Blog Archives

February 2 – 8, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Supervisor Race, 11th Hour Coffee, bridge notes, Dientes, film critiques, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…on the Appeal of 130 Center St. KROHN…Progressive History, pt. 1. STEINBRUNER…Board of Supervisors, Gateway, Koenig, Watsonville Hospital, Veterans housing, Purewater Soquel, Musk and the moon. HAYES…The Landscape we need. PATTON…Does democracy need the rich? MATLOCK…The pandemic, Spotify, Maus, Sarah Palin. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Groundhog Day”.

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GOVERNOR RONALD REAGAN AT UCSC. May 18, 1967. He had just been elected governor of California and was here to talk about and deal with the student protest against a tuition raise. I think that’s Vernon Berlin the then owner of KSCO holding the microphone.                                                        

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE January 31

     
COUNTY SUPERVISOR RACE UPDATE AND GUESSES. Since Ryan Coonerty announced his not running for County Supervisor probably so he’d look better as a City Manager candidate that part of the county (Third District has been “rife with rumors”. We only know that Justin Cummings is totally serious and has been doing a fine job of campaigning. What’s still guesswork is that Doug Deitch who ran for governor and has also run for Supervisor in the second district but owns property in the third…he’s running so be very aware. Apparently Mark Primack whose plans are close to his vest won’t attempt it, but he’s run before so watch his space. Cove Britton the architect from Matson Britton has also run for the Supe space before and rumors have it, etc. The newest runner could be Thomas Ramos of Bonny Doon. He runs a plumbing and hardware supply company. What’s still to be guessed at and worried about, is Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson‘s campaign. Her endorsements include so many of the pro development believers and what isn’t known is just how much Bud Colligan has her in his pocket… there’s one of the biggest questions of this year’s Supe race. As we say watch this space.

11>th HOUR COFFEE. This is an unmitigated plug for the 11th Hour Coffee shop in Downtown Santa Cruz at 1001 Center Street where India Joze was once upon a time. I’ve hung out at dozens of Coffee Houses from Berkeley and San Francisco over the last 65 years and 11th Hour is one of the very best. The atmosphere is unique, extremely casual and beautifully creative. It’s a huge place that takes over the other businesses near that art center. The coffee and prices are equally well thought out. Check it out. 

CROSSING MY BRIDGES. If you scroll down just a few pages to last week’s BrattonOnline you’ll see my historic photo of the three bridges across the San Lorenzo. I goofed and labelled them incorrectly. What’s really important is that so many readers wrote me to correct those bridges so it’s Highway One Bridge at the top, Water Street Bridge in the middle and Soquel Street Bridge in the lower section. Those emails were wonderful. Too many times folks think that everybody else will be writing so no-one writes and the feedback is absolutely sustaining. I’ll probably keep making errors so keep writing…many thanks.

DIENTES CONTINUED. Yet another reaction to the Dientes tooth pulling problem. This from an avid reader…”I noticed Dientes was always trying to get me to have teeth pulled which were broken off at the gum line.  I always resisted that idea. But when a tooth became infected, I decided to have 3 teeth (with four roots) extracted, since I didn’t know exactly where the infection was. So I went, and the dentist said, ‘are you nervous?’  I didn’t know what they meant by that, but I found out later, if I had said ‘ yes, I’m nervous,’ they would have given me nitrous oxide, which I actually wanted, but forgot to ask for. Their policy is they don’t give sedation for extractions, except wisdom teeth. So it was more than one hour of agony. The point is, native English speakers would have said, ‘if you’re nervous, you can have nitrous oxide.’ They might also have said, ‘you can have sedation, but Denti Cal won’t pay for it.'”

UCSC STUDENT BURDEN. I met a new UCSC Student last week, she’s moved here from the San Diego area. I was surprised, shocked, and even embarrassed to find out she lives in a tiny student rental room on campus shared by five other women and has to pay $1800 for rent per month! That’s just rent, no food comes with that. In addition she has to pay $200 per month for parking her car nearly one mile from her dorm. Luckily she and her friends are eligible for and use EBT/food stamps. What are we doing to and for our future inheritors?

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

CASUSALITY. (PRIME SINGLE). (5.4IMDB). The original title is Causa Lidad and it’s an Argentine production. A beautiful woman is waiting for her date, gets drugged, and hidden inside a nearby hospital where she’s brutalized and mystified. Who has been the guilty kidnapper? One by one everybody in the film is exposed and cleared and the guilty party is so unbelievable you’ll hate it. The film was filmed all in one continuous take so there is that positive note but skip it.

THE WOMAN IN THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE GIRL IN THE WINDOW. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (6.5 IMDB). It’s listed as a comedy, crime, drama but more than that it’s a flop as a comedy, crime or drama. I watched all 8 one half hour episodes on a binge and I don’t know why. Maybe because Kristen Bell is fascinating and there are so many cliff hangers but it just never reaches whatever it’s trying to be. Maybe a murder is committed, maybe Kristen is just crazy, or drunk and maybe you have something better to do….go for it! Do note that Glenn Close has a three second appearance at the end which means they are hoping to make a series out of it.

THE FALLOUT. (HBO MAX SINGLE). (7.2 IMDB). This film should be required viewing for any student or parent involved in a school shootout. It starts with two high school girl students in the school bathroom as they hear the dreaded shootings from some gunman. The rest of the film is the effect it has on these two students. There’s the guilt over what could have happened as well as the fear that it could happen again at any moment. Whether or not you’ve been involved this is a film that should be widely watched. 

PARALLEL MOTHERS. Penelope Cruz has made eight films with Pedro Almodovar and this is one of their best. It’s a complex story about two mothers one about 17 years old and Cruz who’s near 40.and the issues they face raising their daughters both born about the same time and in the same place. It’s hard to critique without giving up spoilers. More of Almodovar’s regular stars have featured roles and it’s so well acted, produced and filmed that you really should see it on the big screen.

MY FATHER’S VIOLIN. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (6.2 IMDB). A very old style heart tugging story of a young daughter whose father dies leaving her with her uncle who is a classical violinist. She plays violin too and is just too precious to care about. It’s a Turkish film and has some popular awfully familiar semi classic pieces as background. You could and should fine something else to cry over.

PHOTOCOPIER. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (7.0 IMDB). (100RT) An Indonesian high tech thriller about a high school girl whose nude party photocopier photos go viral. We then watch while she and some friends try to find out who did the deed. It’ involves her acting class who are trying to stage and travel with a performance of Medusa. Much recommended.

FLEE. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (98RT) (8.1RT). An unusual drama that is about half animated, half real about a guy from Afghanistan who is going through therapy. He’s been keeping a secret that I won’t reveal and it’ll keep you on edge and even teary while it’s delivered. It’s deep, revealing and certainly worth your time.

THE GILDED AGE. (HBO MAX SERIES). (81RT). There’s only been one episode released of this series written and directed and copied after the enormously successful Downtown Abbey.

This take place in the upper classes of New York City around 1892. It stars Cynthia Nixon from Sex and The City and Christine Baranski from Momma Mia. We see the usual series opener that quickly hints at all the future dramas involving each of the main characters. I couldn’t buy into it yet, it’s too formal, too stiff, and lacking the personalities that Downtown Abbey had. 

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

A HERO. (PRIME SINGLE) (7.3 IMDB). An excellent Iranian drama centering on one man’s faith, trust, values as he tries to change his life during a few days leave from his prison sentence. His imperfections are like all of ours and leads you to constantly ask yourself what you would have done in his place. As my daughter Hillary would say he’s a nimrod!

MUNICH: THE EDGE OF WAR. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (6.9IMDB). When you have Jeremy Irons playing Neville Chamberlin the British Prime minister just before Winston Churchill as the focus of the film you have some quality. It’s all about how the world reacted to Hitler’s threat to invade England and start WWII. Deep politics, fine acting and important to watch one version of the tragic mistake Chamberlin made in trusting Hitler. Highly recommended viewing. 

YAKUZA PRINCESS. (HULU SINGLE) (4.5 IMDB). I thought this would be a Japanese samurai type movie with plenty of ninja, and martial arts stuff…nope. Just a violent plotless flick about a 20 year old woman growing up in Osaka and being bloody in Brazil. No plot, no drama just violence.

HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH A GANGSTER. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (6.1 IMDB).
The “true” story of Nikodem “Nikos” Skotarczakl in case you care about “Nikos”. It’s in Polish and is part comedy that’s played straight-faced to the camera. It’s showy, semi documentary and three hours and five minutes long!! The acting lead does well as a womanizer, car thief, and money changer but watch it only if you have that three hours to spare.

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THE JEWEL THEATRE COMPANY presents…

“THE WEIR” a play directed By Conor McPherson and Directed by Susan Myer Silton. It’s said to “combine a comedic touch with deep resonant themes”. At the Colligan Theatre, in the Tannery Arts Center at 1010 River street. Jan 26 thru Feb 20, 2022. I saw it Sunday matinee at the CxxIGxN theatre and enjoyed it. It’s a bunch of very Irish guys and one woman telling their favorite stories in a very well stocked Irish Bar. It could have and should been deeper as it reveals the depth of each character’s lives and it’s well worth seeing.

 

SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL…

The Festival engaged the Baroque opera soprano sensation from Australia who has just relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, Bethany Hill. The concert and talk starts at 6:45 on February 5. It’s her western states American debut! Linda Burman-Hall will be playing harpsichord. Her program, includes Elizabethan lute songs, rarely heard music from the female early Baroque radical composers Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi, haunting Purcell songs and everyone’s favorite, Dido’s Lament. Also we have changed the location, to Messiah Lutheran Church, 801 High Street, close to the main UCSC gate so that we can live cast the in person concert.  A pre-concert talk will be held starting at 6:45, included with the ticket   https://scbaroque.org/ for tickets. 

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January 31

WHAT’S IN A NAME

As you’ve probably heard, the Santa Cruz city council voted unanimously to reject an appeal of the proposed development at 130 Center St. (above) opposite Depot Park soccer fields and the first of many high rises expected for this south of Laurel part of town.  For the appeal, I represented Santa Cruz Tomorrow, a group of long-time activists committed to social justice and environmental protection. We raised the required $700 to file the appeal. The SWENSON developer, losing his cool at the end of the hearing, angrily opined that appeals should cost $7000 not $700. It wasn’t clear why he should be angry. He got what he wanted: a city Planning staff willing to bend CEQA rules to avoid proper environmental review; a planning commission willing to trade environmental review for 4 extra affordable units; ditto for a city council whose minds were made up long before listening to the appeal. Maybe from a developer’s standpoint, when you offer officials a bribe and it is accepted, you don’t appreciate some upstart group using the democratic right of appeal to create a temporary hitch in your plans.

The building is to be named Calypso. An apt choice since the word’s origin in ancient Greek means, “to conceal.”  There is much that is concealed about this project.

The current owner of 130 Center Street spoke in support of the appeal with his concern about traffic, specifically about the impact on emergency vehicles. He knows better than anyone how summer weekend traffic creates gridlock on both Front and Center Streets, with the roundabout essentially a parking lot. He was ignored. In order to claim an exemption from CEQA review (since you can’t use an exemption if there are impacts to traffic and air quality) staff omitted weekends in its traffic count. That’s like evaluating the moon’s illumination by taking readings only during daylight hours. 

Since the state has determined that traffic congestion is of no concern, our appeal clearly stated that VMT (vehicle miles travelled) could be impacted as residents of the lower westside, once they spot gridlock on Center, Front and the roundabout, divert up Laurel to California and down Bay St. increasing VMT: at least warranting a study. Also warranting a study is the impact on air quality for the youth who play soccer, feet away from this stop and go traffic. None of these concerns in our appeal raised a question from council, despite their posturing about the HiAP (Health in All Policies) ordinance on many other occasions. To the council member who said that a study wouldn’t make any difference I say, how do you know that…without a study? A study is not an academic exercise: if significant impacts are revealed, then mitigations are required. In this location, mitigations, which we detailed, would make a real difference.

Staff had made every effort to garble the clarity of our appeal. If you only read the Agenda Report, you would conclude the appeal lacked meaning. Although I brought this “error” to the council’s attention the Friday before the hearing, staff apologized only for a “typo” since they misnamed Center Street as Cedar Street. Their distortion of the rest of the appeal wording went without comment.

Another significant concealment is the fact that besides the 233 units, the developer can legally convert 58 of the project’s uninhabited spaces (aka parking spaces) into ADU’s  (accessory dwelling units.)  That’s up to the developer later on. It doesn’t have to be revealed nor studied and is just an over the counter addition. What that would add to the projected daily 1140 extra vehicles from the project is an unknown. 

An outpouring of opposition to the appeal was generated by a new group, named Student Housing Coalition. They mustered 130 form letters in opposition. Each email, exactly the same, was ostensibly from a student/faculty…who was who wasn’t indicated. Students are the obvious constituency for these units that range in size from 290 to 400 square feet. They can also qualify for the 35 affordable units. No one begrudges students looking after their self-interests although up until now students would be supportive of environmental concerns. This level of organized student opposition to a legitimate appeal is something new. One wonders who is concealed behind the name? Expect more of the same unquestioning support for big housing projects from this group in the near future. 

When it comes to “affordable” housing it seems the phrase itself silences criticism. Despite the fact that 85% of these units will be market-rate, the developer wouldn’t reveal the potential rents and council didn’t press the issue. Nearby empty, new similarly- sized units, rent for $2600 a month. What we do know is that each market-rate new unit creates a need for a VLI unit for service workers. Only an affordability ratio of 50% will prevent these new mixed-use housing projects from worsening the class shift towards the wealthy, displacing low- income service workers to far-flung cheaper communities. If you care about VMT, that’s worth a study.

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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January 31

HISTORY OF THE PROGRESSIVES IN SANTA CRUZ

“Call it Conservation, preservation, or whatever you want. 
What we’re facing is an attempt to run us out of business just 
so someone from somewhere else can look at a few trees.” 
(Don Cave, Eureka stockbroker argues against public ownership of the redwoods, Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 18, 1965, p. 6.)

Progressive Roots

It’s 1965 and Santa Cruz is set to be the fastest growing city in California. On August 13th of that year, Louis B. Muhly (former Mayor), Secretary of the Board of Zoning Adjustment, County of Santa Cruz, is convening a meeting on permitting a local meat warehouse.  A “New Bachelor apartment, water and garbage paid,” rents for $80, and a “2-Bedroom apt. Built-in electric kitchen, carpets, water and garbage paid, $110 month. Near Shopper’s Corner and is at 130 McCornick St., Apt. 8.” Wanna buy a house? There’s a house at 110 Walnut, in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, and it’s selling for $9250, and it’s “another bargain” the Sentinel listing touts. That newspaper’s editorial line the same month warns of the aftereffects of the “Negro riot” in Watts; skim boarding is all the rage; and UCSC is getting ready to host the first “freshmen” class in the long shadow of a Berkeley campus in turmoil with incoming students set to live in trailers amidst the redwood forest while campus building construction is commencing. In 1965, Santa Cruz was solidly republican. Frank Murphy was the local Assembly member, Donald Grunsky for years held the state senate seat, and Burt Talcott, a Stanford Republican from Salinas rounded out a republican coastal village political elite that was ready to grow, grow, grow!

What Might’ve Been

Those early republican golfers who spent their weekends at the DeLaveaga golf course pining for a university football team that might rival Berkeley’s might be one of the most ironic vestiges of the town’s invasion by Oxbridge (Clark Kerr Aigues-Mortes French medieval village concept mixed in with first Chancellor Dean McHenry’sseveral Swarthmores“), hippies (Ken Kesey), and radicals (Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis, bell hooks, Bettina Aptheker). It was unlike any since the Spanish enslaved locals and built their mission above what is today, downtown. The academic intrusion produced a cultural, ethical, and distinctly anti-capitalist cadre, buoyed by a taste for marijuana, coffee, books and music. Santa Cruz would continue to change. Even early-on, this classic youth movement sought more public open space, respect for labor, pedestrian amenities, city parks, and community gathering places than most long-time provincial townies were comfortable with.

“Prior to the university being there, Santa Cruz was one of the most redneck cities in California,” Farr remembers. “As goes Santa Cruz, so goes the state. I think the reason that Santa Cruz changed so much is because society was changing and was willing to adopt more progressive principles … The reason the Republicans lost the majority in California is because they wouldn’t embrace new ideas.” (Sam Farr quoted in Good Times, June 26, 2018)

Waves of Change

If locating UC Santa Cruz at the Cowell Ranch created any kind of political change, it mainly came at the expense of market rate building developer’s and the corporate real estate industry’s profits. Anti-Vietnam, anti-apartheid, and anti-Reagan’s war on Central America protests aside, it is likely the history of land-use in this county where our era’s greatest political victory(s) were realized. It began almost immediately after the birth of UC Santa Cruz. Lighthouse Field was slated to be the next big state convention center and hotel. By 1970 there were enough environmentalists, hippies, and one smart land-use attorney, to outsmart the fading old-guard republican retirement community denizens. In fact, from that coastal battleground, Gary Patton was elected to the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors as a change-agent, and god-send, to the growing local pro-environment and pro-social justice alliance. It was the beginning of the end for the freeway link down Chestnut Street; no there would not be 10,000 homes sprinkled out, sprawl-like, on Wilder Ranch; Wingspread would soon be dead; the Pogonip would soon be preserved for community hiking and flaneur-ing; and the university growth machine would continue to encounter their own progeny seeking to confront the now corporate UC at every turn. It was Politics 101 and the UCSC teaching machine was in full force training organizers and rabble-rousers to consort with like-minded others to seize power in Surf City. By 1980, many of the oldsters regretted ever opening the door to the UC Regents as former-Republican and future Bill Clinton chief-of-staffer, Leon Panetta switched parties, and after 1991, lonely GOP stalwart Louis Rittenhouse would be the last registered republican to have a seat on the Santa Cruz city council. (Although, many locals opine (know?) that current councilmember Renee Golder was a republican until she decided on a council run and changed parties, but not before Voldemort revamped the elephant party.)

Next Week: What happened to the radical, or even liberal, progressive juggernaut? How did the progressives lose Santa Cruz, or have they?

“In this very difficult moment, when we’re trying to prevent the destruction of American democracy, when we’re trying to save the planet, when we’re trying to protect working families, now is the time, more than ever before, to be clear on what we stand for.” (Jan. 31)

Councilmember Sandy Brown, while canvassing for the Empty Homes Tax (EMT) and Our Downtown, Our Future (ODOF) ballot initiatives, poses with former UCSC student body president and general community activist-rabble rouser, Ayo Banjo, right there on Felix Street. These chance meetings are the kinds of events that make gathering signatures fun and build solidarity!

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

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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January 30

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WILL CONSIDER CERTIFYING GREENWAY PETITION 
This Tuesday February 1, the Board of Supervisors will consider a special hearing to consider certifying an initiative petition by Greenway to let the people vote on the future of the rail corridor.  The new Board Chairman is Manu Koenig, who began Greenway.  Will he recuse himself in this matter?  At the time of this writing, it is unknown.

Agenda Item
DOC-2022-129

BOARD OF SUPES APPROVES $5 MILLION FOR WATSONVILLE COMMUNITY HOSPITAL PURCHASE
This item should not have been on the County Board of Supervisor Consent Agenda…it is big news, and a tremendous amount of money and future commitment. Every Supervisor spoke about it, yet it received no public hearing.

This is another move in the County’s “Rubik’s Cube” of actions to acquire the Watsonville Community Hospital.   Another piece is Senator Laird’s proposed SB 418 emergency legislation to bring about a new tax district to fund the acquisition and operation of the hospital.

Language in SB 418 describes the boundaries of the new hospital district that will be formed within the next five years, subject to local elections:

(b) The territory of the district shall be the following area: Situated in the Counties of Santa Cruz and Monterey, State of California; being all the lands within the boundary of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, excepting the lands to the north and west of the following described line: beginning at a point on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at the intersection with the projected centerline of Aptos Beach Drive; thence along said projected centerline to the intersection of the centerline of Aptos Beach Drive and the centerline of Rio Del Mar Boulevard; thence along the centerline of Rio Del Mar Boulevard in a northeasterly direction to the intersection of the centerline of Rio Del Mar Boulevard and the centerline of Bonita Drive; thence along the centerline of Bonita Drive in a westerly direction to the intersection of the centerline of Bonita Drive and the centerline of Freedom Boulevard; thence along the centerline of Freedom Boulevard in a northerly and easterly direction to the intersection of the centerline of Freedom Boulevard and the centerline of Hames Road; thence along the centerline of Hames Road in an easterly direction to the end of the centerline of Hames Road and the beginning of the centerline of Browns Valley Road; thence along the centerline of Browns Valley Road in a northerly and easterly direction to the end of the centerline of Browns Valley Road and the beginning of the centerline of Hazel Dell Road; thence along the centerline of Hazel Dell Road in an easterly and southerly direction to the intersection of the centerline of Hazel Dell Road and the centerline of Mount Madonna Road; thence along the centerline of Mount Madonna Road in a southerly direction to the intersection of the centerline of Mount Madonna Road and the centerline of Gaffey Road; thence along the centerline of Gaffey Road 1300 feet, more or less, in an easterly direction to a point on the centerline of Gaffey Road; thence leaving the centerline of Gaffey Road 90 feet, more or less, in a northeasterly direction to a point on the Santa Cruz County line.

Board member of Pajaro Valley Healthcare District, Mimi Hall shared, “Given the hospital’s bankruptcy status, this legislation is the only pathway to preserving access to health care, creating accountability and addressing glaring health disparities for the people of the Pajaro Valley. We are grateful to our entire delegation for the urgent and focused attention they brought to this matter, and we look forward to seeing this bill become law in the not-too-distant future.”

[SB 418]

Take a look at the County Board of Supervisor Consent agenda item #41 on the Jan. 25 agenda: http://santacruzcountyca.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=1917&MediaPosition=&ID=11994&CssClass=

Central Coast Alliance for Health donated $3 million

[Pajaronian : Proposed Healthcare District Gets Financial Lawmakers Help/]

Mimi Hall is Director of the Board for the new non-profit, having just left County government Director of Health and Human Services….isn’t that a violation of the FPPC Anti-Revolving Door laws?

[Pajaronian : Coalition Seeks to Improve Health Care in Pajaro Valley/]

Former County Counsel Director, Dana McRae is Interim Health and Human Services Director???? 

PROJECT HOME KEY APPLICATIONS APPROVED…VETERAN’S VILLAGE WILL BE EXCELLENT
Another huge issue that should not have been on the January 25 Board of Supervisor consent agenda was the Project HomeKey work. 

Take a look at Consent agenda Items  #53 and #55

This will move millions to help buy a hotel in Watsonville and build a three-story modular unit in Aptos for homeless shelters.  The best news was the acquisition of Jaye’s Timberline Lodge in Ben Lomond for the Veteran’s Village.  That really should have been showcased….not just buried in the Consent Agenda.

There were other gems buried there:

$8000 FOR TWO SPEED BUMPS

Consent agenda #58

Rodriguez Street 76% of owners signed Petition of Affirmation

Fire Dept. opposed.

AND….

LIVE OAK LIBRARY ANNEX MOVING TO BID

Consent Agenda #59

Background

On June 7, 2016, voters approved Measure S for Libraries.  With approval of this measure and related agreements, the Santa Cruz Libraries Facilities Financing Authority (LFFA) is authorized to distribute up to $77.5 million in special tax revenues and bond proceeds to improve community libraries in Santa Cruz County.  The County has budgeted $32.5 million from Measure S, $3 million from the County Library Fund, and various donations to support the library branches and facilities in the County unincorporated areas.  This funding includes $6,052,940 for the Live Oak Library Annex project at the Simpkins Family Swim Center.  The project is also supported by $500,000 in County Parks funding.
 
On December 7, 2021 the Board approved the design and plans for the Live Oak Library Annex.  The project will now move into the bidding phase with a bid date of February 1, 2022.  Construction is expected to begin in early March 2022 and is expected to last 12 months. Construction management services were contemplated in the original budget for the project.  

COUNTY WATER ADVISORY COMMISSION WILL HEAR ABOUT PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT AND MORE THIS WEDNESDAY. ( Feb.2.)
The County Water Advisory Commission will meet this Wednesday at 4pm and receive a report on PureWater Soquel Project. There will be an update report as Item F of the PureWater Soquel Project, but no documentation is provided about that Project in the agenda packet. 

I am worried about the impacts of the Twin Lakes Church injection well and the nearby Pine Tree Lane Water Mutual and Bluff Water Mutual, as well as private well owners nearby.  I wonder if you have looked at this issue with regard to protection of those private well owners?

The other important issue the Commission will discuss on Wednesday is the SB 552 Compliance Committee.  It was formed last November in order to comply with SB 552, has met, and has a Draft Work Plan in the agenda packet, beginning on page 9.  There is discussion of how to revise the Work Plan on page 24.  

This will include reports on possible consolidation recommendations regarding domestic wells and adjacent water municipalities.  Sierra mentioned in November that she hopes the MGA private well reps will become involved.

Here is the link to this Wednesday’s Santa Cruz County Water Advisory Commission agenda

Here is the link to the County Water Advisory Commission website

I hope you can participate in Wednesday’s meeting. 

ELON MUSK’S SPACE JUNK WILL COLLIDE WITH THE MOON 
this could happen on March 4. It came close on January 4.  

Elon Musk SpaceX rocket on collision course with moon

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 KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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January 30

THE LANDSCAPE WE NEED.

Imagine you are a mountain lion, a badger, or a burrowing owl making your way around our region. Curiously, people often say, ‘I can’t imagine,’ but I contend that our imaginations are more powerful than that. We can imagine a lot if we have enough information to work with and give our minds the room to roam. We can put ourselves in the place of other species if we want, but only if we can face the pain that such empathetic contemplation may bring. We have left wildlife so little, but we have the power to restore healthy populations of wildlife for future generations.

Big Clever Cats

We have the great fortune to share this landscape with wild lions. To put yourself in the lion’s mind, imagine learning being a young male learning to walk from Aptos to Scotts Valley, getting across roads, keeping away from people, trying not to make their dogs bark, and staying under constant cover of forest. That young lion will also be learning, by scent, where girl lions are and where other murderous males have claimed territory.

Cat Map

Lions know how large to guard territories against one another to keep sufficient food for their families. Fresh deer are needed, one a week for each mature lion. A human hunter would be challenged to keep that pace up; it takes a lot of roaming. Mountain lions move under cover of trees, somehow they shy away from moving around in the open if they can help it. They move through tree filled canyons, wooded ridges, and trails through the forests. To them, those places are like our road network- they must mental maps as quickly as their young minds can, and those maps must keep getting layered with information – especially where other lions prowl.

Badger

Two weeks ago, I was very pleased to find many badger-dug burrows in grasslands along the North Coast. Badgers look at the landscape in the opposite way that a mountain lion might. Where lions see woodlands as their comfy place, badgers prefer grasslands – maybe in part because of the lions in the forests! To imagine moving around the landscape like a badger, think about walking from the grasslands above Watsonville to the grasslands along the North Coast by staying mainly in grasslands, each night digging a burrow to sleep in, finding enough gophers and ground squirrels to eat along the way, getting across roads and never being seen by a human. That’s some tough going.

Burrowing Badgers 

The burrows I saw were not fresh and I couldn’t find a den. The badger foot tracks had been washed entirely away by a prior pouring rain. Probably this was a wandering individual who kept moving after staying for a few weeks. Males disperse widely – even through forests. Someone was surprised to see a photo of a badger on their wildlife camera in a north coast redwood forest a few years back. I haven’t heard of anyone finding a badger burrow in a forested area, and, like vampires, badgers must be underground each night. Digging burrows is best done in sandy soil. And so, badgers’ mental maps include not only the network of grasslands, but also the subset of grasslands with homey sandy places where they can easily dig for food or make burrows.

Santa Cruz Badgers: Gone

There used to be badgers near Santa Cruz, not that long ago. They still occasionally happen through. When UCSC’s Chris Lay compiled local badger sightings and analyzed this species’ local disappearance, he concluded that roads explained badger demise. Roads alone are a big challenge to badgers. The frequent median barriers popping up on local highways have been important in saving human lives, but to badgers they are sure death. Conservationists in Great Britain, where badgers are held in perhaps higher esteem than here, have gone to great lengths to make sure badgers are now able to cross roads- laying down fences to guide badgers to the safety of underpasses. 

Burrowing Owls

Burrowing owls probably see the landscape much like badgers- home in the grasslands. Unlike badgers, though, they navigate that landscape on the wing, so maybe roads aren’t so lethal. These wide-eyed cute bobbing yellow legged owls also used to frequent the meadows near Santa Cruz, but the last nesting colony was paved over by UCSC. Now, burrowing owls are wintertime visitors only, travelling from their summer nests in inland grasslands. I wonder if burrowing owl families that once nested along the coast remember their coastal habitats and have been leading one another back to the warmer coastal grasslands each year?  

Owl Trip

To imagine the burrowing owl trip to the coast, you’d be starting probably in the grasslands east of San Jose. As the nights get chillier and shorter, something in your burrowing owl mind makes you want to fly towards the coast. One long flight across the buzzing Silicon Valley city scape blanketed by nasty air pollution and you might land in one of the few remaining grasslands on the east side of the Santa Cruz Mountains…. or you might keep flying all the way to the coast. This flight would be different than most of your flights all summer long, which would be much shorter. While you are taking this long flight, you keep alert to the increasing threat of peregrine falcons…listening for the alarm calls of other birds. As you get towards the coast, you feel anxiety as each year the available habitat has been reducing: will you find a place with good cover for the winter?

Coastal Burrows 

A month or so ago, I went to UCSC’s East Meadow to see burrowing owls but couldn’t find any sign of them. I looked for the owl’s wintertime homes, but they were gone: the many ground squirrel burrows in the East Meadow are gone and couldn’t find any. In fact, there were no ground squirrels AT ALL! Anyone know what happened to them? Please let me know if you do. Long ago, UCSC destroyed the last burrowing owl nesting area, and more recently they destroyed the burrowing owl burrows at Terrace Point, so I’m suspicious about this new loss. Now, the UCSC wintering owls must join their friends to hide in culverts or pipes along the North Coast for their winter homes.

 Linkages

“Progressive” Santa Cruz is working on its first project expressly acknowledging the need for wildlife movement across this landscape, but much more is needed, and we can all help. Informed by much science, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is working on creating a wildlife tunnel near Laurel Curve on Highway 17. To work, the land on either side of the tunnel must also be wildlife friendly. This corridor is in a wooded area and designed especially for mountain lion movement…maybe badgers can find it, too! Further South and East, groups are making great progress at protecting the wildlife movement corridor between the Mount Hamilton Range and the Santa Cruz Mountains through the Coyote Valley. This corridor relies on existing bridges under Highway 101 and also envisions some improved crossings over the Monterey Highway, which has median divider in many places. Badgers need this corridor to get to our region, but many other wildlife species could use this corridor- maybe even tule elk! These efforts need our financial support. We can also help wildlife movement by supporting better planning for protected wildlands, such as opposing the Homeless Garden Project’s newly hatched plan to move into the Upper Main Meadow of the Pogonip…or the seemingly continuous push to increase the numbers of trails crisscrossing parks. I hope you will take some time to imagine how your favorite species of wildlife travels across what’s left of this highly fragmented landscape… and how you can help restore the landscape we all need. 

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

Email Grey at coastalprairie@aol.com

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 January 30

#30 / Does Democracy Need The Rich?

According to John O. McGinnis, writing in City Journal, the answer to the question posed in my headline is an exuberant “YES!” You can read his article by clicking this link. McGinnis’ article is titled, “Why Democracy Needs The Rich.” 

I was able (without much difficulty) to find an article taking the contrary position. I am sure there are a lot of such articles, but this one is not from a magazine or journal typically associated with the political “left.” It’s an article published in The Harvard Gazette, titled, “The costs of inequality: Increasingly, it’s the rich and the rest.”

The Harvard Gazette article, written by staff writer Christina Pazzanese, quotes former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis as follows: 

We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both. 

I think former Justice Brandeis is right on target. Here, though, is what McGinnis has to say: 

Evidence suggests that politicians … follow the views of the wealthy on such matters as taxation, spending, and regulation: for example, the wealthy are less enthusiastic about raising the minimum wage than is the general population. But unequal influence—exerted through money spent on campaigns or political causes—does not necessarily mean undue influence. Perhaps the wealthy have more informed perspectives on certain issues than the average voter and push for policies that benefit not only themselves but others, too.

The U.S. is a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. The Framers expressly rejected the notion that the people should be able to instruct their representatives on how to vote. One proposed amendment to the Bill of Rights would have permitted voters to impose such binding directions, but James Madison objected: the nation’s representatives “must be able to contradict the sense of . . . the people” and not to vote for measures that they thought harmed the “public good,” he argued. Representatives will inevitably consider not just whether their policies align with the electorate’s current views but whether they will have good effects—at least, if they want to be reelected. Voters have short memories; they will hardly forgive politicians whose policies do harm just because those policies once earned high marks in opinion polls.

Public-choice theory—the application of economic principles to political decision-makers and institutions—reminds us that since individual voters are unlikely to change the result of an election, they will be naturally, and rationally, ignorant of most policies. They will often vote for expressive reasons—to affirm their image of themselves as good people. In times of crisis, voters may tend to pay more attention to the concrete consequences of their vote. But given that voting in ordinary times is mostly expressive, politicians should not uncritically obey popular sentiment but instead translate it into prudent policy … History and logic indicate that a democracy in which the wealthy can exercise sway is likely a more stable and prosperous regime than one where the government attempts to redistribute influence from one group to another. (emphasis added).

 

I was struck by McGinnis’ repetition of the often-made statement that the United States does not have a “direct democracy,” but a “representative democracy.” It has been my observation that political “conservatives” seem to think that this claim adequately disposes of complaints about the domination of our political process by the rich and powerful. Quite the opposite, in my opinion!

I think that there is nothing wrong, whatsoever, with a “representative” democracy. That’s the kind of democracy I favor. The key, though, is that our elected officials must actually “represent” the people, if we are going to have that kind of democratic government. McGinnis doesn’t think that “the people” – unless they’re rich, of course – really know what is in their own best interests, or in the interests of the nation as a whole. The “rich” know that, because they know that a “prosperous regime” (meaning one that keeps them prosperous) is going to be the best thing not only for the rich, but for everyone. 

 

True? Not really! 

Here’s a vision of our local riverside park, taken before the rains came in late December. It is substantially more bedraggled and inhospitable now:

Any democracy worth having needs to serve the needs of all of us – that’s what a “representative” democracy would actually do, and our current “democracy” isn’t doing the job. It really does seem like Brandeis was right, and those public “policies” that McGinnis says are not really understood by the downtrodden poor, are the very same policies that have turned the nation into “the rich and the rest.” 

Does democracy need the rich? 

Not really! But if all we “non-rich” folks don’t make sure that our “representative democracy” actually does represent us, then the homeless camps will continue to proliferate, our educational system will continue to falter, and folks with mental health challenges will continue to be cast adrift without assistance. Etc.

But….The rich will get richer. 

So, if we really believe in a “representative democracy” (and McGinnis seems to think that’s a good thing), it’s probably time for that “political revolution” that Bernie Sanders keeps talking about. It’s about time that ordinary people start getting represented. 

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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January 31

SUPREME JUDGEMENT ON A PANDEMIC WHILE STILL ROCKIN’ IN THE FREE WORLD WITH TRUSTED SOURCES

The spotlight has been on the arts for past few days, with Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren asking Spotify to remove their music catalogs from the site, as a protest for carrying comic Joe Rogan’s podcast, on which he has gained notoriety for debunking COVID-19 vaccines and promoting questionable treatments and cures. Initially, Spotify’s choosing Rogan over the musicians to protect its investment and profitability with the Rogan enterprise has spurred subscriber cancellations in support of the recording artists, and threats of more artists being inspired to pull their music.

In response, Spotify has set up new platform rules to govern deceptive, dangerous, sensitive or illegal content, and they will post content advisories of any podcasts covering COVID, directing readers/listeners to a hub with links to trusted sources. They say the rules MAY result in the violative content being removed from Spotify, and that repeated or egregious violations MAY result in accounts being suspended and/or terminated. Kind of wishy-washy…we’ll see how the almighty dollar weighs in on the platform, which appears to be a bit wobbly at this point. Rogan has ‘apologized’ for the tumult, and says he will ‘try to do better’. However, that genie has left the bottle, Joe!

And, Art Spiegelman’s comic books, Maus and Maus II, recounting his family’s experiences during the Holocaust, has been pulled from classrooms and libraries by a school district in Tennessee, for containing language and nudity (of one of the clothed mouse characters) unfit for the likes of the high schoolers delicate sensibilities. Jews are represented by the mouse characters, with Nazis being drawn as cats, and undoubtedly, though it isn’t equivalent to the Scopes Trial, Charles Darwin would have a good laugh at this brouhaha. The Maus books follow in the tracks of other volumes being banned by school boards, such as those by Toni Morrison, Trevor Noah, Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, Harper Lee, and our beloved Mark Twain – Huckleberry Finn couldn’t meet the high mark set by some narrow-minded conservatives! Come on, people, give our youngsters a half-chance to be enlightened, and why not give it a try yourselves! A San Francisco comic book dealer’s response to the Maus controversy was to offer 100 copies of Spiegelman’s classic to those responding from McMinn County Tennessee, in hopes of providing some illumination to the darkness of that region. 

West Virginia governor, Jim Justice, provided a bit of goofiness this week, as he responded to criticism from Bette Midler and other critics regarding his state’s ‘poor, illiterate, backward people’. In his second address to the state, he brought his English bulldog, inviting the critics to kiss the dog’s ‘hiney’ as his defensive posture. Midler, in response, said the dog would make a better governor than Justice, but the best rejoinder came from a wag who after seeing the still-photo of the guv holding the dog was, “Oh…a photo of an a..hole, and there’s a dog there too!”

In reaching out to the nation’s cat lovers, the Bidens have added a tabby cat, Willow, to their menagerie of two dogs, proving that they aren’t playing favorites. Jill Biden’s hometown is Willow Grove, PA, thus the name in honor of that city. The cat came into Jill’s life during the 2020 campaign by jumping onto the stage as she was giving a speech, and they bonded; but, arrangements were only recently completed to make the transfer from Willow’s western Pennsylvania farm domicile. We should be grateful that it wasn’t Ivanka Trump who jumped onstage that day!

Clowncar hood ornament, Sarah Palin, was in New York this week for the beginning of her libel suit for defamation against the New York Times, but the judge delayed the trial after Sar-io tested positive for COVID. Later it was reported that she was seen dining in a well-known restaurant, both before AND after she was tested. Pretty chancy…and by the way, Sarah, isn’t that a masked Katie Couric with a camera crew hiding behind that potted fern? She’s gonna get you again!

Of course, the dominant news this week was the announced retirement of Supreme Court justice Breyer, and already Biden’s possible candidates for appointment are being raked over the coals by the opposition. Heavy rumor is that Mitch McConnell is attempting to get legislation passed, preventing a Democratic Party president from appointing a justice in the last three years of his term!

And Mitch, can you stand over here while we get a snapshot of you and Governor Justice with his dog? Who’s a good boy!?

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: cornerspot14@yahoo.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

GROUNDHOG DAY

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another fight;
But if Candlemas Day be clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again”.
~Old rhyme 

“If ground-hog day was bright and fair,
The beast came forth, but not to stay;
His shadow turned him to his lair,
Where six weeks more, he dormant lay
Secure in subterranean hold—
So wondrous weatherwise was he—
Against six weeks of ice and cold,
Which, very certain, there would be…”
~H.L. Fisher, “Popular Superstitions,” Olden Times: or, Pennsylvania Rural Life, Some Fifty Years Ago, and Other Poems, 1888 

Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while”.
~Frank M. Hubbard, as quoted in Herbert V. Prochnow, Speaker’s Handbook of Epigrams and Witticisms, 1955 

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”
~Robin Williams

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My daughter sent me this gem… click the little speaker icon if you don’t hear the audio.


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82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
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