Blog Archives

December 9 – 15, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Highway One and the RTC overpass plans, new book on Secret walking Santa Cruz. GREENSITE…is off this week. Will return next week with Don’t Morph the Wharf! and the next steps to save our historic icon. KROHN…Developers’ connections and development plans for Santa Cruz. STEINBRUNER…Supes and no in-person meetings, UCSC and water, RTC projects, decline in County population, Mission Bells, septic water systems, Soquel Creek Water District issues. PATTON…The Electoral College. EAGAN… Classic Subconscious Comics and more Deep Cover opinions. QUOTES…”PATIENCE”

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THE WAVE MOTOR, 1890’S.   This wave motor was on West Cliff Drive, and used to sprinkle the dusty Santa Cruz streets in summer time. It hauled ocean water up to the 600 gallon water storage tank. According to historians, it was invented by J. E. and William V. Armstrong.                                             

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE December 7
      
MAR VISTA BRIDGE…AND STAIRWAY!!!
Along with the Regional Transportation Commission’s plot to construct Bus on Shoulder and other auxiliary lanes with the new source of funds, is the plan to construct a Bicycle/Pedestrian Overcrossing. Ever-active Debbie Bulger coordinates the Mission: Pedestrian group. Mission: Pedestrian is a Santa Cruz pedestrian advocacy group affiliated with CaliforniaWALKS. They are very concerned about the design of the Mar Vista Bridge that is planned to cross Highway One. They submitted the following… “Out of direction travel and long access ramps are a deterrent to foot travel. Long access ramps designed to accommodate bicyclists and ADA requirements cause able-bodied pedestrians to travel 2 or 3 times the distance of a direct route. 

They also state…”Stairways provide the most direct bridge access for able-bodied pedestrians, and can be built in space-constrained areas. . . . . stairways complement adjacent curvilinear or switchback ramps. Shortcuts for pedestrians will encourage foot travel and greatly decrease the distance from origin to destination. A stairway can provide a pedestrian shortcut instead of forcing those on foot to walk the entire lengthy loop needed for ADA and bicyclists.

*Public comment period now open for the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment for the proposed Highway 1 Auxiliary Lane Project from State Park to Bay/Porter and Mar Vista Bicycle/Pedestrian Overcrossing

The 45-day public review and comment period is open through Jan. 11, 2021. A virtual public hearing will be held to provide the public with the opportunity to learn more about the project and submit comments before a final design is selected.

Virtual Public Hearing
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020
Time: 5-6:30 p.m.
Place: Register ahead of time at bitly.com/Highway1-SC (URL is case sensitive)  Written comments may also be submitted by mail to Lara Bertaina, Department of Transportation, 50 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, CA, or by email to lara.bertaina@dot.ca.gov. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2021. Read more about it here…  

WALKING IN SANTA CRUZ. Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover created a great book for real Santa Cruzans, and just as “necessary”, it’s a super book for visitors to seek and find the many, many nearly-hidden walkable treasures we have at our doorsteps. Its title is ‘Secret Walks and Staircases in Santa Cruz’. I have a copy and am sharing it with my visiting daughter and grandsons. The press release says: “Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz is a guidebook to fascinating walks in Santa Cruz, California, ranging from one mile to more than six miles in length. The vibrant route descriptions reveal the location of many unmarked stairways and hidden passageways in this California Central Coast town. The featured walks lead to scenic vistas, historic structures, and natural areas. More than 130 photographs include over 75 way-finding pictures and numerous photos of plants and animals likely to be seen by the walker. All walks are rated by distance and elevation gain”. I couldn’t say it any better. It’s selling out rapidly so get to Bookshop Santa Cruz ASAP. Secret Walks & Staircases is available at Bookshop Santa Cruz and at www.lostballoonpress.com

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With all our movie theatres closed, we now have the choice of hundreds and hundreds of new and old movies (formerly known as films) to take up our very vacant time. The online choices of movies – both domestic and foreign – are staggering. 

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

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

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

GHOSTS OF WAR. This World War II movie has a handful of  American troops occupying  a house that once belonged to a family tortured by the Nazis. The troops have visions of both the past and the future, including war scenes in Afghanistan. It’s about PTSD in the extreme. Maybe there are ghosts, maybe not. The makeup is poorly done, the acting is amateur at best. 

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

HILLBILLY ELEGY. A startling and impressive cast including Glen Close and Amy Adams in this movie directed by Ron Howard makes it worth watching. It’s a depressing story taken from the biography of J.D.Vance the author. He had a horrific, cruel childhood with a drug addict from law school. Heroic but depressing and it’s probably even worse than your childhood. Watch it but stay happy anyways.

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

LOVE AND ANARCHY. It’s a Swedish half comedy with a fine plot. A beautiful babe who is mother to two children gets a job in a publishing company. There’s a lot of film buff material like Ingmar Bergman references, and that’s fun. But then the babe Sofie starts flirting and gets flirting back from a much younger techie at the company. How she and he handle it and their lives makes it fascinating and we get to watch the rise and fall of their relationship and the publishing house.

CARMEL or WHO KILLED MARIA MARTA. This documentary takes place not in Our Carmel but in Carmel, Buenos Aires. Thought to be an accident Marias body was found drowned in her bathtub. After much politics and news reporters telling of the story bullets were discovered  in her skull. Well paced, excellently timed, perfectly photographed, this is one to enjoy as the unsuspected truth is unraveled.

EYE FOR AN EYE. This is a Spanish drama and one you won’t forget. A wealthy, feared drug lord wants to get out of the “business” and goes to a rest home to retire. As luck has it he gets assigned to a male nurse who has suffered greatly from his unwanted connections with drug use. He has to decide in many ways whether or not to revenge the wrongs that were done to him. How he treats the drug king is so touching and revealing…and well done.

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

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

THE 12TH MAN. The 12th Man is one of 12 Norwegian resistance soldiers who plan to blow up the Nazi invaders of their land. The Nazis kill 11 and the extra brave survivor becomes the target of a Nazi general. The very most loyal locals help hide the man who suffers terribly from ice, rain, and bullets survive and he makes it finally and safely back to Sweden. Fine film (or movie) and it’s based on a true story.  

HAPPY AS LAZZARO. Another Italian near- fable centering on a young teenager who was raised on an illegal sharecropper tobacco farm. He leaves the farm gets into accidents, befriends another  young boy and they remain life long friends. But Lazzaro falls down a cliff and wakes up 10 years later and is befriended by fellow survivors of the farm and the many years that have passed. It’s impossible to tell you the plot here, see it and enjoy it and try to explain it to your friends. 

CROWN. I binged watched almost all of the new fourth season of Crown last Sunday, and loved it. Margaret Thatcher, The Falkland Islands, and of course Princess Diana make for exciting and involving viewing. Super acting and gorgeous photography make it even better. It’s odd and curious how Americans remain so hooked on and fascinated by England’s hierarchy. Not one in a thousand of us could tell you who runs Canada or Mexico but Britain’s Elizabeth’s and Diana’s secrets just never stop hooking us in. By all means view this Netflix series.   

INDUSTRY. A young black female student from NYC goes to London to handle a job with a huge financial institution. She competes, challenges, loses, and wins against her fellow young employees. Well written, great acting, extra fast moving with little script padding. It’s on HBO and got a 78 on Rotten Tomatoes for its’ first episode. 

FIREBALL: VISITORS FROM DARKER WORLDS. If you are a fan or follower of Werner Hertzog ( Fitzcarraldo, Heart of Glass, Lessons of Darkness) you won’t be surprised to know this new “documentary” of his involves visitors from outer space. Herzog and crew travel the earth finding bits and pieces of meteorites millimeters across to craters measuring miles across that have some traces of outer space creation. This movie makes a strong case for extraterrestrial life, and for the idea that we have been ignoring messages from way out there. Good to watch.   

THE QUEENS GAMBIT. This earned a 100 on Rotten Tomatoes and deserved it. It’s from a novel about an orphan who learns chess from the janitor. She takes pills to cause phantom chess games, drinks , and in spite of all her weaknesses she manages to take on and beat almost every world champion. You don’t need to know chess to enjoy it.

THE HATER. A Polish movie about a young boy who loves the tech world and becomes an internet hacking genius of the wrong kind. He gets more and more involved in politics and infiltrates/ hacks bad things into campaigns. It ends in a terrible but watchable tragedy and is well worth watching. 

THE ENDLESS TRENCH. Based on some very true stories this covers Franco’s takeover of Spain in their civil war circa 1936. For many reasons like pacificism, many Spaniards went into hiding for as long as 30 years. They lived in narrow fake walled rooms and dealt with keeping their families together all those years. Good movie, and certainly shocks us into realizing just how similar and political our lives are today.  

SARAH COOPER: EVERYTHINGS FINE. Sarah is an online sensational comedienne. She pulls off her great Trump lip-synching, and is just totally fun to watch. Ben Stiller, Jon Hamm, and Marisa Tomei all get in on it. She also takes on Mr. Pillow, Melania Trump, Qanon and all in 49 minutes. We need more laughs like this. 

SECRETS OF THE SAQQARA TOMB. A straight documentary about how archeology works. It digs around a pharaoh’s tomb and will teach you much more about archeology than you thought you knew. It’s a change from what we “normally” watch.

THE UNDOING. (HBO) Nicole Kidman and a older looking and very serious Hugh Grant take the leads as a gorgeous psychiatrist who’s married to a kind and empathetic doctor. They have a son who has a beautiful girlfriend. Everything’s fine until a murder happens. Being HBO this takes weeks to watch and the first three episodes look good so far. The finale is terrible and makes us wish we never watched any of this series. 

 DOLLY PARTON: HERE I AM. We’ll never see an off-screen minute of Dolly Parton. She’s always on and always surprising. She’s written over 3000 songs, she’s 74 years old, been married 30 years and this documentary is wonderful whether you are a fan or not.  Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin love her and talk about their friendship when they made “9 to 5”. Click on it.  

BORAT: SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM. Supposedly a follow up to Sasha Baron Cohen’s earlier Borat movie. I copied some adjectives from other critics that I agree with…repugnant, filthy, incestuous, shocking, crude, cringing, appalling, harsh, repellent, menstrual and more. It also has a very strange actual scene with Rudy Giuliani and another with Tom Hanks that I’ll never figure out. Do not watch this mess.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7. This new movie written and directed by Aaron Sorkin is a fascinating movie , a good movie BUT it simply isn’t an honest look at what happened at the trial of the Chicago 7. Characters are added, romances are hinted at and Eddie Redmayne’s role as Tom Hayden is simply off base. Senator Bill Monning sent me a critique of the movie by Rennie Davis who is/was part of the 7. Former Santa Cruz Mayor Chris Krohn sent me another political reaction from the Berkeley Barb. They agree that this movie really adds lightness and Hollywood touches to a very important civil rights stepping stone. Watch it but be very aware. I’m also proud to tell you that on October 30, 2008 our then State Assemblyman Bill Monning (now our retired Calif. Senator) brought Tom Hayden to my KZSC radio program Universal Grapevine. We didn’t talk about his marriage to Jane Fonda and the movie doesn’t touch it either.   

BORGEN. I started watching this series months ago, it’s one of the finest series I’ve seen. Now the world’s critics and audiences are catching up on it. Here’s what I wrote back on Feb. 5…

Borgen translates as “the castle” in Danish, and I must tell you that I’ve been totally immersed in this three season iTunes saga since my daughter Hillary found and recommended it. It’s the story of a woman who becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark. If you like politics and wonder what a politician’s life is like, forget any American versions and watch this instead. The show started in 2010, and from what I hear it won’t go past the third series. Forget “Veep”, “House of Cards”, “The West Wing” and the rest… Borgen is far superior. I’d give you your money back IF and etc….but it would be too much trouble, and you’ll love it too. Now there’s talk of a fourth episode to be released in 2021 with the original cast and on Netflix.

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

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

EMILY IN PARIS. Lily Collins is Emily. Emily is from Chicago and is sent to Paris as a company rep. The Paris group doesn’t like her and Emily has a rough time adjusting to France. Cute, clever, time consuming, charming, and I imagine the series will be the same.

TEHRAN. It has a 93 on Rotten Tomatoes!! An international spy killer-thrill series. It mixes Iran, Tehran, Jordan, Israel’s internal wars with a young woman’s attempt to steal government high tech secrets. Complex, well acted, and if you can keep up with identities, you can continue forgetting about movie theatres.

CRIMINAL. This is an unusual series that consists of four different story lines on four different websites. There’s Criminal: United Kingdom, Criminal: Germany, Criminal: Spain and Criminal: France. All episodes were filmed in Spain and center on criminals each being questioned and interviewed in exactly the same interrogating room with a very important two-way mirror separating them from the cops and legal team. I’ve watched almost all of the four series, they are clever, well acted, puzzling in a good way and well worth your time.

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

RATCHED. Named and promoted as a back story to the famed Nurse Ratched played by Louise Fletcher in Jack Nicolson’s and Ken Kesey’s  “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” book.For some reason the hospital is changed from a military re hab center in Menlo Park where Kesey did time to a spacious retreat in Lucia, which is near Big Sur. Judy Davis, Sarah Paulson, Cynthia Nixon and believe it or not, Sharon Stone are in it. It’s a gruesome movie with such scenes as a doctor hammering an ice pick into a patient’s eye or being given a severed head as a present. The lesbian sub plot is very insensitive, so is the sodomy story…don’t bother.

THE SOCIAL DILEMMA. This one hour and 20 minute documentary a Netflix original is so important, good, and timely. It focuses on the control the internet has over us now and the inevitable growth it will take as time goes by. The control goes much deeper than your searching for a toaster on Amazon and seeing toasters pop up on the next 20 screens you open. It’s about how Facebook, Twitter, Google, You Tube and many more. Are controlling how long we watch and how often we click on any site, then selling the data from our views to advertisers. They work hard to change our groups of friends to bring people with similar views together politically, religiously and change our lives in the process. My notes while watching say things like…the future and Utopia or oblivion,  causing a civil war, ruining a global economy, prioritizing what keeps us on our screen, election advertising, existential threat, can’t agree on what is truth, assault on democracy and on and on. Do see this documentary and think about it and us and yourself. … 

RAKE. I’m still enthralled with watching RAKE. It’s one of the most consistent brilliant funny, curious, serious, series I’ve ever seen. It’s a Netflix feature from Australia back in 2010. This week Netflix introduced Charlie Kaufmann’s newest movie “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”. You need warnings about Kaufmann’s films. Remember “Being John Malkovich”, “Synecdoche, New York” and especially “Eternal Sunshine of the Eternal Mind”. “I’m Thinking” is one of his impressionistic, dreamlike. Psychological adventure voyages. It’ll stay with you for days after. 

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December 7

Gillian is off this week. Will return next week with Don’t Morph the Wharf!  And the next steps to save our historic icon. 

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 7

DEVELOPMENT BEAT
“What’s the benefit of basically bending the Coastal Act standards when you’re not really getting much more affordability?” 

–Ryan Moroney, California Coastal Commission, District Supervisor quoted by Santa Cruz Local

Accomplice One
The rush to destroy paradise continues. It mostly consists of housing built for rich folks who don’t yet live here. A rustic wharf stands humbly off of Main Beach, while the Economic Development Director makes her plans–coolly, coldly, and calculatingly–to spruce it up a bit, cover the sea otter viewing holes, put in a large barn-like structure for high-end weddings, increase the retail square footage, and build toward the sky. After all, La Gente (us?) deserve a more upscale pier, don’t we? For all those folks who will buy second homes from C. Barron “Barry” Swenson of 777 N. 1st Street, San Jose, these new people will require a cleaner place to stroll. They’ll come down for a weekend from wherever, and pick out Gucci sun glasses from one of the Bigger-ed Shoppes, find a deal on Speedo Technical Wear, and head back up to their Bay Area principal residence right after spending the evening drinking Long Island Ice Teas atop Five55 Pacific. Case Swenson, Barron’s progeny, appears now to run the company. His interests, according to the website, look to be golf, the chamber of commerce, and real estate. Sound familiar? Case, along with David A. Gibbons, Senior VP who’s “responsible for hundreds of projects with Swenson, totaling in excess of 1$ billion,” have their sights set on Santa Cruz. The same web site that boasts “experience” and “dedication to quality” also carries pictures of several over-50 white guys who are part of the “management team.” Nary a person of color in site. No fewer than 13 Santa Cruz area developments are listed on the Swenson “Santa Cruz Group Projects” list. 

Accomplice Two
Another major player in the Surf City economic development give-away machine is Devcon Construction, Inc. at 690 Gibraltar Drive in Milpitas. It’s overseen by a “management team” and one Gary Filizetti seems to be Their Man in the Cruz. Devcon thinks big. It began “as an ambitious dream of a group of valley entrepreneurs.” Devcon Inc. appears to have been major players in the construction of both the Ess Eff 49ers and S.J. Earthquakes stadium projects. You want big? They got big, and bigger, and they’re coming to Santa Cruz. Again, not a BIPOC person on their board, and not even a hint of this town’s core values either in the Devcon mission statement. What happened to environmental quality, climate mitigation, affirmative action, and affordable housing? But Devcon Inc. claims they are committed to “exceptional customer service,” according to the web site. Well, I guess that means they will be open then to recommendations from Santa Cruz voters on environmental quality, climate mitigation, affirmative action, and affordable housing before they consider building here.

The Fixer
Devcon Inc., and other firms, have hired what appears to be the local version of Trump’s “Fixer, “Michael Cohen. Meet the Santa Cruz Fixer, Owen Lawlor.  He seems to have quite the prodigious working relationship with Economic Development Director, Bonnie Lipscomb. He’s apparently learned the ins and outs of Santa Cruz planning (with some assistance by way Planning Director Lee Butler? Or vice versa?), and presents himself as someone who can get things done in a town that’s known for its luxury building dissenters. It’s why YIMBY–yes in my backyard–has become such a favorite tool for the average real estate and developer class Fixer.  By the way, all I did was Google, Devcon’s man in Santa Cruz, and Lawlor’s name appeared in the first entry, “Major downtown Santa Cruz housing project advances.” In that 2018 project of 205 units approved, not a single unit of affordable housing was mandated by the city council. It was in complete disregard of the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance. He bills himself as a land-use consultant, “Principal, Lawlor Land Use.” My Linked-In account says we share “38 mutual connections.” Ouch. Owen’s account (Can I call you Owen?), states that his firm “offer(s) guidance navigating the complexities involved in both the political (he’s now got his dream city council!) and bureaucratic aspects of project approvals. He just happens to be a real estate broker too…like I said, The SC Fixer. Oh, and by the way, lest you wonder more about how close The SC Fixer is within two degrees of separation from Michael Cohen. It is through a Rudolph Giuliani connection. Seems like Lawlor donated ($250) to Rudolph Giuliani’s Presidential Committee Inc. back in 2007. Yes, that Rudy. It is right there on “City-Data.com” stuck between one of my heroes, Gabrielle Stocker’s donation to Dennis Kucinich and Pat Bakalian’s $250 to Hillary Clinton. In-between these two names it lists “Mr. Owen Lawlor (self-employed/Real Estate, (Zip code: 95060) $250 to Rudy Giuliani’s  Presidential Committee Inc. on 06/30/2007” Are you kiddin’ me? Of course, this was before Rudy’s service to the Emperor, but after Giuliani’s misguided “stop and frisk” policies locked up so many black and brown people. Stop and Frisk was racist and that was known in 2007. It has been harshly criticized and dispensed with by the current Mayor, Bill De Blasio. The silver lining here is that Giuliani’s reign of error gave rise to formidable political types like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the recently elected congress members, Jamaal Bowman of NYC and Cori Bush of St. Louis. C’est la vie.

Accomplice Three
There’s a BIG project planned for Ocean Street between Water and Marianne’s Ice Cream. It’s known in planning circles as 908 Ocean Street. Sridhar Equities, “commercial real estate experts” of 1777 Saratoga Ave. #2 in San Jose, has assembled 19 parcels, (yes, NINETEEN!) in its quest to build baby build, 333 condos. Has there ever been a bigger project than this one in Santa Cruz? I don’t think so. If you go to Sridhar’s web site, the graphics appear frightening. There’s a hazel rectangular blob that has descended over this entire stretch of Water Street, and it appears to be leaking its shape-shifting hard edges into the surrounding neighborhoods. Matt Sridhar’s “team” (everybody has a team, don’t they? we need to put one together too), “will also provide fantastic commercial and retail space…as well as providing solutions for issues with traffic and parking.” I kid you not, this language is included in their proposal and Sridhar does deals too. They boast “Deal Size[s]” of $1 million to $35 million,” just contact their “Acquisition Team.” Matt says his portfolio has “grown to nearly $200 million…” If you are brave enough, and take a really deep breath before you enter SC commercial development hell, then here I present to you the city’s euphemistically named, “Planning and Community Development” web site, if you want to see more of these eating-our-seed-corn projects. 

People who lost health insurance during the pandemic:
Canada: 0
United Kingdom: 0
Germany: 0 
France: 0 
Australia: 0 
Japan: 0 
South Korea: 0 
Taiwan: 0 
Denmark: 0 
Finland: 0 
Norway: 0 
United States: 14,600,000 

Health care must be a right, not an employee benefit. #MedicareForAll (Dec. 7)

Lest we forget those, with the least stuff, among us. We have to do better. This was taken at the bike bridge near Soquel along the San Lorenzo River across from Trader Joe’s.

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His term ended in April of 2020.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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December 7

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MAY NO LONGER HOLD IN-PERSON BOARD MEETINGS
With no explanation as to how people without internet access or old computers that cannot accommodate video streaming are supposed to attend meetings, the Board of Supervisors will approve suspending al in-person Board meetings.  Although the staff report recommends reviewing this policy in March, 2021, you can bet that the comfort of keeping distant from constituents will over-rule any protest of censorship.  

One must wonder why Supervisors Zach Friend and Ryan Coonerty have refused to show their images all this time during their virtual participation in Board meetings and important discussions.  Sometimes, the Clerk has to call their name repeatedly when the roll call vote is happening.  Are they listening to anything at all?  Who knows?

Why has the Board and CAO put the issue of suspending in-person meetings on the Consent Agenda?  

Consent Item #33:

Approve request to conduct all Board of Supervisors meetings only virtually beginning in January 2021, direct staff to return in March 2021 for a review of this policy, and take related actions, as recommended by the County Administrative Officer – S

COUNTY WATER ADVISORY COMMISSION WILL CONSIDER DRAFT PLAN FOR SEPTIC TANK SYSTEMS
The County Water Advisory Commission will be reviewing the proposed Local Area Management Plan (LAMP) required to return septic approvals to local control on December 16 at their virtual 4 pm meeting. This group usually meets the first week of event months, but this month, it will happen later.

Water Advisory Commission 

Tune in and participate.  This is likely the final hurrah action by County Water Resources Manager John Ricker, who is retiring at the end of the month after decades of service.

Many thanks to those many people who wrote me about their difficulties in permitting to get an ADU due to the County’s lack of attention to timely submitting a Local Area Management Plan (LAMP) to the State for septic system approvals.  Look forward to the County Board of Supervisors taking action to move this issue forward early next year.

SANTA CRUZ CITY WATER COMMISSION EXAMINES COST OF WATER TRANSFERS TO SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT TO HELP WITH AQUIFER OVERDRAFT
The City Water Commission will consider a presentation by some crafty rate consultants at their December 7 meeting.  The proposed pricing would make the District financially responsible for the infrastructure the water transfer “would touch.”  This is called a Wheeling Rate, and is completely ridiculous.  Why can’t the City just treat Soquel Creek Water District as a customer, and factor in the benefit to the City that the conjunctive use of abundant water would help recharge the aquifer in the areas where the City also has production wells?

The slick Raftelis Rate Consultants, also used by Soquel Creek Water District to shove through the five-year annual 9% rate increases to pay for the expensive PureWater Soquel Project, has come up with the Wheeling Rate scheme to make the cost of the conjunctive water use and a regional water management solution unaffordable.

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY RTC GOT A $107.2 MILLION GRANT FOR PROJECTS
At their December 2 meeting, the County’s Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) announced the great news that the agency received a $107.2 million grant for transportation improvements throughout the County.  That came just in time for the Commission’s discussion of what to do about the rail corridor; highway expansion and bicycle overpass improvements. 

Here is how that money will be spent:

The Cycle 2 Project includes improvements on Highway 1 between Soquel Avenue/Drive and State Park Drive and on Soquel Avenue/Drive between La Fonda Avenue, near Harbor High School, to State Park Drive in Aptos. This project will result in the construction of:

  • Three new sets of auxiliary lanes on Highway 1 between Soquel Drive and State Park Drive with the first 5.75-miles of an ultimate 7.5-mile hybrid bus-on-shoulder/auxiliary lane facility, where transit buses can travel in the auxiliary lane between intersections and on the shoulders at intersections to bypass traffic
  • Two new Highway 1 bicycle/pedestrian overcrossings (Chanticleer Avenue and Mar Vista Drive) and a bridge replacement at Capitola Avenue, with sidewalks and bike lanes
  • Soquel Avenue/Drive multimodal improvements including, buffered/protected bicycle lanes totaling 5 miles, 46 green bike boxes for left turn movements, sidewalk gap closures, 100 ADA cramps, 96 crosswalk upgrades, crosswalk warning devises at 10-mid block locations, and adaptive traffic signal control with transit prioritization at 23 intersections

RTC Receives $107.2 Million in Grant Funding for Innovative Multimodal Transportation Improvements Throughout the County

This is good news for our County.  I just wish the RTC would listen to the Aptos residents who have loudly voiced concerns about the location of the planned Mar Vista Bike/Ped Overcrossing and relocate it closer to Cabrillo College and Mar Vista Elementary School.  I don’t think that will happen, having observed the geotechnical analysis soil boring work occurring last week in the RTC-favored location.

YOUR CHANCE TO GET INVOLVED IN LOCAL TRANSPORTATION GOVERNANCE AND DECISIONS
The Santa Cruz County RTC is looking for people to help serve on three of their citizen-based Commissions.   Here is your opportunity to be at the table when important issues that matter to you are discussed, and hopefully have some input that is genuinely considered before the deals are done.

Sign up!

Community Members Sought to Serve on RTC Advisory Committees

ERASING HISTORY?  CITY COUNCIL TO CONSIDER REMOVING LAST OF THE MISSION BELLS
The Santa Cruz City Council will consider taking action to remove the final Mission Bell in the City at their December 8 meeting, in Item #24.  See the topic below for more thoughts on how very vocal and passionate groups are forcing our country’s history to be erased and re-written (maybe) in the heat of the moment. 

View Meeting – OnBase Agenda Online

What if society forgets the lessons learned by the mistakes we have made in the past and we go down the same dark roads again because no one remembers how that happened before?

Many thanks to Michael Lewis and his excellent weekly compendium of local government meetings and issues for alerting me to this item buried in the Council Agenda.  

PROGRESSIVES ARE NO LONGER THE DEFENDERS OF FREE EXPRESSION
A recent guest Commentary in the Mercury News really gave me pause for thought.

I hope you will read it and let me know what you think.  I don’t necessarily think this issue is restricted to just the Progressives, but it makes me wonder about how we, as a society, can begin to unite on anything again?

Hanson: Progressives are no longer defenders of free expression  

FACEBOOK SAYS IT WILL REMOVE VACCINE MISINFORMATION
Who is to decide what “misinformation” is?  Shouldn’t people be allowed to have access to all information and make their own decisions?  When does “protecting the public from misinformation” become censorship???

I hope you will read this and let me know your thoughts:
Facebook says it will remove coronavirus vaccine misinformation.

Not as many people read a newspaper these days for their information, and those who do often read it online, where the stories differ from the hard copy versions, or are sometimes not even available.  Many people instead rely on social media news sources, which are often tailored to fit the character of what type of sites a person has recently visited.

Many people have recommended watching “The Social Dilemma” that addresses the issue of how much control the social media giants have over the world of information that sways societies around the world.

Here is what Bruce Bratton’s review has said:

THE SOCIAL DILEMMA. This one hour and 20 minute documentary a Netflix original is so important, good, and timely. It focuses on the control the internet has over us now and the inevitable growth it will take as time goes by. The control goes much deeper than your searching for a toaster on Amazon and seeing toasters pop up on the next 20 screens you open. It’s about how Facebook, Twitter, Google, You Tube and many more. Are controlling how long we watch and how often we click on any site, then selling the data from our views to advertisers. They work hard to change our groups of friends to bring people with similar views together politically, religiously and change our lives in the process. My notes while watching say things like…the future and Utopia or oblivion,  causing a civil war, ruining a global economy, prioritizing what keeps us on our screen, election advertising, existential threat, can’t agree on what is truth, assault on democracy and on and on. Do see this documentary and think about it and us and yourself. … 

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ASK QUESTIONS AND EXPECT ANSWERS.  ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING IN WHATEVER MODE YOU CAN.  MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING SOMETHING.

Cheers,

Becky Steinbruner

685-2915 or ki6tkb@yahoo.com    I welcome your discussion.

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. 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, 
#341 / Let’s Be Careful About What We Wish For

A short little column in the November 12, 2020, edition of The Wall Street Journal heretically suggests that we would be foolish to pursue what has become commonly accepted as a critically important solution to some of our greatest political problems, at least as these problems (and this proposed solution) are seen from the point of view of “liberal” or “progressive” commentators.

Steven E. Landsburg suggests (get ready for it) that it would NOT be a good idea to abolish the United States Electoral College. Because the column is so short, and because The Wall Street Journal will likely bar most non-subscribers from getting direct access, I am reproducing Landsburg’s column in its entirety. 

If you more or less automatically agree that the undemocratic nature of the Electoral College means that it should be abolished, think about what Landsburg says! 

Our federal system is one of the most important ways we prevent autocrats from taking over the nation. We have learned, from Donald J. Trump, that there may be precious little to constrain the person filling our Chief Executive position from abusing that position, and from claiming, and actually exercising, powers that the president was never intended to have. 

That said, the fact that our national government is a government of limited powers (check the Tenth Amendment for the documentation), and the fact that the primary governing powers in our system are retained by the states, is intended to prevent the kind of totalitarian takeover that people have a real reason to fear. All those elected governors, in those fifty different states, have genuine countervailing power – and since we elect them, we have that power. One of the key features of our federal system is its built-in ability to work against totalitarian government, and this is one of the main points made by Hannah Arendt in her wonderful book, On Revolution

Let’s be careful about what we wish for! Check out what Landsburg has to say:

oooOOOooo

Want a Coup? Abolish the Electoral College
Imagine the current standoff, but with the president in charge of a nationwide election.

Imagine a future presidential election in which the incumbent refuses to concede and enlists the full power of the federal government to overturn the apparent democratic outcome.

Now imagine that the election in question is actually run by a federal agency or by some nationwide quasigovernmental authority charged with collecting and aggregating the results from all 50 states. 

I don’t know about you, but I might worry a bit about the pressure that could be brought to bear on that single authority. I might worry a bit about the objectivity of the attorney general and the federal election commissioners who would be in a position to ramp up that pressure.

I might even cast a sober look at what tends to happen in other countries where leaders are chosen in elections conducted by the national government—countries like Russia, where two years ago Vladimir Putin claimed 77% of the vote. 

I might also be tempted to meditate on the general perils of centralizing power, and the specific perils of centralizing the power to decide who will yield power. 

By then, I might be so worked up that I’ll manage to forget why the Electoral College is a threat to democracy, and how its abolition—and the nationalization of presidential elections—would help make democracy function more smoothly. 

But I’ll know who to ask for a refresher. By and large, it seems like the people who are most in a dither about the current president’s attempt to retain power are the same people who think we ought to make it easier for the next president who wants to do the same thing. I’m sure they can explain that to me.

Mr. Landsburg is a professor of economics at New York’s University of Rochester and author of “Can You Outsmart an Economist?” 

(Gary 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 his blog at www.gapatton.net  

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

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog

    “PATIENCE”

 “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
~A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh 

“Patience is a conquering virtue.”
~Geoffrey Chaucer 

“Make your ego porous. Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing. Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.”  
~Rainer Maria Rilke 

I vividly remember hearing about the death of John Lennon. I’m too young to recall JFK (nice to still be too young for “anything”, right?), and I can. not. believe. that it’s been 40 years since John Lennon was shot. Imagine (see what I did there?) all the music that could have come about, had he been allowed to live… This is one of my favorite songs of his.


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com

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