Blog Archives

December 14 – 20, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Cotoni Coast National Monument/park disaster, save the trees, save Santa Cruz, Paul Lee tribute. GREENSITE…will return next week. KROHN…top city bureaucrat rakes it in. STEINBRUNER…City water rates rising, new water treatment plant $$, Ryan Coonerty and fire costs, Aptos historic homes, climate change. HAYES…on a brief vacation. PATTON…”Me Inc.”. MATLOCK… smelling rich on that midnight train to Georgia. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week: another famous Swede… QUOTES…”Traffic”.



Here’s the famous Uncle Walt Disney scoping out the rail car ride at our Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Yes, that’s him sucking on a cigarette.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE December 12

COTONI COAST NATIONAL MONUMENT /PARK ISSUES. Now that we (well most of us) have elected Justin Cummings as our new Third District Supervisor there may be hope that some of the issues connected with the soon to be opened Cotoni Coast National Monument Park can be handled with more focus, interest and determination than County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty ever gave this onslaught. The lack of direction from the Bureau of Land Management, no news to Davenport residents about the 500 car parking lot or the much needed answer to their local water supply, and on and on. Of course there’s the 50 to 100,000 visitors that will jam our narrow Highway One (Cabrilho Highway). Time’s a wastin’ and hordes are coming.

SAVING THOSE SPECIAL TREES. So many of our active locals are working hard to save those trees that border the proposed new library/parking garage. It is a perfect example of just how far removed our present City Council is from the wishes of the people they are supposed to represent. Pauline Seales led the following 12 organizations to jointly file this appeal on October 27th.Santa Cruz Climate Action Network, The Sierra Club Santa Cruz, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Santa Cruz., Yes on Measure O for Our Downtown, Our Future, Campaign for Sustainable Transportation, Downtown Commons Advocates, Youth for Climate Justice, Santa Cruz for Bernie, People’s Democratic Club of Santa Cruz County, Eat for the Earth, Ecosystem Restoration Communities, Electric Vehicle Assn CA Central Coast Chapter.

SAVING SANTA CRUZ. As we look over our shoulders or even stare straight ahead we see and live with homelessness, never-ending high rise monstrous high priced apartment buildings, ever growing traffic jams, over dosing drug addictions, guns, violence and murders and still more. As we face the New Year we should also take a broader view and ask ourselves what cities or towns in the USA aren’t facing the very same issues? Has any government anywhere solved these problems? Think again while we continue to suffer under an abysmal city government what possible solutions exist anywhere? Santa Cruz still has very special somethings, and we shouldn’t forget it!

PAUL LEE TRIBUTE. Manuel Zavala was one of Paul Lee’s good friends and a caretaker/scribe for Paul’s Penny University. He sent out announcement stating a memorial celebration of the life of Paul Lee will take place at the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Soquel on Dec. 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. You can reach Manuel 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.

WHITE NOISE. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (6.6 IMDB). Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig along with Don Cheadle lead the cast of this so called comedy. It has laughs but at our expense while the director makes great fun of our consumerism, our fear of death, our politics, and our family issues. It is also sad, tragic, and bitter and it’s from a book that I haven’t read. It’s hard to follow the varying numbered parts but you’ll stay with it just to see how it ends. The institution that Driver teaches at is called “College on the Hill” which of course reminds us locals of “City on the Hill”. Go for it, you’ll be puzzled, curious, and dubious.

HARRY & MEGHAN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (3.2 IMDB). As one observer said, the Brits pay taxes to keep the Royal Family in their castles and lives. So that justifies why the British press has the privilege of maintaining the paparazzi attacks on their lives. Netflix paid $100 million for the filming rights to this series! These six documentary episodes give us Harry and Meghan Markle’s view of their lives on and under the throne. Meghan the Duchess of Sussex was born August 4, 1981 in Canoga Park, California. Yes, there’s quite a bit of Harry’s mom Diana AND the paparazzi.

TELL ME LIES. (HULU SERIES) (6.7 IMDB). A very silly movie about a group of college freshmen girls and how they handle the foolish sorority rules and just why they band together at all. Their names are Pippa, Bree, Macy and so forth. Macy dies in the first episode and the series gets more ridiculous after that.

INSIDE MAN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.6 IMDB). Stanley Tucci and David Tennant star in this tricky and complex drama. Tucci is a former professor of criminology who is on death row in an Arizona prison because he strangled his wife. But he’s so good a crime investigator that all kinds of people come to him for advice while he’s on death row. There’s even some laughs and centers on examining why we do the seemingly strange things we do.

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.

PINOCCHIO by GUILLERMO del TORO. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (8.1 IMDB). No laughs, no cartoons, just perfect stop motion serious action during Benito Mussolini’s reign in Italy. Voices by Ewan McGregor, Ron Perlman, John Turturro, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton and more. War, bloodshed, death and dying…this is no Disney version. del Toro is a serious director and his interpretation will make you dig deep and think through every frame of this two hour treatise.

LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.8 IMDB). This ancient shocking outré sex book was written in 1928 but no English versions appeared in the USA until 1960 and it hit thee fan and more than 3 million fans. Many filmed versions have lit up our screens and this one is super good. It’s a period piece taking place on a huge estate complete with a grounds keeper who is seduced by the Lady of the manor. Excellent sex scenes, super costumes, fine acting, even what are now common swear words, no big star names, and you won’t take your eyes off the screen for a second.

THE NOEL DIARY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.2 IMDB). This is a futile attempt to create another big deal, feel good Holiday movie. It’s Chicago, the authors mother dies, he has been separated from his dad and will they get back together again…I’m sure no one cares. It’s corny, stilted, forced, and just plain bad acting too.

THE SWIMMERS. NETFLIX SERIES. (7.5IMDB). Two sisters who are Olympic swimmers lead this true story of their escape from Damacus in Syria in 2016 where the war rages on while they work to stay in athletic shape. Their goal is Rio and the 2016 Olympics. It gives us a small picture of what life in like as a refugee and what inhuman ways our fellow humans take advantage of people trying to find a better life. It’s excellent, heartfelt, sincere, well-acted…don’t miss it.

THE WONDER. NETFLIX MOVIE. (6.7 IMDB). This saga and I mean saga is the story of an English nurse who was sent to a small town in Ireland in 1862. Her job is to watch full time a young 14 year old girl who hasn’t eaten any food for four months. It’s a mystery we don’t find out the answer to for ¾ of the movie. It’s tight, mysterious, and also stars movie favorites like Ciaran Hinds and Toby Jones. It’s very serious but gripping, watch it.

FIRST LOVE. HULU MOVIE. (4.7 IMDB). This is a story focusing on two youngsters and their first loves. It’s more about middle class values and how finances separate us. The two leads are not convincing, the story is too superficial and there are no reasons to watch this fatal family drivel.

THE FABLEMANS. DEL MAR THEATRE. (8.3 IMDB) This is the heavily publicized half true biography of famed director Stephen Spielberg‘s life up to the point he starts making movies. It goes from Cincinnati to Phoenix, Arizona and even to his brief time in Saratoga before going to Hollywood and meeting John Ford who is played by David Lynch. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano are his parents and much of the plot centers on the Jewish aspect of his life. Its

2 1/2 hours long and feels like it at times but it’s a fine film.

WELCOME TO CHIPPENDALES. HULU SERIES. (7.4 IMDB). It’s the back stage story of how the once famous nightclubs called Chippendales got its start. One very open minded smart promoter tried many versions of nightclubs that failed until some friends suggested he try a club with male strippers and even a male chorus line. Juliette Lewis is back onscreen again as another advisor who helps the club succeed. It all depends on how much you like watching male strippers, and you’re on your own.

GOODNIGHT OPPY. PRIME. (7.8 IMDB). Angela Bassett narrates this documentary featuring the twin robots that were sent to Mars starting back in 2003.  The rockets roamed and stuttered around part of Mars for nearly 15 years and this movie treats them like childlike human beings. The entire experiment was to learn if there was water now or ever on Mars which would have allowed life to exist there. It’s a cute, human, unforgettable look at the humans at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Lab who created it. It’s also mildly diverting.

December 12

Gillian will return next week.

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.


December 12


Note to reader

With picketers at UCSC hoping to see a fair and just contract offered to their membership, and in light of the miserly wage increase earned by the city’s lowest paid workers this past October, city management continues to secure large pay increases. Here is a BrattonOnline column that ran in May of 2021 and reflects how city tax-payer money continues to flow towards the top.

Hey City Manager, Can You Spare a Dime?

In 2019, Santa Cruz City Manager, Martin Bernal, was paid $233,628 in salary and $284,868 when benefits were added. In the years 2015-19, $1,347,498 changed hands between Santa Cruz tax payers and the chief city decision-maker. It is so much money that middle-aged Bernal can now finally retire as he will be receiving around $250k each year for the rest of his life…for a job well done? Meh. If it was well-done, then the past three city councils would not have created the soft ramp for his ever-so soft exit from the city’s base salary top-earner spot. The city of Santa Cruz had an “adopted budget” for 2021 of $323,190,000, and around 800 employees. Bernal’s job was to manage all of that. Now, compare his salary and responsibilities with that of Governor Gavin Newsom. In the same year that Bernal received $284k, the governor was paid $191k in salary and a total of $270k in salary and benefits. By the way, the governor of California manages a budget in excess of $267 billion with 237,826 active employees. So, along comes item #20 on this past Tuesday’s city council agenda, “Resolution amending the Classification and Compensation Plan for the City Manager classification.” Seems like $284k just ain’t enough for the next city manager. Not competitive enough, avers Bernal’s own appointed Human Resources Director, Lisa Murphy. She concocted a resolution that somehow maintains the next city manager ought to be paid $28k more in salary and benefits, sending the position to a $300k stratospheric place in the salary universe. Murphy’s prepared city council resolution reads: “NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Santa Cruz, that the City Council hereby approves increasing the City Manager salary range by 10% effective upon the appointment of a new City Manager which is anticipated to occur in August 2021.”

Is Lee Butler Qualified?

Oh, yes, administrator insiders will argue that we must be competitive. Other cities will steal away “highly qualified” future managers, like Bernal I guess, and we will have to live with the dregs of city CEOs. Heaven forbid, does this mean the door is open for current Planning Director and likely Bernal’s fave choice to succeed him, Lee Butler? Butler has never been a city manager before, but that did not stop him from becoming a planning director with no planning director experience. And why not appoint Butler, he’ll take the “low” pay and city admin people would argue, no one would come to Santa Cruz because of the abysmal city manager salary. Just ask the two planning director candidates before Butler. They told the city it was too expensive to live in Surf City, so Butler was chosen instead. He already had a house on the upper Westside. Now, the time looks ripe for him to swoop in and claim the city manager mantle because the advertisements in Western City magazine (ever hear of that one? It circulates among the city administrator glitterati the world over, a very miniscule readership.) aren’t bringing in enough qualified candidates. Why not advertise in the New York Times, or on university job boards like Harvard, UCSC, and UC Berkeley? What about not hiring someone who went to city manager school, someone who might bring a fresh perspective to local government, has expertise working with homeless populations and managing budgets, a people person with a sense of humor, and an advocate for open and transparent government? What about just placing an ad in the Santa Cruz Sentinel? Ever see a want-ad in the Sentinel for a city manager? That’s because the city manager handles the outreach. He uses city funds, usually totaling around $25-$30k, to advertise the job to people like himself, people who will want (demand!?) over $300k in salary and benefits, or they will say the job simply isn’t worth it. The beach, the redwoods, a vibrant downtown, a diversifying population that is politically engaged and environmentally-minded, a city with its own fire, police, and water departments, and a cute Monterey Colonial Revival-style city hall office. Who wouldn’t want to lead this community? Let’s limit compensation to $200k, which is more than double the median income in Santa Cruz county, because if someone cannot live on that, they will have really lost touch with the people who live here. Oh god, I can see city administrators everywhere furrowing their collective $brow, squinching up their noses, and puckering their lips before asking: Why would someone ever want to run a city on $200k per year, which is about 10% more than the state’s governor is paid? Who indeed!


Well, it is now nearing the end of 2022 and yes, an inside baseball city manager was in fact, chosen to lead Santa Cruz. Do you know his name? It’s Matt Huffaker. And last week, he was just given yet another raise, which sends the city manager salary ever higher into the stratosphere, way past $300k in salary and benefits. Guess what? Not only was it higher than what SEIU city workers received in percentage, but in sheer dollars it was ginormous. To see where the bulk of Santa Cruz tax-payer dollars go, just click HERE, or Google Transparent California. I think you may be surprised dear reader that there is a certain Santa Cruz chief of police in total salary and benefits received $423,084 in tax-payer money in 2021. Where does the buck$ stop? I guess in the bank accounts of some heavily compensated city employees.

“The staff at The New York Times are fighting for a living wage and fair pay — something that is not so radical when the company just approved $150 million in stock buybacks for its investors.” (Dec. 10)

The numbers of strikers are holding on the picket line at High and Bay streets while the salary numbers the UC negotiators offer continues to be pitiful. Is there an end in sight? Will fall grades be turned in before a contract is ratified by UAW strikers? Will UCSC winter quarter classes be disrupted?

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 His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at

Email Chris at

December 12


The City Water Commission heard some very grim news last week with analysis showing that by 2026 when the rates have significantly increased, the number of households that will struggle to pay their water bills will nearly double (Item 5 on the agenda).

 Take a look at the maps showing the stark news (pages 56 through 58 in the packet)

Note the increasingly large areas of red, orange and yellow…people who will struggle to pay their water bills.

Look at the maps on pages 73-79 for some real eye-opening data of low income areas that are struggling now.

Write the City of Santa Cruz Council with your thoughts:


One presentation to the Santa Cruz City Water Commission last week was from David Mitchell of Oakland’s M. Cubed Consulting, who described the looming economic burden rising water rates (and other utilities) will bring, citing a new nationwide data dashboard tool for comparing affordability among areas.  Oddly, the City of Santa Cruz data is not included in the dashboard, but Watsonville and Scotts Valley are, as well as Soquel Creek Water District.

Duke University created the website tool that allows comparison by adding in filters for jurisdiction and size.  If you hover your mouse over the various census blocks that are color-coded for level of economic burden, you see information about number of households and average income levels.

Take a look

Do you see that areas of Soquel Creek Water District (with about 14,000 customers) are already highly burdened or moderately burdened?  Their rates will go up 9% on January 1, 2023, the fifth consecutive rate increase the Board approved in order to help pay for the bloated PureWater Soquel Project cost.  The Board has discussed selecting a new Rate Increase Ad Hoc Committee next year to shove yet another rate increase through next year.

Write the Soquel Creek Water District Board with your thoughts: Board of Directors  and copy Administrative Clerk Emma Western


While the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors prefers to remain publicly silent regarding the expensive modified PureWater Soquel Project to inject treated sewage water into the aquifer, last week’s Santa Cruz City Water Commission agenda documents provided some interesting updates on the Project:

See page 37 of packet

Construction of the Pure Water Soquel (PWS) project is progressing with installation of the City’s new tertiary treatment system and conveyance pipeline at the WWTF, and the advanced purification treatment facility at the Chanticleer site shown below. 6″ RW pipeline at WWTF

Next Steps:  

Staff and Kennedy Jenks to revisit alternatives and portfolios for WSAIP. 

  • Work with Soquel Creek Water District to define groundwater modeling scenarios. Contract Update(s): Consultant: Kennedy Jenks, Recycled Water Feasibility Study – Phase 2 
  • Contract Signed: December 20, 2019 
  • Project Partners: City Public Works 4.7 
  • Engaged Stakeholders: Scotts Valley Water District, Soquel Creek Water District, County of Santa Cruz 
  • Original Contract Amount: $260,000 
  • Contract Amendment No. 1: $496,205 
  • Contract Amendment No. 2: Administrative only 
  • Contract Amendment No. 3: $350,000 
  • Contract Amendment No. 4: $358,282 
  • Amount Spent: $627,323 
  • Amount Remaining: $837,165 
  • Schedule: Contract is seeing an ongoing delay due to issues related to groundwater modeling, and overall alignment of all components of the supply augmentation analysis. 


The City Water Commission heard a thorough presentation from the engineer, Mr. Matt Zenar, about the plans for the new enlarged Water Treatment Plant on Graham Hill. The $153 million project will have a Final EIR complete early next year, and construction will begin in 2024 New treatment processes, such as centrifuges to remove sediment from San Lorenzo River during storm events, will not only enable the City to treat more water when it is readily available, but also reduce the amount of chlorine used that causes disinfection by-product water quality problems.

The new large pumps, ozonation type Beltz wells santa Cruzand future UV treatment will really increase the energy demand of the treatment facility.  There will be a new very large (8200SF) covered building over the settling basins to prevent outside contamination.

I asked if there could be solar panels placed on the roof areas, with potential lithium-iron-phosphate battery banks for energy storage and use at night?  No answer.  No one bothered to answer my question about any laboratory upgrades either, even though there had been mention of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC’s) and the fact that the staff report stated Giardia and Cryptosporidium are not effectively treated with chlorine and would require the new treatment processes of Granular Activated Charcoal (GAC), Ozone and later, UV light.  Will their new lab be able to test and determine whether those organisms are present in the water?

With the new treatment plant on board, the City will be able to send water to inject in the Live Oak area Beltz Wells to recharge the aquifer.  Also, once the new Water Rights to the San Lorenzo River are approved by the State Water Board, the City can sell potable water to Soquel Creek Water District in a more regional water sharing scenario.


Until the City’s Water Rights to the San Lorenzo River are changed, the City of Santa Cruz can only sell water taken from the River to customers in its service boundaries.  However, that will change soon, with the actions described below, and support regional water sharing when there are wet winters and water is abundant.

Santa Cruz Water Rights Project. The Santa Cruz Water Rights Project Final Environmental Impact Report was certified by City Council on December 14, 2021, concluding the City’s CEQA process. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) process to amend the City’s post-1914 water rights has not been completed, although recent communications indicate a draft Order could be out the first of the new calendar year. 


Many thanks to a reader who pointed out that on Tuesday (12/13), the Santa Cruz City Council will consider Closed Session discussion to negotiate easement agreements on 28 parcels to help improve the pathway for the new 24″ pipeline from the intake in Felton, traveling along areas of the Big Trees Railroad: [Agenda Packet]

Here is a link to the Newell Creek Pipeline Replacement Project

Santa Cruz City Water Dept. Manager Rosemary Menard kindly answered my question e-mailed to her about the easements and whether the new pipeline would be buried:

Hi Becky, there are two segments of the Newell Creek Pipeline involved.  The segment from Newell Creek Dam to the Felton Booster is not in a public right of way but is in an alignment that goes through multiple properties from Glen Arbor to the Felton Booster.  We’re replacing that segment with a directional drilled pipeline that is designed specifically to address the earthquake hazard/fault situation in that area.  Hence, many easements over private properties, although realistically little to no surface disturbance will occur. 

The second segment is from the Felton Booster (corner of Graham Hill Road and E. Zayante Road) to the Graham Hill Water Treatment Plant.  This segment is currently in Pipeline Road in Henry Cowell State Park for much of its alignment and is being moved to Graham Hill Road due to the difficulty of maintaining the pipeline in its current alignment.  Fewer easements are required for this segment due to it being in a public right of way for much of its length. 

All segments of the Newell Creek Pipeline, with the current exception of stream crossing segments on Pipeline Road, are buried. 


This cleared thing up for me, but if you have questions, write to Rosemary Menard



The Board of Supervisors changed the rules so that Fire Dept. Advisory Commissioners no longer have to live in the area served by County Fire, and in fact, don’t have to be in the Supervisorial District they represent.  This was done to allow Mr. Carey Pico, an appointee of Second District Supervisor Zach Friend, to continue to serve on the Commission, even though he lives in Rio del Mar (served by Central Fire District) and not in the boundary of County Fire.  He is clueless about what rural residents need in local emergency response, but it doesn’t matter because he is a close friend of Supervisor Zach Friend.

The item was the final matter to be considered on the December 6 Regular Agenda.  I sat through the Flood Control Board meeting, and two proclamations presentations, and the County Green Business Awards, waiting to address the Board on the Fire Dept. Commission Ordinance matter.  Even though I was the only person left in the Board chambers, and no one else wanted to speak on the item, Chairman Manu Koenig refused my request for one additional minute past the two-minute restriction.

After the meeting, I saw Supervisor Ryan Coonerty in the hallway.  I reminded him that the Fire Dept. Commissioners make crucial recommendations to the Board about financial matters, and it was the Commissioners who did the heavy lifting to get a Special Benefit Assessment tax for emergency response in the County Fire Dept. area, and that those Commissioners need to live in the service boundaries and pay those taxes, too.

“Becky, you are just one person, and you think everything has to be your way.” he said.

“So, you don’t think it matters that a Commissioner can make financial recommendations to the Board and not live in the tax district?”


“You don’t think it would better serve the people in County Fire area to have a representative that also lives in the rural area and understands what County Fire Dept. actually is?”

“NOPE!”  he replied as he ducked into his secured office doorway.

“Well, in that case, I guess I am glad you are leaving.”  I said, shocked that an elected Supervisor really doesn’t care about the people he serves, and as a lame duck, has finally admitted it.


Maybe this will be the passenger rail station area?  Dec. 1 added this to the Closed Session meeting:

Home built in 1916.

  1. Conference with Real Property Negotiators (Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.8) Property: 7992 Soquel Drive 7992 Soquel Drive (APN 039-232-03), 7994 Soquel Drive (039-232-02), 7996 Soquel Drive (APN 039-232-01) Aptos, CA 95003 Agency Negotiators: Guy Preston, Luis Mendez and Sarah Christensen Negotiating Parties: SCCRTC and The Oak, LLC, Dennis and Julie Ann Jacobsen Under negotiations: Price and terms for acquisition of property



I am concerned about the federal government’s 5-year Plan to shade the Earth with aerosols that would cloud things, with the idea of reducing global warming.  [White House is pushing ahead research to cool Earth by reflecting back sunlight]

But will it have other impacts?  



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


December 12

Grey is on a brief vacation…he’ll be back soon.

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


December 5

#340 / Me, Inc.

The New York Times ran an article that was titled as follows, in the October 23, 2022, hard copy edition: “Sick and Tired of Me Inc.” Online, as is so often the case, there is a completely different title: “Burned Out On Your Personal Brand.” That’s the headline you will see if you click that link, above.

The article, which runs to a full page and one half in the hard copy version, outlines the downsides of deciding to make one’s living by becoming a social media “content creator.” That’s a real job, nowadays, as is the job of helping people to become a social media content creator.

As might be expected, The Times’ article contains lots of specific examples of how the initially attractive task of promoting oneself to millions of strangers ends up not being quite as satisfying or enjoyable as the various content  creators thought it would be.

Kahlil Greene has built his brand as “the Gen Z historian,” and has over 500,000 followers on Tik-Tok. “There is no clear delineation between my work life and my personal life,” he told The Times. “Sometimes it can be exhausting.”

Jesse Israel, who lives in Los Angeles, has “a mindfulness brand.” He told The Times about a “period of loneliness, illness and career instability,” in which his social media work undermined his mental health.

Alexa Heller, “a millennial who built a yoga teacher brand,” felt that she should be totally candid with her followers on Instagram. “She posted about making efforts to stay celibate, taking months off from sex and dating.” She also disclosed “the insecurities bred by her acne.” As Heller amassed thousands of followers, she felt “the angst of compressing every strand of her personality, from the professional to the highly personal, into a single persona.” She has since gone into real estate.

Kanchan Koya, whose brand is “Chief Spice Mama,” has accumulated over 230,000 Instagram followers, but when she is “superhonest,” Koya admits that “if my business wasn’t intertwined with my social media presence, I would be on it 90 percent less. I just don’t feel like it’s natural for us as humans to have so many people in our lives.”

I think Koya is right that it isn’t “natural” to have 230,000 or more people “in one’s life.” In fact, though, I would like to ask the question whether one’s followers on a social media platform are really “in one’s life” at all.

I also want to suggest that the kind of relentless self-promotion required of social media content creators is similarly “unnatural,” and is quite likely to lead to the kind of mental health issues experienced by Jesse Israel.

Besides yoga, cooking, mindfulness, and social commentary, of course, “politics” is another area in which various social media content creators are trying to establish themselves as “pundits,” or “commentators,” or “rabble-rousers,” or in some other way to claim both credentials and a following.

Since I think I do know something about politics, here is some advice. If anyone is genuinely interested in practicing politics effectively, I recommend real life interactions with real people, carried out through in-person meetings, and in small groups. Margaret Mead, in other words, the American anthropologist, continues to provide us good advice:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

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

December 12


Despite the sweep of GOP candidates in Georgia’s midterm elections this year, Senator Raphael Warnock managed to earn a runoff spot against Herschel Walker, and by winning, proved himself to be a worthy office holder to the state’s electorate who voiced their warning that imperfect right-wing extremist candidates are unacceptable. In his Senate role, the Reverend Warnock as a politician came across as a moderate, sensible unifier who showed concern for those issues which pertained to Georgians.

By spending tens of millions of dollars in his campaign, he was able to convince voters that Walker had deficiencies in his personal life, and was unable to express a coherent purpose to his quest for high office.  The Donald’s imposition of the football hero onto the GOP ticket proved to be as faulty as most of the other endorsements the former prez made, and despite popular Governor Brian Kemp’s efforts to boost Herschel’s candidacy. Consider President John F. Kennedy’s statement, “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.”

Trump recruited Walker to play football in his USFL (now defunct) New Jersey Generals, and the relationship has remained since that time, with Herschel appearing later on TVs ‘Celebrity Apprentice.  Contestant Hersch didn’t make it there either, with Trump using his classic line, as he said, “You know how much I like you. I love you. I love you. I am not a gay man, and I love you, Herschel. Herschel, you’re fired.” It didn’t matter that Trump’s pick to run for the Georgia seat lived in Texas, though was a property owner in the Peach State. He was a celebrity! And he was Black!

Certainly, Walker must have appreciated folksy Louisiana Senator John Kennedy’s contribution to his campaign in Loganville, GA two days before the election and wearing a ‘RUN HERSCHEL, RUN’ sticker on his jacket, when he said, “These high IQ stupid people have an answer for everything. You know why? Because they think they’re smarter and more virtuous than the American people.” Got that? “These woke high IQ people are easy to recognize. They hate George Washington. They hate Thomas Jefferson. They hate Dr. Seuss, and they hate Mr. Potato Head. These high IQ stupid people walk around with Ziploc bags of kale that they can eat to give them energy. If you want to eat kale, that’s up to you. I don’t eat kale. You know why? Kale tastes to me like I’d rather be fat.” Don’t watch out for them at the Farmer’s Market!

Georgia GOP operative, Dan McLagan termed Walker’s campaign, “…like a plane crash into a train wreck that rolled into a dumpster fire, and an orphanage, then an animal shelter. You kind of had to watch it squinting with one eye between your fingers.” A Walker staffer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the campaign was like a “death march,” even though the Heisman trophy winner earned 48.6 per cent of the vote total. The Republicans being unable to find a suitable White candidate, decided with a racist move to pit a Black man against a Black Democrat opponent in an attempt to split the Black vote, knowing full well that Herschel would be an embarrassment if he should win, but with Mitch McConnell calling the plays, what could go wrong? Luckily, capability and sensibility won the day.

The celebratory aura that the GOP/Dem tie had been broken with Warnock’s victory was soon faded a bit, with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s announcement that she would be leaving the Democrats, registering as an independent. Though it is expected that she will caucus with the Dems most of the time, while retaining her committee assignments, VP Harris will see her importance as a tie-breaker unchanged for the most part. Sinema’s stubbornness has been a thorn in the side of Democrats during her time in office, being arrogant, and craving for attention – as exhibited in this change of registration. Many say that she is concerned about running with the Democrats in 2024, and a three-candidate race might give her a better chance of staying in office, though she has worn so many faces in her tenure that she is not trusted.

Senator Bernie Sanders calls Sinema a ‘corporate Democrat,’ ignoring party priorities and lacking the guts to take on special interests. He criticizes her “going along with Senator Manchin, sabotaging enormously important legislation.” An unconcerned Senator Jon Tester believes Sinema’s switch does not “functionally” change the Senate. Prior to her announcement, polling in Arizona showed her favorably at 37% with Dems, 36% with GOP, and 41% with independents – likely to be little changed with more recent polling. Democrats could run a candidate against her in ’24, and may do so if her poll numbers stay this unimpressive; and, depending on her performance until then, they may decide to let her run against a right-wing GOP opponent, and stay out of it.  Otherwise, her incumbency is all she has going for her.

As Bocha Blue on The Palmer Report says, “The GOP insults the intelligence of their voters time after time. They showed it in the midterms. They showed it in the Georgia special election. They continue to show it in their inability to denounce people like Kanye West, Donald Trump, and Nick Fuentes. If the GOP wants to court minority votes, they need to understand minorities. If the GOP wants to court females, they need to understand them. But they do not.” In campaign commercials of some Republicans, they have reportedly darkened the skin of candidates Val Demings and Mandela Barnes, along with other racist nuances. The LGBTQ community has been treated contemptibly, as has the Jewish population. The GOP deserves to lose for aligning with one group – White Christian men.

The GOP goes on to show its compassion in the release of Brittney Griner – a Black female – who’d a thunk it? An American comes home because that’s the only deal offered and the wing nuts go ballistic. If Trump had been in office, the gloating and cheering would have been sugary and loud, but Biden did it, and Trump didn’t give his permission for the GOP to be compassionate. Even the family of Paul Whelan, who is still imprisoned in Russia, understands the dynamics of the situation as they look forward to a day when their loved one is back home. Trump claims that he had an opportunity to bring Whelan home, but turned it down, being the hard-nose, toughie negotiator that he has proven to be.

Speaking of compassion, both Dems and Republicans have been quite respectful in dealing with news in a family matter concerning Senator Ted Cruz’s daughter being found with self-inflicted stab wounds outside the home. Over the past year or so, she has been very outspoken in her criticism of her father and his political smarminess, so let’s hope this is one incident that the family can get beyond – without mentioning Ted’s mockery of Paul Pelosi being attacked with a hammer, or his calling for the blood of Hunter Biden. Bite your tongue!

On the lighter side, for those who have yet to wrap up shopping for holiday gifts, consider Elon Musk’s venturing into the fragrance field (read the last line). This appears on JokeTown’s website:

“Scent has no equal. Elon’s Musk conveys the fragrance of power and electricity, like your first whiff of Martian air or when you realize your net worth has eclipsed your self-worth. This holiday season, give them the gift of billionaire-like confidence. Elon’s Musk is formulated from the tears of haters (and other botanicals) so you can experience what it is like to smell rich. This very real fragrance is exclusively offered by JokeTown for $75 in very limited quantities. Available on planet Earth today. Order yours now and get free shipping. 

This holiday season, give the man who has nothing…everything! Smell rich!

Finally, a fragrance perfect for every event, from black tie galas to posting ‘420’ memes on Twitter. Forget about your one-comma net worth, by elevating your self-worth with every spritz. 

There are approximately 1,375 people in America named ‘Elon’. This is directly affiliated with none of them.”

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.


“They say the universe is expanding. That should help with the traffic”.
~Steven Wright

“Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic”.
~Dan Rather

“Remove all the traffic lights, yellow lines, one-way systems and road markings, and let blissful anarchy prevail. I imagine it would produce a kind of harmony”.  
~Sadie Jones

“Despite the debt, the traffic, the one-party rule, the taxes, and the eagerness of politicians to overwhelm small businesses and large corporate job producers with red tape and unnecessary regulations, the Golden State is still the most beautiful place to live and work in the United States”.   
~Richard Grenell


Ann-Margret, no last name, is a living legend. She burst on the scene in Bye Bye Birdie in 1963, and she hasn’t really stopped working since. This is a sweet little piece on her that I found entirely by happenstance.

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