Blog Archives

February 1 – 7, 2023

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…our county farm workers lives, movie theatre news, city managers salary increase. GREENSITE…On West Cliff Drive. STEINBRUNER…Cabrillo’s name, RTC and Aptos property, thanks Carolyn Swift, no water transfers, faux tech tree dead in Aptos. HAYES…Newt and salamander weather. PATTON…Ninety seconds till midnight. MATLOCK…Groundbreaking work with imaginary numbers. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week: click click!. QUOTES…”GUNS”


THE SECOND GRAND CAPITOLA HOTEL 1910. This was the second Capitola Hotel and was built in 1895. It burned in 1929. Like Santa Cruz, Capitola worked and built rapidly to attract the tourists away from Carmel and Monterey. It never worked and to this day there’s more money south of our bay.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE January 30

OUR LOCAL FARMWORKERS CONDITIONS. With the very recent and tragic unrest reported in farmworker communities, I realized that we hear and see very little of the conditions our Santa Cruz County farmworkers and families face in their lives. Not just the physical condition of their homes but the protection against pesticides, the care of their children. Who do we turn to? Who do they turn to? Who is responsible for overseeing those living conditions and needs? I would guess that each of our County Supervisors would be the most responsible, but are they? Becky Steinbruner referred me to the Center for Farmworker Families and Ann Lopez as a responsive director. She can be reached from the website

Let’s get the questions answered.

THEATRE NEWS. Sad to say that Berkeley just lost the last of its three movie theatres and it’s got a 2023 population of 127,843 or if you look it up elsewhere it’s 117, 911!!! Locally we have our local Landmark’s Del Mar theatre stopping its last matinees last week which were happening on Sundays. Santa Cruz’s City 2023 population is stated at 63,859.

MATT HUFFAKER’S SALARY, MORE OF. In a recent BrattonOnline I mistakenly mentioned that our current City manager Matt Huffaker had a salary of $22,199 PER WEEK!! I’m grateful to all the readers who pointed out my egregious error. It’s $22,199 PER MONTH. Now this week I received a kind email from a reader stating…”In last week’s (1/24) Council meeting, the City Council voted to approve a 5% annual raise for City Manager Matt Huffaker. He got a $14,000 bump. His pay went from $23,089 a month to $ 24,241 a month. This is an annual merit increase. It was discussed in open session at the Council meeting”.

I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

YOU PEOPLE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (5.6 IMDB). A huge cast of stars in this attempt at a comedy. Eddie Murphy, Jonah Hill, Elliot Gould, Richard Benjamin, and even David Duchovny and not a laugh amongst them! It focuses on relations between Blacks and LA’s Jewish populations. Family issues, religious differences and it’s just sad…not funny.

THE ENDLESS NIGHT. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.1 IMDB). This is an incredible re-enactment of a fire in 2013 in a Sao Paulo Brazil nightclub where and when 242 people died. The flammable ceiling was the cause and to this day the club owners have not been held guilty. Survivor families have banded together, hired experts and struggled to have justice and this movie details all of that. Tragic and spell binding.

JUNG-E. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.4 IMDB).It’s all about interactions between robots and humans. It’s a Korean sci-fi adventure and is technically excellent. We soon lose interest in the re-creating of more robot tricks and fewer human skills. It’s probably 80% action, chase, violence and 2 % human. Don’t plan to stray up late to watch it.

SHRINKING. (APPLE TV+) (7.7 IMDB). Big money was spent to attract Harrison Ford, Jason Segel and Jessica Williams to this touchy, feely un funny comedy. Set in Pasadena Ford and Segel are therapists with many more issues than their patients. Harrison Ford does what he was supposed to do with this script and does it well, but aside from the fact that he’s actually shorter than you’d think, he doesn’t get laughs either. You must have more interesting things to do than to watch this one.

NARVIK. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.7 IMDB). Narvik is a small town in Norway that was the site of the first defeat of Hitler’s battles in 1940. The main story centers on a soldier and his wife and how he has to take arms and go into battle. His wife has to defend her household and young son and was forced to make plans that helped the Nazi attackers. Loyalty, patriotism, love, and brutality are the issues and it’s an excellent movie.

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

WOMEN TALKING. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (7.5 IMDB). Based on a true story about a group of Mennonites in Bolivia in 2010 when the men were drugging, raping and abusing the women and children. This movie is adapted to an unknown location and stars Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Frances McDormand and even co- producer Brad Pitt (in a 5 second appearance). It’s about how the eight women decided to either stay or leave the colony and whether to take up arms and defend themselves. It all takes place in one barn room and it’s well worth watching. The issues, feelings, and prejudice that are dealt with are always with us…don’t miss it.

THE LORENSKOG DISAPPEARANCE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.1 IMDB). A Norwegian series about the kidnapping of a billionaire’s wife. The kidnappers send messages, the police are stymied, and puzzles erupt in every episode. It’s about the ransom being in crypto currency and it drags on forever. Folks who watched through the conclusion (not me) say the ending is ridiculous and superfluous.

ILLUSION. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.2 IMDB). This film from Poland is the near believable story of a mother’s search for her missing daughter. Her boyfriend is a suspect and so are some other dark possibilities, but this is centered on how the disappearance affects her as a mother and as a person. There are psychic overtones and some mysterious possibilities which make it magnetic and long lasting.

THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.6 IMDB). It all happens in Italy in the 1990’s. A teen age girl searches for her “true self” either in the well to do classes and rich settings in the city of Naples or a darker more fun self in the wilder and darker areas of the alleyways. It’s complex, fine acting, and well-directed.

BLACK BUTTERFLIES. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). A French film about a retired old man who hires a novelist to write his life story before he dies. The story is full of sex and murders and how he loved his one girlfriend and how they spent their strange times together. The   relationship between the writer and the old man grows very deep and involved and you’ll become totally immersed in how his biography unfolds.

THE LAST OF US. (HBO SERIES) (9.5 IMDB). I heard that this movie is based on a video game…I know nothing of the game. It starts off in Texas when there is a virus or parasite attack. A father and his son are the leads in this zombie takeoff. It later jumps 20 years later to Boston and a battle against the fireflies. It’s just another rip-off of the zombie attack movies except that it centers on the good people instead of the raging beasts.

TRIAL BY FIRE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.6 IMDB). A dramatic version of a very real tragedy, a fire in a movie theatre that killed 59 people in India in 1997. More than just the fire, it’s the story of how the victims banded together to seek justice against the wealthiest owners of the Mall where the theatre was located. Being an Indian movie it has its own style of camera work and acting. A fine movie, just terrifying if you go to movie theatres.

NOISE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.2 IMDB). Produced in Mexico, this is the story of a 25 year old daughter who disappears for more than two years. It’s very grim and deals in sex trafficking, and how the area police handle or ignore the issues involved. Many mothers and their daughters are involved and they all have intricate stories to tell. A fine film.

January 30


West Cliff Drive took a beating from the recent storms. Some spots were significantly eroded as shown in the photo, leading to street closure in one section from Woodrow to David Way and a temporary one-way section at Columbia St. Even before the rain stopped, voices were raised urging that the entire West Cliff Drive be made into a one-way street.

Those agitating for a one-way West Cliff overwhelmingly live somewhere else. That’s understandable. If I lived somewhere else, I might join the choir. But I don’t. I live in one of the lower west-side neighborhoods that would be severely impacted by the thousands of cars that would try to find a return route to the beach area, having reached the end of the road at Natural Bridges, should West Cliff ever be made one-way.

Public Works staff are busy repairing the areas that caved in. According to the city engineers, the areas that collapsed were the oldest armored sections. The areas with more recent armoring stood up well to the pounding waves.

I had a chance to study the whole issue of West Cliff Drive and erosion as a volunteer member of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for the city’s West Cliff Drive Adaptation and Management Plan. Work on the Plan was completed and presented to city council in April 2021. My academic background includes coastal landforms and erosion, so I had a basic understanding of the issues to be studied and evaluated. Some in the group were keen to make West Cliff one-way even before the results of the field research were in and before other options were considered, an a priori agenda that was concerning.

Despite a flurry of organized letters at that time advocating for a one-way West Cliff, city staff and city council understood that the impact of such a decision on the lower westside would be of gargantuan proportions with a guaranteed push-back from the thousands of affected residents. Besides which, there were other options available. The final vote by council did not include a one-way West Cliff in the short- or medium- term goals.

That was then and this is now. Mother Nature has left her imprint on West Cliff Drive in dramatic bites out of the alluvial deposits. Such damage can be repaired and strengthened. Some would say, don’t bother. Just let nature take its course and close the road to all cars. Problem with that approach is that without repairs, the path, road, and all access would eventually be curtailed. So doing nothing is not a workable option. And you can’t fix it in half-measures. Once the two damaged portions are repaired, two-way traffic can resume.

To discuss West Cliff Drive and its recovery efforts, the city is offering a zoom meeting on February 13th from 5:30-7pm. It is titled West Cliff Drive, Community Conversations. One hopes it will be a conversation, but one expects it will be a monologue from one-way advocates. Or that’s been my experience so far.

For those who are open-minded or who haven’t given the issue much thought, here are some things to consider.

West Cliff Drive is a visitor destination. It draws people from around the region, the state and the world, who mostly come here by car. Visitors like to drive West Cliff both ways. Make it one-way and they will speed along the nearby neighborhood streets that are currently relatively quiet, where children play and walk in safety. All that would change with one-way on West Cliff. Mission St. is not a viable alternative. Delaware is an Avenue that children cross on bikes either to go to the three public schools or to visit friends. Channeling the thousands of West Cliff cars to Delaware would be a safety nightmare. There are far too many neighborhood streets to close off as a workable option. People cite East Cliff Drive which has a section made one-way, but that is comparing apples and oranges. It is a far shorter length with different road configurations.

Should the path and road be further impacted by erosion, there are other options available long before a one-way option is considered. The city has a 5-foot easement for all properties facing West Cliff Drive on the inside of the road. That, plus eliminating parking on that side of the road frees up sufficient width for any future path and road relocation. Obviously, we are not talking centuries. You can see remnants of the old road to know that yes, eventually even the houses will have to go. But we are not there yet, and that specter should not be used as a basis for unwise decisions now.

A few years before he died, Al Mitchell (Mitchell’s Cove) and I were discussing West Cliff Drive over breakfast at Gilda’s on the Wharf. As a result, he drew up plans showing how West Cliff could be kept as a two-lane road with a narrowing of each lane, still within legal limits, more like it used to be in the old days. I still have his plans.

Then there is the question of federal aid. The city is expecting some federal relief monies to pay for the repairs. A one-way road may not qualify for federal funds.

Amidst all the emails in 2021 there was a gem that stood out. It was from local historian Ross Gibson. He gave voice to those who are rarely heard from and whose needs should be centered. Here is a paragraph from his email:

“Having taken care of the disabled, and been associated with the Cabrillo College Stroke Center, I know how important having auto access to West Cliff Drive is for the disabled, as it is not always pleasant weather, or easy for some disabilities to get out on the path, but the sights can still be enjoyed from a car. Many people take the drive in both directions, because the views are different looking east, or looking west.”

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

January 30


Last November, the Cabrillo College Trustees made a big mistake, voting to change the name of the College, despite overwhelming public survey responses wishing to retain the name.  The Trustees need to take a deep breath and reconsider that folly.

But will they?  The College just released a survey for the Community to weigh in on what the new name should be.

We are instructed that any potential name must reflect the mission and goals of the College, and not be named after a person.

How about “None of the above” and keep the name voted upon decades ago that unified the County voters to agree to fund having the Community College in Santa Cruz County?

Well, all responses are due by February 22.

You can also sign up to serve on a 25-member Task Force Committee to sift through the names submitted by the Community, as well as the “long list of possible names” the College leaders already have in mind.


The Trustees who insisted at last November 14 meeting that no College money will be spent on the name change have already broken their promise, because the College website is hosting the survey process.  Those IT services are never free.

Well, take the stupid survey and use it as a platform for your opinion.  Sign up to serve on the Committee.

Write the Trustees with your thoughts…maybe they will come to their senses and reconsider the whole debacle.


Last month, the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC)  voted to purchase historic property at 7992 Soquel Drive in Aptos as a solution to a right-of-way problem for Highway One expansion and to build a 16′-wide trail next to the railroad tracks in that area.

Last week, the County Historic Resources Commission met to discuss the potential threat to this property, known as the Rice House, with the RTC statement that when their Project is done, the historic house could be “repurposed or sold.”

Take a look at why this house is important to preserve as historically significant for our County.

The Commissioners agreed that this merits their watchful eye, and discussion will continue at their next meeting in April.

You can watch the Commission’s recorded meeting and listen to their discussions here.

Many thanks to the Commissioners for sending a letter to the Board of Supervisors to request funding three activities that will greatly help the Community to learn more about and therefore foster appreciation of our County’s history and places that merit preservation

Please write your District Supervisor and the entire Board to urge them to support this reasonable expenditure to benefit the public and our valuable historic and cultural resources.


One surprise in the above meeting was that Ms. Carolyn Swift, well-known and respected Historic Resources Commissioner for the Second District, has stepped down from her appointed job in watching over our County’s historic preservation.  She will be greatly missed by many as a source of information for the Commission, and one who really knows the historic importance of our local gems.  She was formerly the curator for the Capitola History Museum, and led regular walking tours of neighborhoods.

I hope that she will continue to write her regular column for the Aptos Times.  Here is one that I found really interesting:

Pictures From the Past: A Familiar Location?Times Publishing Group, Inc.

It is important that the Second District continue to have a Commissioner who is willing to be outspoken and work to preserve our historic resources.

The new Commissioner, Kevin Newhouse, was approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.  See consent agenda item #40: Approve appointment of Kevin Newhouse as the Second District appointee to the Historic Resources Commission, for a term to expire April 1, 2025, as recommended by Supervisor Friend – Santa Cruz County, CA

I hope he will team up with the other good Commissioners and press the Board of Supervisors to approve an ordinance that would prohibit Demolition by Neglect…letting an historic structure fall down rather than preserve it.  This is exactly what is happening in our County to some places, such as the historic Redman Hirahara house in Watsonville.

Know someone who would be a good public servant as a Commissioner?  Applications for all Commission vacancies are available in the lobby of the Clerk of the Board, 5th Floor, 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, and HERE


Last week, I wrote Ms. Rosemary Menard, Director of Santa Cruz City Water Dept., and Mr. Ron Duncan, General Manager for Soquel Creek Water District, to ask if the two agencies would initiate water transfers, now that Loch Lomond is full and overflowing.

True to District form, Mr. Duncan never responded, however, Ms. Menard did.  She let me know that the two agencies have considered sharing water this year, allowing the District to decrease pumping from the Purisima Aquifer, claimed by the State to be in critical overdraft.

However, she let me know that because the City water system experienced infrastructure damage in the recent storms, the water from the streams on the North Coast and other surface water supplies cannot be used to provide City customers full water demand.  That has caused the City to actually pump water from the Beltz Wells in Soquel, and the system cannot handle providing Soquel Creek Water District with any water to share.

According to Ms. Menard, the District, in a few words, just doesn’t have the time or resources to add water transfers to their busy staff plate, so there will likely be no water sharing in the foreseeable future.


That’s really too bad.  In my opinion, the real problem is lack of will on the part of the District to make this happen.  Instead, they are focused on the very expensive and chemical/energy dependent route of injecting treated sewage water into the Purisima Aquifer, then pumping it out and making customers pay top-dollar to drink the stuff.

What a shame.

If you are a customer of Soquel Creek Water District, please write the Board and ask that they initiate regional water sharing with the City of Santa Cruz this winter, just as soon as the City completes the repairs of the North Coast stream supply pipes that were damaged in the storms.

Board of Directors and copy Emma Western

Sharing water regionally when it is available just makes sense, don’t you think?


In my opinion, the County Board of Supervisors ought to give the status of our regional water supply priority in public discussions, and could have done so by requesting that Ms. Sierra Ryan, County Water Resources Manager, discuss the County Water Resources Report for 2022 publicly.  Nope…it was buried in the Consent Agenda as Item #56.

These annual reports have really improved in recent years, and Ms. Ryan, along with other Environmental Health staff, did an outstanding job presenting the status of water and infrastructure for the public to review.  It was a lot of work.  Take a look and let her know your thoughts.

Sierra, and copy your County Supervisor to make sure he reads the Report.


I happened to see a Legal Notice in a recent Santa Cruz Sentinel Classified section alerting the public to a hybrid Public Meeting on February 9 to provide input on the new version of the massive proposed development between Water Street and Ocean. The new project would demolish 12 homes and eight businesses on Hubbard and May Avenue, and remove an unknown number of Heritage Trees.

This Project has been changed and has a new Pre-Application for a mixed-use development with 351 units (including a 35% density bonus from a base density project of 260 units).  The environmental determination for CEQA is pending.  I wonder if the very shallow water table and impervious soils prone to liquefaction will be discussed?  Traffic?

The in-person location will be at the Resource Center for NonViolence. (612 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz)

Here is the link to the City’s Planning Dept. information as one of many large development projects on the table:

Addresses of affected units are 908-1020 Ocean Street, 108-130 Hubbard Street, and 417-457 May Avenue.

See what else is on the permit application table…it is shocking:

Active Planning Applications | City of Santa Cruz


On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors approved, via consent agenda item #59, to delay for another month any approval of a Project Agreement for the Park Haven development in Soquel, as one of the three Project Homekey grant recipients in the County.

Ratify California Housing and Community Development (CA HCD) Project Homekey Park Haven Plaza Standard Agreement # 21-HK-1274 for Park Haven Plaza executed on December 15, 2022; and defer to on or before February 28, 2023, ratification of the Project

So, why does it matter?  A Project Agreement is critical to have in place because it is a clear document identifying who will do what and how much it will cost.

A project agreement is a legal document outlining the terms and conditions between two parties as they enter into a business partnership focusing on a particular project. They are typically used between contractors and companies or between companies and trade unions to determine the rights and responsibilities of parties involved.

A project agreement typically covers terms such as the scope of the work involved, project budgets, pricing for services rendered, and any supply and material requirements.

Project agreements are also sometimes used to develop real estate projects between the developer and the construction company.

That is why I think it is odd that the excavators have already started the job…well, started, then stopped.  Take a look here:

If you are curious to understand how this could all happen, contact Supervisor Manu Koenig and ask.


How come the cell phone companies are allowed to keep this ugly faux tree in the scenic view corridor of Aptos, adjacent to Resurrection Church and the Seacliff Inn near Highway One at State Park Drive?  It was one of the first cell towers in the MidCounty area…but now has no electronic equipment on its ugly bare plastic branches.

Please contact District 2 County Supervisor Zach Friend and ask what can be done to send this ugly thing packing.

Zach Friend, Maybe he will answer from some sunny beach in Southern California.


Cheers, Becky

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at

January 29

Newt and Salamander Weather

We live in a very rich area for salamanders and newts. And, when it starts raining, everywhere becomes newt and salamander habitat.

The Menagerie

Right nearby, if you went searching, you could find 8 salamander species: Gabilan and California slender salamanders as well as arboreal, California giant, Santa Cruz black, Santa Cruz long-toed, and tiger salamanders, and then the oddly-named yellow-eyed Ensatina. Add to that our two local newt species – rough skinned and Coast Range newts – and you will realize how much there is to learn about these 10 species.

Where do you find these creatures? Well, that depends….let’s start by thinking about their most vulnerable life history stage, when these creatures are teeny tiny eggs.

Pond Breeding

The newts and some of the salamanders depend on aquatic habitats for breeding, and that’s where they lay their eggs.

Dark, long-lasting, deep shaded ponds are the easiest place to find newts. Interestingly, both the rough skinned and Coast Range newts are found in our area. Some ponds have both species, but other ponds just have one or the other. These newts attach balls of eggs to sticks, roots, and such to make sure that the pre-hatched babies are nurtured in the right depth of water, in the right amount of shade, with the right amount of cover. In the right part of the Monterey Bay, those same egg-laying spots in shady ponds are also coveted by another salamander…the endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander, which is found only in southern Santa Cruz and northern Monterey Counties.

Those 2 newt species also can raise babies in warmer, sunny ponds, where another species of salamander is also found. California tiger salamanders love those warm pools, rubbing elbows with western pond turtles, western toads, and California red-legged frogs. These are often grassland ponds managed by ranchers to provide water for cattle. Tiger salamanders like to attach their eggs to pond debris, and you can find their eggs in ponds from southern Santa Cruz County into ponds across Fort Ord and beyond. Our population of California tiger salamanders is protected by the federal government because they have been listed as Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Spring and Creek Breeding

Those 2 species of amazingly adaptable newts can also raise eggs in stream pools, but streams aren’t the best place for wee newts or salamanders. As you might have seen from this winter, streams get flowing pretty fast, and eggs would soon be headed into the salty sea! So, newts head to streams in the spring as soon as the storms calm down where they raise a summer brood. That spring movement also coincides with the mysterious migration of California giant salamander larvae. The biggest of our local salamanders, the rare California giant salamander probably raises most of its eggs in the muck, under the gravels and among the woody debris of near-stream springs and seeps, safe away from raging floods. Once hatched, the larvae must wriggle and flop downslope into streams. Head upslope, and there are still more odd salamander egg-raising habits.

Eggs Out of Water

A few salamanders raise eggs on what is broadly known as ‘debris,’ but they are probably more picky than we understand. I’ve seen and heard about the rare and only recently described Santa Cruz black salamander tending eggs in gaps on pieces of hard rock…near streams or in moist areas. Those beautiful star-studded sallies are nearly impossible to spot, and there are so few places known that I can’t share a place that you could go to spot them. You are much more likely to encounter arboreal salamanders, maybe even in your neighborhood park if there are native oaks nearby. Those toothy arboreal salamanders place their eggs in moist tree cavities…or ‘in debris.’ Similarly, California (northern Monterey Bay) and Gabilan (central Monterey Bay) slender salamanders place eggs ‘in debris.’ Then there’s the yellow-eyed Ensatina, which I’ve only found in holes and bark of big, rotting moist logs – again ‘debris.’ In case you haven’t gathered – there is a lot to learn about ‘upland’ salamander egg placement and what constitutes nesting ‘debris.’ Share your observations with me on this group, if you’ve seen something interesting!

Groovin’ and Movin’

Their eggs need water or at least moisture-laden debris, but when it is raining newts and salamanders are EVERYWHERE. That’s bad news for them because of the many roads replete with squashing tires of fast-moving vehicles. But, let it rain and adult newts and salamanders take the opportunity to move around, and they sure can move!

In the pouring rain, I’ve encountered California giant salamanders hiking streamside redwood fire roads. In the middle of stormy rainy nights on several occasions, I’ve found arboreal salamanders on my porch. By the second winter of age of a brush pile, slender salamanders have somehow used the cover of drizzly nights to find their way under the stacked branches…hopefully not going to get cooked by a feckless fuel reducing pyromaniac. On those same rainy nights, yellow-eyed Ensatinas stretch their tiny legs to crawl across the forest floor to crawl up and then wedge themselves in just the right rotten bark plate of a 3-year old downed fir.

Meanwhile, the first winter storms see California tiger salamanders hiking along cattle trails in the meadows to find new ground squirrel holes to call home for a while. Because of their rarity, scientists have actually monitored this salamander’s movements…up to 1.2 miles out of ponds and then across the wide-open grasslands! Like tiger salamanders, newts also move far across the uplands. Newts, tiger salamanders, and perhaps Santa Cruz long toed salamanders tend to move in great big groups during the nights of the first biggest rains. Along Carmel Valley Road – and hopefully in more places, soon – you can see signs warning about newt migrations. Migration areas aren’t extensive: they are normally fairly concentrated. Some folks are trying to create underpasses where rare salamanders can safely cross roads…the problem being how to guide them to those narrow culverts or bridges.

They Need Your Help

How can you help our area’s rich newt and salamander diversity? If you live in the country, the first best thing you can do is to not drive at night during the first 3 storms of the winter. You can see the weather forecast…get your groceries early and cancel your evening appointments. Then convince your neighbors and friends to do the same…figure out a way to remember this next rainy season! This past year, the migration was narrowly restricted to the early December storms in our area. Since then, there have been very much fewer newts and salamanders on the roads.

Likewise, watch where you walk in the forest- newts are constantly wandering around dark, moist forest trails all winter.

Oh, and did you catch that need for debris? It seems our inclination to ‘clean up’ debris. Wherever you can keep debris around – logs, sticks, brush – those are newt and salamander habitat. Likewise, for those of you looking to do some fuel reduction, it is best to move the contents of your brush pile, branch by branch, onto a burn pile a few yards away from where it has been stacked for more than a month.

Finally, whenever or however you can…let’s restore more native plants to our landscape- the newts and salamanders all eat bugs and there are more bugs emanating from diverse, native ecosystems.

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at:

Email Grey at


January 30

#30 / Ninety Seconds Till Midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set its “Doomsday Clock” to 90-seconds to midnight, the closest to “midnight” that it has ever been:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 24, 2023 –The Doomsday Clock was set at 90 seconds to midnight, due largely but not exclusively to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the increased risk of nuclear escalation. The new Clock time was also influenced by continuing threats posed by the climate crisis and the breakdown of global norms and institutions needed to mitigate risks associated with advancing technologies and biological threats such as COVID-19.

A “rogue journalist” I mention from time to time, Caitlin Johnstone, has also made note of this fact. As she puts it, “Hardly Anyone Is Thinking Logically About The Danger of Nuclear War.

I certainly agree with that observation, and it seems to me that hardly anyone is thinking logically about anything! Republican politicians, in control of the House of Representatives, seem to support the idea that the United States government should repudiate its promise to pay off the debts that the nation has incurred, even though everyone knows that the impacts of doing this would be terrible.

And then, in various places around the country (including specifically in Half Moon Bay, just up the coast from my hometown of Santa Cruz), disgruntled persons are increasingly working out their distress by killing multiple people and then sometimes (but not always) killing themselves, too.

Income and wealth inequality persist. And increase.

The “Sixth Extinction” continues (and accelerates).

And global warming is increasing, too, with all the horrible impacts that we have been told will, inevitably, accompany our continued use of hydrocarbon fuels.

If it’s not the end of the world as we know it, it’s getting pretty close!

Do you think that there is anything we might be able to do about this?

I am willing to suggest that we do need to give it a try. And this means that each one of us needs to think about the kind of direct actions we can take (which will, almost certainly, require communicating with and working with others, in person, and not by firing off internet memos).

I tend to think in metaphors, and one of my favorite metaphors for dramatic change is the “supersaturated solution.” Click that link to learn all about it.

I think we’re there!

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

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January 30


With all the publicity being generated by the discoveries of classified materials in the possession of former government officials, many politicos are waving their hands to the FBI to be raided next. To date the agency has found that some of the relinquished folders, documents, and envelopes have been stamped with a commonly available ‘Classified‘ rubber stamp from, or from one of the many gag gift websites. Some say that Donald Trump has been quietly offering some of his stash to the highest bidders, but has limited the sales to insure that he will be the record-holder in both quantity and quality in the final synopsis. At the same time he is looking askance at Mike Pence’s newly discovered document trove and wondering if there is anything his VP took that was ‘rightfully’ a Mar-a-Lago trophy.

Former VP Mike Pence was quick to jump into the melee, seeking to boost his flagging, but still undeclared 2024 presidential nomination effort. As The New Yorker satirist, Andy Borowitz, writes, Mike had to defensively shield his face from fawning women with classified documents when dining alone in restaurants. ‘Mother‘ had suggested he have his attorney suddenly discover and announce that forbidden documents were found in his files at their Indiana home, while being quite agitated that Biden had scored a coup in beating him to the punch. With classified documents recently being found in Biden’s various haunts, in dribs and drabs over several days, in addition to those found prior to the midterm election, Joe has practically had the press at his beck and call. Pence hopes that his earlier televised interviews denying that he had removed important documents, and his denunciation of Biden’s indiscretions, will get repeated airplay to keep his face before the electorate in the run-up to 2024.

House Speaker McCarthy is fielding requests from the likes of Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, and Marjorie Taylor Greene to work his magic with the former president to give at least a token number of low-key classifieds to each of them to play show-and-tell with the press. And, Mac is pedaling as fast as he can to keep the hostage-takers from pulling the trigger on his tenuous speakership position. Newbie George Santos mockingly announced to them that he already had his collection started, finding a short stack on his office desk following the swearing-in ceremony, along with a wad of cash secured in a g-string. Some people have all the luck!

The George Santos adventure continues with McCarthy appointing him to two committees: the Committee on Small Business, and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Congressman Bill Foster commented, “As the only recipient of the Wilson Prize for High-Energy Particle Accelerator Physics serving in Congress, it can get lonely. Not anymore! I’m thrilled to be joined on the Science Committee by my Republican colleague Dr. George Santos, winner of not only the Nobel Prize, but also the Fields Medal – the top prize in Mathematics – for his groundbreaking work with imaginary numbers!” Foster is only adding to the many kudos that fraudster Santos has bestowed upon himself with his wide array of campaign claims. McCarthy and the House GOP are still fully embracing Santos in order to hold their fragile caucus together, even as the NRCC looks to be ready to dump him by 2024, with the snake-oil promoter asserting he will run to hold his office.

Every story that Santos has concocted has more holes than the proverbial sieve, and CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski has, at last count, found at least eight names that he has gone by in his illustrious career. Satirist Andy Borowitz in the New Yorker quotes Rudolph Giuliani saying, “It’s time for Republicans to pass the torch to a new generation of liars. I get why some Republicans are knocking the kid – they are envious of his raw talent…he could turn out to be the Michael Jordan of lying…personally, I can’t wait to see what he does next. Just put him out there and watch the magic happen.”

Attention has started shifting from his questionable credentials to questionable finances, with more serious revelations that he has probably violated campaign finance laws, posing civil penalties, criminal prosecution, or expulsion from Congress. Santos‘ claim that he had loaned his election campaign funds of over $700,000 from personal accounts doesn’t ring true as his personal situation is examined, with local and federal investigators delving into his finances. A financial disclosure form filed in 2020 says he made $55,000 from LinkBridge Investors, with no other listed assets, income or liabilities. He has disclosed little, except to say that his referral fees connecting wealthy buyers and sellers have resulted in high commissions. One of his positions was with Harbor City Capital, which the Securities and Exchange Commission designated as a Ponzi scheme and the business was shut down in 2021. The case is still open, Santos has not been criminally charged and he claims to have no knowledge of any wrongdoing.

Columbia Law School professor Richard Briffault, who specializes in campaign finance said any loans to the Santos campaign may be consequential pieces from a criminal standpoint, especially if they are found to have been “an illegal means of disguising illegal contributions.” Further, he says, “If it turns out that this was a device for donors to funnel money to the campaign, that itself is illegal – Santos would be a ‘straw donor’ falsely claiming he provided the money when it really came from someone else.” The legal limit is $2900 per donor per election cycle, and the case would be compounded if donors were corporations or foreign entities, which could result in a felony charge if Santos knowingly accepted this scheme. Also being scrutinized are filings of dozens of campaign expenditures of $199.99 – no proof of purchase needed unless $200.00 or more!

All this scrutiny led Santos to resubmit his campaign finance report, unchecking the box indicating his $700k was from personal funds, and changing the name of his campaign finance treasurer – which is not illegal, but forging the electronic signature of the new treasurer is a no-no! The name of Thomas Datwyler, a veteran campaign finance treasurer, resulted in Datwyler’s denial that he had ever been treasurer for the Santos campaign. Serious trouble on the horizon, with two broken federal campaign laws, a maximum sentence being five years in prison with a guilty conviction. What is the 118th Congress to do? Losing Santos would result in a third New York district election, and who in that district will vote for the GOP candidate? Bye, bye Speaker McCarthy! Kev knew about the Santos campaign problems, as did Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, and they could have headed off problems early on, but now the chickens have come home to roost. Can you say, ‘Speaker Matt Gaetz?’

One event that will pass Santos by is the visit to the White House to be congratulated by the President, a tradition for all newly elected Congressional members. The holdup being that he doesn’t have a verifiable birth date – no birth certificate!? He needs to get Trump’s crack team of people who can search this out for him – if he wants to share that info. The team at last contact was still in Hawaii on the Obama record hunt. Santos also lacks a social security number, so lacking these two bits of documentation won’t allow the Secret Service to approve a security clearance, so poor George will have to miss this glorious part of his Washington initiation.

The Federal Election Commission had started an investigation into irregularities but was told to hold off on any enforcements by the DOJ, signaling that it has started its own criminal investigation into the matter. DOJ also asked FEC to provide any relevant documents as they move forward. A former FEC commissioner, David Mason, indicates that the DOJ doesn’t need two sets of investigators tripping over each other, or having the possibility that the FEC, a civil agency, complicates the process.

The Former Guy in the meantime is attempting to ease into his reelection campaign, making two recent appearances, and posting videos to his Truth Social site despite the many ongoing legal problems lined up on his docket. Upon hearing the rumor that Mars, Incorporated was introducing an M&M for Tucker Carlson, he immediately felt he also deserved one – “Where’s mine?” So can we expect an orange-coated nut to be marketed in his honor? Mrs. Betty Bowers aka Canadian comedian Deven Green, after viewing a recent Trump video, says, “Always match your liquid foundation to your skin tone, not your handbag.” And, Aldous J. Pennyfarthing adds, “Granted, he always gravitates toward earth tones when he unsheathes his makeup trowel in the morning, but lately it looks like he’s trying to match his skin tone to his toilet so he can sit on it all day unnoticed.”

The National Review’s Charles Cook seems to think Trump is “deteriorating.” He says that the latest rants on Truth Social are “ranting like a deranged hobo in a dilapidated public park.” Can Marjorie Taylor Greene be far behind?

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email:


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

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


“Gun control? We need bullet control! I think every bullet should cost 5,000 dollars. Because if a bullet cost five thousand dollar, we wouldn’t have any innocent bystanders”.
~Chris Rock

“You must get an education. You must go to school, and you must learn to protect yourself. And you must learn to protect yourself with the pen, and not the gun”.
~Josephine Baker

“It’s one thing to shoot yourself in the foot. Just don’t reload the gun”.
~Lindsey Graham

“America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable”.     Hunter S. Thompson


Here is a video that actually teaches you HOW to do the clicks in the Xhosa language. As a bonus, here is a link to why you’d want to be able to… which is obviously so you can sing along to Miriam Makeba in the Pata Pata Song. She was 35 in that viceo. As bonus #2 (don’t say I never gave you anything!), here she is performing that same song at 74! Man, I want her poise and grace when I’m 74.

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