Blog Archives

February 23 – March 1, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Rail AND trail continued, Film critiques. GREENSITE…on Wharf Master Plan lawsuit outcome. KROHN…Power imbalance on City Council, City Districts, Charter Amendments. STEINBRUNER…Tax increase, Supes absent at meeting, Soquel Creek Water District planning, dog park closing. HAYES… SANDHILLS SHRUBS BLOSSOMING. PATTON…On the Tinder Swindler movie. MATLOCK… MUGGING FOR THE CAMERA. EAGAN… EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Funny Quotes”

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HISTORIC SANTA CRUZ WHARVES. 1913.Our Santa Cruz wharves are an important part of our community. Just last week our municipal wharf was saved from excessive commercial development. See Gillian Greensite’s contribution below.

Photo(shop) courtesy Gunilla Leavitt

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE February 21

RAIL AND TRAIL CONTINUED.

Jim Weller one of the very active proponents of the Rail and Trail movement in our Monterey Bay sent the following letter to the Regional Transportation Commissioners…

Honorable RTC Commissioners:

You have been appointed – not elected – to serve as trustees of California transportation policy in our region and to administer state funding to implement that policy. In your RTC roles, your duties are to serve as steadfast stewards of our public transportation projects, not as local politicos buffeted by the winds of parochial interests.

You have one job. Administer available public funding to improve our regional highways and public transportation. No more, no less.

The California Transportation Commission used our taxpayer money to buy us a complete railroad, 32 miles long, connecting with the intrastate mainline at Pajaro. This strategic public asset was acquired for the RTC to repair, maintain, improve and develop for railroad purposes. We commend your staff’s planning for a pathway for bikes and pedestrians alongside the tracks as an ancillary part of our railroad infrastructure. That makes perfectly good sense – it’s an adjunct way for people to access the planned electric passenger rail vehicles, and it can be used for local personal walking and biking. We already do so, where the work is completed.

But we cannot emphasize too strongly that the only legitimate use for the Santa Cruz Branch railroad corridor is for purposes of a public railroad and rail trail. It is your staff’s responsibility to plan for that, prepare for it, fund it, and implement it. We expect our RTC commissioners to support that work. 

No matter how much money the RTC’s political enemies put into their campaign pressuring the RTC to tear out the tracks and build a “linear park” in their place for bikes and pedestrians only, you must not be deterred. The RTC is not a parks and recreation agency. No matter how much following the local Greenway ballot initiative gains against rail transit, you must not be politically beholden to them. You serve a greater purpose, and we support you in that. 

Your job is to keep the railroad in good repair for publicly desirable rail transportation uses. That can include commercial freight operations by a private-sector railroad operator as needed. It can include various public sector uses, such as materials transfer for public works projects, emergency response uses in case of natural disaster, tourist rail excursions – and most importantly – regular daily regional passenger rail transit. All those uses can co-exist, and they all require the same railroad infrastructure, kept in first-class condition.

Your job is to expeditiously re-build those parts of the railroad infrastructure that need to be improved, including bridges over streams, drainage structures, road crossings, and earthwork. That includes the old railroad bridges over Highway 1 – that work should be funded as a part of your huge new state highway project because the widened highway requires widened railroad and rail trail bridges. You should be working on the railroad, all the livelong day!

We know you know or can figure out how to do all these things. Public railroad and rail trail both. We have confidence in our RTC staff’s professional capabilities. And we think you know as well as we do that where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

We disagree with your Executive Director’s conclusion that funding to rebuild railroad bridges is unavailable. The funds are there, but only to agencies that apply for them and pursue them. It will take time and effort, but that’s your responsibility. Do your job.

Our grandchildren will thank you, and so will we.

Respectfully, 

An ad hoc Committee for Public Integrity: Dr. Joel Steinberg, M.D., Tina Andreatta, Jane Bruce-Munro, Mark Mesiti-Miller, P.E., Jacob Wysocki, David Van Brink, Janie Soito, Jim MacKenzie, Kaki Rusmore, Christopher O’Connell, Robert Arko, Grace Voss, Dr. Bruce Sawhill, PhD., Paula Bradley, Barry Scott, Sean Shrum, Jim Weller, Kim Laney, Michael Wool, Lani Faulkner, Judy Gittelsohn, Kyle Kelley, Greg Larson.

Check out this list of our neighbors who support the Coast Connection  You’ll know so many of them. 

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.

BIGBUG. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (5.5 IMDB). A laughable, funny very French film! It’s silly beyond belief and I laughed a lot. Sometime in the later part of this century some French families get trapped in their own house because the robots and androids internet electrical system goes haywire. The visuals are incredible, the plot is as I mentioned, very French. The director Jean-Pierre Jeunet also directed “Amelie” and “The City of Lost Children” so you know this has to be worth watching. 

INVENTING ANNA. (NETFLIX SERIES). (6.8 IMDB). This is promoted as being the almost true story of Anna Delvey who impersonated being a daughter of a very rich German billionaire. She becomes the center of New York City society. Julia Garner is the lead and she does a perfect job of getting you to really dislike her from all angles. Maybe she was really Anna Sorokin and if you watch all the episodes you’ll find out. It has some corny misplaced acting that changes the seriousness but go for it anyway.

CHOSEN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (4.3 IMDB). This Danish series is super thoughtful fun to watch. Well-acted and neatly scripted it’s about a teen age girl exposes the fact that the famed town meteor that crashed there 17 years ago is a fake. She seems destined to change her community before it changes her. The plot is intriguing, the photography is near perfect.

RULES OF THE GAME. (HULU SERIES) (6.0 IMDB). A deep, dark British film centering on a futuristic high tech corporation and the secrets behind the growth of that company. A new HR woman keeps digging deeper and deeper into the cover-ups and alienates almost everyone at the agency. It’s taut, tight, and tremendous ad you won’t be able to guess the outcome.  

SEVERANCE. (APPLE SERIES) (8.2 IMDB) Santa Cruz’s own AND ONLY born and bred movie star Adam Scott leads the well-chosen cast. Watch while the employees of the Lumon Corporation are altered so that they can’t remember anything that happens inside the building when they go home and vice versa. There was a murder many years before and something is covering it up. Highly watchable, enjoyable and not predictable. Subud’s own Patricia Arquette and John Turturro add depth to this twisted plot.

THE KINGS MAN. (HBO MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). Ralph Fiennes returns in this third attempt to make a good film taken from a comic book origin. Charles Dance acts his usual neatness but even he can’t save the overdone hammy attempt at a comedic/tragic/over staged so called drama. It’s not funny enough even though it contains Ivan Rasputin, King George, and Kaiser Wilhelm.  

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD. (Del Mar Theatre) (7.9 IMDB). Along with two Oscar nominations this is one fine movie. There are genuine laughs plus some painful scenes when we watch this near 30 year old woman go through the changes and questions that face her while being in and out of love. It’s a Norwegian film and the fifth one directed by Joachim Trier. You’ll recognize each and nearly every one of the dilemmas she faces in her bohemian social circle. Don’t miss it.

THE PRIVILEGE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.6 IMDB). A new German movie that goes deep into pharma corporations and making bad prescriptions. Teen agers deal with and are victimized by live worms in each pill for starters. In even gets into replacing souls in dying bodies. It’s well made but not a great movie. There’s a strong flash at the end that they are planning and hoping for a sequel. 

 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.  

ANTLERS. (HBO SINGLE) (5.9 IMDB). It’s supposed to take place in the mythical town of Cispus Oregon. That’s important because the Antlers title refers to the mythical beast known as a wendigo and wendigo’s do eat human flesh. I read someplace that this is an art house horror film and it is. Guillermo Del Toro is one of the producers and the movie is full of serious blood, flesh, little children, and insane humans who only crawl. It’s slow moving and chock full of unbelievable terror, not suspense necessarily, just terror.

DEATH ON THE NILE. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (6.7 IMDB) Directed by Kenneth Branagh and it’s full of stars such as Annette Bening, the now exposed Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot, Tom Bateman, and Russell Brand!! For a plot by Agatha Christie this movie goes way too slowly and lacks cohesion. It does however go into strange detail why and how Hercule Poirot grew and wears that bizarre mustache…if you care.

MAYDAY. (HULU SINGLE) (4.0 IMDB). An odd plot about girls leaving this life and being magically transported to an island where there are teams of women now alive again and fighting against men but using them in their goal of making a perfect world. So for some women they try and actually do make it back to real life in spite of the problems. At least I think that’s the story, I’m not too sure and I wouldn’t dream of re-watching it.

I WANT YOU BACK. (PRIME VIDEO) (6.7 IMDB) This is billed as a romantic comedy and I haven’t seen a romantic comedy in ages that makes me laugh. I’m more of the Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, Red Skelton, and George Mendez School of humor. So I watched this one for about 15 minutes and never laughed once.

KIMI. (HBO MAX SINGLE). (6.3 IMDB) Zoe Kravitz is the lead and Steven Soderbergh is the director of this unique thriller. Zoe suffers from agoraphobia and can’t leave her Seattle apartment. She hears what sounds like a brutal murder on a recording she’s developing for her job which is to create and chaperone a Alexa or SIRI device. She has some unusual neighbors sort of in the Rear Window category. They either try to help or kill her and we get to see how she handles them. Good film.

INHERITANCE. (HBO MAX-SINGLE) (5.6 IMDB). The political scene in NYC is seriously invaded by a disappearance. Simon Pegg is the mysterious focus of this survival epic. There’s secret tunnels, chains, and the lead Lily Collins looks so much like AOC you can’t take your eyes off her. Too dramatic and hammy to be great but it’s diverting.

TICK, TICK…BOOM. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (5.6 IMDB). Yes an Oscar nominated musical about and by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton and In The Heights fame. Andrew p– is the star and must be a wonderful musical. I turned it off after about 15 minutes.  Too loud, impersonal, and flashy and it’ll probably win some Academy Awards. 

NEEDLE IN A TIMESTACK. (PRIME SINGLE). (36 RT) (4.6 IMDB). Orlando Bloom and Freida Pinto and some few others suffer through several time shifts in our future world. There’s a romance, then a disappearance, then some violence but not enough of anything to make this worth your time.

THE TINDER SWINDLER. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (7.4IMDB). A very different and unusual documentary about a guy Simon Leviev who still to this day goes on Tinder and dating sites and manages to steal more than $10 million dollars from the not too wealthy women who fall for his promises. Totally absorbing and excellently filmed and “acted” it’ll make you very wary about you next online dating attempt. Don’t miss this one. 

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February 21

“Don’t Morph the Wharf” Prevails in Environmental Challenge to Expansion of the Historic Santa Cruz Wharf (Press Release 2/18/22)

“Today Judge Paul Burdick issued a final ruling ordering that the City set aside its approval of the Wharf Master Plan, its certification of the environmental impact report (EIR), and its findings approving the Plan.” Don’t Morph the Wharf! Press release 2/18/22

Thus concluded six years of struggle to save what the community and visitors say they love about this 104- year old historic Santa Cruz icon and which the city was willing to sacrifice under the guise of preserving the Wharf. 

Before the ruling, Don’t Morph the Wharf! proposed to the city that it would not be opposed to a form of writ that would not ask for certain aspects of the Master Plan to be subject to further CEQA review even if the final Court ruling ordered a writ of mandate to set aside approvals of the Master Plan and EIR. The parties then agreed to a form of writ and the judge ordered that the writ would not require further CEQA review for replacement of wooden Wharf piles, improvement to the Wharf asphalt pavement and substrate, improvement to the Wharf trash collection system, and enlargement and ADA compliance for three public restrooms.

‘We support many of the improvements provided by the Master Plan and will be glad to see them proceed without delay,” said Gillian Greensite, Don’t Morph the Wharf representative. “We are so pleased and grateful that our challenge to the Master Plan was successful to prevent the destruction of our beloved sea lion viewing holes, to eliminate the Western Walkway that impacts wildlife habitat, and does not allow the Landmark Building to ruin the end of the Wharf. We hope that these elements of the Plan will be permanently abandoned when the City Council reviews them after further environmental study.'”
Press release 2/18/22

Enormous thanks are due to many in this gargantuan effort: to public-interest attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley; to Judge Paul Burdick; to the members of Don’t Morph the Wharf!; to the 2600 people who signed the petition; to the scores of people who wrote and spoke to the city’s commissions and finally before city council where the decision was made to approve this Plan and flawed EIR. Those who wrote and spoke did so from the heart. I’ll quote only one that captured the general feeling about the so-called Landmark building, that 40- foot tall, 6,000 square foot building proposed for the Wharf’s southern end that would have covered the sea lion viewing holes and displace fishing areas. The speaker testified to council:” I dare say people do not go to the end of the Wharf to be inside a warehouse. They can get that at Costco.” 

For the community to prevail against unpopular projects promoted by the city’s Economic Development Department is rare. We are delighted and will hope for a revised project that deletes the unwelcome problems of the current Master Plan.

Oblivious to all this human drama are the Pigeon Guillemots who are getting ready in Puget Sound for their long flight to their familiar nests beneath the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. Had the Wharf Master Plan not been challenged, they would have arrived and been unable to access their nests. It is to them that this victory is dedicated. To them, and to long-time Wharfies: my late husband, John Bergwall and dear departed friends Al Mitchell and Reed Searle. 

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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 February 21

THE POWER OF FOUR
Prepare to have your local politics mind blown, a bit. There’s an item on the Santa Cruz City Council agenda this week, #14, which itself indicates the severe power imbalance in Surf City. This agenda item portrays how certain councilmembers are out of touch with their constituents, and unfamiliar with how to conduct community dialogue around a most sensitive issue, voting. The “Resolution Ordering on the Ballot for the June 7, 2022 Primary Election a proposed Charter Amendment Creating Six Districts and an At-Large, Directly-Elected Mayor,” is to be discussed by the council. It’s a resolution being put forward by Councilmembers Meyers, Golder, and Watkins and it is the first time this close observer of city politics, me, has seen it in writing. If it weren’t so egregiously handled and put forward to an electorate that’s coming out of a 2-year Covid lockdown after all, it would be guffawed and laughed off like past resolutions trying to outlaw nudity or banning hacky sack or growing backyard weed. This one only needs a first reading on Tues. Feb. 22nd and a second one on March 8th and Shazam!, we have a completely redrawn city elections map, possible 16-year city council terms, and a new primary system for the direct election of a mayor. It would be on the ballot and not authorized or informed by a single city voter outside of the current seven-person city council. The resolution orders a city charter amendment to be placed on the ballot and lacks the kind of public scrutiny expected of such a momentous measure, like input by city commissions, town hall meetings with voters, letters to the editor, and opinion pieces in the Sentinel, LookOut Santa Cruz, and the Good Times. As attention-getters, these three councilmembers definitely win that award this year as the power of four votes would place this initiative on the June ballot and instantly alter the way we vote in local elections. That’s big.

Subverting the Voters During a Pandemic
There are now three maps on the city web site that voters can look over, seven districts total. This city council agenda item ponders a fourth map, but with little time for any debate. In fact, there was no map attached to this agenda item. So where are the district lines to be drawn? If I wasn’t in Santa Cruz looking at this council agenda I would think it was a Chicago or New York City bait and switch agenda item.

Initial consultations with the City Attorney and the City’s demographer found no clearly legally permissible way to transition to six districts and an at-large/directly elected mayor for the November 2022 election. (see city council agenda packet)

But then, somehow they found a way? Or at least, three councilmembers did. Do they have a fourth? Very likely this thing sails through unless there is a grassroots uprising. I personally am not saying I do, or do not, favor district elections or a directly elected mayor. What I am rejecting is this ham-fisted way of shaping public policy without any input from the public. It is an excremental process. I am pretty certain the three councilmembers ran it by their small group of fanaticos, but the larger body of voters has been left out entirely in this process, and local politics is about process. Who are those three perhaps talking to? I always say, follow the money and look at their campaign donations, which are available on the city web site.

Flaws in Hasty Election Changes

Here are a few of the weaknesses of this proposed city charter amendment:

  • They are doing the two “required public hearings,” but nothing more. No town hall meetings, input from city commissioners or reaching out to groups like the College Democrats, SC4Bernie, the People’s Democratic Club or the other multiple organizations in town that have a stake in free and fair elections.
  • “The Committee proposes that the Council pass an ordinance that selects two maps: one six district map and one seven district map. The ordinance establishing district elections would be written in a contingent way. The Council-adopted six-district map would prevail if the charter amendment passes, and the Council-adopted seven-district map would prevail if the charter amendment does not pass.” Contingent way? Who’s on “the Committee?” I assume it is made up of those councilmembers who signed this agenda item: Watkins, Meyers, and Golder, who in turn are wielding their power of four votes. 
  • “Divide the City into 6 council districts;” But no district maps accompanied this item.
  • “Create a two-round election system (a.k.a. runoff elections) for the Mayor and Councilmembers, beginning with the 2024 election cycle.” Now city taxpayers will have pay for two elections. In the beginning of this memo, they mention Rank Choice Voting (RCV) as a possible format to make elections freer and fairer, but it was somehow dropped in favor of the old school: if no candidate gets over 50% there will be a runoff in November. What a waste of city money! RCV insures that one candidate will win the first round of elections outright.
  • “Deadline for filing arguments for or against proposed measure: March 18, 2022, Deadline for filing rebuttals to arguments: March 25, 2022.”  Talk about tight timelines!

And then, other lines in this charter amendment that may make a few heads spin as we have had a long history, not of term limits, but of councilmembers having to take two years off after serving eight years on the city council. This amendment would make it possible for councilmembers to serve 16 consecutive years.

  • “No member of the Council shall be eligible for re-election for two years (i.e. one general election cycle) after the expiration of the second consecutive full term of the office for which such person was elected. However, this prohibition shall not bar (1) a Councilmember elected by-district from running for Mayor immediately after two terms as a Councilmember, (2) the Mayor from running as a by-district Councilmember immediately after two terms as Mayor, or (3) a Councilmember from running for a different council seat, in the event that the Councilmember moves to a different part of the City, immediately after two terms in one council seat. With that said, in no event may any person serve on the Council (as either a Councilmember or the Mayor) for more than sixteen (16) consecutive years.”  The times, they are a’changin’.

“Imagine if defunding schools was as politically controversial as not wanting to fund robodogs and mass surveillance. Imagine if police depts. had to meet even a fraction of the financial scrutiny & performance auditing that our schools do. Just wild what we’ve learned to accept.” (Feb 19)

Also, Ocasio-Cortez offered a candid assessment of her time in congress to the New Yorker. Listen to it here, fascinating stuff!


Faces in the crowd…Former Santa Cruz Mayor, Jane Weed-Pomerantz is standing with current 3rd District Supervisor candidate, Ami Chen Mills in the center of this picture. It happened for a group picture of the KSQD volunteers at their annual picnic. Tammy Brown belted out some Santa Cruz favorites and Rachel Anne Goodman and her band, Coast Ridge Ramblers did a credible job singing Arlo Guthrie’s, “City of New Orleans.” By the way, Jane Weed-Pomerantz is supporting Ami for Supervisor and says she’s never been more excited about anyone running for that position before. Ami Chen Mills may surprise you. Come and see her at her kickoff this Sat., Feb. 26th, from 3-5pm at 325 Alta Vista Drive on the Westside of Santa Cruz.

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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February 20

COUNTY BUDGET IN THE RED AGAIN…$7.7 MILLION, WITH PLAN TO LAUNCH NEW TAX INCREASE ON THIS JUNE’S BALLOT
I urge all County voters to reject any County measure on the June 7 ballot to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) because there is no reason to trust the County to actually spend the money to fund the causes the ballot language claims it will.   Why?  Because the County has failed to uphold their exact same promise made to us in 2018 when we approved Measure G’s new half-cent sales tax for “critical unmet needs”, and has failed to provide any citizen oversight as promised. 

It was deja vu last Tuesday when the County Board of Supervisors heard a gloomy report from the new County Budget Manager, Mr. Pimental, warning of a $7.7 million deficit, and justifying that a ballot initiative to raise new tax money is needed.   Deputy CAO Nicole Coburn jumped in to present results of a public survey about what residents feel is important….wildfire protection, emergency response, and road repair. 

And by raising the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) significantly with this June’s ballot initiative, tourists will pay for it!

Hmmmm……

This was the same tactic the CAO and Board used in 2018, when the County faced a $15 million deficit (largely due to recession and high unfunded CalPERS retired employee pension payments) and Voila!  Measure G came to voters’ ballots in November, claiming “critical unmet needs” would be funded by a new half-cent countywide sales tax.   At the time, the CAO actually considered raising the TOT then, but that would have only brought in an estimated $734,000, where the half-cent sales tax would net an estimated $5.75 million. 

Now, the CAO feels that increasing the TOT to 12% for hotels / motels, and 14% for vacation rentals (current rate is 11%), the County would likely rake in an additional $2.5 million.  My, my…

And the CAO again proposed the same successful causes to fund…wildland fire, emergency response, and road repair.  Why not?  It worked in 2018 to convince voters.

Take a look at that Measure G ballot lie: Santa Cruz County, California, Measure G, Sales Tax (November 2018)

Look at what the CAO told the Board about why Measure G was needed back in 2018:

DOC-2018-697 Consider report on revenue options and funding strategies to address the County’s critical unmet needs, resolution to provide for the submission of a countywide measure authorizing a one-half cent increase in the sales tax on transaction

Public oversight??? None for Measure G that was promised to voters.  In fact, when I asked County Treasurer Edith Driscoll about Measure G public oversight committee, here is what she replied:

Ms. Steinbruner,

The language for Measure G states the funds are subject to citizen oversight, not a separate oversight committee. All County funds are subject to citizen oversight as the financial information is reported in Annual Financial Reports that are audited by an external audit firm annually. Regarding an audit of the funds, any funds received by the County is included in the County’s Annual Financial Reports. Measure G funds were general purpose revenues and are there fore not audited separately. I have pasted the link to the County’s financial reports. https://www.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/Government/BudgetandFinancialReports.aspx. The financial records for fiscal year 2020-21 will close very shortly and the final financial reports will be presented to the Board of Supervisor’s and posted on the website in late December or early January 2022. [Budget and Financial Reports]

 So in other words, if a confusing and complex accounting is posted on the County website, anyone can go look at it….and that meets the County’s promised “Citizen Oversight” for the 2018 promise on the Measure G ballot.

Please don’t be fooled again by voting to support the upcoming ballot initiative to raise Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) this June.

NO COUNTY SUPERVISORS BOTHERED TO ATTEND LAST TUESDAY’S BOARD MEETING IN PERSON
It was a bizarre event to have an in-person Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors meeting in the Chambers last Tuesday, but NONE of the Supervisors attended in person! There were some young school students who came to testify….to an empty Board dais.

Take a look at the video from February 15, 2022

COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WILL HAND-PICK NEW HOSPITAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor meeting agenda again had many critical issues buried in the Consent Agenda, such as Item #22.  The Board announced therein that Supervisor Zach Friend (checking in remotely from Coronado) and Supervisor Greg Caput will hand-pick the five-member Board of Directors to recommend for approval.  Do you think the nurses will have a place at that table? 

Regular Meeting
2/15/2022

PVHCD will be governed by a five-member Board of Directors. The initial directors must be appointed by the County Board of Supervisors. As time is of the essence, applications for positions on the PVHCD Board will be accepted from February 16 to March 4, 2022. The group identified above intends to review applications starting the week of March 8, 2022. Staff will then return to the Board on March 22, 2022, with nominations for the Board to consider. Going forward, directors will be elected to office by voters via the customary election process.

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT STRATEGIC PLANNING  
If you are interested in helping to guide what happens in the MidCounty area’ water situation, make sure you join the April 2 Soquel Creek Water District Strategic Planning Public Workshop.  Details will follow, as this may be an in-person or hybrid event outdoors.

Strategic Planning Discussion • Mr. Duncan reported that the District has initiated its process to update its Strategic Plan. This is a 4-5 month process, which will include internal and external stakeholder interviews, a staff survey, departmental meetings, and public meetings. This process will include interviews with standing committee members.

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT DELAYS PIPELINE FOR TOXIC EFFLUENT CROSSING THE SAN LORENZO RIVER AND PARTIALLY CLOSES PUBLIC DOG PARK
Well, first the Soquel Creek Water District linked arms with the City of Santa Cruz to evict Food Not Bombs from Public Lot 27 in order to start construction on a pipeline crossing the San Lorenzo River to carry toxic effluent to Live Oak.  Now that nifty plan is delayed, so the District has resorted to the original plan to close the Mimi de Marta Dog Park, but now only partially.  Will they also revert to digging the 50′ deep vaults on both sides of the San Lorenzo River and tunnel under it for the toxic effluent pipeline?

Stay tuned.

Community Reminders:  

  • Installation of pipeline across Laurel Street Bridge is currently scheduled for a later date.  
  • Dog owners: some areas of the Mimi De Marta Park are fenced off, with most of the park remaining open. 

STILL NO RESPONSE FROM CALFIRE ABOUT A CZU FIRE AFTER ACTION REVIEW
It appears that CALFIRE still has not responded to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisor’s request for an After Action Review of the CZU Fire.  Then-Chairman Supervisor Bruce McPherson sent that request to CALFIRE Chief Thom Porter on September 30, 2021, with the added request that if no such Review is forthcoming, to please provide an explanation why not.

No reply.

Chief Thom Porter retired December 10, 2021.  

Take a look at the letter. [pdf]  Note that Senator John Laird and Assemblyman Mark Stone are copied. Please contact them about this issue and urge them to nudge CALFIRE.  After all, how can we learn from our mistakes if they are only swept under the rug?

Many thanks to Supervisor Manu Koenig and Analyst Caitlin Smith for promptly providing the copy of the Board’s letter upon my request.

WHAT IS REALLY BEHIND A POSSIBLE FEDERAL GAS TAX HOLIDAY?
Biden, Democrats Eye Suspension of 18-Cent Federal Gas Tax: Report

Does this make sense at a time when the mantra is to use less fossil fuel???

MAKE A CALL.  WRITE A LETTER.  MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK!

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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February 20 

SANDHILLS SHRUBS BLOSSOMING

It is 10 o’clock in the morning, and the day’s first breeze carries the heady honey scent of sandhills chaparral. As sunrays warm millions of manzanita flowers, they release their sweet scent, attracting pollinators. Bumble bees and hummingbirds are easy to see; blossom clusters wiggle, bob, and bounce with these frequent visitors, and the festivities are noisy. Overhead there’s a regular ascending and descending whistling from the musical tail feathers of sky-diving hummingbirds. Across the manzanita canopy, there’s a complex wing buzz orchestra: lower notes of bumble bees, middle notes of honeybees, and the high whine of many species of flower visiting flies.

The County’s Geological Archipelago

The Inland Sandhills of Santa Cruz County are various-sized patches of a geological archipelago: biological islands which are home to many plants and animals that only occur in this extremely rare and fragile habitat. Experts have referred to this archipelago without hyperbole as a terrestrial analog to the Galapagos Islands for its conservation value and precious potential to help us understand evolution. The unique geology includes outcrops of ancient sandstone and related sandy soils, forming a substrate that greatly contrasts to the richer soils of the surrounding area. Step across this geological line and into the sandy areas and you find 90 ‘sandhill indicator’ plant species that you won’t find in the surrounding habitats. The bigger shrubs of these areas, manzanitas and ceanothus, are in bloom right now.

Silvery Manzanita

Silver leaf manzanita is a common inland sandhill indicator shrub, and at the height of its beauty right now. Mature silverleaf manzanitas can be quite tall- up to 20 feet and commonly overhead. The medium sized flower clusters are pure white to pinkish and presented at the end of branch tips surrounded by the canopy of soft, silver-green leaves. Each manzanita species has its own color pallet that includes unique bark. This species has reddish brown, smooth bark on its upright and mostly slim and sometimes many-branched trunks. If you are confused about which manzanita species you might be seeing, kick the soil and if it is loose and sandy, you are seeing the silverleaf kind. But, if the ground is hard and your toe goes ‘clunk’ you are off the sand and you might be seeing the similarly silver crinite manzanita, which also differs in having a big woody burl at the base of each stem. Silver leaf manzanitas make for excellent additions to the landscape, if you have a place for a large shrub. When it is not in bloom its overall shape, silver leaves, and deep red bark are quite stunning. And, during its month-long flowering period in late winter, you will be entertained by pollinators and awoken by its honey scent.

Dusty Sweet

There is another shrub blossoming in the inland sandhills right now: wedge leaved ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus var. ramulosus). The round clusters of flowers are lavender colored, pale blue, or, rarely, white. Some say the scent is very sweet, some say very dusty, and I say dusty-sweet. Here again is a pollinator feast. As you get towards the edge of the sandy geology (kick the ground if you must), you will find other species of ceanothus, also at the beginning of their blooming period. The widespread blue blossom will soon have the biggest, bright bluest show and the warty leaved ceanothus will present dark sapphire blue clusters with purple bract highlights that are jewels along the edges of the inland sandhill chaparral.

Leaping Lupines

In the deeper sandy spots between the patches of big woody shrubs, there’s another inland sandhill shrub in bloom: silver bush lupine. The silver on these leaves is even more silvery than the silver leaved manzanita. Silvery leaves reflect the hot sun that this chaparral must endure in the dry summer months. This bush lupine’s leaves are so silvery the green is hidden, though it must be there somewhere in order for the plant to photosynthesize. Lavender spikes of pea-shaped flowers poke up from the short mounding bushes. In the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, past fires have created open space and big patches of this species, another favorite flower of bumble bees. There, the silver bush lupine are so numerous that you can get a rare sense of their massed color and architecture- stunningly beautiful and in full bloom very soon! 

Visiting the Sandhills

Picture the flowering shrubs: tall silver, red barked manzanitas festooned with clusters of white flowers….pale blue flowered ceanothus shrubs…patches of silver lupines with lavender flower spikes. Think how much better it would be to see this in person! There are only a few places that the public is allowed into this sensitive habitat. You can visit areas of inland sandhills at Quail Hollow County Park, at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park from a trail head off Graham Hill Road, or at the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve on Martin Road. 

Sandhills Conservation

Even though the inland sandhills have long been recognized for their global conservation significance, many areas have been lost to development and are still being lost due to poor decision making. By member support, through funding raised by donations and plant sales, and through the thousands of hours of generous volunteer time, the California Native Plant Society has been largely responsible for the conservation of the inland sandhills. There is much work remaining to protect what is left. Areas that have been set aside such as the Land Trust’s Randy Morgan Preserve desperately need stewardship. Invasive plants including jubata (pampass) grass, French broom, and acacia are ongoing threats. Visitor use impacts are another big issue, especially because the soil is so easily eroded along trails. Ad hoc and unauthorized/unplanned trails through this habitat erode, vector weeds, and are a means for feral cats and other predators to impact endangered animals that inhabit the chaparral. 

Improper Management

Although you can visit the Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve, realize that your visit has not been properly planned by the landowner, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). According to policy, the CDFW must seek approval of a management plan for this area before opening trails for public use. As State-owned lands of the highest conservation priority, Ecological Reserves must be managed primarily for conservation purposes. Only natural resource interpretation, not recreational trails, would be permitted under the policies as written, and those must be planned correctly to avoid sensitive areas. Unfortunately, none of this has occurred and an old ad hoc trail system is being unofficially sanctioned which, most recently, is planned to serve as through-access to recreational trails on the adjoining Land Trust property….in the also-extremely-sensitive steep slopes of salmon-bearing Laguna Creek, upstream of the City’s drinking water intake. It seems that the CNPS and other environmental groups have not had enough help to oppose such ill-conceived ideas. If you have the means, volunteer for, or give to, environmental groups so that they might better protect our County’s precious resources for future generations. We are increasingly in danger of loving our natural areas to death and in dire need of leadership to better plan for long-term conservation in the face of increasing pressure from well-organized and extremely well-funded outdoor recreational groups. I understand that State Parks is also folding to such pressure, recently opening up bicycle use to the fragile sandhills trails at Henry Cowell, the last remaining habitat for the endangered Santa Cruz kangaroo rat.

Sandhills chaparral is beautiful and fragile. All our region’s experts agree that Santa Cruz County’s Inland Sandhills are the highest priority for biological conservation. If you are at all inclined to better understand our region’s biological diversity, you should get to know this habitat. Now is a good time.

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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February 21

#52 / The Tindler Swindler Reminds Me Of ….

Have you seen The Tinder Swindler? A friend put me on to it, and it’s a pretty amazing movie. The Tinder Swindler is available on Netflix, as a kind of “true crime” report. It’s a documentary – all real; no fiction. Click here for the trailer. 

 

The Guardian has a nice article on the movie. Click that link for The Guardian’s report not only on the movie itself, but on what has been going on with the real life “Tinder Swindler” (original name Shimon Hayut) now that he’s out of jail. Here’s a hint: the “Tinder Swindler” is doubling down on his proven prowess as a swindler, and is denying ever having done anything wrong.

For those who haven’t seen The Tinder Swindler, here is a description provided by Wikipedia

An Israeli man, born Shimon Hayut, traveled around Europe, presenting himself as the son of Russian-Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev. He used the dating app Tinder to contact women as Simon Leviev, and tricked them into lending him money that he never repaid. He would charm women with lavish gifts and take them to dinners on private jets using money he borrowed from other women he previously conned. He would later pretend he was being targeted by his “enemies,” often sending the same messages and images to each woman, indicating that he had just been attacked with a knife, but that his bodyguard had saved him and was hurt. He then asked his victims to help him financially due to the breach of “security,” allegedly hindering his use of his credit cards and bank accounts; the women would often take out bank loans and new credit cards in order to help. He would then use the money gained through the deception to lure new victims, while essentially operating a Ponzi scheme. Later, he would pretend to repay his victims by sending forged documents showing fake bank transfers and then break off contact with the victims.

As I say, I thought that the movie was amazing. How could this guy get away with all the scams he pulled? How could he keep on tricking people, so successfully, time after time? I concluded, at the end, that what made the scam work was the evidence (totally bogus, as it turned out) that the Swindler had real money. The money provided the lavish lifestyle that wowed the women, but more importantly, the fact that the swindler appeared to have massive amounts of money made his victims think that this was a really “solid guy,” someone they could trust. Should trust. Would trust!

Within five minutes after the credits rolled (if you see the movie, stay for those), I realized that the “Tinder Swindler” reminded me of no one more than Donald J. Trump:
 

  • Narcissistic? Check!
  • Serial liar? Check!
  • Apparently a fabulously wealthy man? Check!
  • Apparently an extremely successful businessman? Check!
  • Lots of nefarious enemies, out to get him? Check! 

If you’ve seen the movie, don’t you think I’m right? If you haven’t seen it, and decide to do so, keep my reaction in mind as you watch a con man do his thing! 

The AlterNet article I am linking here, “Trump’s latest financial trouble explodes the national security risk by a factor of 10,” reinforces the parallels. Once he was exposed as NOT having all those money assets he claimed to have, the “Tinder Swindler” lost a lot of his ability to maneuver. This is a fate that AlterNet speculates has now befallen our former president. 

Money (or the appearance of money – lots of money) really, really, really helps to make the medicine go down!


Fake Smile. Fake Guy
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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February 21

MUGGING FOR THE CAMERA, AND YES, I’D LIKE FUNDRAISING FOR $50,000, ALEX!

This past weekend marked the 80th anniversary of President FDR’s signing of Executive Order 1066, whereby over 100 thousand Japanese Americans were categorized as ‘enemy aliens’ as they were rounded up by our military and transported to internment camps. Whole families were stripped of their possessions to spend time in bleak, cramped quarters behind barbed wire fences, as they were guarded by armed personnel, patrolling the perimeters or posted in guard towers. The annual Day of Remembrance is especially important in our current bigoted atmosphere, marked constantly by random hate crimes against our Asian American neighbors. We are obliged to stand up to the injustices perpetrated against all minorities in our country – we must never falsely accuse and cage our fellow citizens again, even as those dark forces are once again raising an ugly flag of authoritarianism!

In that same vein, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis was recently castigated editorially by several newspapers and politicians for not condemning a Nazi demonstration near Orlando, later complaining that his opponents were “trying to smear me as if I had something to do with it,” adding, “critics are trying to use this as some kind of political issue, and we’re not playing their game.” After being confronted, he did say, “they (the Nazis) are abhorrent, despicable, have no part in society, and are jackasses,” but then hastily went on to attack Biden. His remarks after his initial silence, are reminiscent of another statement in particular – “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” Who can forget that one, and not see what chaos and turmoil it further escalated within our nation. 

A Montessori School day-care center in Newton, Massachusetts, reprimanded, then later fired, a teacher and eventually closed down over fears of protests, after the teacher had her young class, in a group project, paint blackface masks to wear in observation of Black History Month. Many parents, at day’s end, noticed black paint stains on their child’s skin and clothing but were not aware of the activity until the school posted photos online, several of whom then pulled their student from the school. The center immediately issued a statement/apology on Facebook, claiming that not enough research was done on black history, resulting in an inappropriate activity, saying, “…we are sorry about it and we mean it!” Parents felt that this was neither an apology nor an acceptance of wrongdoing, so the school then deleted their Facebook profile. Let’s all hope next year’s project is a bit clearer in concept and that the community will be better served…if the day-care can even make a comeback. Montessori needs to work toward their state motto – ‘The Spirit of America’, as it’s intended, not as practiced.

Evidently, in that same ‘Spirit’, Massachusetts officials recently uncovered a scheme that led to the firing of four Registry of Motor Vehicles who allowed 2100 drivers to be given licenses without having to take a road test. A statewide search is ongoing to identify those drivers to see that they are finally certified to safely take to the roadways. Sounds like a Trumpian fundraiser scam, doesn’t it? On the road again!

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, noted for his fist salute to the insurrectionists in D.C. on J6, 2001, decided to fundraise with that widely circulated image, selling $20 mugs depicting his infamous gesture. Crowing that it’s a potent prod at the lefties, with a bloviating message, “This Made In America mug is the perfect way to enjoy Coffee, Tea, or Liberal Tears!” Insurrectionist Hawley needs some serious cash, since his corporate donations decreased 79% last year, from a high of $91,000 the previous year. However, the staff of this vocal critic of imports from China got caught removing ‘Made in China’ stickers from the product before being sold. Wait, wait, there’s more! Turns out his campaign does not own the rights to that photo, with the Associated Press, feeling mugged, confirming that its legal team is investigating and will take appropriate action! Hawley had previously announced his impending intro of legislation to require that our critical goods and supplies be made in America…alas, no mention of coffee mugs. Now, who is liberally tearing up, Josh?

Another fundraiser is indeed Trumpian…Melania to be specific, and in the news once again, this time with an ‘exclusive high tea‘ to aid ‘Foster the Future’ which raises money for educational opportunities for children in the foster system. So far, the charity is not to be found in Florida, which requires a state registration before donations can be solicited, so Florida Consumer Services will be checking legitimacy. Melania, shrieking ‘fake news’ in defense of charging $50,000 for VIP tickets (only $3000 for the riff-raff who wish to attend by bringing their own tea bag), claims the shadow organization is instrumental in her ‘Be Best Campaign’ against cyberbullying, and the well-being of youth. Additionally, she claimed she is working with Bradley Impact Fund, identified as a donor-advised fund, affiliated with Bradley Foundation, a supporter of conservative causes, and another surprise – Bradley is linked to the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement. Melania explained that paperwork is being completed, and that specific charities have not been picked yet – raising another red flag for FCS. So, are we to conclude that Mel disregarded the state laws, and now they need a fixer to make it look legit? Plus, she doesn’t mention how much DJT will charge for holding the event at Mar-A-Lago…invoice to follow after he sees the take? ‘Be Best’, Melania? Sure, in the ‘Worst’ way! One commenter renamed her charity ‘The Fund for Slovenian Trophy Wives.’ Raise a glass to that!

Delighted in seeing online, captioned photos of two EMTs loading an anti-vaxxer COVID patient, lying on a gurney, into an ambulance. The patient indignantly says, “Are you taking me to the HOSPITAL?!”. An EMT answers, “NO SIR! You need top medical experts! You’re being taken to the Comments Section.” Stay safe and sane! 

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

    Funnies

“The doctor must have put my pacemaker in wrong. Every time my husband kisses me, the garage door goes up”.
~Minnie Pearl

“An alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do”.
~Dylan Thomas

“I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical”.
~Arthur C. Clarke

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia”.  
~Charles Schulz

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So we’ve all heard people claim the moonlanding is a hoax, right? Right. But where on earth did that come from? Find out in thie video from Today I Found Out (great YouTube channel, btw).


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
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