Blog Archives

January 12 – 18, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Our Community, Dientes and the whole tooth, films, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…Eucalyptus re-visited. KROHN…snapshots, UC growth, evictions, Jan.6, recalls. STEINBRUNER…will be back next week. HAYES…the early winter prairie. PATTON…letters to the editor, housing shortage. MATLOCK…The nation marks the somber anniversary of its disunity. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Covid”

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THE COUNTY LINE. May 1947. Nope, no Cabrillo Coast Highway name just like the sign says…”Route 56″.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE January 10

OUR COMMUNITY, OUR SANTA CRUZ. It doesn’t seem to matter when you moved to Santa Cruz because it’s changed so much “from the old days”. Developers like Bud Colligan and his followers Manu Koenig, Cynthia Mathews, Greenway Supporters, and the majority of our City Council work very hard and greedily to make us believe that growth brings more money and more money will cure our biggest problems. It’s organizations like Our Downtown Our Future that are waking some of us up. They are fighting to allow us voters to decide on the issues we are dealing with…and they are circulating a petition to get those issues on the ballot. Issues like affordable housing downtown, modernizing the existing library, keeping the Farmers Market where it is and saving 10 heritage trees. Go to the website, sign the petition, get involved – our city is exactly what we make it and always will be.

DIENTES, THE TOOTH SHALL SET YOU FREE! This is a search in progress about Dientes the Community Dental Care institution. Along with many, many senior friends and also some younger acquaintances we kept hearing and experiencing the warning that Dientes does far too many extractions to gain the extra fees from their money sources. Let me know if this has happened to you and your friends.

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.

THE TENDER BAR. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE) (67 IMDB) (52 RT) The big promo deal here is that George Clooney directed it. He’s directed 7 other films!! He should have asked for help. It’s trite, pointless, and the leads are Ben Affleck and Tye Sheridan. The kid who plays young Tye Sheridan doesn’t look anything like his older self but he’s a fine kid actor. Ben is a bar tender (get it?) and he spends the movie trying to teach his nephew how the world works. It takes place in Long Island around the 1970-80s. There’s a no-good drunken radio announcer bit part in the plot and that doesn’t help it be believable or even “interesting”.

CRIME STORY. (HULU SINGLE) (3.6 IMDB).(20 RT). Mira Sorvino returns to the screens along with Richard Dreyfuss in this soon-to-be-forgotten cop versus mob boss drivel. Sorvino is the policewoman and Dreyfuss is her father and a former Mafia boss type.  A robbery goes bad, and the usual plot develops. To see these once watchable stars making a living doing lousy scripts like this one is and was a waste of time. (Dreyfuss is now 75 and Mira Sorvino is 55!)

ZONE 414. (NETFLIX SINGLE). (4.9 IMDB) Guy Pearce and Matilda Lutz take lead roles in this science fiction film based in Ireland. It’s the future and we can’t tell humans from robots. There’s a daughter who is missing so a detective has to go hunting for her with the questionable help from another android. It’s just enough of a plot with ok acting to keep you mostly attentive.

THE LOST DAUGHTER. (NETFLIX SINGLE) (7.01 IMDB) Olivia Colman is the lead, Maggie Gyllenhaal directed it and Ed Harris plays in and out of the unusual plot that happens on the fictional Greek isle of Kyopoli. The plot gets thicker and thicker when Olivia starts doing some unusual things. She’s got a past that reveals itself heavily and deeply. With this talent you shouldn’t miss it.

THE SILENT SEA. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.0 IMDB). A Korean film produced by Jung Woo-sung takes us on a trip to the moon to retrieve some mysterious samples left there by the last expedition. The moon base is huge, dark, foreboding and the new group crashes there and has to figure how to get back. Almost but not quite thrilling.

KITZ. (NETFLIX SERIES) (5.4 IMDB). A cute young serving girl at a very exclusive ski resort in Germany works subtlety to revenge the death of her brother. She has set her sights on a wealthy, beautiful society daughter. The plot gets a bit stretched out and lengthy but it’s absorbing. 

STAY CLOSE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.9 IMDB). Comedian Eddie Izzard has a small role in this and he’s not at all funny. It’s a British film about the lives and past deeds of a woman who used to be a pole dancer. The plot rambles and rambles on about her new drives and why she got out of the pole dancing business. There are better and more detailed thrillers.

ANXIOUS PEOPLE. (NETFLIX SERIES). (7.0 IMDB)  This starts out as a fine, funny Swedish comedy and gets more serious as it goes on in its mini-series of six episodes. A father and son police team investigate a robbery that happens during an open house to rent/sell an apartment to several would-be buyers. Who the robber is and how he/she escapes being arrested makes it good fun to watch. It is touching, laughable, well-acted and you’ll like it. 

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, Amazon, 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.  

LICORICE PIZZA. (DEL MAR THEATRE). Not just superb but one of my favorite films of the year. The much recognized and honored director Paul Thomas Anderson created a swirling, tantalizing film about two young lovers coming of age in the 1970’s of the San Fernando Valley. The previously unknown leads Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman hold the twisted, clever, intricate plot together along with bit parts by Sean Penn, Tom Waits, and Bradley Cooper. Do not miss this excellent movie. 

THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.6 IMDB) When you have Frances McDormand producing and acting as Mrs. Macbeth with Denzel Washington as her ghost-ridden husband you’d think it would be the Macbeth to end them all…it isn’t. I think we all have our own private versions of the way Shakespeare’s great time-tested lines should be enacted and this version just doesn’t ring any new bells. It’s in black and white and filmed with plaster castle walls, which makes it moody but not a single new interpretation has been acted. Even though, if you’re into Shakespeare you have to see this one if only to reaffirm the idea that you’d do it differently.

THE WHOLE TRUTH. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Unbelievable, but this is a movie about a hole/whole in the wall through which not everyone can see…or be seen. Set in Thailand teenage children can see the past lives of their parents and what they were up to! There’s suicides, drunk driving, senile dementia, and some pretty bad acting. Not worth your time to wade through this mystery.

NIGHTMARE ALLEY. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (7.4 IMDB). What a cast…Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Ron Perlman, Rooney Mara, Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn, and back again is Tim Blake Nelson!! Plus, it’s directed by Guillermo del Toro!!! Yet I agree with many other critics that it just can’t and doesn’t compare with the 1947 version starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell. Like Red Rocket it’s the story of a down-and-out guy going through hell and some few high hopes trying to get back to what he considers normal. Fine acting and nicely photographed but it lacks drama or cohesiveness. Go anyways, because you probably won’t bother rewatching the Tyrone Power version that I remember every detail clearly from when I was 13.

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

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SANTA CRUZ ACTORS THEATRE announced….
“8 Tens @ 8 Short Play Festival” at the Center Stage Theater 1001 Center Street (831) 431-6237 January 14- February 6.
Tickets here! Nope!! No tickets available, they are all sold out, and they covid canceled all their performances anyways.

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

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January 10

EUCALYPTUS RE-VISITED

After 45 years fighting to save big trees in Santa Cruz, I was more than a little interested to read my fellow writer Grey Hayes’ piece on eucalyptus globulis (blue-gum) in last week’s issue of BrattonOnline. Grey’s approach is mostly to lay out the good and the bad on this controversial topic and leave the conclusions up to the reader. However, old myths die hard, and I spotted a few. Here’s a follow-up to further your understanding. 

The Oakland Hills Fire: Grey writes that many people blame this tragic 1991 fire partially on eucalyptus. I would add that some people to this day blame the trees entirely for the conflagration. Not so. Not even partially. The post-fire FEMA Report documents that the fire started in brush, re-ignited in brush and under extreme wind conditions and inadequate response was a full-fledged structure-fueled fire that consumed everything in its path before it even reached the first stand of eucalyptus. All post-fire reports cite poor responder communication, failed water pumps, lack of cleared space, and flammable wood roofs as the main causes. All reports caution against singling out any tree species over others as likely to cause a fire. Many species have volatile oils in their leaves, including bays and species of chaparral. The thick bark and tall straight trunks with few lower branches actually make blue gums less likely to generate crown fires. Misinformation on this topic has led to the wanton destruction of thousands of eucalyptus. One prominent eucalyptus hater in the Bay Area claims that the trees are called “gasoline” trees in Australia. You have to laugh or you’d cry. Aussies don’t use the word “gasoline”. It is named petrol and no, they aren’t called “petrol” trees either.


“RESTORATION IN PROGRESS”

These photos of widespread eucalyptus tree destruction I took last year at Elkhorn Slough. The header in the sign next to the decaying tree stump is displayed with no sense of irony.

The accompanying text explains that the “Reserve is restoring native grassland and coast live oak groves that were displaced by non-native, invasive eucalyptus trees.” This is another common myth. In reality, coast live oaks were eradicated by dairy farmers before eucalyptus were introduced into CA in the 1870s.

Many of the listed amphibians that are expected to be restored with the eradication of eucalyptus have long since adapted to life in eucalyptus groves.

Eucalyptus are not considered “invasive” by the US DOA. Even in CA the term “invasive” had been reconsidered and replaced with a lower-concern category and site-specific labeling. Aerial photographs mapped over the last century show eucalyptus groves shrinking in Santa Cruz County.

Birds: The status of bird species vis a vis eucalyptus is more extensive than the examples used in Grey’s piece. Ornithologist David Suddjian has researched and written on this topic. He has documented in Monterey Bay that 90 species of birds are regular users of eucalyptus with 59 species nesting. He notes that this comprises 40% of all bird species in the region. While the habitat the trees create is more akin to conifer forests than oak woodlands, nonetheless, this is a significant habitat replacement for a previous century’s tree clearing. At Moonglow Dairies, a favorite birding hotspot at Elkhorn Slough, mentioned by Grey, there is a documented 120 species including rare migrant birds in an extensive eucalyptus grove. 

I have no problem with controlling eucalyptus if they are indeed “invading” riparian areas and replacing willows, cottonwoods and alders. Just be accurate: are there really existing willows etc.? Are eucalyptus trees actually taking over, or are they filling a void as with the coast live oak? 

Eucalyptus wood: Much erroneous history has been written about the failure of blue gum to live up to its promise of good hardwood lumber whether for railroad ties, fencing, or framing wood. Conclusions that it warps and twists, or in its home country it’s only the old trees that work, are now discredited. As is often the case, man’s greed for quick profits was the cause for rejecting the trees’ commercial possibilities. Trees around 40 years old are well suited for commercial use. The trick is to slowly dry the wood, otherwise it will buckle and be useless for its intended purpose. In CA there was no patience to wait, it was processed before it was fully dry so it twisted and buckled, and the myth built that the wood was unsuitable for anything other than firewood. Some must have waited since local historian Ross Gibson’s beautiful booklet defending eucalyptus includes photos of banisters and chairs made out of eucalyptus in upscale homes in Santa Cruz. I shared this myth of buckling with a woodworking friend in Australia who sent me home with a breadboard he made out of a fallen blue gum from his farm with the message “show them this.” Twenty years later it is still straight and level.

Eucalyptus and water:  Conclusions on this topic are tentative according to researchers in south China where plantations of eucalyptus are widespread. Studies are limited. Eucalyptus, which are fast-growing use more water than slow-growing species but such a feature is not limited to eucalyptus. It is typical of most fast-growing trees including CA natives. The older the trees, the lower the rate of transpiration.  More research is needed before policies targeting eucalyptus are implemented.

I hope this piece adds to a better understanding of this much-maligned species of tree. It is only one of 700 species of eucalyptus. After 150 years, it is now a part of the historical landscape of CA.  While I understand the wish to go back to a time when only native trees and grasslands graced CA we are now in an apocalyptic era of no return. The time has run out to fell and chip and replace with saplings. 

Every big tree sequestering carbon and expelling oxygen, whatever its name, is crucial to our survival and the survival of all living things. 

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 10

“SNAPSHOTS”

Pandemic Loneliness at “The U”

I boarded the 9:10 am Metro bus number 10 from the transit center last week. It is a route I have taken for years up to the University. As usual, I plopped my aged touring bike onto the front rack and read the newspaper during the 25-minute light commute up to campus. I feel privileged, it sure beats commuting over the hill. Cedar to Mission and then up High Street, then a right turn onto the UCSC campus at Bay Street. The route has been covered by one of those gargantuan articulated buses for much of the past year. They are ancient and climate-unfriendly ones bought from Santa Clara at bargain-basement prices and can carry up to 150 passengers. But today, it is the smaller 50-person bus and there are two passengers and the bus driver riding as we leave Metro Center. There are no other passengers to be found until we reach the East Field House stop. Campus appears as a ghost town these days. In a normal school year, the beginning of the quarter bustles with youthful activity. Often, in past times, overcrowded buses would pass up dozens of anxious students waiting at bus stops on their way to overcrowded classrooms as “The U” continues to grow well beyond its resource base. UC continues to add more students without adding more housing or more buses or enough staff and faculty. 

The Covid era has done to UC Santa Cruz what all the letters of protest from the community and its elected officials could not. The pandemic has reduced car travel to campus, put the brakes on undergrads searching in vain for cheaper off-campus housing that does not exist, and it’s also brought a feeling of loneliness to the former Cowell Ranch, an atmosphere that allows the deer, coyote, and recent turkey-newcomer population to spread out and thrive absent the academic intruders. Will the pandemic epoch be the catalyst that finally puts the brakes on growth because of its recent Zoom learning appendage? I doubt it, but the respite we have right now from the spasmodic seasonal growth of student incursions affords a time for local reflection. What kind of community do we want to be? Have we learned anything during the pandemic? The only way to really limit the growth of UCSC in the city of Santa Cruz is for the UC Regents to share the educational wealth and designate other UC campuses around California. Why not UC Eureka, UC Fresno, and UC El Centro? They should all be on the table. Twenty-thousand students and 10,000 faculty and staff are enough for Surf City. I love UCSC and all that it offers this community, but there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Threatened Eviction of Food Not Bombs 

Keith McHenry, the boisterous, sometimes cantankerous street fighter and scholar on the US houseless crisis and who helped found the national Food Not Bombs (FNB), finds himself being threatened by yet another Santa Cruz city hired gun. Homeless Response Czar Larry Imwalle has been chosen by the city’s bureaucracy to be the most recent municipal bad cop. He’s seeking to get rid of the FNB feeding site that has lasted on Lot 27 for almost the entire pandemic, 664 days according to McHenry. 

Who knew the city operates an astonishing 27 parking lots and garages in and around downtown Santa Cruz? The city’s parking facilities website offers this Lot 27 bio: The Front/Laurel East lot is located at the corner of Front and Laurel streets. It has a 3-hour time limit, enforced Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is unlimited all day on Sundays. Permits cost $165 per quarter and may be purchased at the Parking Office in the Locust Garage (124 Locust Street). The lot has $10 event parking during events at the Kaiser Permanente Arena. 

Homeless Response Czar Larry, who reports to Deputy City Manager Lee Butler, writes to FNB’s McHenry that “Pure Water Soquel” needs the lot as a staging area for a project it is about to undertake, and besides it’s “simply illegal and not permitted by the City” to be occupying one of their parking lots, even if it is a pandemic and even if you are feeding hundreds of hungry people daily. Is Lot 27 really the only one available to Pure Water Soquel? And why the Homeless Response Czar is doing the bidding for the SC public works department is not at all clear. Is it because homeless people are to be moved and Keith McHenry is doing the job of the Homeless Czar’s office? 

Incidentally, Lot 27 is also planned to be the future site of the 228-room fabulous Cruz Hotel, a new gilded-age era edifice with a purported roof-top swimming pool and a conspicuous absence of parking space for those visitors who will not bring vehicles to town. Is the city missing the irony here? A Luxury hotel atop a homeless feeding station? Larry says the police will be clearing the lot as of 2 pm on Jan. 11th, so stay tuned.

The Struggle for Voting Rights

There is no shortage of mainstream, left, right, or center storylines about the January 6th, 2021 storming of the US Capitol by fired-up Trump loyalists immediately following the former President’s rally. Going into the mid-term 2022 elections and preceding the 2024 presidential elections, the Democratic Party has turned its sights on protection and expansion of voting rights. A voting rights bill is the number one necessity for Democrats, and the American people, if voting outcomes are to reflect the will of the voters. The policy group, Common Cause, believes the filibuster must be eliminated. Gerrymandering, suppression of where and when people can vote, and false accusations of voter fraud and subsequent legislation limiting voters’ abilities to cast ballots are all tools Republicans currently use to maintain governments by minority rule. The filibuster rule must be dealt with in the next two months if Democrats are to have a chance in the midterm elections because, in order to pass a voting rights bill, which expands voting opportunities, they will need all 50 Democratic senators along with the tie-breaking vote of the Vice-President, which the probable use of the filibuster by Republicans currently prohibits.

The O’Hara Law Suit

Time will tell, but my hunch is that this lawsuit is all about the poor leadership of  the past city manager as described in the Grand Jury report of 2020. “City employees do not feel supported and protected by the City Manager and Human Resources.” (Finding #4, p. 27) As far as I know, the Santa Cruz Sentinel did not have a copy of this current lawsuit, but went ahead with a story nonetheless. It was irresponsible, and until the facts are on the table for all the public to see, they should not have gone forward with a misinformed recycled brand of history. 

Again, Drew Glover and I did nothing illegal or untoward in carrying out our public service as councilmembers. A long report was written and is available to the public. Most recalls are frivolous and abused by special interests, not only here but the attempted recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom and the one underway in San Francisco to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin are clear examples of this abuse. Regularly scheduled elections are the time to keep or “recall” elected officials.

“The suggestion that any job is “low skill” is a myth perpetuated by wealthy interests to justify inhumane working conditions, little/no healthcare, and low wages. Plus being a waitress has made me and many others *better* at our jobs than those who’ve never known that life.” (Jan. 5)

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On the steps of the county building with SEIU workers and their community supporters. They want provisions to help mitigate climate change to be included in their next contract.

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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 10, 2022

Becky will be back next week.

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 10

THE EARLY WINTER PRAIRIE

Each season, life in the coastal prairie changes in hue and character. The many inches of rain and the cold nights fashion the winter’s prairie now turning bright green with life that is gradually emerging from quiescence. Most annual plants have germinated; both annuals and perennials are growing slowly, the sward just 4 inches tall. The first flowers are blossoming, swales and pools abound with water, gophers throw muddy balls out their desperate breathing holes, and frost ices leaf edges, wilting tender new growth. Newborn calves follow their hungrily grazing mothers far to find enough food. Recreational trails through the prairies are frequently stirred muddy messes, destroying life while eroding ancient soils onto the few remaining prairies; bicyclists proudly sport their muddy equipment and clothes. Some signs of early winter prairie are ancient, while others are quite new.

Pop Goes the…

The first coastal prairie wildflowers are related to broccoli and celery. Popweed is in bloom, a relative of broccoli and even more closely related to cress (its other nickname is western bitter cress). It is a tiny plant on shallow soil or along trails on last year’s gopher mounds. It has little white flowers with 4 petals that seem to twinkle from the center of the plant’s frilly rosettes. After flowering, this plant makes elongated pods that dry and then ‘pop’ sending seeds further than you might think possible from such a small plant. This is a species that the U.S. gave the rest of the world…as a weed! You are probably more likely to encounter it in a sidewalk crack or potted plant in town. I’ve had the unpleasant experience of getting the seeds in my eye more than once, a victim of the barrage of flinging seeds from one of these weeds hiding in a pot that I was moving in my nursery. 

Who Spilled the Yellow Paint?

The other very early prairie wildflower is starting to show color. It is called ‘footsteps of spring.’ It has the botanical name Sanicula arctopoides – that last word of its name being a botanical pun: “arcto” for bear and “poides” for foot: barefoot (harr harr!) footsteps (guffaw!) of spring … chuckle-chuckle go those goofy botanists. The name seems right somehow if you think Spring leaves footprints when she arrives: the first really bright thing is this plant- the entire 8″ across flat plant turns a surprisingly vibrant yellow framing similarly yellow clusters of flowers. These wildflowers tend to make patches on shallow-soiled ridgelets and outcrops in the prairie. And so, Spring seems to have left footprints with her arrival as she danced from ridge to ridge and across rocky pathways to awaken the prairie from its moist green wintery slumber.

Prairies as Wetlands

Many people are surprised that many of our prairies are wetlands, but if you wander out there now, you’ll become a believer. Coastal Terrace Prairies are on flat ground, mostly along the ancient wavecut and uplifted coastal terraces within a few miles of the coast. Housing and agriculture cover most of the first terrace, the one right above the ocean, but there are extensive prairies on the second, third, and fourth terraces. Look uphill and inland of Highway 1 on the North Coast, for instance. Being flat, coastal terraces don’t drain well and so are apt to have long periods of saturated soil, which is a key attribute of wetlands. In some places, there’s water pooled across the soil surface, but mostly the soil is just so wet that only plant species adapted to wetlands can survive. Walk across these areas and you’ll find shimmering rivulets snaking among the grasses downhill to add water to creeks. Along the edges of these squishy grasslands are seeps and springs oozing and gushing with plentiful water now and remaining green late into spring. In mima mounds and on rocky areas on the terraces, you might find vernal pools- small ephemeral ponds with chorus frog or toad tadpoles, festooned with curious alga and teeming with zooplankton.

Grassy Carpet

Looking broadly across the prairies, grasses are mostly what you see, but slimy things are hiding underneath. Perennial grasses, many of them million-year natives, are waking underground with only the slightest sign in their leaves; their tiny leaves are green, but their new white roots have already grown inches into the surrounding soil, quickly claiming as wide an area as possible. They compete against quicker-growing annual grasses, most of them here for just a few hundred years; these get tall faster and shade natives, inhibiting many native plants from establishing from seed. Without something like the ancient megafaunal grazing regimes, the non-native annuals create a (relatively) towering canopy protecting slugs and snails from bird. Under the grassy protection, mollusks devour the nutrient-rich native annual wildflower seedlings before they stand a chance. 

Cows = Flowers

In some places, cattle graze the prairies, maintaining some semblance of the evolutionary disturbance regimes that coastal prairie diversity requires. Betting on a better yearling market, some local cattle ranchers set the bulls free among the heifers at a time that makes for calves right now. This is a difficult time for raising a calf – despite the slow-growing lush grasses, there’s very little protein in those leaves. To make enough milk, the mothers must constantly graze, cropping the prairie short. Flocks of birds follow the cattle for the food they expose along the way. Research UCSC Professor Karen Holl and I have performed over the past many years has shown that cattle grazing in coastal prairie creates more abundant and more diverse native annual wildflowers than adjoining ungrazed areas. Cattle grazing, cow trails and the lightly driven ranch roads that accompany livestock also make for excellent habitat for the rarest of beetles…the Ohlone tiger beetle.

OTB

The Ohlone tiger beetle is emerging from its burrows now, bright metallic green-blue carapaces like finest jewels of our local prairies. This species is only found in a handful of grasslands near Santa Cruz. On sunny, warmer days, it forages for invertebrates along open trails in only the most diverse coastal prairies. Those sunny warm days also attract mountain bikers who cruise so swiftly along the trails (including miles of trails that are not sanctioned by the landowners) as to smash innumerable of these endangered insects. 

Muddy Mess 

Many of the coastal prairie trails at Wilder Ranch State Park once had Ohlone tiger beetles, but Parks managers destroyed that habitat by dumping tons of gravel to ‘harden’ the trails as a ‘solution’ to allowing recreational access during the muddy winters. Even so, coastal prairie trails are a muddy mess these days, and use only stirs up that mud, loosening it so that it washes off into the surrounding grasslands. Those extra nutrients spur weedy growth and destroy wildflowers. Meanwhile the incising and eroding trails serve to drain the surrounding wet meadows, an alteration that also degrades the habitat. Shame on users and managers alike for destroying eons of evolution and a legacy for future generations! If you see the (rare) ‘trails closed’ signs…please prop it back up and go for a forest walk, instead.

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 4

#4 / A Letter To The Editor, IV

 

Here is a “Letter To The Editor” published on December 19, 2021, in the San Jose Mercury

Google Project Would Do Little To Help Housing 

Re. “Google proposal one of Bay Area’s largest residential projects in history,” Page B1:

The headline on your Dec. 14 article touting Google’s proposed Mountain View project as “one of the Bay Area’s largest residential projects in history” is incredibly misleading.

While the project may create “as many as” 7,000 living units, it would also create well over 20,000 additional jobs. In other words, the project would make Silicon Valley’s housing shortage considerably worse. Further, while it is likely that most of the office space would be built in the short term, much of the housing – which consists solely of high-rise apartments – might not be built for decades.

The article is certainly a nice marketing piece for Google and the developers, but it is woefully lacking in objective analysis of the project and perpetuates the illusion that Silicon Valley government and corporations are taking meaningful action to address the region’s critical jobs/housing imbalance. Richard Leask, Palo Alto

Let’s give Mr. Leask credit for having penetrated the myth that building more housing, per se, is the way to solve our housing crisis. In fact, as he points out, when we contemplate the housing crisis that is afflicting us, housing “supply” is only one factor we need to consider. Housing “demand,” actually, is even more important. 

The major industries stimulating the economy in the Silicon Valley (with massive spillover impacts into Santa Cruz County, where I live) are creating a demand for more housing by creating the jobs, that require the workers, that require the housing. These Silicon Valley giants are making profits of billions of dollars per year, and if they were paying their own way, they would be required by state and local government to match the “demand” with the “supply,” and to pay for the necessary subsidy to provide housing for the new workers that come for the new jobs they create.

Of course, requiring Google, Facebook, and other such corporations to match housing with the new workers they bring into our local communities would definitely cut into their corporate profits. This is why these major Silicon Valley corporations are funding the “YIMBY” movement (supposedly “grassroots,” but not really), arguing that it’s “our” fault that there isn’t more housing in our local communities. As ever, the highest levels of government (state government in this case) end up siding with the guys with the big bucks, which is why Governor Newsom and the State Legislature (even including our local Assembly Member, Mark Stone, and our local State Senator, John Laird), have helped enact SB 9, effective January 1st of this year, letting property owner/developers build four homes on pretty much any single family lot in the state, without any need to get approval from the local government. 

Check out the prices being paid, in Santa Cruz, for small, undistinguished houses, houses that are probably providing rental housing, now, at the low end of the market. The prices are astronomical – and why is that? Because now each one of those houses, with its lot, can be developed with four houses – all sold or rented at “market rate.” SB 9, in fact, far from helping with “affordable housing,” is a windfall for developers and property owners and is making our housing crisis worse.

Do we really want affordable housing? Instead of blaming local communities, let’s start blaming the massive corporations that are creating the problem – and then make them pony up, to address the impacts that they are causing. 

Wow! Making the corporations pay for the impacts they cause: What a concept!

Let’s be honest, though. As I have already noted, if we made these big corporations pay for the impacts they cause (instead of allowing them to “externalize” both their housing and transportation impacts, shifting the burdens onto local communities), that would definitely affect their corporate profits!

And that, of course, would be so sad!

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 10

THE NATION MARKS THE SOMBER ANNIVERSARY OF ITS DISUNITY

Both President Biden and Attorney General Garland came out with tougher messages last week, regarding the January 6, 2021, Insurrection, than we have heard all year out of this administration, Biden’s being especially forceful in pinning the D.C. riot on Donald Trump and his coup plotters. Biden had avoided any confrontational comments toward DJT and his followers, but the anniversary spurred him to denounce the event as a failure, and Trump as a ‘loser’ who bore responsibility for losing the rabble against the peaceful turnover of the reins of government. 

Merrick Garland, on the eve of the anniversary, spoke of his department’s activities at investigating and prosecuting those involved in the destructive and deadly affair…”at any level, accountable under law, whether present, or otherwise responsible for the assault on our democracy.” His remarks were welcomed by many who felt he has been far too quiet on the operations of the Justice Department. By starting with the small fry, we can only hope the crescendo rises as the prominent conspirators are re-introduced to the principles of our Constitution and laws, while we witness the withdrawal of the dagger from the nation’s throat. Seems that many solons had, and continue to have, a lapse of memory of taking an oath of office to uphold our national interests…and, is it double jeopardy if we also include those who took a similar oath upon entering military service, prior to their holding public office? Turning a blind eye to the insurrection doesn’t equate with blind American justice!

Amazing how many conservatives who laid blame at DJT’s feet after January 6 last year have backslid into the slime pot of the Big Lie. For a few minutes of sick and slippery entertainment, watch Texas senator Ted Cruz, who recently called the insurrection ‘a violent terrorist attack,’ spar with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Cancun Ted still hasn’t forcefully defended Heidi against The Don’s cruel comments from 2016, either, and yes, he did graduate cum laude from Princeton University in 1992, winning honors and awards in debating and public speaking. Go figure!

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, observed the insurrection by inviting Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Jon Meacham, and biographer/historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, to “an observance of reflection, remembrance and recommitment, in a spirit of unity, patriotism and prayerfulness.” The pair participated in a conversation moderated by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden “to establish and preserve the narrative of January 6.” The event was live-streamed in “solemn observance,” even as domestic plotters change their online game plans of lies, conspiracies and misleading propaganda in the wake of more restrictive measures by media platforms. But, help is on the way for the disgruntled, with our Blitzkrieg Bozo starting his own social media platform next month, sullying the ether on…President’s Day!

On January 7, 2021, our nation’s history museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, began to collect artifacts of the previous day’s onslaught of the capitol, including signs, posters, flags, weaponry and discards left behind by the rioters, in addition to the trove of incriminating photos seen on social media. Marking the one-year anniversary, it was announced the collection efforts will continue to document the day, as well as its continuing impact on our country. But, hang onto your MAGA hats and pins…they have more than enough in their archives, stored in sulphur-resistant containers.

Let us hope that by the second anniversary of this despicable disaster, we will have fathomed the connections between perpetrators and conspirators, and that the country will have found some commonality with which to restore self-respect, with a modicum of admiration in the international community.

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 ways. 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

    Covid

“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”–
~Oscar Wilde

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

“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” 
~Orson Welles

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Do you wear glasses? Many of us do. Here are 7 tips on how to best clean your glasses. I found them somewhat useful, and hey, one of them is my old go-to: Dawn dish soap! 😀

The guy who does the video has a lot of other interesting eye-related videos, so go ahead and check him out. He explains stuff like astigmatism, for instance.


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com
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