Blog Archives

December 23, 2020 – January 5, 2021

Highlights this week:

NO BRATTONONLINE NEXT WEEK…BRATTON…holiday homeless cruelty, Cynthia Mathews’ next campaign, screamers & screeners. GREENSITE…Reflections on Monarchs KROHN…Progressive victories, watch these groups, City Attorney loans. STEINBRUNER…Rural area building issues, Soquel Creek Water Board privileges, egos, and money issues. PATTON…The Brain is not for thinking. EAGAN…more Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”FORTITUDE”

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DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ 1957. The traditional Holiday photo for non-believers, to show we do and did have snow. We also had the Santa Cruz movie theatre on the distant right, as well as the Del Mar. Obviously it’s 7:45am, by the original town clock atop the Odd Fellows Building.                                                       

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE December 21

SANTA CRUZ? NO…. IT’S SANTA CRUEL. Homelessness is a worldwide problem, especially with covid so close and growing. In a move that can only be called cruel and heartless, our City Manager Martin Bernal has ordered all the tents and occupants in San Lorenzo Park to be cleared before Christmas Day. Bernal’s patented response is “it’s for their own good”, and lies like that. How can any city especially Santa Cruz be that cruel? What can we expect from our do-nothing City Council? I predict they’ll avoid the issue. Speaking of cruel and local development, Berkeley has apparently changed some minds and is allowing one or more high rise to be built near the central part of town. Building higher means fewer commute miles, less traffic and so forth. More thinking needs to be done on this.

CYNTHIA MATHEWS CAMPAIGN TIME BEGINS. Watch for Cynthia Mathews’ longtime campaign plots as she restarts her City Council reign. Soon we’ll be seeing her photo in many local photo ops. She’ll be posing with John Laird, some Democratic Women’s Club members, especially Carol Fuller, and probably someone from MAH. The other question is will Mike Rotkin also be running again? If so, watch for his photo and some quotes carefully placed in do-gooding places. Mark my words, and we’ll check them out in a couple of months.

Scrolling around the tech universe to find something/anything worthwhile to watch can take patience, time, and disappointment. To aid your search I’ve added “Single” to the movies that are complete in one screening and “Series” to those with episodes.

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM. (Single) This near-musical is adapted from the play of the same name. It’s also acted as a play, more than as a movie or straight drama. It all takes place in 1927, when Ma tries to record the first of her more than 100 songs. The late Chadwick Boseman is Ma’s choice for first trumpet, and Ma’s played by Viola Davis ,in case you don’t recognize her.

MY OCTOPUS TEACHER. (Single) A documentary by a filmmaker who for some personal reason decides to relate to an octopus in the ocean near the tip of Africa. The octopus is about 1 ½ feet across and has a very threatened life from sharks and nature. The octopus befriends the filmmaker and the movie is surprising and revealing in the ways it details the complexity of all our lives. Highly recommended.  `100 Rotten Tomatoes

ROSE ISLAND (Single) Based on a true, fascinating, engrossing story of an Italian guy back in 1968, who built a platform off the Rimini coast and tried to establish it as his own country. It actually went to the United Nations, and later they moved international territory boundaries from 6 to 12 miles offshore. Watch it and dream. 78 Rotten T’s

AVA. (Single)Watch John Malkovich, Colin Farrell and mostly Jessica Chastain try to save this boring, poor copy of a spy movie. 15 on RT. Geena Davis was brought back from somewhere to play a ridiculous role, and she too fails miserably. It’s war within war, as international spy teams distrust each other. Don’t bother.

THE CALL. (Single) Korean movies have a certain something that set them way apart. It’s mostly intelligence, clever plots and not quite spelling everything out for the audience. 100 on Rotten Tomatoes!!! An old cell phone rings and communicates between 20 years of haunting calls. Daughters talk to dead grandmothers and all in the same house. Time switches, serial killers separated by time. Fine acting. You’ll be puzzled and completely engaged watching this one.

THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN. (Single) Try very hard to imagine Mel Gibson and Sean Penn together in a true story about the creating of the first Oxford English Dictionary. This movie was made three years ago, and it’s so bad  thatMel Gibson tried suing the production company to get out of it. He lost. Sean Penn is supposed to be a lunatic murderer who is also a language fanatic. Gibson, who’s from Australia, fakes a Scottish accent, and takes charge of the Oxford dictionary through the letter T. Sean Penn becomes bald with a ten inch beard and adds a significant amount of words to the project. To realize our Oxford Dictionary has this history is mind-boggling. The movie is dull but unusually fascinating…if you like words. 43 on RT

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA. (Single) Will Ferrell is too old now to be playing these loony goofballs. There really is a Eurovision Song Contest, and apparently it’s almost as odd as this movie makes out. Rachel McAdams, who is now 42, plays her dimple-cheeked cute role as best she’s allowed to do. It’s Farrell (aged 53) who has outgrown the kind of humor he worked so hard at 15 to 20 years ago. 64 on RT. Oops, I forgot to relate that Pierce Brosnan is in it too, most likely just for the money.

The movies below are not ranked in any particular order. I’ve eliminated some of the most boring, time wasting flops…enjoy what’s left!! 

PROM.(Single) This is a big new musical in every sense of the word. It stars Meryl Streep singing, dancing and mugging her way through this simple copy of a Stephen Sondheim type show. Even though the “plot” centers on our serious and contemporary prejudice against gay men and lesbians Streep, Nicole Kidman and James Corden make it all cute flashy, obvious, and not quite memorable. 

UNDERWATER.(Single). A truly unbelievable copy of every deep sea monster movie we’ve ever seen. Kristin Stewart and Vincent Cassel are in charge of a six mile deep oil drilling station in the Marianna Straits or maybe Los Angeles!! If you stay awake or interested long enough you can see T.J. Miller the geeky neighbor from the old Silicon Valley series doing very little to keep this poorly plotted saga from sinking deeper. 47 RT

THE GODFATHER. (Series). Now that Francis Ford Coppola has re-hashed and edited Godfather III into the newly released The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone I wanted to see just how memorable the series was/is. Watching Marlon Brando with stuffed cheeks, Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, James Caan, Robert Duvall and good old and evil Sterling Hayden brings back many memories of the 1972 original thriller. Watch it again.

WHAT WE WANTED.(Single) An Austrian relationship challenge. A couple can’t have children, whose fault is it? His or hers? We watch and relate to their problems. They take a vacation in Sardinia. The couple next door add huge problems to our main characters. If you’ve had issues in your relationships this may or may not be your brest choice…but you will relate to this saga I guarantee.

MANK. (single) Mank is short for Mankiewicz as in Herman Mankiewicz who was the screenwriter of  Orson Welles “Citizen Kane”. C. Kane for non movie goers has been generally regarded as the best movie ever made. It’s on several worldwide “best of” lists and you owe it yourselves to see it at least once. But Mank the movie is mostly made for movie nuts. Amanda Seyfried plays Marion Davies, Charles Dance is William Randolph Hearst, and Tom Burke is Orson Welles. Mank was a professional screenwriter who drank more than anybody and somehow managed to finish the script for Citizen Kane just in time. Gary Oldman is way over the top when he plays Mank, but with the flash of this very Hollywood script he fits in perfectly. You’ll love it.

THE MITFORDS. (single) A fine documentary movie about the wild, wooly, and brilliant  six Mitford sisters. Plus there’s info here for all Santa Cruzans who remember when Jessica Mitford visited and lectured at UCSC. It should be called A Tale of Two Sisters. Jessica who we called Decca was an ardent left wing proponent. She married Oakland Civil Rights Attorney Robert Truehaft and they both attended my wedding in San Francisco back in 1967. Decca’s sister Diana was actually in love with Adolf Hitler and remained that far fascist right all of her life.  Watch this documentary it’s a family like no other.

A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK. (single) This is Woody Allen’s newest movie and although it bears a lot of resemblance to his earlier movies it’s only a poor copy at best.  It has a 45 on Rotten Tomatoes and that’s generous. Elle Fanning plays a poor copy of Diane Keaton in Annie Hall doing her flighty-nutty best to be like other humans. Jude Law is in it too but we’ll never figure out why, he does nothing to further anything. Timothee Chalamat is the usual Woody Allen type character in the movie and he has little reason to be there either.  It lacks the charm, sharp humor, social commentary and the class of what used to be Woody’s signature on cinema.

PROFESSOR T.(Series) Egged on by daughter Jennifer I too really liked the Belgian crime series Professor T. It’s not easily available so try going to PBS Passport series, it’s well worth your searching time. The Professor teaches at the Antwerp University and is a habitual germophobe. He advises the local police and detectives and manages to bring in humor which makes this 3 series very enjoyable. Beware of the German version and the Czech copy, 

THE LIFE AHEAD.(Single) To see Sophia Loren at age 86, and see her looking like she’s 86 is a treat. She plays a holocaust survivor who acts as mother to some children of prostitutes.  Her interaction with a Senegalese 14 year old boy is a neat piece of cinema and it’s directed by her son Edourdo Ponti. 

THE MAN WITHOUT GRAVITY. (Single) Another Italian near fable about a baby born and floating to the ceiling attached to his umbilical cord. What he does with his life, and his decisions about letting the world know he floats make a near masterpiece. Not too near Italian Classics like “Life Is Beautiful” or “Amarcord” it’s still fun to think about.

CALL MY AGENT. Daughter Hillary found this one and she’s right, it’s a good one. There might be a problem in finding this one under that title on Netflix, if so try “Dix Pour Cent”. Billed as a comedy it centers on the lives of the talent agents and stars who work at a famous show biz agency in Paris. Tempers, jokes, love affairs, and much talent all get very mixed and still it’s almost riveting.

THE GLORIAS.(Single) This bio-pic of Gloria Steinem is a good one. Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander and two more women/girls play her in this near dream like history of the women’s movement and her part in it. Julie Taymor directed it and does portray Gloria as her real mini-skirt, long nails gorgeous self. Timothy Hutton is in it too nut he shouldn’t have been. It has much fantasy, dreams, animation and oddly placed moves that obscure the important view of women’s equality fights that Steinman was an integral part of. Bette Midler plays Bella Abzug. Watch it, and don’t snicker at the odd ball parts

THE VOW. 82 ON Rotten Tomatoes is just about what I’d give this documentary. NXIVM is the name of a self awareness, mindfulness group. It has masters and slaves and even branding women members in private places. It’s a documentary but not your average documentary. If you’ve ever belonged to or have thought about joining one like maybe Scientology don’t miss this partial opening of their secret doors. Just a few weeks ago (Nov.2) Keith Raniere, the real life NXIVM leader was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

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December 21

MECHANICAL MONARCHS
Getting out of my truck for a morning swim at Cowell’s on Saturday, I almost stepped on a Monarch butterfly, wings open, on its back on the asphalt parking lot next to the West Cliff trestle bridge pictured below. Gently picking it up, hoping it was still alive, I relocated it to a nectar flower growing next to the railroad tracks. After the swim I checked on it, happy to see it clinging to the flower in a more encouraging position than I had left it. Despite the cold and the call of a hot shower, I paused to reflect on this small creature’s precarious existence, an existence in this location the city of Santa Cruz denies.

This is where Segment 7 Phase 2 of the rail trail will spill out onto Beach Street and the roundabout at the base of the Wharf. This segment, measuring 7/10 ths of a mile requires the removal of 44 trees, 27 of them of heritage size, the paving over of a wetland, the removal of thousands of cubic yards of soil, the erection of a retaining wall up to 19 feet tall, the construction of the asphalt trail with fencing, lights and security cameras for a cost somewhere in the vicinity of $11 million.

This is also the site of a Monarch Butterfly overwintering grove, marked by a city plaque on the eastern side of the tracks stating that fact. Despite such identification, when the city circulated its Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), its low level environmental review for this project, there was no mention of the existence of a Monarch overwintering site. Similar to the city’s neglecting to mention in its initial MND for the Wharf Master Plan, the existence of the migratory Guillemots that nest under the Wharf before returning to the far north each year. 

Monarch under the trestle bridge eucalyptus grove earlier this year

When the city was alerted to these omissions, the respective MND’s were required to be re-circulated with the “missing” butterflies and birds included the next time around. Nevertheless, the final environmental documents concluded no significant impact to either species from the rail trail or the Wharf Master Plan. For the rail trail project, the city does not consider the trestle eucalyptus grove to be a Monarch butterfly habitat despite erecting a plaque stating that it is. I guess the Monarch I found at this site on Saturday failed to read the MND. To compensate for any eradicated butterflies, even though they don’t exist, Segment 7 Phase 2 of the rail trail will include butterfly artwork for the retaining wall as well as mechanical Monarchs with moving parts. Some supporters find this exciting.

We may live long enough to witness the extinction of these amazing Monarch butterflies or Brown Wanderers as they are called in Australia. Not a happy note on which to end a difficult year. 

Trying to think of a happy ending… I would be happy if when faced with an environmental impact to be studied, city top staff did not fudge facts to fit an a priori agenda. I would be happy if council members listened more to the public rather than kowtow to staff. I would be happy if moneyed interests held less sway at city hall. I would be happy if trying to preserve what’s left of Santa Cruz were supported and not dismissed as NIMBY “nostalgia.”

Lots of good work for the New Year!

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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December 21

YEAR END IN REVIEW

Who Won in 2020

  • Eight counties along the coast of California reflected true progressive credentials insuring there is at least a Northern California “left coast” (okay, LA county too). These counties include S.F., Marin, Alameda, Sonoma, and Santa Cruz. The voters in these counties cast ballots tax business property (Prop. 15) to help fund schools and government services; believe in the power of affirmative action policies to right past discriminatory practices (Prop. 16); agree that 17-year olds should be able to vote in a presidential primary (Prop. 18) when they will be 18 by that year’s Nov. election; want cities to be able to expand rent control through a vote of locals; and there were large constituencies who do not believe Uber and Lyft and DoorDash’s $200 plus million largesse campaign should be able to buy laws (Prop. 22) and decide California labor policies. Believe it or not, the US was looking to California to lead the way on these important public policy decisions. As a state, we failed the nation at a critical juncture in our history, but I suspect we will be coming back on all of these initiatives.
  • Santa Cruz City Councilmember, Sandy Brown. Consistent. Leftist. Willing to speak her mind. She is a gem that we all need to keep on polishing as she will only get better.
  • Prop 17 restored the right of felons to vote after they served their sentence. This surprisingly won statewide. Surprising, only because Props 15, 16, 18, and 22 did not go in the progressives, or socialists, win column.
  • Manu Koenig defeated 12-year incumbent, and perhaps this county’s leading progressive voice, John Leopold. (Now it is up to you, Sandy Brown!) And it wasn’t even a close election. I am still trying to figure it out. Some will of course say that they have the answer and it was “trail only” movement that catapulted Koenig into office, or that the voters wanted a fresh younger face. It might just be possible that Manu did a better job in spending his hundreds of thousands than John did in spending his. Over $300 k was spent in the race. What the results do indicate to is a possible sprint by politicos toward the center. Third district supervisor, Ryan Coonerty appears to be teaming up with center-right SC city councilmember Renee Golder in fighting needle distribution. Both are feeling very centrist-ee and have signed on to an anti-science, anti-homeless, kick-the-vulnerable-when-they’re-down lawsuit. Centrist Dem and former SC mayor, David Terrazas, is the plaintiff’s attorney. Denise Elerick and the Harm Reduction Coalition are BIG winners this year. They received state authorization in August to dispense and collect syringes from people who use injection drugs,” according to Santa Cruz Local, but now have to deal with this law suit.

Groups to Watch in 2021

  • Campaign for Sustainable Transportation (CFST), Don’t Bury the Library (DBL), Downtown Commons Advocates (DCA), People’s Democratic Club (PDC), and Santa Cruz County Action Climate Network (SC SCAN). These groups are winners this year if only because they have continued to fight the good fight to rebuild the downtown library using Measure S funds. These groups also continue to plant seeds for a downtown commons/park and permanent home for the Wednesday Farmer’s Market, all the while staving off the group Downtown “Forward’s” trickster PR campaign to build a five-story parking garage for the real estate and developer class on Lot 4 downtown next to Toadal Fitness. Bravo! Living to fight another day folks, if 2020 has taught us anything that’s what one value all of these groups have in common during the Covid-19 lockdown.
  • DSA, Santa Cruz. The Democratic Socialists are now the hottest, most effective local progressive political force in Santa Cruz County, perhaps now surpassing SC4Bernie. They have more working groups than Santa Cruz has city commissions, everything from Racial Justice, alternatives to policing, electoral, and their Love Boat working group helps feed the community’s growing houseless population. Between the DSA critique of “defund the police” to its fierce support for SC city councilmember Brown, to leading some of the largest protests this past year, 2021 may be the year DSA/Santa Cruz finally begins to feel comfortable and gets its Santa Cruz political groove going. The group’s membership, which hovered around 25 a few years ago, now tops 350. They have slowly been consummating the wedding between the town’s progressive activism and university student radicalism. Look for this group to still have their internal differences as they move forward, construct their share of insider firing squads, but likely come out of it with principled, constructive, and consistent leadership for Santa Cruz. Which way to 2022? The DSA will be presente!

SideNotes
The law firm, “Atchisone, Barisone &/$ (Tony) Condotti, A Professional Corporation,” handle city attorney services for the city of Santa Cruz. They scored big in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan world this past year. They received $275, 200, for 16 employees, from the Feds according to a July report by Gerben Law. (https://www.gerbenlaw.com/blog/law-firms-that-received-ppp-loans/) I have to wonder if the city is paying them any less than the $1 million-plus they shelled out last year for “legal services” to fight the Ross Camp lawsuit and politically tar and feather Drew Glover among other expenses. Remember the now discredited attorney Reed Gallogly’s remarks on DruGlover, “drug lover” in court? I doubt Covid-19 affects that contract. To city attorney Condotti’s credit, he did quickly dispense of Gallogly’s services. On another side note, Penrose, Chun, & Gorman LLP, a Santa Cruz firm, also received PPP loans totaling $166,282 according to the same web site. Grunsky Law Firm PC of Watsonville received $520,484 covering their 27 employees. These were three firms among the 14,363 law firms receiving PPP loans of $150,000 or more.

Happy New Year everyone! See you next year and thanks so much for your support over the past year, and the past four years, really. These are tough times, but the Santa Cruz I know from the ’55 flood to the ’89 earthquake to 2008 recession and all the way through the complete wacko presidency of Trump and the Covid-19 meltdown, we will prevail and be stronger for it. You are the best! Thanks to Bruce Bratton and Gunilla Leavitt for their unstinting dedication to getting these words out each week. Congratulations! See you next year.

Bernie and AOC Tweets of the Week

“One major difference between GOP and Dems is that GOP leverage their right flank to gain policy concessions and generate enthusiasm, while Dems lock their left flank in the basement bc they think that will make Republicans be nicer to them.” (Dec. 20)
“Never forget. The same “centrists” who tell us we cannot afford to give the working class and seniors a direct payment to pay the rent and feed their families during a pandemic, all voted to give the bloated Pentagon a record $740 billion without “paying for it.” Unacceptable!” (Dec. 19)

In case you are wondering who sets the Progressive agenda in the electoral world of these not so United States, check out this list of the progressives’ “Fighting Fifteen.” It is a beautiful thing to behold. 

(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. His term ended in April of 2020.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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December 21 

STATE LEGISLATION PROPOSED THAT WOULD PROHIBIT ALL BUILDING IN RURAL AREAS
Watch out…this is bad news for Santa Cruz County rural residents and businesses!

On the first day of the 2021-2022 Legislative sessions, Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas), introduced Senate Bill 55, which would prohibit all commercial and residential development in Very High Fire Hazards Severity Zones (VHFHSZ) and State Responsibility Areas (SRA).  This measure is identical to the unsuccessful SB 474, a last-minute effort by Senator Stern

SB 55

The legislation could be considered on January 7, 2021.  Contact your local and State representatives right away.

Senator Stern’s attempt at this last year with SB 474 stated:

For purposes of this section, “development” means either of the following:

(1) A project containing residential dwellings, including, but not limited to, mobilehomes, accessory dwelling units, and junior accessory dwelling units, of one or more units or a subdivision of land for the purpose of constructing one or more residential dwelling units.

(2) A project for commercial, retail, or industrial use.

SEC. 2.

 The Legislature finds and declares that the prohibition on the creation or approval of a new development within a zone of high fire danger as specified in this act is a matter of statewide concern and is not a municipal affair

SB 474

STATE BOARD OF FORESTRY MOVES FORWARD WITH NEW RULES TO RESTRICT RURAL DEVELOPMENT CERTAIN RURAL AND URBAN AREAS
This news, released recently by the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) also indicates the rural dwellers are under government siege.  Contact your reps. now:

The California Board of Forestry (BOF) released proposed revisions to its State Fire Safe regulations. These rules set forth basic wildfire protection standards for development in Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones of both the State Responsibility Area (SRA) and the Local Responsibility Area (LRA) beginning July 1, 2021.

The draft rulemaking, presented at the BOF Joint Committee on Tuesday, provided the first opportunity for the public to evaluate the specific changes being proposed to the fire safe standards.  At the meeting, RCRC staff conveyed serious concerns regarding the scope of the changes, and the extraordinary impacts this proposal will have on housing production, not only in rural areas of the state, but also in more urbanized regions of California. 

For instance, the draft regulations would prohibit any future building construction on property served by a road that has not been upgraded, or that cannot be upgraded to meet current standards, such as dead-end roads. These upgrade requirements include road widening, re-surfacing, leveling grades and curves, and bridge improvements, from the property line to the nearest fire station, and apply to the building of a single residential unit or any business increasing its “service capacity.”  All required upgrades would be at the expense of the property owner.

California Board of Forestry Unveils New Draft Fire Safe Regulations | Rural Counties

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT GIVES SPECIAL PRIVILEGES TO SWENSON BUILDER AT THE APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT THAT NO OTHER CUSTOMERS ARE PRIVILEGED TO RECEIVE???
Soquel Creek Water District policy requires that any developer pay in-full all fees associated with the application for new water service…EXCEPT Swenson Builder!  The Board granted a five-year variance in 2015 for Swenson to post a bond for $538,000 (guaranteeing they would pay) and waived payment of  $1,263,513.41 (that’s over $1.2 million!!!) in fees that everybody else is required to pay up-front, to be paid when the development is operational.  

Findings: 

A – Granting the variance is required by special circumstances applicable to the property and as a result of which the strict application of District resolutions and ordinances would cause the property to be deprived of privileges enjoyed by other similar properties in the District; 

B – Granting the variance would be in harmony with the general intent and purpose of the ordinances, resolutions and policies of the District but would not be materially detrimental to public health, safety or general welfare.; 

C – Granting of the variance would not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with those placed upon other parcels where payment in full is required prior to executing the subdivision agreement. 

(See page 4: 12-15-20 Board Packet)

See page 8 for the undated letter from Swenson, crying about their problems.  (The truth of the matter is that the County of Santa Cruz Public Works Dept. intends to assist Swenson and declare Eminent Domain against the Bayview Hotel and Trout Gulch Crossing property owners to force closure of their private crossing to Soquel Drive, a condition imposed upon Swenson by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for their new private crossing at Parade Street.)  

See page 16 for the terms of this sweet back-room deal with Swenson.

Board President Bruce Daniels made it clear that Swenson is the ONLY developer that the District has granted this privilege, and did not feel it was right to extend the favor.

However, the Board again granted that variance for another two years and yet another two years if Swenson needs it.  Director Tom LaHue expressed the concern that maybe Swenson doesn’t have the money, and has been operating on the assumption that the variance would be extended, so not granting the variance could impose a hardship! 

What about all the other developers?  They should all line up and demand this privilege as well.  

Swenson also got special privileges regarding metering that saves them lots of money.  The developers at Rancho del Mar Center somehow learned of this and likewise asked for the favor when the remodeling was about to begin.  The Board had no choice but to grant the privilege to them, because after all, they had done so for Swenson at the Aptos Village Project.

TWO MEN WITH BIG EGOS REPEATEDLY PREVENTED AN INTELLIGENT WOMAN FROM BECOMING A LEADER: SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT BOARD VOTED STATUS QUO
Bruce Daniels and Tom LaHue played “King of the Mountain” last Tuesday to prevent Board member Carla Christensen  from becoming Vice-President.  It was sickening.  Not only did they shove Ms. Christensen aside, Bruce Daniels essentially made it known that he has little confidence in the strength of newly-elected Board President Rachel Lather, explaining that it is necessary to have someone knowledgeable to train the new Vice-President, and therefore Tom should be in Vice-President this year, and maybe the Board could consider Carla for Vice President next year, when Tom would be President.

Bruce Daniels’ initial motion to elect Tom as Vice-President did not gain a majority of vote to pass. But he refused to accept that result.

When a call for a second motion came to the floor, Bruce Daniels AGAIN nominated Tom LaHue for Vice President!  At that point, Bruce Jaffe nominated Carla Christensen.   The vote on that motion was Tom voting for himself, along with Bruce Daniels, and Carla voting for herself, along with Bruce Jaffe, and newly-elected president Rachel Lather abstaining, with no explanation.

Carla, who has been asking to be the Vice-President for three years straight, explained that she felt the Board and ratepayers benefit when there is a rotation of leadership, and cited the example of past eras when Dan Kriege was the President for decades.  Tom and Bruce Daniels have merely traded the job of President and Vice-President for years and years.

Tom explained that the reason he was so determined to be Vice-President was because he has worked hard for years on the PureWater Soquel Project and it will be due to come online in 2022, when he would be President.  Essentially… so that his ego could fill the aquifer and no doubt, the headlines of the press.

Sadly, Bruce Jaffe suggested the Board decide who would serve as Vice-President with a coin toss.  Carla said she detested that method of choosing a leader, so withdrew her nomination for Vice President.  

Shame on Bruce Daniels and Tom LaHue, for claiming they support gender equality and justice, but taking actions that clearly show their egos reign supreme.

Listen on YouTube to the disgusting process at about minute 1:25:00

SOQUEL CREEK WATER BOARD: SPEND $600,000 FOR A STUDY BUT NO MONEY TO BUILD THE PROJECT
Rather than abandon the Country Club Well in Seascape, which is polluted with a carcinogen, the Board approved spending $600,000 for environmental analysis and design of a 1.2.3-TCP  Treatment Plant at 521 Baltrusol and  drill a new well, in the same contaminated location.  Engineering Director, Taj Dufour admitted this will be a multi-million project but the District has no money to build anything.  See plans on pages 147-148.  

Why not just abandon the Country Club Well and drill in another area not plagued by this carcinogenic contamination? This is the only well contaminated with the carcinogen.   Or not drill a new well at the cost of $600,000-$800,000, and instead rely on the water from the new supply provided by the Granite Way Well in Aptos Village Project?

It appears that the District leadership feels money is no object.

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT: NO MONEY TO FUND CAPITAL OPERATING RESERVES THIS YEAR.
District Financial Director Leslie Strohm let that bomb drop, citing a memo, before turning over the floor to the auditor.  That means there is no money available this year to increase the fund for maintenance and infrastructure improvements.

Where did the money go to build the new Quail Run Storage Tank behind the Aptos Post Office?  The design and environmental analysis is done.  The legal threats of the neighborhood, thrust by attorney Bill Parkin, now a resident of Aptos Village Project, were settled.  The District borrowed millions in a Bond to build it.  The tank has not been built.  The District just returned $5.7 million from the Bond money not spent, in order to take out a loan to build the PureWater Soquel Project.  That Project is a risky and expensive plan to pressure-inject treated sewage water into the MidCounty aquifer and force private well owners nearby, as well as District customers, to drink it.

Director Tom LaHue admitted earlier in the evening that financial reports are not his strong-point.  That explains why all he and the other Board members could say about the Comprehensive Annual Financial Status Report was that the photographs inserted in the Report by Financial Director Leslie Strohm were very nice.

See the Report and the Memo, page 182

WATER CONTAMINATION FROM PLASTIC PIPES… WHENEVER THERE IS A FIRE?
Take a look at this and ask your local water supplier what they would do to flush lines in your neighborhood if there were a house fire?

Plastic pipes are polluting drinking water systems after wildfires – it’s a risk in urban fires, too

Here is the link to the new study released last week showing that at temperatures of only 200-400 degrees Celsius (392-752 degrees Fahrenheit), plastic water pipes begin to leach harmful contaminants:

Drinking water contamination from the thermal degradation of plastics: implications for wildfire and structure fire response

This could happen in a small structure fire, and potentially affect the home or business water quality for a very long time.  That’s something to think about.

“IF YOU HAVE SPOKEN, YOU MUST LEAVE!”
Carlos Palacios tried to censor the nearly 40 members of the public who testified December 10, many upset with the economic hemorrhage of the County’s policies and draconian shutdowns.  Carlos Palacios, the CAO, repeatedly sent the sheriff deputy into the corridor to reason with people.  Exasperated, Palacios issued the shocking orders “If you have spoken, you must leave!  We cannot have crowds!”  

What if those people also wanted to swoon over John Leopold’s honorary celebration that was waiting to happen? (Leopold kept passing  notes to Caput that were followed by Chair Caput pleading with the people lined up to speak that they really had to get moving with the other things on the Board’s agenda, and he had to soon cut off the public speaking time (already reduced from three to two minutes per person).

OMITTING A CRITICAL PIECE OF INFORMATION…CONTAMINATION AT MIDPEN AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJECT IN LIVE OAK
This good report by Sentinel reporter Hannah Hagemann discussed the serious contamination problem at the 1500 Capitola Road affordable housing and medical clinic development.  Oddly, the headline in the print version of the article omitted all reference to contamination. 

Mixed-use affordable housing project moves ahead, despite contamination

THIS PUBLICLY-FINANCED AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT REQUIRES A VOTE BY THE PEOPLE, IN COMPLIANCE WITH ARTICLE 34 OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION
This may be the only way to stop the County Redevelopment Successor Agency from forcing poor people to live on top of a contaminated site without cleaning it up first...not just monitoring the level of toxic vapors seeping into the buildings.  Better move quickly on this idea…legislation just was proposed to repeal Article 34:

SCA 2, introduced by Senators Ben Allen and Scott Wiener, would, if approved by voters statewide, repeal Article XXXIV (34) of the California Constitution, which requires voter approval for publicly financed affordable housing developments. 

California Legislators Introduce New Bills as 2021 Session Kicks Off

MAKE ONE CALL.   WRITE ONE LETTER.  DO SOMETHING KIND THIS WEEK AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Happy Winter Solstice,

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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December 19
#354 / Your Brain Is Not For Thinking

Lisa Feldman Barrett is a distinguished professor of psychology at Northeastern University. In a November 24, 2020, column in The New York Times, Barrett makes what struck me as a rather extraordinary claim – the claim I have featured in my title today: “Your brain isn’t made for thinking.” 

What, we might well ask, is our brain made for then, if not for thinking? Barrett says that the brain has mainly evolved to supervise the operations of our physical body, and to make sure that adequate resources will be available whenever the body and its organs make demands. The brain oversees what Barrett calls our body’s “budget,” “automatically predicting and preparing to meet the body’s [physical] needs before they arise.” 

One of the points that Barrett makes is that “in body-budgeting terms, [the] distinction between mental and physical is not meaningful. … There is no such thing as a purely mental cause, because every mental experience has roots in the physical budgeting of your body.”

Certain practices I associate with Buddism – breath meditation for instance – are illustrations of how this works in practice. We can achieve “insight” or “knowledge” not by “thinking” but by a proper relationship with our body and its processes. 

Barrett ends her column with the following observations: 

We’re all living in challenging times, and we’re all at high risk for disrupted body budgets. If you feel weary from the pandemic and you’re battling a lack of motivation, consider your situation from a body-budgeting perspective. Your burden may feel lighter if you understand your discomfort as something physical. When an unpleasant thought pops into your head, like “I can’t take this craziness anymore,” ask yourself body-budgeting questions. “Did I get enough sleep last night? Am I dehydrated? Should I take a walk? Call a friend? Because I could use a deposit or two in my body budget.”

This is not a semantic game. It’s about making new meaning from your physical sensations to guide your actions.

I’m not saying you can snap your fingers and dissolve deep misery, or sweep away depression with a change of perspective. I’m suggesting that it’s possible to acknowledge what your brain is actually doing and take some comfort from it. Your brain is not for thinking. Everything that it conjures, from thoughts to emotions to dreams, is in the service of body budgeting. This perspective, adopted judiciously, can be a source of resilience in challenging times.

What Barrett is saying here seems like good advice to me. It’s practical advice, too. However, my mind went on from Barrett’s practical observations to my own speculations. With apologies to Barrett, I would have to call my speculations “thinking.” What I started thinking about was what seems to have happened to our brains in some evolutionary way. 

Presuming that Barrett is right, and that our brains were not “made for thinking,” we do use those brains to “think.” If so, doesn’t that mean that we have somehow pushed our brains into an activity that Nature did not, and perhaps does not, really intend? In fact, our “thinking” is associated (in our minds) with an implicit assertion that we are more than our “bodies,” and that “we” have some sort of real existence that is more than, and that is above and beyond, our bodily and physical existence.

Religious types will remember the Garden of Eden. Our natural physical bodies suddenly seemed shameful, according to the Bible, and we got kicked out of our right relationship with the Natural World. 

And here we are!

The human desire to master the Natural World, rather than to live within its boundaries, is an assertion that we, as human beings, should be establishing the reality we inhabit. And, of course, we largely do that. We have even pushed our poor brains into “thinking,” something for which, apparently, they were not designed, and we have used our “thinking” to direct us in establishing our mastery over the Natural World, a mastery which our “thinking” allows us to claim and to which we aspire. 

Take a deep breath (and pay attention). That’s one way to try to establish peace and harmony between ourselves and the World of Nature. I wish I thought that were going to be enough. 

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

    “FORTITUDE”

“…The primroses always come back. Even after a hard winter, they find a way to survive. They come back every spring.”
~Susan Meissner, The Shape of Mercy 

“Let’s be very clear: Strong men – men who are truly role models – don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together”.
~Michelle Obama

“It takes incredible fortitude to keep on the road, even though it’s fun and it’s rewarding and you can’t complain – it’s just a great life – but, you know, it takes a lot of energy”.
~Kate Pierson

2020, the year that wouldn’t end. Here is an excellent recap, featuring songs from some of my favorite musicals, but with 2020 lyrics. Enjoy, and I’ll see you in 2021!!


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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