Blog Archives

August 26 – September 1, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Miserable warning systems here, out of the ashes, Boardwalk does nice!, false internet chain store ads here, tomato health, BMovie Bratton and Rake, Stockton on my Mind, and Lovecraft Country, KZSC is now all on robotic controls no live programming due to fires. GREENSITE…on the wildfires. KROHN…News from the Santa Cruz Progressive Alliance. STEINBRUNER…County Supes and State of Emergency, General Plan update, emergency services, UCSC impacts, County Homeless care, Soquel Water District in debt. PATTON…Pandemic Positives. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES… “HORIZON”


WALGREENS AND DODGE BUILDING. This was February 2, 1949 and of course at the Southeast corners of Laurel and Pacific. It once was George Ow’s property but he sold it long ago, and those owners sold it again.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email


PATSY CLINE SINGS “CRAZY”. There are singers and then there’s Patsy Cline!

DATELINE August 24

POTENTIAL GOOD NEWS. It’s not easy being positive lately with Adolph Hitler in the White House, COVID stalking our friends and neighbors, and the most immediate challenge of the fires that threaten at every moment. But as Octavia Butler quoted “In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn.” Maybe Santa Cruz city and county can — or will — see the flaws. Encouraging growth at any cost, better treatment and solutions of and for our homeless. Some soon day we’ll be able to state “IT WAS WHAT IT WAS”

MISERABLE FIRE WARNING SYSTEM HERE! Many locals, along with my Los Angeles-based daughter who follows my Santa Cruz situation, have complained that any and all of our Santa Cruz warning systems are non-responding and hard to access. My daughter, who went through the recent Malibu fire, says that their warnings were immediate, easy to sign onto, and helpful. We need to demand that county and civic officials look into and change our systems.

SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK GOES NICE. In what seems to me to be a big change in community involvement, the Boardwalk became the evacuating center for the  evacuated UCSC students. I don’t remember that kind of involvement  before. Then, too, the Boardwalk is starting a Friday and Saturday night drive-in movie theatre experience starting this Friday August 28 and 29. 120 cars only, at $25 per car in their River Street parking lot. No alcohol, no sitting on top of your car, no RV’s and you must buy your tickets ahead of time at

FALSE ADVERTISING AND INTERNET ADS. It’s my humble opinion that we citizens of the USA, and the world ,could win a huge lawsuit against every big store ad we see on the internet. How many times have you gone to a store website, punched in the zip code to be sure it was the store near you, get to the store only to be told that “Gee, we don’t carry everything that internet says we do”. That’s false advertising; get somebody to do something about that.

TOMATO SEASON IN SANTA CRUZ. As longtimers know, different varieties of tomatoes grow better in different parts of our county and the city. A long-time friend provides me with his homegrown tomatoes every year. This time I looked up the health benefits of tomatoes, and was amazed at how hugely healthy they are. It seems to me that if Adam had given Eve a tomato instead of an apple we’d be far better off!

B MOVIE BRATTON & BUSHWHACKERS.. Every Friday morning on KZSC (88.1 fm or live online at from 8:10am – 8:20am or thereabouts I present my “B Movie Bratton” segment of short critiques (not reviews) of what’s on our screens. Dangerous Dan Orange hosts the rest of the Bushwhackers Breakfast. Club. Tune in this Friday and listen to my critiques on

RAKE a Netflix offering from Australia which is a half funny, half murder — and very unpredictable. For example, did you know that Idaho is our only state that outlaws cannibalism? Then there’s STOCKTON ON MY MIND, an HBO feature documentary that takes behind the scenes with the current mayor of Stockton Michael Tubbs as he deals with the infinite problems of that wayback city. Lastly is LOVECRAFT COUNTRY. Another HBO feature that uses many of the famed author  H.P.  Lovecraft’s monsters, locations and names to tell the story of a man in the 1950’s USA looking for his father. It’s new, so I can’t predict how it will develop — but is good fun contemplating it.

August 24th 2020

Wildfires: Tackling the Real Cause

As of this writing, the smell of smoke is still in the air. Multiple wildfires continue to rage. Thousands have been evacuated with many losing their homes. After the crisis is over and the weary pick up the pieces of their lives, there will come the reckoning. My hunch is that climate change will top the list of causes and spark an urgent call for action. That is a good thing since we collectively live as though there is no crisis involved with a rapidly warming planet. However, if climate change is not the main cause and the real cause lies elsewhere, we may leave ourselves open for a repeat of this week’s devastating infernos if we jump to easy conclusions.

On Saturday I attended a 7-hour zoom meeting. Not your idea of fun? Fun may be a stretch but I found it illuminating with respect to this topic and important enough to share. The occasion was the Sierra Club CA Conservation Committee Statewide videoconference. I’m a newly elected member of the Steering Committee and also Northern CA Secretary, which means note-taker so no wandering off to get a snack.

After an update on current state environmental legislation, including that polluting interests are exploiting the opportunity created by Covid to push for bills that are all bad, we had a timely presentation on CA Wildfire Trends by Dr. Alexandra Syphard from the Conservation Biology Institute at Sonoma State. It was a great presentation and a reminder of the importance of good scientific research. The conclusions were not the expected. Turns out climate change is not the main driver or even among the top three and in some areas such as southern CA it has insignificant effect although in montane forests it is significant.

With historical data showing that since 1889 CA has had as big and as hot fires as the current fires, what have changed are the frequency and the level of destruction they cause. Since the 1940’s there has been an 871% increase in development in CA. As the researcher said, “The problem isn’t fire. It’s people in the wrong places.” And I’d add, far more people in far more wrong places. Ninety- nine per cent of fires are started by people: hence the increase in frequency. More people, more development in high fire risk areas, more fires, more destruction. Climate change can take a relatively back seat role on this one. Once again, it’s us humans. Building more and more homes and infrastructure in high fire risk areas results in an ever- higher level of destruction. Unless this top variable is addressed there will be trees cut and habitat removed in a vain attempt to keep the flames tamed. And it will fail.
The only solution is to halt new building in very high fire risk zones and a Resolution including that language was later passed by the attending 70 delegates. The aim is to have it passed into law by the legislature and governor.

This seems so sensible it should happen tomorrow. However opposition will predictably come from the usual line-up of real estate, building trades and housing activists. This alliance can be increasingly seen at city council and Board of Supervisors’ meetings, including a number of non-profits such as the Monterey Bay Economic Alliance. With well-organized turn-out, with environmental and neighborhood activists as scarce as the hairs on a bald man’s head, building after building is approved with no regard for the variable of cumulative fire destruction potential. Even something as simple as flame retardant roofs is not a requirement let alone a moratorium on building in high fire-risk zones. No, the problem is the trees. Cut ’em down!

I predict that there will be a clamor for the removal of trees from those who chose to live under trees and a commitment to beef up climate change efforts with grant applications centering inclusivity and social justice. Meanwhile the ignored real cause is staring us in the face.

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.


Brainstorming Political Goals

There is a new group known as the Santa Cruz Progressive Alliance. Begun by a pod of 17 individuals who have collectively been through dozens of progressive battles over the past two decades, this group came together to seek out candidates to run for the Santa Cruz City Council. Ultimately the group took a step back before proceeding with that search and began to brainstorm some political goals and vision for our community in these pandemic times. I do not speak for the group, but I took my own notes. See if any of these initial thoughts and ideas resonate with you…

Goals Must be: “…immediate and practical…”

  • Affordable housing and housing for homeless, jumpstarted, centered in downtown and at transportation nodes elsewhere in the city, based on a community planning process.
  • Reconstituted downtown Santa Cruz as a unique community- and visitor-oriented place, with Downtown Commons, Downtown Library at the Civic Center, renovated Civic Auditorium, Civic Center Plaza between library and City Hall — all with reduction of “dead space” or uninteresting side streets currently.
  • Regional and extra-regional green transportation system, adjusted for pandemic conditions, and including on rail corridor from Davenport to Watsonville and, longer term, “rail” service from San Jose to Los Gatos, Scotts Valley, Downtown SC, and the Boardwalk.

The Public Must Steer This Community E-Bus

  • All commission meetings are to be videotaped and available for dial-in access for input on zoom.
  • City budgets should be considered by the public over at least a month period with engagement and robust discussion at the Civic Auditorium.
  • Sustainable economy – define it and own it – growth for the sake of digging one out of a deficit has some unintended consequences. There are plenty of hotels being built, but not for families to live in or for the homeless to stay in.
  • Local economy – support locally owned businesses!
  • City as environmental hub tied with University – define shared values and priorities, and especially education and awareness of one of the most bio-diverse areas of the world!
  • Transportation to address the logjam of Hwy 1 – organizing more means of consolidated transportation based on destinations, rotating hours, and more telecommuting….What seems to work right now and what needs improvement?
  • Acknowledge and enhance upon our status as a culture and creative hub – more art, more music, more comedy, more theater – street art and community events.

Big Stuff

  • In light of Covid-19 pandemic, address student debt, business leases, and mortgage deferrals until they can be refinanced by state-owned bank.
  • Institute a locally owned, self-funding, mortgage-backed CA. Green New Deal.
  • Initiate virtual neighborhood “micro-councils” for instant referendums and inclusive debate.
  • Craft a local credit system that favors local production, local agriculture, and local well-being.
  • Santa Cruz for Santa Cruzans, enabling everyone to contribute to the community (community as community vs. community as a commodity)
  • Educate small business and corporations on how to decarbonize, repair, and upgrade our city and county’s infrastructure, especially transportation. Electric trains to Watsonville, SF, Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose… whoo hoo!
  • Affordable housing–for low and very low income–and housing for homeless, centered in the downtown and at transportation nodes with easy access to medical services, recovery centers, and trauma informed care.

Santa Cruz Dreamin’

  • A noncommercial city center where nothing is bought or sold just art and benches and trees and as place to have speakers, music FREE. Dogs on leashes. (Lot 4, on Cedar between Lincoln and Cathcart?)
  • Address income inequality locally by publicizing how to TAX THE RICH with a “People’s Budget Committee.”
  • A more open community media center. We need a local news show. Independent watchdog on SCPD and Sheriff’s office aired regularly on Community TV. Open up governance at new local radio station and allow diverse voices from our community to be heard. 
  • Allow for opportunities for people to participate local “good government” more than just voting every 2 and 4 years.
Bernie Tweet of the Week

“The world is rapidly becoming more unhealthy and unsafe right in front of our eyes. If we don’t act soon, we will see more devastating fires, more extreme weather disturbances, and massive human suffering. We can’t afford to wait any longer. We need the Green New Deal now. (Aug. 21)

Save the Beach Street Vendors 

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

Email Chris at


If you care about what the quality of life in Santa Cruz County will be like in the near future, you need to take a look at the proposed County General Plan and Sustainability Update Scoping material and send comment.  The deadline for doing this just got extended a second time and will now close September 4.

Don’t worry about being detailed….just send in a list of what growth-related topics concern you and that you want to have included in the environmental analysis of any changes in the General Plan.  Do you want heritage trees protected to promote urban cooling in dense developments?  Do you think the Plan should include changes to code requirements for double-plumbing to use recycled water for toilets?  Do you think there should be dense clusters of multi-story residential development near the railroad tracks that could support future passenger rail?  What about noise levels?  Community gardening and composting centers?

Send in your thoughts by September 4.

CEQA Documents Open for Public Review

In a Special Board meeting on Tuesday, August 25, the Board will declare a Countywide State of Emergency due to the CZU Lightning Complex fires.  As I write this, over 70,000 acres have burned, and 77,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Having spent many hours helping at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds evacuation shelter, I assure you this is indeed a serious situation.

Only one day after chopping the job of full-time County Office of Emergency Services Director Rosemary Anderson, County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios assumed the title.  The Warnella Fire near Davenport, which had begun on August 15 with the lightning strikes, was simmering away and filling the air with smoke as Carlos Palacios eliminated her job during the Final Budget hearing and combined it as part-time work for his office.

Shockingly, the Board unanimously voted to accept his recommendations to do so. A fire of unknown origin sprang up on the China Grade area of Boulder Creek that very evening.

On August 19, 2020, the County Administrative Officer, acting as the Director of Emergency Services, proclaimed a local emergency related to the CZU August Lightning wildfires.

The Board must ratify that proclamation within one week of that act, and hence the Special Board meeting this week.

The Board and CAO Palacios should be questioned now and held accountable for removing the full-time focus of the Office of Emergency Services.  Did they act with the public’s best interest, or simply bow to  the ego-centric control  fixation of Carlos Palacios?

That’s right, Carlos Palacios deemed there  is not enough money to fund a full-time Emergency Services Director job and chopped 40+ other County worker jobs,  but there is $20,000 available to approve Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s wish to fund a $20,000 study of the impacts of UCSC on the County?  (Item #9) Really?

Our County has managed quite well with election polling stations, but suddenly, a $72,000 mobile voting trailer is a must-have expense? (Item #8)

Why is there $152,000 available to create an entire new department for homeless services? (#15)
Is this a new industry for the County?

How did CAO Palacios manage to find money to keep the jobs of 8 cooks for the County jail food service, a the request of Sheriff Jim Hart  until December while an outside food vendor contract is discussed, but he could not find money to fund the jobs for the parking attendants, Senior Secretaries and custodians who lost their jobs?

While it was heartening to hear from SEIU Shop Steward Jim Heaney that employees were organizing an effort to give up a percentage of their pay to help fund and continue jobs of those who suffered Palacio’s ax , neither the  Board of Supervisors nor Carlos Palacios (paid nearly $400,000/year) offered to do the same.  Shame on them.

At the August 18 meeting, the Board unanimously approved entering into a $89 million loan contract with teh EPA, and also spending an additional $1.3 Million to buy property for a learning center.  Wow.

Look at page 212 to see how much the cost increased for the expensive and risky Project to inject treated sewage water into the groundwater.

The construction cost used to be $90 million, but now the price tag is over $181 million, not including debt burden.  Ouch!

Look at page 214 at the existing indebtedness…..millions more.

And see that the Board just could not show any self-control or fiscal responsibility by agreeing to purchase additional property to build a new learning center (“the one at the District Office is just too small”  Board Chairman Daniels and other said as they patted themselves on the back.)

Meanwhile, the elderly fixed-income ratepayers are struggling to pay their exorbitant  water bills.

Write this out-of-control Board and let them know what you think:

Board of Directors

Someone needs to tell them to grow up, and that there is a limit to what their ratepayers can shoulder.


Becky Steinbruner
831-685-2915   I welcome your discussion.

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

Email Becky at


August 23

#236 / Pandemic Positives

An article by Lawrence Wright, published in the July 20, 2020, edition of The New Yorker, has some positive things to say about pandemics – or at least it has some positive thoughts about what has happened in the aftermath of past pandemics:

Great crises tend to bring profound social change, for good or ill. The consequences of wars and economic depressions have been amply studied; the consequences of pandemics, less so. This spring, in order to understand our possible future, I decided to look at the past through the eyes of Gianna Pomata, a retired professor at the Institute of the History of Medicine, at Johns Hopkins University. When we first talked, on Skype, she immediately compared covid-19 to the bubonic plague that struck Europe in the fourteenth century—”not in the number of dead but in terms of shaking up the way people think.” She went on, “The Black Death really marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of something else.” That something else was the Renaissance.

Wright’s article, “Crossroads, “part of the magazine’s “Annals of History,” is well worth reading. Wright definitely identifies both the “good” and the “ill,” in terms of lessons from past pandemics, and similarly assesses both the positive and negative possibilities that now face us, as we all wait for the coming conquest of the coronavirus.

It’s that “something else” possibility that is so intriguing to me. I believe that our current social, political, and economic exitence is mired in corruption, on just about every level.

I am thinking we could all use a “Renaissance” right about now.

Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at

Email Gary at


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. 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


“A horizon on the road of hope is nothing more than a starting point for the next horizon.”
~Craig D. Lounsbrough, The Eighth Page

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon”.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

“There is no horizon in Toledo. There are too many trees”.
~P. J. O’Rourke

“There are always new places to go fishing. For any fisherman, there’s always a new place, always a new horizon”. 
~Jack Nicklaus

They might be old but these vintage kitchen tools are AWESOME! ??????

They might be old but these vintage kitchen tools are AWESOME! ??????

Posted by Emmymade on Thursday, July 30, 2020

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:
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @


Posted in Weekly Articles | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.