Blog Archives

January 1 – 7, 2019

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Traffic in Victorville! Water development in Victorville! Greg Larson’s plans, Special thanks to…GREENSITE… on UCSC’s season’s greetings. KROHN…back next week. STEINBRUNER…Recall Soquel Creek Water District board, Pleasure Point Corridor plan wrong, Zach Friends’ new $$$ office, Local water supplies, Rancho Del Mar news. PATTON…The Saboteur. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. JENSEN…had technical difficulties. BRATTON…critiques Roma, Ben Is Back, Vice, and many more good ones. UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES…about “New Years”.



SANTA CRUZ’S PACIFIC AVENUE 1910. Yes, the corner of Lincoln and Soquel. The Unique Theatre we see here was once owned by Mack Swain. Swain partnered with Charlie Chaplin as his nemesis in many films. Nowadays it’s the Om Gallery on the left, Forever 21 and New Leaf on the right.                                         

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

SPIKE JONES BIG HITS. I grew up watching Spike Jones almost annually when he played Buffalo, New York. Nothing and nobody like him…ever.

DATELINE December 31, 2018

VICTORVILLE TRAFFIC! As our local RTC bumbles on its way to solve our Santa Cruz  traffic problem, we must keep in mind that traffic is terrible almost everywhere. I got dumped headfirst into the 5 o’clock car jam in the middle of Victorville! Who would believe there were enough people going anywhere near Victorville. This was the Westbound traffic on Bear Valley road — and no ne I asked could explain where such mobs were coming from (or going to) but it’s been a sad factor for years down there.

VICTORVILLE WATER! Nephew John took me on a sightseeing tour of Spring Valley Lake near his house. Like the traffic problems, water in California requires constant surveillance. It’s unbelievable to see the 200 acre lake — requiring 3 million cubic yards of dirt to be dug out of the ground in 7 months — created so that private homes developed by Boise Cascade Corporation would have porches facing water in this very dry environment. The lake contains 1 billion, 80 million gallons of water. The plumbing, evaporation, transportation, filtering problems continue to be gigantic. But the golf course and the very private children’s beach are very popular with the members/residents. How could that have happened? But then again Wilder Ranch was designed to have 10,000 homes and annexed to Santa Cruz city.

GREG LARSON’S PLANS. In case you’re wondering…yes, Greg Larson is planning to run again ASAP. There’s already been meetings to discuss when he should file, so that he can’t blame his late entry like last time. Cynthia Mathews is one of his main backers. This means we can expect Greg to start appearing at dozens of lemonade stand openings, in fact any type of community gathering — just to prove he really cares. It’s what Cynthia does as her next campaign gets rolling. Mkie Rotkins also joins every gathering just to get that exposure when he’s about to run for re-elections. Now we have to wonder if Larson has another $50,000 to spend on the next campaign like he did the last one.

There’s no good enough way to thank Gunilla Leavitt for all the years she has been 100% responsible for getting BrattonOnline up online every single week…and she stays happy too. Our partnership goes back to July 23, 2003, when it first went online. Dick Bender suggested the internet, and Marv Kaplan introduced me to Gunilla. It’s been wonderful ever since.

Above and beyond a favor, author Michael Marshall Smith has been editing and trying to fix all of my punctuation and word parts of BrattonOnline every week for over a year. Read his Only Forward or The Anomaly novels. Keep up with his literary output by going to…

December 31


A few decades ago, when I voiced objections to yet another UCSC building proposal that paid no mind to the stunning views of the Monterey Bay from campus, one administrator suggested I simply ignore it and look beyond it. I found myself thinking of that comment last Sunday when I went for a run around the track at the East Field House. The view from the East Field is stunningly beautiful. It has been captured by photographer Shmuel Thaler in a variety of its moods: from early morning fog with a herd of deer faintly outlined to brilliant sunshine with the mountains of Monterey etched clearly across 25 miles of the Bay.  Sharing this space with student athletes as well as community walkers and joggers is one of life’s true delights. That is, until now.

Now, six massive portable stadium light structures are parked on site so the Rugby players can practice and have games at night. Each has a bank of eight lights. Each can be raised to a maximum height of 40 feet.  In the photo, the structure is at half-mast. They dominate and diminish this iconic view to a degree without precedent. You get a feel for this impact from the two photos that show the view of Loma Prieta with one of the light structures included and from the same spot, without. Collectively, the effect is akin to putting a 4 story Jack-in-the-Box on top of Half Dome. Other team sports manage to play and practice in daylight hours so why not Rugby?  Did anyone consider the impact? Does anyone care? Is this the new normal at UCSC?

The desecration of this peaceful ambience and view is one thing; the impact of the lights on the community is another. The photo taken at night is of highway cars plus these lights at a distance of 4 miles south on Highway I. The glow in the distance that looks like a spaceship landing is the East Field stadium lights. At night, they glare at us from out on the wharf. They glare into windows in the County Building. From the air in a small plane to record the worst examples of light pollution in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, we documented these lights as one of the top 4 light polluters in both counties.

They make a mockery of the UCSC claim in one of its Long Range Development Plans that the campus ensures its lights are not obtrusive to the surrounding community. Light pollution goes well beyond aesthetics. Artificial light at night (ALAN) affects human health as recently documented by the AMA and disrupts all of the creatures that are nocturnal. Even plants are disrupted if they are exposed to artificial lights when it should be dark. But no mind, the rugby team has to play.

For amusement I tried to look beyond and ignore them. It was then I spotted the next desecration.  All of the oak trees within the East Remote Parking lot have been cut down. The one in the photo still awaits the chipper. I counted 73 stumps, many over two feet diameter at the base. This is to make way for solar panels, which are a good thing but at what cost? Surely we can be careful and caring enough to find locations on buildings for solar before we cut down 73 oak trees? I wondered if the committee that made this decision wrestled with the dilemma or simply checked the box, “trees must go.” Perhaps they were looking beyond to the next project such as building on the East Meadow and didn’t even notice the loss. 

See closeups of the photos here.

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


CHRIS KROHN is OFF this week and he’ll be back next week.

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

Email Chris at

December 31

The Soquel Creek Water District Board and Staff had obviously called in all their buddies and developers to the meeting December 18 when the Board certified the Environmental Impact Report for their preferred Project to inject millions of gallons of treated sewage water into the drinking water supply for the entire MidCounty area.  A hot mic during the break revealed to those watching live-stream that Vice President Bruce Daniels was chortling about how most of the 25 public testimonies favored the PureWater Soquel Project.  That included Steve Wait, executive for IDE Technologies, a large design-build-operate business specializing in recycled water and desalination projects.

What the Board approved was an EIR deficient in analysis of alternatives to their energy-hog and technology-dependent Project that will cost ratepayers $200 Million and take at least three years to complete.  The Board approved a deficient EIR that does not respond to comments made by local water agency and sanitation experts with concerns about lack of data to justify claims made in the Draft EIR regarding sustainable pumping yields and 1500 AcreFeet/Year requirement for supplemental supply, hence size of the Project.  The Board approved a deficient EIR that did not address comment regarding the placement of the treatment plant in an area already over capacity for sewage but that will be expected to handle the millions of gallons/day brine concentrate, full of contaminants, expected to be produced by the Chanticleer facility.

The Board disregarded public testimony from Supervisor John Leopold, who spoke out against the Chanticleer location of the treatment plant.  The Board disregarded many written requests from the public to extend the comment period for the 740-page complex Response to Comments on Draft EIR for the Project from a mere and minimally-required 10 days.  It was evident that Director Lather had not even read the document herself before approving it’s contents as part of the Final EIR.

Local agencies and members of the public now have until January 19 to file legal action to appeal this deficient California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) action.  Ratepayers will be given the opportunity to PROTEST THE IMPENDING 9% ANNUAL RATE INCREASES, due for public hearing February 19.  These significant rate increases are necessary to fund the environmentally-damaging PureWater Soquel Project that would inject millions of gallons of treated sewage water into the drinking water supply, not allow any other parties who also depend on the Purisima Aquifer for clean drinking water to vote on the Project, and whose construction will admittedly cause structural damage to 18 historic homes along the pathway of the proposed 11-mile pipeline from the City Sewage Treatment Plant on Bay Avenue to the proposed District treatment plant on Chanticleer Avenue in Live Oak.  Construction would be so noisy that the District must pay for residents in the construction areas to stay at hotels.

What is Soquel Creek Water District Board and Staff thinking????  They obviously have lost sight of the bigger picture to provide AFFORDABLE AND SAFE drinking water to their customers.  District rates are already second-highest in the State for a system their size and elderly customers regularly attend Board meetings to beg for adjustments to their sky-high water bills.  “We are not allowed to offer any rate assistance programs,” is the constant Board reply as they sit munching snacks and signing approvals for $45,000/year contracts for lobbyists in Washington, D.C.  It is disgusting to witness.

Why did the Board and Staff push through the Final EIR surprise action (no mention of any such significant impending action was discussed at the December 4 Board meeting to alert the public) during a busy Holiday Season, with action taken at a public MEETING, and NOT A PUBLIC HEARING that would have required formal noticing and more time???  Why did the Board and Staff certify an EIR as “complete” when the water transfers from Santa Cruz City, occurring NOW at a rate of 1200 gallons/minute and can continue into the future using existing infrastructure, but the Project EIR did not acknowledge???

There are many questions the arrogant and fiscally-irresponsible Soquel Creek Water District Board and Staff need to answer.  It appears, however, that legal action is the only way to get them to listen. Take a look at their propaganda website here:

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

The Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency (that’s the rural and urban Scotts Valley, San Lorenzo Valley and Santa Cruz City areas) is hosting a free seminar series to educate the public and hold discussion about local water issues.  The first seminar, “Land Use and Water: How Much Does Growth Matter?” will be January 12, 9 am-noon, at the Felton Community Center and will discuss land use planning and water supply consideration.  Registration is encouraged but not required, and you need not live in the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency areas to attend.  Read more here


The only tenant in the newly-remodeled Rancho Del Mar Center lower complex is Erik’s Deli, still housed in its former location.  The rest of the complex sits empty, with work continuing now in the center building where Comerica Bank and Fleet Feet used to be.  This will be the new location for Bay Federal Credit Union, once completed, and who knows what else.

Thanks to all who contacted TRC Retail about the dark and risky parking lots in these areas, there are now temporary construction floodlights on in the lower and middle parking areas at night, making it safer and much more inviting to patronize Erik’s Deli.

A recent article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel listed some new tenants slated for the future…a pretty short list.

Note the reference to the Sheriff Center closing in the Rancho del Mar Center, and opening up in the future at the Aptos Village Project.  I wonder if the mysterious massage parlor that was next to the Sheriff Center will also be relocated to the new Aptos Village Public Safety Center???   Hmmmmm….

I hope you will patronize Erik’s Deli…they need all the help they can get, given TRC Retail’s draconian leasing policies.

Cheers, Becky Steinbruner

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.

Email Becky at


December 22, 2018 #356 / The Saboteur

In a long review of The Fifth Risk, a book by Michael Lewis, Fintan O’Toole gave us this view of president Trump: 

What’s going on here is easily enfolded within the terms that the big narratives of the Trump presidency offer us: chaos, ignorance, incompetence. The terms are not inapt, but they are radically insufficient.

We all know that people in power deploy distraction as a professional skill, much as magicians do. We are used to it. In every act of political communication, “Look at this” is always the explicit obverse of an implicit “Don’t look at that.” But Trump confounds us by using as distractions the very things that other politicians want to distract us from. In democracy as we think we have known it, the art of governance is, in part, the skill with which our attention is diverted from the sordid, the shameful, the thuggish. Yet these same qualities are the gaudiest floats in Trump’s daily parade of grotesqueries. This is his strange, and in its own way brilliant, reversal: instead of distracting us from the lurid and the sensational, Trump is using them to distract us from the slow, boring, apparently mundane but deeply insidious sabotaging of government. He is the blaring noise that drowns out the low signal of subversion.

The O’Toole review is worth reading in its entirety. O’Toole is saying that while our president may appear to be, he actually is not, either a buffoon or an incompetent. Quite the contrary. The president is the political equivalent of a criminal mastermind, a modern day Moriarty, disguising his real intentions, and presenting himself as a buffoon and an incompetent in order to do so.

What, then, is the president actually about? O’Toole, basing his analysis on the new book by Michael Lewis, says that the president’s project is to destroy the policy and administrative capabilities of the federal government. That is his real ambition. Our president, in other words, is a saboteur.

I have to say, that sounds about right to me!

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

Email Gary at


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. Venture near the ego, the id, and our friends Ava and the Boss at Tim Eagan’s Subconscious Comics below.

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

ANNIE LYDON & DAVE STAMEY SHOWS. Singer, performer Annie Lydon joins songwriter and world renowned cowboy vocalist Dave Stamey with two shows at Michaels on Main  2519 Main Street Soquel on January 9 & 10. Get tickets immediately …they always pack the house. Doors open at 6:30, show starts at 7:30. Go to  and scroll down.

RED VELVET, THE PLAY. The Jewel Theatre Company, Santa Cruz’s only full time professional theatre company presents Lolita Chakrabarti’s play Red Velvet from January 23-February 17 at the Colligan Theatre in the Tannery. It’s about the backstage world of London in the early 1800’s. The play is Othello and the lead gets sick and a black man from America is about to take his place as the black Othello!! Go to  for more data and tickets.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa reports in saying she’s had technical difficulties. Read her reports and reviews at Lisa Jensen Online Express (!” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

ROMA. What’s extra-perfect about Roma is that you can see it on the theatre screen right now, realize how perfect a film it is, and then go home and watch it again on Netflix. I did exactly that. Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien) directed this complex self-biography/masterpiece. I’m not sure what’s best… the acting, the photography, or the story. It’s set in Mexico City in the 1970’s, and we watch the changes in the life of a housekeeper and of the world she lives in. See it, especially if you like award-winning classics.

BEN IS BACK. Julia Roberts gives one of her very best performances as a controlling Mom dealing with her addict son. Lucas Hedges captures the rest of the screen, as the remorseful son who is earnestly trying hard to stay “clean”. A very hard-biting drama, which has probably been a true story many thousands of times. Go see the movie.

VICE. Not a GREAT movie, but an important one. Christian Bale is completely unrecognizable as Dick Cheney, and his performance is for sure Oscar worthy. I had no idea how evil and powerful Cheney became while working under and on top of George W. Bush. It is a scary movie — and lacks continuity — but politics fans need to see it.

WELCOME TO MARWEN. Poor reviews — like a 28 on RT — but I liked it much more than they did. It’s “based on a true story” about a guy who got severely beaten by thugs and lost his memory…completely. So he re-creates a new world populated with Barbie dolls. Steve Carell plays Mark Hogancamp, the real life sufferer who still lives in up-state New York. Since the movie is about a mentally deranged guy, it too is disturbingly directed. It’s complex, confused and really involving as well as hypnotic.

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS. Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie play strong and competing would-be queens in this costume drama set around the 16th century. It’s a battle between the two great actresses over the throne. It’s full of Catholicism, cruelty, cunnilingus, and other controversial topics. It’s way overdone and doesn’t add much too cinematic history.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS. This is a NEW Mary Poppins movie. Emily Blunt is no Julie Andrews, and if you’re old enough to remember seeing the 1964 original you’ll realize just how wonderful it was. There’s not a single memorable song in this take, no purity, innocence, or genuinely creative additions to the 54 year old original. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer and Julie Walters with Colin Firth and Meryl Streep feel like they’re added just to give it hype. Meryl Streep is sort of the Ed Winn, character but she’s not as good.

BIRD BOX. Sandra Bullock stars in this dystopian melodrama. Invisible aliens attack earth and if you look at them you’ll have to commit suicide! I saw this on Netflix, it’s brand new in limited release and who knows of it’ll ever go wall-to-wall in theatre. It’s a mish-mash of time periods as Sandra takes two children on a blindfolded row boat trip to escape the invaders. The ending??? It doesn’t have one, exactly, as our heroes stay over at a school for the blind and stare at the sky. The photography is fine, the acting is pretty good, but none of it makes sense.

GREEN BOOK. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali (from Oakland) are getting extra-super praise for their roles in this almost-true story of a white chauffeur driving a black jazz pianist through the American south in 1962. I couldn’t buy the entire plot. Both Viggo and Mahershala play their roles way over the top…becoming caricatures. There isn’t a surprise, revelation, or any lesson to be learned from this movie. It’s a story we are all too familiar with. If Slumdog Millionaire got an Academy Award, this one could too. But not from me.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. I should note that I’m no fan of “Queen” the band, or of Freddie Mercury, their Mick Jagger-copying lead singer. Nonetheless this Hollywood-style movie is shallow, hammy, trite, and adds nothing to film, music, or history. It’s actually boring for much of its screen time of two hours and 15 minutes.



UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE. Each and every Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. I host Universal Grapevine on KZSC 88.1 fm. or on your computer, (live only or archived for two weeks… (See next paragraph) and go to WWW.KZSC.ORG.    Ending the old year, former Santa Cruz County Supervisor Gary Patton and I will discuss the many events and issues that happened last year and guess some of the changes in 2019…for the full hour. January 8 has activist and columnist Becky Steinbruner. She’s followed by Keith McHenry bringing us up to date re Food Not Bombs. Julie James talks about Jewel Theatre’s new play Red Velvet on January 15. Phil Collins from New Music Works discusses their Feb.2 concert featuring Terry Riley, piano and Sarah Cahill. OR…if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go here You have to listen to about 4 minutes of that week’s KPFA news first, then Grapevine happens. Do remember, any and all suggestions for future programs are more than welcome so tune in, and keep listening. Email me always and only at

Package thieves are getting more and more common; jerks who walk up to your porch and JUST TAKE your delivered boxes!! I think there’s a special place in hell reserved for these people, and every single one of these deserved every speck of glitter they got.

UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE ARCHIVES. In case you missed some of the great people I’ve interviewed in the last 9 years here’s a chronological list of some past broadcasts.  Such a wide range of folks such as  Nikki Silva, Michael Warren, Tom Noddy, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, Anita Monga, Mark Wainer, Judy Johnson, Wendy Mayer-Lochtefeld, Rachel Goodman, George Newell, Tubten Pende, Gina Marie Hayes, Rebecca Ronay-Hazleton, Miriam Ellis, Deb Mc Arthur, The Great Morgani on Street performing, and Paul Whitworth on Krapps Last Tape. Jodi McGraw on Sandhills, Bruce Daniels on area water problems. Sandy Lydon on County History. Paul Johnston on political organizing, Rick Longinotti on De-Sal. Dan Haifley on Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Dan Harder on Santa Cruz City Museum. Sara Wilbourne on Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. Brian Spencer on SEE Theatre Co. Paula Kenyon and Karen Massaro on MAH and Big Creek Pottery. Carolyn Burke on Edith Piaf. Peggy Dolgenos on Cruzio. Julie James on Jewel Theatre Company. Then there’s Pat Matejcek on environment, Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack on the Universe plus Nina Simon from MAH, Rob Slawinski, Gary Bascou, Judge Paul Burdick, John Brown Childs, Ellen Kimmel, Don Williams, Kinan Valdez, Ellen Murtha, John Leopold, Karen Kefauver, Chip Lord, Judy Bouley, Rob Sean Wilson, Ann Simonton, Lori Rivera, Sayaka Yabuki, Chris Kinney, Celia and Peter Scott, Chris Krohn, David Swanger, Chelsea Juarez…and that’s just since January 2011.

QUOTES. “New Years”
“A year from now, you’re gonna weigh more or less than what you do right now”. Phil McGraw
“Come, gentlemen, I hope we shall drink down all unkindness“. William Shakespeare
“May the New Year bring you significantly more joy than the holidays did”. Anonymous

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!!

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