruz County Fire Chief / CAL FIRE CHIEF Ian Larkin, he replied that the document does not exist.

Here is what CAL FIRE state office sent in response to my Public Records Act request for the After Action Review of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire

Pages 54-57 give a broad description of resources used, and very general description of the fire.    It is NOT an After Action Review.

Of note, however, is this tidbit, tucked in under the vague description of what happened August 18 (page 56 of the Seige Report):

The fire began spotting well ahead of itself, with long-range spotting observed six miles from the fire area. The north wind and general topography aligned creating significant crown runs into Santa Cruz County. 

With operational priorities focused on life safety and evacuations, perimeter control was deferred until life safety-threats were mitigated. Additional evacuation orders for the communities of South Skyline, Russian Ridge, Middleton Tract, and Portola Redwoods were initiated. 

The fire expanded by over 43,000 acres on the night of the 18th, impacting communities along Empire Grade and the San Lorenzo Valley. 

In other words, CAL FIRE brought in logistics and strategizers, but no crews, and did little to stop the fire before it exploded, and even discouraged those who stayed behind to fight spot fires from doing so.

Take a look at an example of an After Action Review that should have taken place, but the local CAL FIRE administration has been negligent in providing:

Camp Fire After Action Review:

After Action Review released for the Carr Fire – Wildfire Today

While some have understood that the National Fire Institute (NITS) is conducting an investigation into the CZU Fire that is not the case (see excerpts of correspondence below).  Even if that agency were investigating the CZU Fire, it would be to determine why structures burned and to make recommendations for building code policy modifications.

Maranghides, Alexander (Fed) alexander.maranghides@nist.gov

To: Becky Steinbruner
Thu, Aug 19 at 4:24 AM
Ms. Steinbruner,

Thank you for reaching out regarding our Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) case studies. We are currently in the middle of the Camp Fire case study. The Camp Fire is our fourth in depth NIST WUI fire reconstruction. Our previous three case studies have taken about 3 years each to complete, however, given the scale of the Camp Fire we are anticipating approximately 4+ years for the completion of the ongoing study. 

These in depth reconstructions occupy all our resident WUI expertise and for that reason we cannot start a new case study until we have completed the ongoing reconstruction. Additionally, our case studies require us to be on location to collect the relevant perishable information very soon after ignition and therefore cannot be initiated months of years after a fire. We typically have a team of 4 to six persons in the field for about 6 months to collect the necessary data and we get on location within hours or days of ignition. 

At this point we are planning our next reconstruction in 2024. 

I am including below the link to our Camp Fire website where you can find all three of our reports to date along with presentations of our Camp Fire – Fire Progression Timeline Report and fire spread visualizations of the ongoing study.  

Thank you again for contacting us. Do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions about our Camp Fire Case Study to date or any of previous reconstructions. 

All the best,

Alexander Maranghides
Lead, Camp Fire Case Study. 
NIST Camp Fire Website

NIST Investigation of the California Camp Fire

So, the big question is this: WHO HOLDS CAL FIRE ACCOUNTABLE AND RESPONSIBLE for what happened and did not happen in Santa Cruz County last year???

Contact State Senator Laird and ask

Contact County Supervisors Ryan Coonerty (who is jumping ship) and Bruce McPherson (will he jump ship in the next re-election, too?)  (831) 454-2200 or Ryan Coonerty ryan.coonerty@santacruzcounty.us  and Bruce McPherson bruce.mcpherson@santacruzcounty.us 

Maybe it will ultimately be the people who force Chief Ian Larkin to be accountable.  Will he protect the County and be better-prepared in the future?  Why no After Action Review for the CZU Fire???

Chief Ian Larkin ian.larkin@fire.ca.gov 

WILL SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT FIX THIS MESS ON CALIFORNIA STREET?

These are photos of the trenches filled in by recent Soquel Creek Water District.  Note that the mess is in front of Spring Hill School, but the Soquel Creek Water District’s EIR for the PureWater Soquel Project claimed, and staff continues to claim, that there are no schools within 0.25 mile of the project where multiple large above-ground tanks of hazardous chemicals will be stored and used, requiring transport of these hazardous chemicals through the school and residential district.  The District has repeatedly FAILED to notify this school or the two others (Santa Cruz High and Bayview Elementary) in writing of this hazard, 30 days in advance of certifying the Project EIR.

Disgusting.

Write the Board of Directors, who is supposed to be accountable and responsible but, in my opinion, is asleep and likely failed to thoroughly read the Project modifications they recently approved. 

Soquel Creek Water District Board bod@soquelcreekwater.org  and Emma Olin emmao@soquelcreekwater.org 

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT HAS NO RIGHT TO OVERPUMP THE AREA’S AQUIFER
A friend recently researched the State Water board website for local water rights.  He found that Soquel Creek Water District has no right to pump water for beneficial uses (selling at exorbitantly-high rates) when the Purisima Aquifer and MidCounty Basin are in “Critical Overdraft”.

So, why does the State continue to allow the District to do so?

Do I need a water right?

If you take water from a lake, river, stream, or creek, or from underground supplies for a beneficial use, the California Water Code (Division 2) requires that you have a water right. Because California water right law is complicated, you may have a water right (such as a riparian or pre-1914 appropriative) even if you do not have a water right permit or other type of water right issued by the state.

Even if you take and use a small amount of water only for domestic purposes or use a small amount of water for commercial livestock watering purposes, you need a water right of some type. If you do not have another basis of right to rely on, you can acquire a water right for certain small diversions by registering your use with the Division of Water Rights, notify the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and agree to follow conditions the Department of Fish and Wildlife may set to protect fish and wildlife. The maximum use allowed under such a registration is 4,500 gallons per day for immediate use or 10 acre-feet per year for storage in a pond or reservoir. You cannot register to divert water from a stream if the Water Board has declared the stream to befully appropriated. If you use more water than is allowed under a registration, or if you use a portion of the water for a purpose other than domestic purposes or livestock watering, and you do not already have a water right, you must apply for and receive a permit from the State Water Board’s Division of Water Rights before you can use water.

[Frequently Asked Questions about California water right laws]

You should not assume that you have a water right just because you have a water diversion or a dam on your property. You can check with the Division of Water Rights to determine if you have a water right permit, license, certificate or registration, or if someone has claimed a water right for your water project.

Why does the State require water users to have a water right?

Water is protected for the use and benefit of all Californians. California’s waters cannot be owned by individuals, groups, businesses, or governmental agencies. But permits, licenses, and registrations give individuals and others the right to beneficially use reasonable amounts of water.

Soquel Creek Water District has JUNIOR OR APPROPRIATIVE WATER RIGHTS, which means that when supply is low, those with Senior or Overlying Water Rights have priority.  While this is often applies to surface stream water diversions, the California Water Rights laws also apply to groundwater pumping.  The State declared the MidCounty Basin (called the Soquel Valley Basin at the time) to be in critical overdraft in 1980, “at the request of the City of Santa Cruz and a Santa Cruz County Supervisor.”  

[A PRIMER ON CALIFORNIA WATER RIGHTS]

Appropriative Rights. Any party who does not own land overlying the basin, who owns overlying land but uses the water on non overlying land, or who sells the water to the public generally is an “appropriator” and not an overlying user. The courts generally acknowledge the right of an appropriator to take the available surplus from a groundwater basin and apply it to beneficial use inside or outside the basin. For this purpose, “surplus” means available water (that is, water the use of which will not create an overdraft condition) not needed to provide for the needs of all overlying users. (Overdraft is discussed more fully below.) There is no restriction as to where the water may be used, and no requirement that the appropriator be a landowner. The water may generally be used for private or public uses without restriction, subject to the requirement that the use of the water must be reasonable and beneficial.

Among appropriators, the priority of each appropriator’s right is determined by the relative timing of the commencement of use, i.e., first in time is first in right.

Prescriptive Rights.

There is some question in California as to whether prescriptive rights to groundwater can be asserted. At least one case suggests that the doctrine of prescription (or at least the doctrine of “mutual prescription” pursuant to which all users of a basin prescript as against each other) no longer has a place in California. However, the better view seems to be that prescription can occur relative to groundwater, just as it can with respect to surface water. Prescriptive rights do not begin to accrue until a condition of overdraft begins. Therefore, it is first necessary to determine when a condition of surplus ends and overdraft begins. The definition of overdraft was articulated by the California Supreme Court in 1975. There, the court held that overdraft begins when extractions exceed the safe yield of a basin plus any temporary surplus. Safe yield is defined as the maximum quantity of water which can be withdrawn annually from a groundwater supply under a given set of conditions without causing a gradual lowering of the groundwater levels resulting, in turn, in the eventual depletion of the supply. “Temporary surplus” is the amount of water which can be pumped from a basin to provide storage space for surface water which would be wasted during wet years if it could not be stored in the basin. Once a groundwater basin reaches a condition of overdraft, no new appropriative uses may be lawfully made. If overlying users (who, as discussed below, have priority over appropriative users) begin to consume a greater share of the safe yield, the existing appropriators must cease pumping in reverse order of their priority as against other appropriators

To date, Soquel Creek Water District has failed to apply for Temporary Prescriptive Rights, even though advised to do so by Best, Best and Krieger law firm in 2013, as an emergency measure to secure a supplemental water supply when the desalination project with the City failed. (See attached recommendation and legal analysis of options the District has had available all this time, but has failed to pursue.)

Instead, the District wants to pollute the aquifer with treated sewage water containing unregulated pharmaceuticals and hormones the treatment process cannot remove, make us all drink it, regardless of whether we are their customers or not, and make the area dependent on energy-hog technology.

What are they thinking???

Write the Board of Soquel Creek Water District bod@soquelcreekwater.org and let them know your thoughts.

AND QUICKLY…
1) Santa Cruz County will dive into real debt to fund the unpaid CalPERS employee pensions.  This is on the August 24 Board agenda as regular agenda item #7 2021/08/24 09:00 AM Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting – Web Outline – Santa Cruz County, CA

The County will continue to experience significant increases in its debt service payments to California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to fund accumulated pension liabilities, largely from shortfalls in CalPERS investment earnings and reductions in their discount rate. The issuance of approximately $124.2 million in Pension Obligation Bonds (POBs) to fund 90% of the unfunded liability for the County’s two safety plans are the most prudent solution now to stabilize future debt service payments and substantially lower the County’s debt service interest rate. Following the Board’s authorization for the issuance of POBs on May 11, 2021, approval of a Pension Liability Management Policy is recommended, and adoption of a final resolution is required to approve the POBs financing documents.

2) Will a new Rio Del Mar Flats Assessment District pay for storm water improvements to reduce flooding?

The Flood Control District will hear final public comment this Tuesday, August 24, and tabulate votes on the matter.  Will the new storm water system work in the event of sea level rise?? Will the Coastal Commission agree with dumping all this storm water on the beach near homes?  What does Fish and Wildlife think?  Could that water be pumped somewhere nearby for aquifer recharge instead?

If formation of the RDM Assessment District is approved, annual revenues for Fiscal Year 2022-23 in the amount of $121,037 will be generated to fund the operation, servicing and maintenance of storm water improvements serving the Rio Del Mar Flats neighborhood.  Future assessments will be increased by the lesser of the Consumer Price Index or 2.5 percent.  The improvements consist of a new pump station and appurtenant facilities that will isolate and deliver neighborhood storm water flows to a new outfall structure on County right of way immediately adjacent to the Rio Del Mar State Beach.  The services shall include the furnishing of all labor, equipment and materials for the operation and maintenance of the storm water improvements including:

  1. Repair, removal, or replacement of all or any part of any storm water improvements.
  2. Electrical power, water supply and communication.
  3. Any required reserve funds.
  4. All administrative costs.

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A PUBLIC MEETING AND ASK QUESTIONS.  MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK, AND JUST DO SOMETHING.

Cheers,

Becky

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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August 22.  

#234 / Domestic Terrorist #1
 

The March-April 2021, issue of Mother Jones called former president Donald Trump a “Mob Boss,” and a “domestic terrorist.” The article in which these charges were levied was written by Mark Follman and was titled, “American Carnage.” 

The description of Trump as a terrorist leader is neither metaphor nor hyperbole—it is the assessment of veteran national security experts. Trump, those experts say, adopted a method known as stochastic terrorism, a process of incitement where the instigator provokes extremist violence under the guise of plausible deniability. Although the exact location, timing, and source of the violence may not be predictable, its occurrence is all but inevitable. When pressed about the incitement, the instigator typically responds with equivocal denials and muted denunciations of violence, or claims to have been “joking,” as Trump and those speaking on his behalf routinely made.

Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, is one of the “national security experts” cited by Mother Jones. Here’s her bottom line: Trump must not be allowed a second act. “This is how to think about it,” Kayyem said: “No forgiveness.”

No second act? I’m good with that!

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

    ISOLATION

“Too much self-centered attitude, you see, brings, you see, isolation. Result: loneliness, fear, anger. The extreme self-centered attitude is the source of suffering”.
~Dalai Lama

“The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy”.   
~Ingmar Bergman

“No one can live entirely on their own, nor can any country or society exist in isolation”.
~Daisaku Ikeda

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Various celebrities on helium! Vin Diesel is a favorite, of course…


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
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com

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