Bratton…Our rivers flood plan, Roland Rebele, license plate readers, room for grandson, movie critiques. Greensite…will be back next week. Steinbruner…a taller hotel downtown, more taller buildings, drinking recycled water legally, Swenson and Aptos Village. Hayes…not passing through. Patton…How we feel and what to do about it. Matlock…Empty seat, empty promises, and empty heads Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week: Warwick Davis documentary. Quotes…”Turkeys”
DATELINE December 4
SAN LORENZO PARK FLOOD PLAIN FUTURE. Area energizer and activist Barbara Riverwoman sent a very detailed press release stating there will be a critical city meeting Monday December 11 from 4-6 p.m. in the City Council Chamber. It’s all about whether or not a third of the flood plain should be used for games and events or restore it to a natural riparian woodland. What so many forget is that it was a decision decades ago to have the Army Corps of Engineers ruin our potentially beautiful river with their crude and ugly walls or should we have used the river as a beautiful theme like so many other California cities did? Read this carefully…
“The City is giving community members another chance to share their thoughts on a possible RIPARIAN WOODLAND RESTORATION project in San Lorenzo Park. A final decision is expected in early 2024. We hope you will attend this key meeting and make your voice heard!
The meeting will be held during the regular City Parks and Recreation Commission meeting where commissioners will consider whether to recommend to the City Council that a third of the flood plain continue to be used for recreational activities (disc golf, soccer, large group events, etc.) OR whether the flood plain should be fully restored as a natural riparian woodland (including accessible walking trails, educational programs and community volunteer work).
Please consider attending this important decision-making meeting in person. The Santa Cruz Bird Club has formally endorsed full restoration! They and other environmental advocacy groups, including the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the Sierra Club, are expected to attend the meeting. Please be there to support them and us with both your presence and ideas.
The recommendation of the Commission is non-binding but will certainly carry considerable weight when the matter goes before the City Council in early 2024 for a final decision on the fate of the flood plain.
If you can’t make the Commission meeting please consider writing a letter to the Parks and Recreation Commissioners at firstname.lastname@example.org Even if you have done so before!
Barbara has a sample letter to copy and hopes you’ll read the 9 talking points she has too.
We have a rare opportunity to move our community in the direction of less development and more restoration. We invite you to share this hopefully positive occasion with us!
Connect with Barbara Riverwoman, Protect Our River,email@example.com at (831) 454-0252.
ROLAND REBELE REMEMBERED. There’s been some deeply touching remarks and reactions in our media re: Roland. I want to make sure that everyone knows that Roland Rebele was the most consistent financial supporter of BrattonOnline we’ve had. He and I joked frequently and he’d usually remind me by stating “you know I don’t agree 100 percent with everything you print!” I’d usually come back with “Well, tell me who you do believe in 100 percent”. He was a wonderful human being.
LICENSE PLATE READERS. Word is out that Santa Cruz is about to buy and put 22 license plate readers out along our streets. Word is also out that there’s a lot of opposition to this change in our security and there’s a meeting at 12 noon on Tuesday December 12 at the Santa Cruz City Hall (bring signs). Their website is braveandfreesantacruz.org. Reading as much of the many links as possible, it appears that the B & F group is mainly afraid of what happens to the info and data that’s collected. I’m pausing on this issue because while I sure don’t want my privacy invaded when I am driving my own car, there’s a real possibility that the police and I would like to know who and where someone else is driving my car…especially now with all the car thefts. What am I not seeing in this issue??
ANY ROOM AT THE INN…OR NEARBY? My grandson Henry Kloiber recent grad from UCSC, is looking for a place to live and stay in Santa Cruz. A room, apartment, shared room, guest house, whatever. He’s a furniture maker/designer, handyman, and an easy going, intelligent human and good conversationalist. Get in touch with me and I’ll set up a meeting.
P.S. Reader Debbie Bulger noted last week’s BrattonOnline photo of Pacific Avenue (circa 1953) …and observed there are no curb ramps for wheelchair users and no trees on Pacific. And that she “loves the old signs”.
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.
BLOOD AND GOLD. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). It happens in 1945 near the end of WWII in a small town being occupied/controlled by Nazi soldiers. Some focus is on a handicapped teenager and his mom. The Nazis are looking for certain bars of gold that the locals have hidden. It’s mesmerizing, go for it.
MARIE ANTOINETTE. (PBS SERIES) (6.5 IMDB) Be sure you get the 2002 version with 12 episodes. Marie is the last queen of France just before the French revolution and this is a genuine costume drama carried out in Versailles and half of Europe. Madame du Barry, Louis XV and XVI, and court scenes galore fill the shallow plots.
X. (PRIME MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). X in the title stands for sex and there’s plenty in this semi comedy/drama. Lots of nudity and even religion and a murder as it slowly picks up speed. It’s near torture watching the beginning because it’s so bad but stay with it and watch the murders happen…they’re well done.
MAY DECEMBER. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). A sensitive, subtle movie about the puzzling relationship between Natalie Portman (age 42) and Julianne Moore (age 63). Julienne is/was a teacher who had sex with a very young student years before and Natalie is interviewing her as a reporter turned actress about to portray Julianne. Watch it very closely.
FEEDBACK. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.1IMDB). This is a genuine pitch for AA or anyone with an alcohol problem. A Polish film with the hero being a hulking rock star who lives in Warsaw. He’s lost his son to the mysteries of the streets and attends AA meetings and has some scary interventions before they get back together. Go for it.
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 Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.
THE CROWN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.6 IMDB). Diana’s back, and so is Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Camilla and the rest of the 60 episodes of England’s royalty. Imelda Staunton is still the queen and a relative unknown Elizabeth Debicki is Diana. I’ve never figured out why we Americans are so attached to British royalty and their changes, but this series will undoubtedly go down in tv history as a huge success. Do watch it. Plus we get to watch Helena Bonham Carter, John Lithgow, Charles Dance, all in bit parts throughout the series.
GIRI/HAJI. (2020 RELEASE) (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.8 IMDB) There’s a London police detective who works hard to fight and stay away from the warring Yakuza gangs. The issue is that his own missing brother belongs to a Yakuza gang in Tokyo and may have murdered an important Yakuza member. The musical score is excellent and so is the plot. Daughter Hillary remembered this series and we spent half of Thanksgiving night watching almost all of the 8 episodes.
MIDNIGHT RUN. (1988 RELEASE) (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.5 IMDB). An absolutely brilliant comedy plus crime plot that will have you rolling on the floor with pathos and delight, see it again even if you remember the best scenes. It stars Robert De Niro as the cop and the ever subtle Charles Grodin as the robber being escorted across country by De Niro. The laughs are both outrageous and subtle and the rest of the cast looks like out casts from The Sopranos.
THE SANTA CRUZ CHORALE’S MUSIC OF CHRISTMAS. On Dec.16 at 8pm & 17 at 4pm the Santa Cruz Chorale will feature works by renowned composers such as Byrd, Scheidt, Elgar, Britten, Tavener, and Biebl, and beloved carols from around the world. The power and beauty of this music will resonate with traditionalists and contemporary music enthusiasts alike. This year, the centerpiece of our program is the Magnificat for orchestra and choir by Austrian composer Heinrich Biber. Born in the 17th century, Biber was known for his innovative and expressive compositions. His Magnificat is a masterful piece that beautifully captures the essence of the festive season. Once again, we are honored to be joined by the Monterey Bay Sinfonietta, whose exceptional musicianship enriches our performances.
Holy Cross Church, 123 High Street, Santa Cruz
Tickets: General $30, Seniors $25, Students $5
For Saturday concert only, 4 or more tickets: $20 each Tickets can be purchased here
Gillian will be back 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 http://darksky.org Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.
COASTAL COMMISSION PUBLIC HEARING AT THE DREAM INN FOR INCREASING DENSITIES IN THE COUNTY AND ALLOWING TALLER HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE CITY OF SANTA CRUZ DOWNTOWN PLAN
The California Coastal Commission will hold a hybrid public hearing on Friday, December 15, in the Dream Inn to consider TWO critical land use changes in our Community:
Item 12A is a change in the City of Santa Cruz approved Local Coastal Plan (LCP) to change the Downtown Plan to allow a taller Cruz Hotel before City residents have the opportunity to vote in March on how tall buildings can be! The Coastal Commission Staff recommends a YES vote, with an extension of time for approval.
“…the City indicates the proposed amendment would complement and further activate and revitalize the downtown area.”
“The proposed LCP changes are mostly focused around clarifying when development is
allowed taller buildings (i.e., up to an additional 20 or 30 feet maximum depending on
the particular area), when even taller ‘activated rooftop elements’ (i.e., bars, pools,
garden areas, etc.) can be applied above those heights (up to an additional 15 feet),
and when housing is required in the area, particularly in the area located adjacent to the San Lorenzo River between Laurel Street and Soquel Avenue.”
The City’s intent in making such changes is because there is essentially one site to which these changes would effectively apply in the coastal zone, and the City envisions this site for a hotel use. The City indicates that such a project would be able to appropriately complement the
significant amount of housing already under construction or envisioned in the downtown
area (with nearly 1,400 housing units either proposed, entitled, and/or under
construction currently), and that this site provides a means to meet other important City
needs associated with a downtown hotel (with conference space, etc.) when no such downtown hotels currently exist.
Thus, the proposed amendment essentially provides clearer standards for a potential hotel use (and the City is currently working on a CDP application for just such a hotel at this site). The amendment also adds a requirement
that applicants for such non-residential projects that avail themselves of the additional
height allowed under the plan are required to contribute to the City’s affordable housing trust fund (at a rate of $5 per additional square foot accommodated)
Take a look in “Correspondence” at the nine-page letter from Stephen Chan, Manager for SCFS Venture LLC, outlining the benefits of the tall Cruz Hotel next to the San Lorenzo River at Front and Laurel; (DOWNTOWN PLAN UPDATE) DECEMBER 15, 2023 HEARING, CORRESPONDENCE
NOTE that the developer will pay in-lieu affordable housing fees, rather than include affordable housing in the project:
“Provide an in-lieu fee payment to the City of Santa Cruz of $5.00 per additional square foot of floor area above the base height limit for affordable housing.” Item 12B is the County of Santa Cruz Planning Dept. request to change in the densities of coastal housing
The Coastal Commission staff recommends approving the dense development in the Pleasure Point area of Live Oak, only if modified.
LCP Amendment Number LCP-3-SCO-23-0004-1-Part B (Sustainability Update). Public hearing and potential action on request by Santa Cruz County toupdate the LCP to incorporate increased land use sustainability principles, including primarily making changes to facilitate increased housing within existing developed areas able to accommodate it.
More specifically of the substantive changes, as mentioned before, the amendment’s proposed new R-UHF land use designation and corresponding RF zoning district will provide residential densities up to 45 units per acre (up from the existing LCP’s highest density of 30 units per acre in the Urban High Density Residential land use designation), all intended to allow for denser infill multi-family development within existing already developed areas supported by existing public services (i.e., within the USL/RSL, especially within the Portola Drive commercial corridor in the Live Oak area).
The proposed land use designation changes consist of nine parcels located in already developed areas, and the parcels themselves are already developed. Seven of these parcels (APNs 032-032-46, 032-032-47, 032-032-48, 032-032-49, 032-032-50, 032-075-02, and 032-075-03) are located along commercialized Portola Drive in the Live Oak area within the USL, and are currently designated for general commercial development (including service/light industrial, office/professional, and neighborhood commercial). The proposed amendment would change these designations from their
existing general commercial designations to Urban High Density Residential (R-UH)
“…in order to support the County’s goals of providing additional affordable housing and promoting sustainable development patterns, the LCP amendment, as modified, requires that in the event that an existing 2 The County is responsible for developing 4,634 new housing over the next eight years, with 3,054 of those to be affordable to low- and moderate-income residents. The County’s Housing Element was recently approved by the Board of Supervisors and actually can accommodate over 6,400 housing units.
In the event that an existing visitor-serving overnight accommodation is converted to a residential use, 100% of the
new residential units must be affordable. This modification ensures that when a priority visitor-serving use is actually converted, such conversion is to fulfill other core County and State objectives related to affordable housing.”
The Coastal Commission staff recommends denying the approval of County Planning Department’s Implementation Plan for this dense housing but will approve it only if the suggested environmental mitigations are included.
What coastal Counties and Cities in California have the blessing of the Coastal Commission for their Local Coastal Plan? Not many. Take a look:
Attend this important December 15 meeting at the Dream Inn if you can, and send written comment even if the time deadline is passed because the Commission can sometimes receive late comment if the staff will send it.
STATE WATER BOARD WILL LIKELY LEGALIZE RECYCLED WATER FOR PUBLIC DRINKING WATER AGENCIES BY DECEMBER 31 THIS YEAR
Treated sewage water from the likes of PureWater Soquel Project could be sent directly to your tap if the State Water Board approves the regulatory policies to do so…and they likely will before the end of this year.
It is interesting that there are some mild push-backs by the National Water ReUse Institute Expert Panel, and perhaps we can take some level of comfort that the policy was amended to require quicker response to shut a system down if there are malfunctions detected in the purification process.
(c) The SCADA system (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) shall be designed to identify a failure of a process to meet its critical limit(s) and shall be able to automatically discontinue delivery of DPR project water to any distribution system if the treatment train does not meet the 16 log reduction for enteric virus, 10 log reduction for Giardia lamblia cyst, or 11 log reduction for Cryptosporidium oocyst.
The SCADA system shall be able to discontinue delivery of DPR project water to any distribution system within the time provided by the flow path
determined in section 64669.85(b)(3). The SCADA system shall have associated alarms
that indicate when a process is not operating as designed. (PAGE 26)
National Water ReUse Institute Expert Panel stated:
“… The Panel notes that some portions of the regulation do not reflect the most current scientific findings (see the Panel memos dated March 14, 2022, June 23, 2022, and July 13, 2022). For example, the LRVs in the proposed regulation are not based on the most current data on the occurrence and removal of pathogens by treatment processes in California.
Further, the Panel notes that conservatism increases costs, both in terms of direct monetary expense and secondary costs associated with climate change or other unintended consequences. An overly conservative approach may push utilities toward less environmentally desirable alternatives, such as extracting groundwater without replenishing it, and it may limit the ability of smaller communities to use DPR. It is critical that the State Water Board continue to explore ways to incentivize DPR, thereby creating a path forward for DPR implementation and providing a roadmap for comprehensive, science-based public health policy.” (pages 3 & 4)
Write to Soquel Creek Water District and ask if they plan to put that PureWater Soquel treated water in your tap directly any time soon.
Board of Directors firstname.lastname@example.org
APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT PARKING LOT STORMWATER DRAINAGE CONSTRUCTION DAMAGING COUNTY PARK AND CLOSING ROADS
Last week, Swenson Builders restricted access to Nisene Marks State Park by trenching on Aptos Creek Road for the pipe that will take parking lot and roof drainage stormwater from the Phase 2 subdivision to dump it into Aptos Creek. The lawn and irrigation system at adjacent Aptos Village County Park is significantly damaged and over half of lawn area is fenced off, prohibiting popular use by locals out to exercise their dogs.
County Parks maintenance staff told me they have no idea when Swenson plans to fix the irrigation system and the lawn, restoring it to pre-construction conditions.
Will it happen before the winter rains? Erosion is already happening, even with the small amount of rain this fall.
Erosion in Aptos Village County Park construction disturbance on the lawn.
Anyone hoping to get to their home on Aptos Creek Road, or to visit Nisene Marks State Park was really restricted from doing so last week by Swenson’s trenching work. This is in a known archaeologic area. I asked where the archaeologic observer required to be present during such earth disturbances? “He’s here somewhere.” replied the construction manager, but the fellow was nowhere to be seen.
At least Swenson removed the green mesh netting on the chain-link fence encroaching into Aptos Creek Road that earlier had caused real line of sight safety hazards (and maybe gave the required archaeological observer a place to hide).
Concurrently, Swenson closed Aptos Village Way where Phase 2 construction is underway. When done, that road will have solid buildings the likes of what you see in the background, Phase 1, and an even taller elevator shaft. Phase 2 will wrap around the corner and consume Aptos Creek Road, too.
THANKS FOR WRITING ABOUT CHANTICLEER OVERCROSSING LAST WEEK
Many thanks to the readers who took time to write me with their thoughts about the new Chanticleer Pedestrian Overcrossing that I wrote about last week. More to come on that next week.
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
NOT PASSING THROUGH
A fundamental issue related to the inter-connectedness between humans and between humans and Nature is how we move. How often do we change homes? When we are doing errands or our work, how quickly do we move around the landscape, in cars, bikes, buses, or on foot? When we visit nature, how do we move…aand how fast?
According to surveys, US citizens move from one house to another 18 times. On average, they move every 6-11 years, depending on region and economic status. In other parts of the world, such as China, there are millions of itinerant workers who are on the move all of the time. Refugees from war, climate disasters, cartel/mob threats, etc., are numerous. Is this natural?
Some would suggest humans are naturally nomadic. Long lived civilizations are very rare, and I’d be interested in knowing how long pre-industrial indigenous group are thought to have remained in the same territory.
The Social Meaning of Moving
Neighbors are a very long type of human relationship. Some people don’t know their neighbors. Some even don’t want to. The throng of cities provide anonymity that some crave. Rural areas lay bare the need to interact with neighbors. Some loner rural denizens stand out in their desire for isolation, leaving the rest of the neighborhood wondering and curious. That spectrum means there is a wide variety of meaning when we move away from the social fabric of our neighborhoods. When we move farther still, we leave behind those we chose to interact with, our communities, our friends. How have those moves affected you, your family, and your friends?
I posit that the frequency of people moving is negatively affecting the quality of communities. If people stayed put more, wouldn’t they come to better understand the things that affect their community? Even if they aren’t particularly interested, it seems like people gradually come to understand housing issues, strains on water sources, the health of the public transit systems, who has power and who doesn’t, how weather affects people, social norms, and history. Each of those types of understanding influences our relationships with others in our community and can affect the political parties and politicians we choose. When we move, our votes make less sense, and our communities suffer the consequences.
Moving Around Where We Are
Closer to home, how do we move about in our daily lives? I am amazed at rush hour traffic and suppose that most of those people can’t afford not to be moving so slowly, breathing thick exhaust. For a long time, as a commuter, I tallied the very expensive vehicles on the road at various times of day. Not surprisingly, the rich are better able to avoid rush hour. So, how and when we move around is highly affected by how much money we have. But, everyone moving in cars on the road share the experience of isolation from each other and from the world as a whole. The more time people spend in their cars, the more isolated they are.
Economic conditions notwithstanding, Covid lockdowns changed many people’s movement patterns. People looked at their homes differently. For instance, people started cultivating many more houseplants. As the urban bustle subsided, wildlife started edging further into the built environment. We noticed the world around us a lot more. It was quieter both on the streets and in the air. Air pollution declined. Some of our movement patterns remain curtailed despite city governments’ attempts to get businesses to reverse work-from-home policies.
Moving Around In Nature
An ‘avid’ mountain bike enthusiast once told me that they rode carefully so as to avoid running over newts. For those who read my column regularly, you know I have an affinity with newts. When I walk in the forest, avoiding stepping on newts is something that keeps my attention. It is not easy. Newts blend into the forest floor easily, are varying sizes and move at varying speeds, and are sometimes so numerous that you have to walk ever so gingerly to avoid them. It is even more difficult for a bicyclist to avoid smashing newts, and that example serves for a world of other nature interactions. The faster you move around nature, the less likely it is that you will see the nature around you. Also, bicyclists, by covering more ground than those on foot, also disturb more wildlife than other, slower-moving parks visitors. If we are looking to increase the nature sense of humans, we must work to get mountain bikers off of their bikes, so they move more slowly and experience nature more deeply. The same goes for joggers. Parents who care about helping their children connect with nature have a challenge to show their kids how nature is exciting even if you aren’t on a bike or running through a park.
Infrastructure in Nature
‘Stay on the trails’ is an increasingly common park visitation rule. It wasn’t that way very long ago. Technically, State Parks has to formally designate an area as a natural reserve to legally restrict use to trails. At Cotoni Coast Dairies, the land managers have to go through an arduous rulemaking procedure to restrict future visitors to trails. Staying on trails changes the way you experience nature. Wildlife avoid trails. The vegetation surrounding trails is different. Your chance of encountering other people on the trails changes your experience. And, most trails are designed as straight lines, as if we are all in a hurry to get from one place to the next when we visit nature. Trail builders with parks agencies think that people want ‘loops’ and are averse to ‘out-and-back’ trails. Turn offs from the main trail end better in some giant attraction, like an incredible view. Those straight lines and loops create a certain type of experience for parks visitors. I suggest those designs enforce a more fleeting and more separate interaction with nature. What would it be like if more trails led one way to nothing obviously spectacular? What if parks managers designed in slow, immersive experiences into their ‘infrastructure?’
If people slowed down, looked around, and took more time to experience nature, wouldn’t that connect them more with the natural environment? Wouldn’t that connection make them care more about protecting the environment? Just as people moving less increases the possibility of caring more for their neighbors and human community, people moving more slowly in parks should increase their caring for the non-human world.
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: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at email@example.com
How do we (Americans) feel about politics?
Well, we don’t feel particularly good about politics – at least, that is what the chart pictured above tells us! What I have provided at the top of this blog posting is just a single clip from a graphic, full page spread that can be found, in its entirety, on Page B22 in the October 22, 2023, edition of the San Jose Mercury News. If you click this link (paywall protections permitting), you may be able to check out a more readable, and a more complete, depiction of how Americans view “politics.”
The data recorded by the Mercury News comes from a recent survey published by the Pew Research Center. The Pew Research Center says that Americans’ view of politics is “dismal,” and reports that 65% of the persons that Pew surveyed say that “they always or often feel exhausted when thinking about politics.”
Here’s a link to another article in that same, October 22, 2023. edition of the Mercury News. The headline on that article proclaims, “Americans’ faith in institutions has been sliding for years. The chaos in Congress isn’t helping.”
It is my theory that these statistics (which I take as true) can account – or can certainly help account – for the otherwise hard to understand popular appeal of our former president, Donald J. Trump. This man is so flawed, so clearly devoted only to himself, so detached from any commitment to truth or decency, that it is hard to explain what recent polls reveal: Between forty and fifty percent of Americans asked have a “favorable” impression of Donald J. Trump.
That this is true (and I am assuming that it probably is true) should be deeply concerning. How could so many support, and actually applaud, what our former president has done, and what he continues to do, and what he promises to do, if reelected?
Let’s wait for actual verdicts before counting our former president “guilty as charged” in the various criminal prosecutions brought against him. So far, he has a losing record in the civil cases in which he has been a defendant. Nonetheless…..
While it is obviously proper not to assume someone is guilty of a crime until that guilt has been proven, it is unusual that so many people actually celebrate our former president (accused of multiple, very serious crimes), in ways that other persons charged with crime are not celebrated.
Here is my theory about why this is so – or at least this is an important, if only partial, explanation. If more than half of the American public thinks that our politics is “divisive,” “messy,” “bad,” “polarized,” and “corrupt” – and I do take these statistics as true – then our former president comes across as a “truth teller.”
Former president Trump may well be one of the best available examples of all that is wrong with politics, but he is not trying to convince us that he’s something he’s not. There are very few politicians who tell the voters that the whole political process is tainted to its very core. Many Americans, though, and perhaps the majority, do believe that our politics is tainted to the core, and that our politics is fundamentally “corrupt.” President Biden doesn’t claim that the entire political process is “corrupt.” Naturally not; he’s in charge of it. Former president Trump does make that claim, so for those who already hold that opinion, Biden is the liar and Trump is telling it like it is.
This, I think, is the basis of Trump’s credibility – and of his continuing “favorable” reputation among voters. Giving support to someone who will, at least, “tell it like it is,” can be powerfully attractive in a politics that reeks of corruption everywhere else.
Diagnosing the problem (and it definitely is a problem) does not, of course, “solve” the problem. Is there a solution?
The phrase that comes to me, as I think about what we must to to save our democratic politics, and to save the system of “self-government” that depends upon those politics, is “Lean In!” That phrase happens to be the name of a book, written by Sheryl Sandberg, the former Chief Operating Officer of Facebook (now Meta).
I have never read Sandberg’s book, which is actually most directly aimed at women, and is not, specifically, about “politics” at all. Nonetheless, I think her advice is very good advice for those of us who want to save a politics that is under attack by determined and hostile forces, an attack that gains strength from the fact that so many Americans believe that our politics is “corrupt.”
What “Lean In” means to me is that we (I mean ordinary Americans) need to take back control of politics by getting directly and personally involved, ourselves. Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that this is not a late-breaking idea, at least on my part. Abraham Lincoln told us, right near the end of the Civil War, a war that really divided our history in two, that the Civil War was fought to make sure that a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” will never perish from the earth.
Here we are again! Almost half of ordinary Americans no longer believe that our government is “for the people.” And if that’s true (and that is what the statistics to which I have referred are telling us), then the only way to ensure that self-government does not fail, and “perish from the earth,” is to resuscitate the second and most important part of the formula that Lincoln says describes our government.
Our government must be “by” the people, if the people are ultimately to believe that the government is both “for” them, and “of them.”
Going online is a lot different from going door to door. Actually meeting real people is a lot different from watching the six o’clock news, or some other “news source” that you find online. Self-government requires personal involvement by you and me. It is best practiced at the local level. Next year, in my home town, we will not only have a federal and state election, we will have a local election, too.
My advice? Allocate some time to your personal participation in politics – starting 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 www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org
EMPTY SEAT, EMPTY PROMISES, AND EMPTY HEADS
Despite New York’s Representative George Santos‘ protestations that he had done nothing wrong and was going nowhere unless his Third District voters decided otherwise, he was expelled from the House of Representatives. Still, Santos suspected his end was near, and as Redd Foxx was fond of saying, “When you see the handwriting on the wall, you know you’re in the toilet.” Even after the House Ethics Committee’s investigation and revelation of fraud and scandal within the freshman lawmaker’s campaign, he had survived one attempt to cast him aside. But, “the bullies,” as he termed them, won out on the second attempt, after several Democrats and Republicans flipped their previous votes, and in particular after Republican House member Max Miller revealed that Santos had fraudulently used his and his mother’s credit cards to add to his supposed campaign coffers. The 311 to 114 vote was not completed before Santos grabbed his coat and bolted out the door into a gaggle of media reporters. When asked if he would use his privileges as a former congressman to visit the House floor in the future, he barked, “To hell with this place.” As he walked toward his limo to transport him away, he was seen looking toward the heavens, seeking guidance from the Almighty, saying, “God, are you there? It’s me…Cher!”
Santos has upcoming court appearances next year from being charged in May with 13 counts (for which he posted $500K bail) that include wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and lying to the House of Representatives…to which he has pleaded “not guilty,” calling it a “witch hunt.” In October the Justice Department charged him with 23 counts tied to campaign fraud, putting forth allegations of “stealing people’s identities and making charges on his own donors’ credit cards without their authorization, lying to the FEC and, by extension, the public about the financial state of his campaign. Santos falsely inflated the campaign’s reported receipts with nonexistent loans and contributions that were either fabricated or stolen.” Among his many falsehoods are lying about his religion, his “grandparents escaping the Holocaust,” before saying he was Catholic. He lied about attending New York University, and about being a star volleyball player at Baruch College. He falsely claimed employment at Goldman Sachs, and that his mother had died in the 9/11 attacks though she was not in the US at the time. It was reported that he had filed his campaign disclosure 20 months late, with an “inexplicable “rise in his net worth to $11M. Santos started, and stole from, a GoFundMe benefit for the dying dog of a military service member, and was accused of writing bad checks to dog breeders for which charges were dropped. One place of employment was with Harbor City Capital which was charged with running a Ponzi scheme by the SEC. Appearing youthful, coupled with physical fitness was important to him, and a recently completed a three-mile run was terminated when he was heard to say, “Okay, okay, lady…you can have your purse back!”
So who will fill the spot left by Santos? Both parties are scrambling to prepare for a special election, which could help determine control of Congress in ’24. New York’s Third Congressional District, a swing district which went for Joe Biden in 2020, but put Santos into the House in 2022, an assist to Republican control in the House. Governor Kathy Hochul has ten days to announce a special election date which must be held 70 to 80 days from her announcement. Neither Democrats or Republicans will hold a primary election; instead, the two parties of both Nassau and Queens Counties will make a decision on candidates. The disgraced ex-rep provided such a lengthy clown-show that the GOP will have to work a bit harder to overcome the embarrassment Santos caused them. And his revenge may exact a toll on those party members that he threatens to expose in the coming days, so the imbroglio may continue with more humiliations. Judging from indiscretions exposed in recent years, resulting in some resignations or apologies, Santos probably has a GOP dumpster-fire of accusations to inflict more chaos on his former colleagues.
Already many are licking their chops to see who is next to be expelled, and predictions are rampant. The buzz is that House Republicans are eyeing Matt Gaetz, who has been staying beneath the radar somehow, after months of whisperings about his escapades with underage females. But, Eric Swalwell is putting his money on seeing Kevin McCarthy exiting. “With Santos gone, you’re hearing it here first: the next GOP member to leave Congress will be Kevin McCarthy. No way he stays. A guy who kidney punches his colleagues from behind is too afraid to serve out a full term with them. I bet he’s gone by end of year. What say you?” he is asking. Around the time Mac was ousted as Speaker, a major news outlet ran an article saying that McCarthy was considering resigning. Many thought it could be true, and that he was signaling lobbying firms to make a lucrative offer that might encourage him to make the switch. Bill Palmer comments on his The Palmer Report that when there’s this much buzz about someone resigning it often ends up being based in reality, so we shouldn’t be shocked if it comes to pass before the end of the current term.
Aldous J. Pennyfarthing says, “Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley decided to alienate basically everyone in the country by suggesting all social media accounts be forced to display their users’ real, legal names. It went about as well as expected for the former South Carolina governor, legally named Nimarata Nikki Randhawa Haley; observers of all political stripes found the bipartisan bonhomie to savage the proposal, which she walked back in a matter of hours, claiming that she was really just talking about ‘anonymous Russians and Chinese and Iranians having free speech’.” Senator Ted Cruz in mid-November proposed a new bill that would “prohibit the use of funds to implement, administer, or enforce measures requiring certain employees to refer to an individual by the preferred pronouns of such individual or a name other than the legal name of such individuals.” Titled the “Safeguarding Honest Speech Act,” many were quick to point out that Canadian-born Cruz’s “legal” name is not “Ted, nor Theodore, nor ‘Teddy.’ It’s Rafael Edward Cruz according to his birth certificate, so according to his own law, we would call him Rafael Cruz, although the law would permit the use of Edward Cruz. Tennessee Representative, Andy Ogles, a co-sponsor of the bill with Cruz, tried to cast their attack on preferred names and pronouns as a “freedom-ish thing.”
“Forcing anyone to use pronouns that don’t accord with a person’s biological sex is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. As the Supreme Court held, ‘if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.’ The government has no business compelling anyone to use pronouns that contradict biological reality.” The San Antonio Express-News jumped on the hypocritical ‘Ted’ Cruz, for which he attacked them on X (nee Twitter), calling them “lying hacks who are purposely misrepresenting his new bill.” “Show some respect for religious liberty and free speech and fix your dishonest headline,” he whined. William Einenkel on Daily Kos writes, “While I am still not positive about the legal loopholes in this proposed bill, maybe we can still call ‘Ted’ Rafi (or Raffy) Cruz? Maybe Ed Cruz? Eddie Cruz? Maybe this is just a real roundabout way for R. Eddie Cruz to stop his fellow senators from calling him the Zodiac Killer?”
Aldous J. points out that Governor DeSantis and Haley are “currently fighting over who gets to be the Republican presidential nominee if Donald Trump starts choking to death on a luau pig and no industrial hydraulic presses are available to give him the Heimlich. And so they’ve found themselves in a squabble over Haley’s ‘legal name proposal,’ because attacking fellow hopefuls Asa Hutchinson or Doug Burgum would be a bit like standing on the side of the interstate screaming talking points at roadkill.” Aldous J. goes on, “DeSantis, who is presumably running for president to prevent anyone from discovering the existence of gay people, used this opportunity to put some distance between him and Haley, who’s gradually been gaining in the polls, to point out that several Founding Fathers used pseudonyms to publish some of their most important works. He also claimed that Haley’s proposal to ban anonymous speech online, similar to what China recently did, is dangerous and unconstitutional. Yes, it is a dangerous idea. And very likely unconstitutional, even in a country that picks its Supreme Court justices with all the care of a Boone’s Farm-besotted teenager pulling stuffed puffins from an arcade claw machine. But as some are pointing out, DeSantis is hardly the ideal spokesperson on this issue.”
Victor Mather of The New York Times reports on an Australian theft that can’t be sugarcoated. Seems that a delivery driver stopped at a 7-Eleven near Sydney and while he was inside a thief drove away in his van…containing 10,000 Krispy Kreme donuts. The van was unmarked so the thief likely was later surprised at the contents of Christmas-themed and classic donuts. Neither van nor thief were found at press time, as police were looking for a suspect with a glazed expression. Suspiciously, we find that Donald Trump has found a new environmental obsession: on at least eight occasions since May, he has publicly claimed the Biden administration’s climate policies threaten…you guessed it…donuts! The recurring theme in his riffing on donuts is that they are only possible through fossil fuels. “If you make donuts, anything you make has to do with fossil fuels to deliver your product. Energy is so big, so important,” he said in October. To Larry Kudlow on Fox Business Network in August, he pronounced, “Fossil fuels are so big, it’s like all-encompassing. Everything…you make donuts in the oven and the trucks that deliver them.” An Iowa speech in September had him saying, “If you make donuts, if you make cake, if you’re a lawyer, if you’re an accountant, if you’re in heating or trucking, no matter what you do, energy is so big.”
“The thing about Trump is, the more you pay attention to what he says, the less any of it makes sense,” said Josh Schwerin, a Democratic consultant who works on climate messaging. “This is nonsensical from a climate perspective. Clean energy is creating jobs, not shutting down donut shops. The only real takeaway from these comments is that Trump has donuts on the brain,” he adds. One Trump adviser told The Daily Beast that they had no idea where Trump had picked up the donut line, and the Trump campaign, on a coffee break, did not return a request for comment on the former president’s newfound preoccupation with donuts. To borrow a line from Victor Mather: And that’s the hole truth.
‘Morning Joe’ host Joe Scarborough recently interviewed Brian Klass, professor of global politics at the University College London, to discuss the former prez, his rhetoric, and what it means for the future of democracy in this country. Anti-Trumper Scarborough asked if we should be ambivalent about Trump’s Nazi leanings. Klass’ reply was, “I think you can try to claim there was a coincidence the first time this happened, but after seven years of Trump, it’s quite clear that he’s lifting not just rhetoric but actual plans from the authoritarian playbook. I study the breakdown of democracy, and I don’t know how to say this more clearly. We are sleepwalking towards authoritarianism, and people are not waking up to this. Our political class is not rising to the challenge. They’re not distancing themselves and the Republican Party from this rhetoric. They’re just sort of pretending like it doesn’t exist. This is the biggest story in American politics and nothing else comes close.”
“If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.” – Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower. So where do we go from here, folks?
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: email@example.com.
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“When turkeys mate they think of swans”.
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We often forget that you can watch entire movies on YouTube! Here is Warwick Davis & the Seven Dwarfs of Auschwitz, a documentary narrated/hosted by Warwick Davis of Star Wars, Willow, and Happy Potter fame. It is about a family of dwarfs who were brought to Auschwitz because they were Jewish, and ended up surviving because they were dwarfs. In fact, they were the only family that got out of Auschwitz intact. Do watch it, it’s very interesting!
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