Blog Archives

December 8 – 14, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Bottom of the column, Tim Eagan, Movie critiques, Live Here Now. GREENSITE… on the future of Santa Cruz:  the new state housing allocation requirements. KROHN…New political life blood at party? STEINBRUNER…Consolidate water wells, Water quality plan, RTC transportation plan, Watsonville Hospital. HAYES…Chalks Chaparral. PATTON…E. Pluribus and Solidarity. MATLOCK’S MUSINGS…Dr. Oz, Oprah and Macho. EAGAN…Eagan Blog, Subconscious Comics, Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Christmas Trees”

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SANTA CLAUS, LIBERACE’S BROTHER, UNKNOWN ASSISTANT.  This was taken May, 9, 1959 in Santa’s Village (up Highway 17). Carl Hansen is Santa Claus and was also more famous as “Hocus Pocus” the magician. Santa’s Village was built in 1955 and went bankrupt in 1977, and closed in 1979.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE December 6 
     
BOTTOM OF THE COLUMN. Over the many, many years of BrattonOnline and when it was in real print/hard copy a few (very few) have asked if it would/could be printed in some format where it wasn’t necessary to scroll down the many “pages”. (24-26 pages each week). More folks agree that it’s like printed newspapers where/when you have to turn pages and fold and seek the words you are looking for. All of those words are meant to convince/remind you to seek the bottom end of BrattonOnline each week. I shifted Dale Matlocks Musings down there this week because he’s the newest to BrattonOnline. In addition to our webmistress’ Gunilla Leavitt’s clever and insightful Pick of the Week, there’s Tim Eagan’s cartoons and links to what really deserves careful reading, his Eaganblogs, and his other additions at TimEagan.com. So I moved his EaganBlog for this week right here…do take careful note.  

TIM EAGAN
December 1 

ARMED AND CLUELESS
Kyle Rittenhouse says he believes in everything that Black Lives Matter stands for. He says he’s not a white nationalist at all, and that those pictures of him hanging with some Proud Boys and flashing the white power sign were all a big misunderstanding. He was manipulated by some very bad people on his team, people who have since been fired.

I am willing to take him at his word about those things. He is, after all, an impressionable young man who is in way over his head. I can easily imagine that he was swept up by events and landed, quite innocently, at the center of this highly fraught conflict in our society. I am willing to believe, tentatively at least, that that was his state of mind when he arrived in Kenosha.

But that’s just an opinion about someone’s feelings and motivations. We can never be sure about that kind of thing. What actually happened that night, however, is not in dispute. Kyle Rittenhouse came to Kenosha in response to a posting by the Kenosha Guard, a local militia group, calling for “patriots willing to take up arms” against the “evil thugs.” Rittenhouse chose to carry an AR-15 — a semi-automatic weapon capable of firing dozens of rounds in just a few seconds — into the middle of a volatile protest over the shooting and paralyzing of a black man by the local police. He was not there any official capacity, but as a vigilante.

Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, who were among the protestors, had separately seen Rittenhouse’s weapon and dared to approach him. In each case, Rittenhouse chose to fire his weapon. Neither man was armed; both died. Rosenbaum was hit several times, including the fatal shot in his back. Huber was struck by a single shot to the chest that caused massive (and fatal) internal injuries.

There were no other deaths associated with the protests that night. If Rittenhouse had not brought his weapon to the protest, if he had not pulled the trigger of his AR-15, Rosenbaum and Huber would still be alive. We cannot be certain why he did it, but he did. He chose to arm himself, and he pulled the trigger.

So is he responsible for their deaths? As so often happens in these situations, the mere presence of a firearm seems to have been enough to precipitate its use. If the person using it is uncertain, or frightened, or weak-minded, the gun takes charge. It knows what to do, even if its owner doesn’t. Just by being there, it forces a decision to use it or not. Some people are ill-equipped to make that choice, but if you ask the gun, it will always say “Kill.” That is what it was made to do.

Kyle Rittenhouse is now being celebrated by the Right. He is visiting Mar-a-Lago and entertaining job offers inside the halls of Congress. None of these new benefactors is a supporter of the BLM movement, as Kyle professes to be, but I am sure they will be willing to hear his views on the subject of racial inequality. He is, after all, a hero.

“Trump supporters are people who know what they believe”.

~ JC, Bonny Doon

Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

C’MON, C’MON. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (96RT) A deep but heartfelt, feel good movie starring Joaquin Phoenix as an emergency step dad for a little boy (nephew) who has emotional issues. The boy played by Woody Norman is absolutely perfect and deserves an Academy Award immediately. Phoenix acts the role of a radio interviewer and creates one of the warmest roles we’ve seen him create.

GAIA. (HULU SINGLE). 84RT. This is a monster movie unlike most monster movies. It’s one you can almost believe!!! Cast into a South African jungle the woman survivor meets a fugitive father and son and together they try to survive the deadly fungus fed monsters. It is exciting, suspenseful and terrifically filmed. Any more than this would ruin the suspense.

THE POWER OF THE DOG. (NETFLIX SINGLE) 96RT. Bernard Cumberbatch plays a college educated American cowboy with deep problems. Other critics are going berserk over this mess by noted director Jane Campion. Kirsten Dunst acts as the drunken mother who lost her rich husband and is raising her effeminate son who shares the problems. Complex, weird, and incredibly dark, I left it sad, bewildered and bothered.

SARDAR UDHAM. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). 94RT. 8.9 IMDB. A huge and well produced true drama of the Indian hero Sardar Udham who led a lifelong struggle and uprising against the British rule of India. Starting in 1919 and continuing until this century it clearly shows the evil, killing, and profiteering by the English. Excellent acting, superior photography and a terrifying plot, similar to what the USA does in our territories.

DHA-MA-KA. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Set in modern day Mumbai it’s a tense but nearly unreal saga of a television station and its anchor newsman being threatened by a mysterious bomber who blows up a bridge and wants his message heard on TV. It’s unfortunately almost a true story of what’s behind not just Indian commercial TV but our local journalism management. 

ME FAMILIA 2. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). 4.5 IMDB. A waste of time plot that looks like rejected scenes from The Sopranos. Mafia from Sicily fights black mobsters in Harlem and local crooks seek some kind of protection from New York City Italian crooks. Avoid at all costs.

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, and 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.  

JULIA. (Del Mar Theatre). A brilliant documentary of Julia Childs who started cooking when she was 50 and died a world-famous chef at age 91. Audiences learn a lot about cooking, seasoning, flavors, and such but it’s also about France, AIDS, gays, PBS’s lousy treatment, and more. It’s not a film just for foodies it’s for anyone who eats. And it’s so graphic you should see it on a theatre screen for full effects.

TRUE STORY. (NETFLIX SERIES). Wesley Snipes and Kevin Hart are magnificent in this 7-part series, and I binge viewed it all in one sitting. It’s so well produced and acted that you’d think it’s a documentary. It’s the killing, robbery, family saga of a famous comedian (Hart) being cheated out of his happy, secure life. Ellen DeGeneres and Don Lemon from CNN are in it too. 

LOVE ME INSTEAD. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (7.1 IMDB)  A complex, tender Turkish film about two fathers trying to protect their daughters. One dad has been in jail for 14 years and his assigned guard is allowed to take him on a one-day leave to see his family. The guard becomes involved in a serious way. It’s beautifully filmed, the acting is excellent and the plot twists and surprises keep the story totally involving. 

THE WHEEL OF TIME. (AMAZON PRIME SERIES) (7.4 IMDB) (72RT) Because Rosamund Pike is the star you might be tempted to watch this zillion-dollar Amazon fantasy spectacle but don’t do it. It’s like mixing Game of Thrones with Lord of the Rings and it’s from a 14 book series. It’s also lifeless, but strong on women power. It does contain monsters and much beheading and other bloody scenes, avoid it at any cost or even for free if you are a subscriber.

KING RICHARD. (HBO MAX SINGLE). (76.6 IMDB). Will Smith is at his very best acting as he plays the stubborn, dictatorial father of Venus and Serena Williams during their rise to tennis stardom. Dad was driven by mysterious forces to coach both Venus and Serena way beyond any normal lives into being world conquerors in the game. Many, many surprises in their childhood and it’s an excellent film, don’t miss it and I predict Will Smith will get an Oscar for his part.

THE CLUB. (NETFLIX SERIES).(8.0 IMDB). It’s the 1950’s in Istanbul and a mother works and suffers to raise her daughter while she works in a nightclub. She’s been in prison for 17 years and her connecting with her very strong daughter is touching, heartbreaking, and well-acted. The actors sing, dance and perform surprisingly well and it’s a fine series. 

AMINA. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (3.9 IMDB) A very sad attempt to tell the story of a woman in 16th century Nigeria and how she became the leader of her kingdom. Poorly acted, shamefully filmed and no reason to watch.  

PASSING. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (6.6 IMDB). A very stylized story about two Black women in 1920’s New York City and the differing ways they spend their lives passing for white. Neither actress could pass for white so it makes for some desperate viewing to learn anything or enjoy watching this forced drama. For extra effects, it was filmed in Black and white…no no avail.

THE SHRINK NEXT DOOR. (APPLE SERIES). This movie is listed as a comedy drama and I don’t think it deserves either category. Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd are the leads, Ferrell being the guy who needs therapy and Rudd is the psychiatrist who works to erase the many problems. Ferrell has money and runs a business and Rudd works to squeeze money from him. Not my cup of tea AND it’s based on a true story!

YOU. (NETFLIX SERIES). (91RT) (7.7 IMDB). A genuine deep drama about a seemingly nice guy who is among other things a stalker. He manages a book store and has secrets in his basement that I won’t reveal. Lots of book/author dialogue and well-crafted suspense. Well worth watching and cringing over. 

MONTFORD. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (6.7 IMDB). It’s an excellent “western” and it’s the true story of Montford Johnson a member of the Chickasaw Indian nation who spent his life fighting against the Yankees after the Civil War as he struggled to raise a family and help his Indian brothers. Super movie, one of the best cowboy westerns I’ve seen. 

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HIDDEN VALLEY STRING ORCHESTRA. Sixteen of Northern California’s finest string players will be playing in the early tradition, the orchestra will perform without a conductor. Prepared under the direction of Stewart Robertson, performances will be led by concertmaster Roy Malan. Comprising sixteen of Northern California’s most talented and accomplished string players, the String Orchestra of Hidden Valley debuted to acclaim in November 2014. Lyn Bronson of Peninsula Reviews said of the String Orchestra’s debut, “A gorgeous performance. Every section . . . a perfect jewel.” 

TWO CONCERTS, TWO LOCATIONS:
Carmel Valley Saturday December 11, 7:30 p.m. Hidden Valley Theatre, 104 W. Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley CA 93924 

Santa Cruz Sunday December 12, 4:00 p.m. Peace United Church 900 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

Tickets are available online or by telephone at (831) 659-3115 

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December 6

A HOUSING ALLOCATION TO REJECT.

No, the above photo is not the city of Santa Cruz …. yet.

If you dismiss it as hyperbole or undue pessimism you didn’t catch the city council study session on the upcoming state-mandated Housing Needs Allocation. The Sentinel on 12/4/21 covered it well, even finding it “astonishing.”

Regional Housing Needs Allocation or RHNA is a cycle of state mandated new housing construction that each region is expected to build within an eight year time period. One cycle is near its ending date in 2023 when the new cycle begins. The study session for council was a local and regional staff presentation on the state required number of new housing units for 2023-2031 within discrete income categories ranging from Extremely Low to Above Moderate. These categories are based on the AMI or Area Median Income. Aye, there’s the rub. 

Median income means half earn more and half earn less. This is a moving target. With high tech and other big-income earners moving into the market rate units built in recent years (555 Pacific) or are being built (Pacific Front) or are about to be built (Riverfront) or are in the wings (130 Center St.) or are projected along the San Lorenzo River and South of Laurel should the Downtown Expansion be approved, the AMI rises accordingly. With the rise of the AMI, the other income categories also rise with the result that people in a Low-Income category, to take one example, are assumed to have an income of $74,000 for an individual and $106,000 for a family of four. This is based on 2020 data from the state for our area. Landlords charge rents based on these assumptions, making the categories meaningless in real life terms.  They are however used to grant developers height and density waivers, so we get 6 story buildings when zoning should cap them at 3. Critics are silenced because the assumption is that the handful of “affordable” units will help low-income individuals and families. Given the AMI and the speed with which it is rising in Santa Cruz, such an assumption is simply not valid.

The low-income individuals I know work two jobs to earn around $45,000 a year. Given the AMI, rents in the new developments even at the Low Income and Extremely Low Income levels are out of reach for them. They are our long-time service workers and they are being forced out of Santa Cruz due to the above demographic forces. Remember when ADU’s were supposed to be an “affordable” solution to the housing cost crisis? And with the state removing the owner-occupancy rule many more permits for building ADU’s have been taken out. However, the senior city planner commented at the study session that she was “shocked at how much people are charging” for ADU’s. So much for that solution.

The AMI for California is $74,000 compared to Santa Cruz at $110,000. With most single-family houses being bought by out of county second-homers or speculators and most new market-rate units snapped up by high-income earners the AMI can only rise, squeezing more and more truly low income workers and families out of the area due to ever rising rents and small landlords selling in this bubble of inflated housing values. 

The rallying cry, “we need more housing!” is hollow. Even the rallying cry “we need more affordable housing!” without a redefinition of that term is hollow.

So how did we do in the last RHNA cycle and what is the state requiring of Santa Cruz in the next cycle?

From 2015 until 2021 and with two years to go, the city under RHNA was required to build 747 new units of housing distributed among the various income categories. If not actually built yet, the city has to demonstrate that it has enough land zoned for such buildings. The city met its allocation in every category except Very Low Income. It well surpassed its allocation of Above Moderate income units. 

For the next cycle the city is required to build as many as 3,400 units, more than 4 times the previous allocation!

This dramatic increase is based on new state housing laws signed by the Governor and backed by housing activists and real-estate interests. Santa Cruz gets zinged due to our higher than average white population. That’s curious. Where is class in the analysis? Also driving this massive requirement according to the bearer of bad news, AMBAG (Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments) Planning Director Adamson said at the study session, is the level of overcrowding in the region and state. 

The definition for “overcrowding” is a unit with 2 bedrooms and 3 people. That caught my attention. How can that be a definition of overcrowding? That would describe a family with two parents and a child. Even 3 students in two bedrooms is reasonable. Now 6 people in a unit with two bedrooms is overcrowding and I know families who have more than that number of people in such crowded conditions. This is not to downplay the problem of overcrowding, which is connected to rising rents. It is to challenge the use of such a questionable definition to foist such an unrealistic allocation on our small city of 64,000.

Unfortunately Ms. Adamson had left by the time public comment was allowed so I didn’t get to challenge that definition. However it needs challenging. And city council needs encouragement to push back on this allocation, which, if accepted, will usher in a period of building that will dwarf current developments, radically transform Santa Cruz and forever displace all but the wealthiest of new renters and homeowners. The city council has the ability to push back hard. They won’t do it without your support. 

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 6

NEW POLITICAL LIFE-BLOOD?

A Meeting
On a crisp, clear, and decidedly sunny December afternoon, one-hundred and fifteen people attended a local political meeting at the Simpkins Swim Center in Live Oak. The venue was intentional. Planners of the event sought a more mid-county location in order to attract participants from the various parts of the county including Watsonville, Aptos, Live Oak, and Capitola. Of course, many from the city of Santa Cruz joined this Saturday political soirée. The gathering was dubbed by some as the Progressive Alliance, but it was a placeholder name. The room was filled with progressive partisans from old and new political battles. Early in the meeting the group was asked to shout out the organizations they identified with in Santa Cruz County. It was a broad spectrum of organizations involved in social change including: (too many acronyms) SC4Bernie, FORT, SC-CAN, OurDowntownOurFuture, EHT, Citizens Climate Network, CFST, SCC-DCC, Vets for Peace, WILPF, Sanitation for the People, SEIU 521, Sierra Club, CAB, Save SC, Harm Reduction Coalition, DSA, SC Cares, Art and Revolution, College Democrats, Downtown Commons Advocates, and the Student Housing Coalition (UCSC).

The Agenda

Jane Weed-Pomerantz former Santa Cruz City Mayor, ably guided the large group through a series of small group-large group activities about as well as a facilitator of 115 individuals can do. At times chaotic and heated, but mostly cordial and collegial, ten small pods of 8-10 participants each came up with long lists, which were boiled down to 3-4 priorities per group. Near the end of the day, each pod presented their top hot-button issues to the entire group. Many lasted the entire two hours and into over-time too! What happened at the end? It was revealed that perhaps an ongoing new political action group could carry on with the work of the day, i.e. building a progressive winning coalition. Ten participants signed up to be part of a future “Progressive Alliance” (name-change may be on the horizon) steering committee. Their work would be to collate, assess, and analyze the ideas generated from this meeting and plan for, what else? Future meetings. Would it be one big socialist-progressive union? A wide-ranging blue print document of county progressive values and goals, mostly sound bites and subject lines, would help guide this next meeting, TBA.

Results

From the 10 Group report backs, around 75 suggestions and ideas were boiled down to a few broad issues with subcategories. Many suggestions involved the major national issues of our time:  racial justice, affordable housing, houselessness, and climate change. Other issues discussed by the large group (over 70 participants still present after two hours) were: creating better media, finding common ground: work to heal conflicts between progressive groups, elect and support women and people of color, recognizing rights of indigenous people, working for voting rights for undocumented people, help electeds by attending city council and supervisor meetings, advocate for progressive appointees to city and county boards and commissions, steps to make candidates accountable when they are elected, reform of the electoral system (ranked choice voting, for example), draft policy that tackles wealth inequality, support the empty homes tax, provide intergenerational mentorship, reforming our street space to create climate-friendly mobility, support for a town commons/central park downtown where groups can meet for memorials and protests, taxing corporations to support co-ops, making a Green California New Deal a reality, Medicare-for-all, listen well, sing more, and organize for community solidarity and empowerment.

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“Ah yes, the right wing: forcing people to give birth against their will while advancing policies that made the US have the highest maternal mortality in the developed world. Then for after birth, they work to stop paid leave policy. No wonder they need voter suppression to win”. (Dec. 2) 

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

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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December 6

COUNTY WATER ADVISORY COMMISSION DROUGHT TASK FORCE WILL PLAN CONSOLIDATIONS FOR PRIVATE WELLS AND SMALL WATER COMPANIES
Last week, the Santa Cruz County Water Advisory Commission approved, upon staff recommendation, a Drought Task Force Committee Alternative should form, composed of a few members of the County Water Advisory Commission, in order to comply with SB 552.   This Committee would have to develop and submit to State Water authorities plans for consolidating private domestic wells with existing water jurisdictions, and would also apply to wells on school properties. 

The Alternative Committee compliance route, as suggested by staff, would remove the requirement that well owners and community representatives be included as active Committee members.  Instead, they would simply be informed of the plan the Drought Task Force Committee develops, and provide comment. 

In my opinion, that is a big difference!!

Here is what SB 552 mandates the County to do:

CHAPTER  3. State Small Water Systems Serving 5 to 14 Service Connections, Inclusive, and Domestic Wells

10609.70.

(a)

  1. A county shall establish a standing county drought and water shortage task force to facilitate drought and water shortage preparedness for state small water systems and domestic wells within the county’s jurisdiction, and shall invite representatives from the state and other local governments, including groundwater sustainability agencies, and community-based organizations, local water suppliers, and local residents, to participate in the task force.
  2. In lieu of the task force required by paragraph (1), a county may establish an alternative process that facilitates drought and water shortage preparedness for state small water systems and domestic wells within the county’s jurisdiction. The alternative process shall provide opportunities for coordinating and communicating with the state and other local governments, community-based organizations, local water suppliers, and local residents on a regular basis and during drought or water shortage emergencies.
  3. A county that establishes a drought task force on or before January 1, 2022, shall be deemed in compliance with this subdivision as long as the task force continues to exist.

(b) A county shall develop a plan that includes potential drought and water shortage risk and proposed interim and long-term solutions for state small water systems and domestic wells within the county’s jurisdiction. 

A county shall consult with its drought task force or alternative coordinating process as established by this section in developing its plan. A county shall consider, at a minimum, all of the following in its plan:

  1. Consolidations for existing water systems and domestic wells.
  2. Domestic well drinking water mitigation programs.
  3. Provision of emergency and interim drinking water solutions.
  4. An analysis of the steps necessary to implement the plan.
  5. An analysis of local, state, and federal funding sources available to implement the plan.”  

This new law, signed by the Governor on September 23, 2021, requires all counties and cities form such Task Force or alternate Committees by January 1, 2022. 

THE REGIONAL PLAN TO KEEP WATER CLEAN…JUST WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
The Central Coast Water Quality Control Board will meet December 10 and will consider the 2021 Triennial Review of the Water Quality Control Plan for the Central Coastal Basin.  Some of the goals stated make me wonder if the State intends to take more control over lands that are considered watershed lands. This report includes many proposals for actions to improve clean water in the Central Coast areas, and prioritizes them.  The report also includes comments submitted by various agencies, and how the staff responded.

Of note are the goals stated below:

The Vision for the Central Coast Water Board is Healthy Watersheds.  Here are the Board’s goals to align with that Vision:

“Healthy Aquatic Habitat. By 2025, 80 percent of aquatic habitat is healthy, and the remaining 20 percent exhibits positive trends in key parameters. 

Proper Land Management. By 2025, 80 percent of lands within a watershed will be managed to maintain proper watershed functions, and the remaining 20 percent will exhibit positive trends in key watershed parameters.

Clean Groundwater. By 2025, 80 percent of groundwater will be clean, and the remaining 20 percent will exhibit positive trends in key parameters.”(Page 8)

What exactly does the State have in mind for “managing 80% of lands within a watershed”?  Think about what that might mean in the North Coast watershed, the San Lorenzo River watershed, and the Soquel Creek watershed…or the huge Pajaro River watershed that includes areas of multiple counties.  What does “managed” mean?

Here is the link to that December 10 virtual meeting  

Please submit written comment to Tammie Olson, Tammie.Olson@Waterboards.ca.gov  

If you want to comment verbally during the meeting, you must submit a comment card before the meeting begins.  

Note that two of the five Commission seats are vacant.  Think about applying!

RTC TRANSPORTATION PLAN DRAFT UPDATE TO 2045 FOR PUBLIC COMMENT
On December 2, 2021, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission released the draft 2045 Regional Transportation Plan for public review and comment. The public comment period for the Draft 2045 RTP runs from December 2nd, 2021 through January 31, 2022 and a public hearing is scheduled for 9:30am at the January 13, 2022 RTC meeting. Printed copies of the Draft 2045 RTP are also available for public review at the libraries in downtown Santa Cruz, Felton, Capitola, La Selva Beach, and Watsonville beginning December 3rd.

The goals for the 2045 RTP are as follows: 

  • Goal 1: Establish livable communities that improve people’s access to jobs, schools, recreation, healthy lifestyles and other regular needs in ways that improve health, reduce pollution and retain money in the local economy. 
  • Goal 2: Reduce transportation related fatalities and injuries for all transportation modes. 
  • Goal 3: Deliver access and safety improvements cost effectively, within available revenues, equitably and responsive to the needs of all users of the transportation system and beneficially for the natural environment.

I think I would like to add a fourth goal…GET SOMETHING DONE!

Measure D sales tax provides about $20 million annually for transportation projects.  Of that, 8% of the total, or $1.6 million, goes to preserving the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line.  Will that ever actually include passenger rail or bus-to-rail conversion use?  Take a look at the vague language on page 2-13. 

Another study.  Another plan.  Submit your comment and hope something gets done.

ANOTHER TAX ON MID AND SOUTH COUNTY ON THE HORIZON TO BUY WATSONVILLE HOSPITAL
Last week’s Watsonville Hospital owner announcement of bankruptcy was interesting, considering it is on the heels of the County Board of Supervisors approval of forming a Pajaro Valley Healthcare District at their November 9, 2021 meeting. 

It seems this is all falling into place for this done- deal that CAO Carlos Palacios is driving.

This is evident in the fact that the County Public Information Officer, Jason Hoppin, launched the Press Release of the new Pajaro Valley Hospital District formation on October 28, 2021….before the County Board of Supervisors even reviewed the matter publicly.

“The current Pajaro Valley Healthcare District Project (PVHDP) board members are designated by administrators of the County of Santa Cruz, City of Watsonville, Salud Para La Gente and the Community Health Trust of Pajaro Valley. PVHDP will pursue creating a local healthcare district as an avenue to allow for community-driven healthcare services in this region.”

Now, note last week’s threat of bankruptcy and hospital closure on January 28 if no buyer is found.

Urgency is the mother of all legislative emergency funding, and often gets accomplished with gut-and-amend legislation to fast-track the entire process.  This money may help the new Health District to buy the bankrupt Watsonville Hospital, but how will long-term operating costs get paid?  

I predict that is where a likely new Special Benefit Assessment District tax will magically spring up for voters.  This is a weighted Prop 218 ballot procedure, wherein large property owners’ votes count for more than others.  Watch for this…it will be coming our way, I assume, sometime soon. 

What will this mean for the Hospital workers?  What will it mean for the level of patient care?  What will it mean in property tax assessments for the area?  Stay tuned…

A TRAGIC END TO A GOOD FRIEND
Last week, I received shocking news that a good friend committed suicide.  He was the last person I ever would have guessed would have reason to do that, but he did.  He is gone. His family is left with terrible tragic sorrow, and we all wonder what more we could have done to help a seemingly happy, brilliant soul stay with us on this planet.  

One never knows what good a kind word, or call can do.  In this season of holiday spirit, take a moment and reach out to those around you…even a smile to the stranger on the street or your neighbor at the mailbox.

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.  YOU CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE IF YOU JUST DO SOMETHING.

Take care,

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 6

CHALKS CHAPARRAL

The Chalks stretches from above Año Nuevo into Big Basin south through the Lockheed property and then down many tiny ridges above Scott Creek and the Swanton community. Even before the CZU Fire, the ridges appeared from afar curiously white, like chalk. The earliest Old World explorers wrote in their log books about that striking whiteness. This barren white ridges are on account of extremely poor soil, mostly fractured rock that limits the ability for vegetation to thrive. The vegetation that can make it is a unique type of chaparral.

Most people see The Chalks on their drive south on Highway One just north of Año Nuevo, South of Franklin Point as they pass the Coastanoa Resort. Look inland and you’ll see lots of broken ridges: those are The Chalks.

Much of The Chalks is on private property. Some is on what is known as “Lockheed Martin Space Systems” at the very end of Empire Grade. That area also contains a 1000-acre private property called “Lehi Park” a recreational and camping spot owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For public visitation, you’ll have to wait until Big Basin opens again…it’s still closed due to the last big fire. Meanwhile, you must settle for viewing from afar.

The Pines
At the top of the steep and erosive bluffs north of and above Waddell Creek, wind-blown, lichen strewn Monterey Pines form the chalks chaparral overstory, but their genes might make them something other than pure Monterey Pines. This is the home of one of only five native Monterey Pine stands. The others are on the Monterey Peninsula, around Cambria, and on two islands off of Baja – Cedros and Guadalupe. Monterey pines are the most planted forestry tree in the world, and the seeds of the ‘radiata pine’ created bred for those forestry plantings came from the Año Nuevo stand, where Monterey pine hybridizes with knobcone pine. Monterey pine occurs lower in elevation, and more deeply in frequent thick fog; Knobcone pine is found higher and hotter and dryer. In between, there are pines that look like both, and the globally planted forestry tree looks like one of those tweeners. As the birthplace of this confusing but useful forestry tree, The Chalks has its tree ambassador planted by the millions, all over the world. And yet, this tree isn’t the only famous bit of Chalks botany…there are also some world-famous manzanita species.

The Manzanitas
Chalks Chaparral includes 7 species of manzanitas, and there are two common, more widespread ones that dominate and two very rare species that only occur in this habitat. The most common species is brittle leaved manzanita, a widespread burl-forming species, and the subject of a previous essay. The other common species is the sensitive manzanita. Sensitive manzanita has small roundish shiny dark green leaves, making it look like the boxwood of the chaparral. Mixed in with these two species, there are two other manzanita species- two which exist nowhere else in the world: Ohlone manzanita and Schreiber’s manzanita. Each of these locally endemic manzanitas are very uncommon even in The Chalks and grow entirely on private property, so you can’t visit them outside of the UCSC Arboretum’s Conservation Garden. There might be as few as 100 Ohlone manzanita plants in the entire world!

You can, however, view photos of Shreiber’s manzanita from a 1939 expedition that led to its discovery. One photo archived by UC Berkeley shows a big manzanita surrounded by knobcone pines and chamise. Another photo has an overview of the habitat showing the large amount of bare ground with sparse manzanitas, pines and few oaks; that 1935 photo suggests a fire as recent as 14 years previously. The next fire was to be 8 years later in 1948.

You might be wondering about the other three manzanitas you can find on The Chalks. They are: Santa Cruz manzanita, silver leaf manzanita, and the crinite manzanita. On a rare California Native Plant Society field trip through the Lockheed property in the 1990s, we saw all 7 species within a short walk of one of our stops.

The Trails and Views
The best places to access The Chalks are in Big Basin State Park, now closed because of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire…but, put those trails on your list when it reopens. Whether from the coast or from inland, your destination are the ridges around Chalk Mountain. The trails wind on ridgelines with gorgeous views of the ocean overlooking Año Nuevo Island and a vast expanse of the ocean. On a clear day, you can see Point Reyes and the Farallon Islands to the north and Point Sur to the South.

Another place to aim for is Eagle Rock out of Little Basin. Eagle Rock is an isolated bit of sandstone on the eastern flank of The Chalks. The views from Eagle Rock expand eastward more than you might see from Chalk Mountain. The trail goes through a kind of chaparral closely allied to The Chalks, but with less rock showing than elsewhere.

Fires and Seeds
Both the 2009 and 2020 wildfires spread initially through The Chalks chaparral, same as the 1948 Pine Mountain fire. Those watching the 2009 fire said they saw what looked like fire tornados launching from one ridge and igniting the next ridge down wind. No one was watching for the more recent fire, which spread even more quickly. Both fires triggered fire-following seeds to germinate. 

The most widespread and obvious fire following seedlings are bush poppies. Most of The Chalks will still be barren next summer (as before the fire), but patches of chest high blue-green bush poppy shrubs will be flowering with their bright yellow flowers next summer. I have tried everything to germinate those bush poppy seeds, including the recommended soak in white gasoline, presumably to break down its seed coat. But, after the fire…seedlings pop up all over. 

The Chalks and the Rare Human Animal
Humans are rare in The Chalks. The Lockheed facility had, at its peak, hundreds of employees visiting this chaparral regularly, for work. But then much of it burned, and it is unclear if they will continue to operate the facility in the future. The Lehi property is also mostly ephemerally visited by people. The most common place to find humans in The Chalks had been out Last Chance Road where a culture all its own had homes sprinkled around patches of beautiful chaparral. That community, also, burned in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. 

Much of what we know about the natural history of places is cleaned by humans who make habits of visiting those places and looking carefully at what’s around them. Historically, few people have wandered into The Chalks with an eye to natural history. Shreiber’s 1930’s era Chalks visit mentioned above highlighted the area to natural history enthusiasts with the discovery of a new manzanita species (and those intriguing photographs!). Then there’s Jim West, a botanist extraordinaire endemic to the Swanton area, who has brought The Chalks to the attention of many other naturalists, in part because of his discovery of the other new manzanita species. His work has led to a kind of Chalks revival with a new focus on vegetation mapping bringing a host of new naturalists’ attention to that area. There is much more to be discovered in The Chalks – who will be the next person to find something amazing up there? Post fire recovery may have many surprises…

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 coastalprairie@aol.com

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December 5

#339 / E Pluribus

E Pluribus Unum” – “Out of many, one.” That statement, found on our coins, and on our paper money, and on the Great Seal of the United States, is considered to be the traditional motto of our nation. Generally, the statement is thought to describe how the thirteen original colonies came together to forge the United States, as a single and unified whole.

Until the Civil War, of course. Then, we had to do it all over again. 

I have always liked that “Out of many, one” way of describing the United States. However, I have thought of this motto more in terms of the individual people who have come together to create and sustain our nation, as opposed to reading this statement as one that pertains to the states. After all, when we talk about “many,” there are many more people than there are states, and in terms of the majesty and significance of the American accomplishment, the astounding fact that millions of people have come, from all parts of the world – from different backgrounds and different circumstances – and have together created a single and unified nation, is something truly extraordinary. 

The American Revolution gave us our motto. We are, I’d like to suggest, at a time in which we might think, once again, of what kind of revolution might be required of us. Fundamental changes must be made, and most of us know it. Social, economic, and political changes are mandatory if we are to continue as one nation. As in our experience at the time of our Civil War, a fundamental reworking of what we have heretofore achieved is demanded (though I strongly suggest that violence and bloodshed are not required of us now). 

In the 1980s, in Poland, ordinary men and women came together to achieve revolutionary changes in their nation – and largely without violence or bloodshed. Their motto was “Solidarity.” That motto, it strikes me, is not so different from our traditional motto, “Out of many, one.” 

Let’s think about how we might achieve that now, and renew our American accomplishment: Out of many, one. 

It’s still a good motto. It’s still what we must do. 

And “Solidarity?” That’s what we must have to achieve it.  

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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The political landscape took on another dimension this week, with Dr. Mehmet Oz declaring a run for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat, being vacated by Pat Toomey, with the ominous-sounding phrase ‘put America first’. Oz’s rise in popularity/notoriety was boosted by none other than Oprah Winfrey’s TV show, and while his candidacy has drawn mixed reactions, his abandonment of the Hippocratic Oath is sure to attract the support of anti-vaxxers, Trumpers, and non-voting kissin’ cousins in Dixie.
A few noted Republicans applauded the ex-surgeon’s entry into the race, but some expressed hesitancy at early support, waiting to see which way Mar-a-Lago’s Orange Whoopee Cushion blows. 

Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana who was recently sidelined with a dislocated tongue after trying to pronounce ‘Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’, made a brief call to Oz, saying, “Now, I don’t mean any disrespect, but do I address you with ‘doctor’, or ‘Allahu Akbar’? No mention of Kennedy’s support was noted, nor was Oz’s reaction recorded.

Kentucky’s senator and former ophthalmologist, Rand Paul, has high expectations for Oz, viewing him as possible compatriot in the war against Dr. Fauci and his scientific and sensible approach to defeating the pandemic. Both Paul and Oz have endorsed use of hydroxychloroquine, with ivermectin, Lysol and bleach just a couple of discussions away from consensus.

King-Maker Oprah has suddenly been besieged by a crowd of politicians and would-be politicos begging for her attention, with hopes that she can bless them with her magic. Missouri’s Josh Hawley, and Arkansas’ Tom Cotton have made appeals to have interviews published in ‘O, The Oprah Magazine’; but, it is North Carolina’s Rep. Madison Cawthorn who has been the most demanding, looking to be put onto at least one magazine cover before the mid-term elections. In consideration, Ms. Winfrey will deal accordingly with the ‘manliness’, and macho declarations of all three. 

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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

    Christmas trees

“If my Valentine you won’t be,
I’ll hang myself on your Christmas tree.”
 
~Ernest Hemingway

“I don’t know what I believe. I guess that makes me a Christmas Tree Agnostic.”
Stephanie Perkins,  

“The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature. If some of our great decorated trees had been grown in a remote forest area with lights that came on every evening as it grew dark, the whole world would come to look at them and marvel at the mystery of their great beauty.” 
~Andy Rooney

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Timeline does the neatest documentaries, like this one with Stephen Fry, about the original Gutenberg printing press. Do watch it, it is completely delightful!


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
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