Blog Archives

January 17 – 23, 2024

Highlights this week:

Bratton…update and a throwback… Greensite…on The Wharf: Thanking the Mayor and City Council… Steinbruner…protest the Soquel Creek Water District rate hike before it’s too late. Hayes…Contrasting Biodiversity Hot Spots. Patton…No colossus… Matlock…on galloping mediocrity… Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week. Quotes….”Martin Luther King, Jr”


THE GOODTIME WASHBOARD 3 WITH BING CROSBY. That’s my old trio with Wayne Pope, Bing Crosby, me and Pete Arnott during our appearance on Bing’s Hollywood Palace nationwide TV show from April 1, 1964. Also appearing on that show was Louis Armstrong, Nanette Fabray and Red Buttons.

photo credit: Bratton’s private photo collection

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE January 17, 2024

UPDATE ON BRUCE You may have noticed things being a little different in the last column, with no new content from Bruce. That’s because he’s recuperating from a fall. I’m not sure if he was showing off jitterbug moves, walking on stilts, or what he was doing, but he is being well taken care of, and he’s on the mend. For more details, or to just say hi and get better, you can email him. I think he has a tablet so he can read email.

I dug deep in the archives, and pulled up something Bruce wrote in 2011. Check it out below!


The early years from a German Documentary on American “folk” music

MY SHOW BIZ HISTORY. Long before moving to Santa Cruz in 1970 I was nearly immersed in show business, almost, but never quite, full time.

Starting with our Palomar Jug Band in Pasadena circa 1957, we played a lot in LA’s Pershing Square and even the fabled Shrine Auditorium. Moving to Berkeley and trying to achieve an education and maturity at UC Berkeley, myself and two fellow students and friends, Pete Arnott and Wayne Pope, started a trio called The Goodtime Washboard 3.

We formed the trio because another friend and co-student Chris Strachwitz told us a local beer hall The Monkey In on Shattuck Ave needed a band. Chris Strachwitz is the brain and brawn behind Arhoolie Records.

As you can see from the historical photograph above The Goodtime Washboard 3 went on to considerable fame (no fortune) and I was with them until moving to Santa Cruz. We played San Francisco’s Purple Onion, The Hungry I (opening for comedian Shelley Berman) and did hundreds of gigs with stars like Milton Berle, Mel Torme, Herb Shriner, and Ray Bolger. We recorded some 45s and three albums, one for Fantasy and two for Capitol Records (in Frank Sinatra’s studio!).


BIGGER SHOWS. We joined The Bohemian Club in San Francisco where I was the token Democrat and played with even bigger stars. It led to meeting and having Bing Crosby invite us to play on his Hollywood Palace with Louis Armstrong, Nanette Fabray, Red Buttons and heavies like that. This is a clip from that show back in 1964 – watch how Bing puts on thimbles and joins our group!

2024 ADDENDUM The aforementioned Chris Strachwitz founded Arhoolie Records in 1960. He passed away last year at the age of 91. For the last 18 months of his life, he and his long-time friend and disciple, music critic and author Joel Selvin, worked on a book from Chris’ huge collection of photographs he had taken over the years. Many of them had never been seen before they were published in Down Home Music: The Stories and Photographs of Chris Strachwitz, which Joel Selvin finished on his own after Chris died. You can click that link to order the book, if you’d like. While you are there, read about the Arhoolie Foundation, which Chris founded in 1999, dedicated to the documentation, preservation, and celebration of regional roots music and its makers. On the advisory board, you’ll find people like Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Miller, and many more.


There is still time to donate, funds are needed by Febrary 10, 2024

In short, if enacted by the voters, Measure M will accomplish TWO simple things:

#1.) Require the city to get voter approval before height limits can be raised to allow oversized, high-rise developments anywhere in the city, downtown or in our neighborhoods.

#2.) Increase the number of affordable housing units that big developers must provide, from 20% to 25% for projects of over 30 units, as the City Planning Commission researched and recommended.

Measure M is facing enormous and well-funded opposition from out-of-town developers and their allies.  We NEED your financial assistance now to run a successful campaign. With only 60 days left before we vote on March 5, 2024, the sooner you donate the better. Another incentive to donate soon is we have matching funds.

Our fundraising goal is $50,000. This money will be used for our online presence, campaign materials, advertising, professional assistance and to rally residents to vote.

Make as generous a contribution as you possibly can to help pass Measure M and be part of the future design of Santa Cruz!   TWO ways to donate:

  1. Online with the DONATE button on:
  1. Or Write a check to: “Yes on M”, and call us to pick it up 831-471-7822 or send the check before Feb. 10 to:  
    Yes on M, PO Box 2191, Santa Cruz, Ca. 95063

Partial List of Supporters:

Gary Patton, Former County Supervisor, Environmental Attorney
Katherine Beiers, Former Mayor
Jane Weed-Pomerantz, Former Mayor
Nell Newman, Founder, Newman’s Own Organics, Environmentalist & Biologist
Rick Longinotti, Author, Right to Vote on Desal Initiative
Joseph S. Quigg, Affordable and Market-rate Housing Developer
Frank Barron, Retired Urban Planner
Keresha Durham-Tamba, Bilingual Educator, Environmental-Climate Activist
Hector Marin-Castro, Santa Cruz City Teacher’s Aid and Service Worker
Susan Monheit, Retired State Water Regulator, Environmental Scientist
Steve Bare, Retired High School Teacher, Military Veteran
Laura Lee, Retired Teacher, Corporate Trainer & Facilitator

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

(it was at the DEL MAR THEATRE in Sept. 2023, and is on HULU now). (6.8 IMDB). Kenneth Branagh
is back with the third in his Hercule Poirot versions of Agatha Christie’s books. Michelle Yeoh and Tina Fey are deadly serious in it too. Branagh moved the plot to Venice in 1947 from Christie’s book “Halloween Party” she first published in 1969. It’s deadly serious, very confusing, and it’s hard to stay interested as Poirot makes his rounds. Not recommended. More than that, three generations of my family watched it last Saturday (12/30) and no one liked it!!

Paul Giamatti is at his very best in this sensitive touching drama of a teacher/guardian at a high class prep school in the 1970’s. His relationship with the boys, one especially is testy, kindly, and nearly unforgettable. He also has out of alignment eyes which he points out. The eyes were false by the wa

HOLIDAY IN THE VINEYARDS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.2 IMDB). ** Probably an age gap, but I didn’t get one laugh from this self-titled comedy. A mother tries to raise her two sons and fend off a salesman from a competing winery. Too much mugging, bad acting, and barely amusing.

A regular working class Brit (it’s a British movie) decides to fight the banking establishment and start a small neighborhood bank. He goes against all Brit tradition and actually succeeds! It’s a true story well-acted by Rory Kinnear

THE FAMILY PLAN. (APPLE TV) (6.3 IMDB). ** A big cast with Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Monaghan trying for laughs because it’s listed as a comedy. It all takes place in Buffalo, New York and there’s a lot of former Buffalonians in Santa Cruz. Wahlberg is a former legal and official government assassin trying to raise a family. Nothing great, not the plot which is a century old or the acting.

GWYNETH VS. TERRY (MAX) (5.8 IMDB). *** Just knowing that Gwyneth had amassed a fortune from her Goop makeup world made me curious about what she would be like testifying in court. She and Terry Sanderson, a retired 76 year old Optometrist, collided on the downhill ski slopes in Utah in 2016. The jury declared Sanderson at fault. They both sued each other and it’s at least distracting. Gwyneth is 50 years old and she won one dollar in the settlement.

This semi comedy was filmed between Uruguay and Argentina. A hired housekeeper quits her job and now the head of the household (Norma) has to deal with her two daughters, marijuana, therapy and the rest of her life. Riveting and watchable.

CURRY & CYANIDE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). ** A documentary from India based on the 2019 “Jolly Joseph” case when a mother was arrested for committing six murders over a 10 year span including her own child! Puzzling, complex and well done. Depressing but watch it.


January 15th 2024

Rest In Peace, Henry J. Brunnier

The press release below captures a historic moment for the city of Santa Cruz. Had decisions gone the other way, it is fair to say that the 110-year-old Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf would be on track for a Pier 39-style transformation, chipping away the character of Santa Cruz one iconic structure after another.

There were many factors that contributed to this happy outcome. Every letter written, every voice raised, counted. Letters to the council ran fifty to three in our favor.  Without the California Environmental Quality Act there would have been no avenue to hold the city accountable for ignoring the Wharf Master Plan’s environmental impacts. CEQA gets a bad rap these days, usually from those eying profit and growth over environmental protection. However, this Act, signed into law in 1970 by Governor Ronald Reagan is a crucial tool to inform government decision-makers and the public about the environmental impacts of proposed projects. If environmental impacts are ignored or unmitigated, then the public has the right to ask the Court to decide if CEQA has been violated. In this case, the Court ruled against the City and mandated the 2020 Wharf Master Plan and its EIR (Environmental Impact Report) be cancelled and revised. That Court decision was two years ago this February.

At that pivotal point in 2022, the city could have decided to simply scale back the Wharf Master Plan, remove the most environmentally impactful and most publicly disliked aspects of the Plan, namely the forty-foot-tall new warehouse-style addition dubbed the Landmark building and the below-deck westside walkway, running horizontally for a third of the Wharf’s length under the restaurants and shops. That still left a lot of additions and changes to the Wharf to extract more tourist dollars. Instead, what the city did was double down. All sorts of new reasons were dreamed up to justify the westside walkway. Additional consultants were hired to counter concerns about migratory birds. The Historic Preservation Commission’s vote to remove the westside walkway was pooh-poohed by staff and dismissed as arbitrary. Propaganda swirled at every commission hearing over the past three months.

In the week leading up to the council hearing on January 9th. two of us from Don’t Morph the Wharf! met individually with the mayor and as many council members as were available during that holiday week for city staff. We found every one of them to be good listeners. We had a chance to rebut misinformation and present our case. Without receiving any promises, we felt heard.

The rest, as they say, is history. The mayor and the city council deserve much praise and appreciation for their unanimous vote to retain the historic character of the Municipal Wharf. There will be some upcoming changes that the public needs to pay attention to and be involved with, but none involving a CEQA challenge. Meanwhile, the mayor and city council have restored faith in the democratic process at City Hall, an invaluable outcome.

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.


If you or someone you know is a customer of Soquel Creek Water District, you really need to  send in a protest vote right away to stop the impending 60% increase to fixed service fees and a 10% and 12% annual increase in water rates, lowering the Tier One-Tier Two rate threshold from 5.99 units to 3.99 units.

The PureWater Soquel Project costs ballooned from $60 million to nearly $200 million, and operational costs for the boondoggle have escalated (without any explanation) from the initial $2.5 million/year to now $5.5 Million/year!

Protest now by sending in your written vote to oppose it. Go to the Santa Cruz County Assessor’s Office and type in your address to find your APN (Assessor’s Parcel Number). Once you have that, go to for more info, and to download the form to print and fill out. Here’s a direct link to the pdf. Don’t forget, they must RECEIVE this by February 20, so do it now.

Maybe the best way out of this expensive PureWater Soquel Project debt burden is to consolidate with other adjacent water municipalities. Listen in this Friday, 2pm on “Community Matters” online Santa Cruz Voice radio with Guest Mr. Joe Serrano, Director of Santa Cruz County LAFCO to learn more about that possibility and other impending consolidations in fire districts throughout the County.

California approves rules that turn sewage into drinking water
The State Water Board approved the ability for water agencies in California to soon sell treated sewage water directly to your tap. The final approval is yet to be handed down by the State Office of Administrative Law, but will likely happen by this summer or fall.

What are your thoughts about this?

Even though the PureWater Soquel Project will be injecting an anticipated 1.67mg/L nitrate (existing nitrate level in the groundwater is 0.06mg/L) and 33mg/L chloride  (and who knows what else?!) into the pristine groundwater for the MidCounty’s drinking water source, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board approved the permit on December 15, 2023 to okay it.

The permit pointedly omits any ability to use the recycled water for irrigating the new sod lawn athletic fields at Twin Lakes Baptist Church School, which Soquel Creek Water District has gifted 3AcreFeet/year of water (potable or recycled) for the next 50 years as part of the deal for leasing the land for one of the injection wells on their property.


 “This is the wave of the future!” Water Board Director Stephanie Harlan, former Capitola City Council member, shouted with jubilation..

Never mind that the staff of Soquel Creek Water District either could not or would not answer several questions asked by other Board members, such as “How much will the Project cost?”  and “How large are the injection well pipes?”

Staff from the Water Board vaguely and incorrectly answered the Board’s question as to where exactly is the salt water intrusion happening?  “Um, I think it’s in the Aptos and Capitola area where the injection wells are located” said Staff member James Bishop, just after imploring the Board to approve the permit “because the District needs this permit to move forward with the Project.”


The night previous, Ms. Georgina King of Montgomery Associates hydrogeologist consultant for the MidCounty Groundwater Agency, which includes Soquel Creek Water District as the major pumper for the area, told the group that “Overall, the Basin is doing pretty well.”  There is some slight increase in chloride showing up in a cluster of three monitoring wells in the Seascape area, but those wells were drilled in the 1980’s for the purpose of locating and monitoring the saltwater/freshwater wedge known to exist (Luddorff Scalmanini analysis, paid for in part by Soquel Creek Water District).

Stay tuned, because a Request for Reconsideration and Stay has been filed with the State Water Board regarding the PureWater Soquel Permits.

You may be interested to know that when Director Harlan requested that the Soquel Creek Water District website include a link to a State tracking site where potential PureWater Soquel system problems or testing failures be posted, she quickly backed down from this request that had been made by a member of the public submitting comment on the proposed permit when Water Board staffmember Bishop did not support it.

In case you were not able to hear a good discussion on KSQD about the problems with nitrate in local drinking water, please take time to listen to this January 7, 2024 interview with Ms. Chelsea Tu of California Waterkeepers

If you visit Damon Gutzwiller Memorial County Park (aka Willowbrook Park) in Aptos, you may be shocked to see the appearance of a gulag project next to the tennis courts and the Santa Cruz Montessori School adjacent.

The fence protects one of the three PureWater Soquel Project injection wells.

This razor wire is a drastic change from what Soquel Creek Water District showed in the Project EIR Aesthetic documents.  The District did the same razor wire gulag-like change in fencing treatment at the injection well on Monterey Avenue adjacent to the ShoreLife  Mennonite Church and pre-school in Capitola.

However, the District seems to have given aesthetic favoritism to the Twin Lakes Church and School on Cabrillo College Drive, and followed through with a more attractive protective fence …no barbed wire at all!

Take a look at the photos below and write Soquel Creek Water District Board about this aesthetic favoritism at the expense of those whose youngsters attend ShoreLife Church and Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller Memorial Park.
Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors <>  and copy Emma Western <>, and also write a letter to the editor of your favorite newspaper.

The Board of Supervisors voted to rename Willowbrook Park in honor of the fallen Sheriff  Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller, who frequented the park with his young son.
Willowbrook Park renamed in honor of the fallen Sheriff Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller

Soquel Creek Water District did not show a razor wire gulag like this in the EIR documents for PureWater Soquel Project Willowbrook Injection Well, but here it is, adjacent to the tennis courts at Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller Memorial Park.

Here is the view adjacent to the Santa Cruz Montessori School and the gulag of the PureWater Soquel Project Willowbrook Injection Well site.  The view is similar at the Monterey Injection Well adjacent to  the ShoreLife Mennonite Church and pre-school.

However, here is the view of the PureWater Soquel Project Twin Lakes Church Injection Well.  This is the type of fencing and landscape treatment that the other two injection wells were promised, but instead have 10′ chainlink fence with razor wire at the top.

Why is Soquel Creek Water District favoring Twin Lakes Church aesthetics?

TheCounty Board of Supervisors ignored the 2021 Grand Jury Investigation Report on the 2018 Measure G Countywide 1/2cent sales tax deception and on December 5, 2023, slapped on the March 5, 2024 Measure K initiative for yet another 1/2cent countywide sales tax.


In 2018, the County Board of Supervisors placed Measure G on our ballots, asking for a 1/2 cent sales tax increase for 12 years for “unfunded critical needs”.

To continue funding 9-1-1 emergency response, paramedic, sheriff, fire, emergency preparedness, local street repairs, mental health services, homelessness programs, parks, economic development and other general county services, shall the County of Santa Cruz be authorized to increase by ordinance the sales tax on retail transactions in the unincorporated area of the County by one-half cent for twelve years, providing approximately $5,750,000 annually, subject to annual audits and independent citizens oversight?[2]

It passed by 65.85%, but the County Grand Jury investigation in 2021 concluded it was a deceptive action because there really was no Citizen Oversight, and promised projects, such as “fire”, have to date received ZERO DOLLARS from this tax increase.

Now, compare the language of Measure K…a forever sales tax:

To fund essential Santa Cruz County services, including wildfire response/prevention/recovery; affordable housing to support working families and frontline workers including nurses, emergency responders, and educators; mental health crisis programs for children/vulnerable populations; substance abuse programs; improved public safety, road maintenance/pothole repair, parks/recreation; and programs to reduce homelessness, shall Santa Cruz County’s transaction and use tax (sales tax) be increased in unincorporated areas by one-half cent, providing approximately $10,000,000 annually, until ended by voters?


What exactly does the Board of Supervisors and CAO plan to do to accomplish any of those vague promises?
Why is Ms. Nicole Coburn, Deputy CAO, leading all the public presentations to support Measure K?  Is that a conflict of interest?  At a recent North Santa Cruz Democratic Committee presentation, she admitted that the CAO decided to call Measure K  a general tax and allow ALL VOTERS in the cities and uncorporated areas to vote on it in order to have the benefit of a 51% approval threshold, rather than restrict ti to the Unincorporated Area as a special tax that would have required a 2/3 majority approval.


Here is an excerpt from the December 5, 2023 Board of Supervisor agenda item #9 for the initiative:.
Santa Cruz County CA, Agenda Item DOC-2023-974  Where is the money to help wildfire victims or fund County Fire Department response in the unincorporated areas?

Priorities for Community Investments

Concurrent with the ballot measure, staff also recommends that the Board adopt the attached resolution establishing budget priorities related to addressing key challenges in FY 2024-25. These priorities are aimed at addressing critical community needs, aligning with the County’s commitment to ensuring public safety, emergency response, mental health services, and vital infrastructure improvements. Details of the proposed budget priorities for FY 2024-25 are listed in Table 4.

Table 4 – FY 2024-25 Budget Priorities for Half-Cent Sales Tax

Budget Priority Area Amount
Housing and Essential Workforce Retention – Address the acute housing crisis, ensuring frontline workers can afford to live in the community, with funds to support housing plans and predevelopment costs on County campuses and other potential housing sites. $1.0 million
Countywide Homeless Services – Tackle homelessness with a focus on year-round, 24-hour navigation centers and other services distributed across Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and unincorporated areas. $1.0 million
Climate Resiliency and County Parks – Enhance the County’s response to climate change with funds for wildfire, flood and emergency response, prevention programs, and disaster recovery services. Additionally, support maintaining and improving neighborhood parks. $1.0 million
Road Repair and Infrastructure Projects – Address pressing infrastructure needs, including street repairs, potholes, and failing public facilities, to ensure safe and efficient transportation networks and government service centers. $1.0 million
Other Essential County Services – Address current challenges and emerging community needs, including mental health services for children and vulnerable populations, and invest in improved public safety. Based on actual revenues

The amounts above are based on the FY 2024-25 sales tax estimate of $7.5 million assuming the rate is effective July 1, 2024 and revenue from the sales tax increase is received from the State by October 2024. It is possible that due to the timing of the March primary election that the State may need additional processing time that could delay the effective date and subsequent cash flow by one calendar quarter, effectively reducing the expected amount to $5.0 million for FY 2024-25. If that occurs, the amounts in Table 4 would be proportionally reduced to equal $5.0 million.



Taxation Code 7285 refers to how the money gets spent:

The revenues derived from the imposition of a tax pursuant to this section shall only be used for general purposes within the area for which the tax was approved by the qualified voters.


CalRecycle Releases Draft SB 54 Single Use Packaging Regulations and Packaging Forms Deemed to Be Recyclable or Compostable

On December 28, CalRecycle released long-anticipated SB 54 draft regulations for public review.  SB 54 (Allen) of 2022 requires manufacturers of single use packaging and food service ware to take responsibility for the management and recycling of the products they introduce into the stream of commerce.

The draft regulatory text can be found here.  CalRecycle has not yet initiated the formal rulemaking process, but is expected to do so in the near future.  That action will trigger a 45-day comment period during which RCRC and other stakeholders will be able to provide formal comments, express concerns, and suggest modifications to the proposed regulations.

As RCRC previously noted:

“SB 54 marks a tremendous paradigm shift for solid waste management in California, where local governments have traditionally borne the full responsibility for achieving the state’s solid waste management and recycling directives.    

“In particular, SB 54 requires single use packaging manufacturers to ensure that covered material is recyclable or compostable, create and fund end markets, and bear responsibility for costs incurred by local agencies and recycling service providers associated with the collection, storage, handling, and marketing of those products.  The measure is clear that the Legislature intends to ensure that local jurisdictions will be made financially whole for any new costs incurred associated with the measure.”  

Pursuant to SB 54, CalRecycle was required to determine what categories of covered materials are recyclable and compostable.  Under Public Resources Code Section 42060.5, all local jurisdictions must include those covered materials determined to be recyclable and compostable in their collection and recycling/composting programs, unless they receive an exemption or extension from CalRecycle.  Locals are not precluded from collecting additional materials not included on that list.  Importantly, those 19 counties with fewer than 70,000 residents (and cities within those counties) may exempt themselves from this requirement.

RCRC is currently reviewing the draft regulations and will be actively soliciting feedback from counties to guide its advocacy efforts on the proposal.  While CalRecycle did integrate some changes RCRC suggested in pre-regulatory workshops, RCRC is concerned that the scope of the proposed enforcement provisions in the draft regulations are inconsistent with and likely exceed the authority provided by SB 54.

For more information, contact RCRC Senior Policy Advocate, John Kennedy.

A few weeks ago, I received some great feedback from readers about the Chanticleer Overcrossing project.  These good folks helped me understand thte project better, and caused me to schedule a meeting with Ms. Sarah Christensen, RTC Project Manager.  What I learned is that the safety improvements in the Overcrossing’s access from Grey Bears industrial zone are all up to the County of Santa Cruz to actually do, and are not part of the Overcrossing project itself.  Ms. Christensen had no information as to a timeline, so I wrote Mr. Matt Machado, Director of County Public Works.

Here is his disappointing answer:

Hi Becky,

Our initial planning was to be in coordination with the new Kaiser Hospital.  Kaiser was to contribute some funds so we could conduct preliminary design and pursue grants.  With the Kaiser project off of the books we have no seed money to get this project going.  Considering all of the storm damage I do not see any realistic budget going toward this need in the foreseeable future.





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


Contrasting Two Biodiversity Hot Spots

When I can muster it, I travel to the American tropics to experience an even greater degree of species diversity than California. I’d like to share some of what I noticed in the contrasts between the people and places I experienced this December in Ecuador, perhaps the most species rich place on Planet Earth.

Oh, the Riches

One of the most interesting conversations I had while traveling in Ecuador was during the taxi ride back to the airport as I was departing for California. I mentioned to the taxi driver some of the things I’d noticed in Ecuador that contrasted with California. For instance, the roadways were clean – no litter! Also, I hadn’t seen any homelessness during my travels, though I frequented areas where entire people had no obvious means of employment. Everyone I encountered during my 3-week stay had been more than polite – outgoingly kind more like it. And, those with whom I interacted seemed to appreciate and even understand a lot about the biological richness of their country. I told the taxi driver that these things were surprising to me as Ecuador was supposed to be such a poor country. He shook his head and corrected me – Ecuador is a rich country, quoting Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt, “Ecuadorians are rare and unique beings: they sleep peacefully in the midst of crisp volcanoes, live poor in the midst of incomparable riches and rejoice with sad music.” He then asked me if the United States was also a rich country, and how well did the people of the USA sleep? I didn’t know quite how to answer. (It turns out that one-in-five US citizens take sleep medication regularly).

Tourism Economy

It is interesting that both Santa Cruz County and the country of Ecuador generate approximately the same amount of cash due to tourism: $1.1 billion annually. It is there that the similarities end. The Beach Boardwalk is the driving force for Santa Cruz County tourism. Experiences in nature are what drives tourists to Ecuador; they go to experience Darwin’s discoveries in the Galapagos Islands or to see the rich jungles, volcanos, mountains, and the plethora of wildlife. Everywhere you go in Ecuador there are lodges hosting people whose destination is Nature. Lodges are gateways to the Parks, and each lodge has a cadre of nature guides trained to help tourists see the richness around them. Nature guides study for years to become certified to lead tours in the parks. The guides I met could identify hundreds of birds by their songs, knew a bit about most of the plants we encountered, could identify tracks in the mud, and could talk about the distribution of species across the country and beyond. There are hundreds and hundreds of such guides in that country, which is the size of Colorado.

What a Contrast!

As I returned home, I wracked my brain to think of a single lodge in the Monterey Bay that caters to nature tourists and has any nature guides at all. The San Francisco Airport toilets were much nastier than the toilets in the Quito airport. Trash litters Highway 1. The homeless population was not sleeping peacefully, though others might have been, back in my hometown of Santa Cruz. I’m not sure how many of my culture were rejoicing, with sad music or otherwise: joyfulness is not a phenomenon I equate with this culture. Certainly, most of us living around the Monterey Bay aren’t living poor, but we, like Ecuador, dwell ‘in the midst of incomparable riches.’

When is a Tourist Just a Tourist?

What does it matter that tourists go to the Boardwalk versus taking a walk with a nature guide? They come, they spend, they go home…it’s all good for the economy, right?

Between guided hikes at an Ecuadorian lodge at 9,000′ I sat by a fireplace looking through the reading material on the coffee table. There, among giant, full-color books published by the Ecuadorian government about the nation’s biological richness, I saw a magazine published by the American Bird Conservancy. That group, and the Audubon Society are two fairly mainstream conservation groups working to save birds from extinction. Many of the tourists supporting Ecuador’s lodges are birders. There is a natural connection between tourism and conservation. The same cannot be argued about Beach Boardwalk visitors.

So, why isn’t there an economy of immersive nature tourism around the Monterey Bay?

The Thrill Isn’t There and We Just Don’t Care

Thrilling, isn’t it? Roller coasters…rides…the children won’t be bored. Once the children grow up, the adults head overseas to see birds and nature: why not sooner? What is it about Nature that makes experiencing it so family unfriendly?

Even a drive along Highway 1 is so unenthralling as to invite so much littering.

Do we care so little about impressing the tourists, do we have such little pride, that we don’t bother keeping our airport toilets and roadsides clean? Aren’t we richer than that? Or, are we really quite poor?

What would Humboldt say of those currently living around the Monterey Bay? “They are just normal beings: they sleep fitfully in the midst of isolation and crime, living poorly in the midst of incomparable riches and rejoice in violent movies.”

Awake! The Unfolding is Nigh

Now the rain has wetted the green hills, flowers are bursting, birds are singing spring songs, and streams are noisily dancing. The solution is at hand. Toss aside the social media, decline the invitation to the movies, take the trail and saunter. Invite someone to join you, someone with whom you can adventure and discover the amazing life unfolding around the Monterey Bay. First on the list: the manzanitas! A dozen species within a short drive – discover them all, their beautiful bark, their honey-scented flowers with hummingbirds and bumble bees aplenty. Jackrabbits and brush bunnies, roadrunners and quail, coyote and mountain lion tracks around every corner. Need a guide? Sign up for a walk if you can find one: ask me if you can’t. The Monterey Bay’s ecotourist economy and resulting conservation start with you, now and tomorrow. Let’s make Ecuador a sister country to the Monterey Bay – biodiversity hotspots with plenty of inspiration to share.

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

Email Grey at


#18 / Colossus Not

The Colossus of Rhodes

Donald Trump’s recent victory in the Iowa caucuses has led to lots of statements in the press (and elsewhere) that take it for granted that our former president is now clearly going to be the 2024 Republican Party nominee for president, and that he has an excellent chance of beating the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, Joe Biden.

Well…. Maybe not!

Charlie Sykes, who writes blog postings that appear online in The Bulwark+, has a different perspective. Here is an except from Sykes’ posting on January 17, 2024, which was titled, “Dominant but Vulnerable.”

He doth bestride the narrow world
Like a colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs

— Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

Lest there was any lingering doubt, the Iowa caucuses confirmed Trump’s dominance in the GOP. He crushed his opposition and is now described as basking in the momentum of his landslide. He bestrides a supine Republican Party like a colossus and petty men beg his favor.

But that’s only part of the story, and perhaps not the most important one. Iowa also revealed just how weak Trump may be in the general election. The Bulwark’s Joe Perticone takes a closer look at the numbers:

[Monday’s] caucuses saw just over 110,000 Republicans turn out to vote. In 2016, that number was nearly 187,000, around 70 percent higher. Some voters stayed home because of the cold snap, of course—it was 30 degrees below freezing in Iowa last night—notwithstanding Trump’s invitation to them to take their lives into their own hands.

But registering only around three votes for every five votes cast the last time there was an “open” primary suggests there could be a real enthusiasm problem among GOP voters. And in addition to this year’s low turnout, consider the fact that Trump, a quasi-incumbent with greater name recognition than anyone alive, earned the votes of just over half of the state’s caucusgoers—the most committed members of Iowa’s GOP.

Let’s break it down even further:

Only about 14-15% of GOP voters showed up; which means that Trump’s landslide total comprised about 8 percent of Iowa Republicans.

A substantial number of Republican voters are signaling that they are Never Trump. NBC reports that nearly half of Haley’s Iowa backers say they’d vote for Biden over Trump. As Mona Charen noted yesterday the pre-caucus poll by the Des Moine Register found that fully 25 percent of Iowa Republican caucus-goers say they won’t vote for Trump in November.

That’s reflected in some of the on-the-ground reporting from the Dispatch:

[It] was remarkable how many Iowa voters backing Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley told The Dispatch some version of the same thing Monday evening after Donald Trump’s commanding caucus victory: If he’s the nominee, count them out….

“I can’t believe that out of 340 million Americans, those are the two best options that we can come up with,” a Haley supporter named Greg told us from an elementary school caucus site in suburban Waukee. “But yes, I cannot see myself voting for Trump under any circumstances. He’s an insurrectionist and a criminal, and I will not support him.”

I am inclined to agree with what Sykes and Perticone are saying.

Donald Trump? Not a colossus!

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Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at

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His head spinning out of control, former Fox News host Bill (The O’Reilly Factor/No Spin Zone) O’Reilly is not having it that his books are being removed from Florida’s Escambia County libraries, being included in a list of 1,000 titles pending investigation under the state’s new book ban laws. Bill-O was quoted saying, “Preposterous! We are investigating and are seeking comment from @GovRonDeSantis. This will not stand.” Conservatives in the Sunshine State have been carrying out their campaign to remove any printed matter containing ideas, philosophies, and language with which they disagree, particularly those teaching critical race theory, or containing LGBTQ+ topics and those by LGBTQ+ authors. As a previous stalwart in favor of this legislation, O’Reilly claims, “When DeSantis signed the book law, I supported the theme because there was abuse going on in Florida. There were far-left progressive people trying to impose an agenda on children, there’s no doubt about it.” Of course, he now thinks the wording in the laws is “far too nebulous” and that Governor Ron should declare it “insane” that his books have been removed.

Further, “There are materials that are inappropriate and those materials have to be specifically included in the law with language that is very specific. You can’t be throwing John Grisham under the bus, it’s absurd,” he notes. Seeking retribution, he wants to find out who in the school district removed the books and “put their pictures up on television and on my website.” Perhaps we should have more respect for those reviewers at being more discriminating than they are given credit for since O’Reilly’s book entitled ‘Killing Lincoln,’ was initially banned from sale at Washington’s Ford Theatre bookstore when it was released. He and his coauthor, Martin Dugard, were accused of including factual errors, and a lack of documentation, according to Rae Emerson, deputy superintendent of Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service. Emerson’s review recommended that the book not be sold at Ford Theatre’s NPS store. So, while the NPS chose not to carry the Lincoln title, Ford’s Theatre Society sells it in their gift shop, allowing visitors to judge the merits of the book themselves.

Spinner’ O’Reilly was not the only victim of the Escambia County School District. Also targeted were dictionaries and encyclopedias sitting on their shelves, which drew widespread discussions and criticisms of the extremes to which they took the new book banning laws. HB 1069, which governs the new rules, targets books that depict or describe sexual conduct, launching Florida into the forefront of national bans, with 1,972 instances in 37 school districts in the ’22-’23 school year as documented by PEN AmericaPenguin Random House, along with PEN America and other organizations have filed a federal lawsuit against Escambia’s school board, arguing that their actions infringe on free speech rights and equal protection under the law. We can’t have kids with tender sensitivities reading about the likes of BeyoncéOprah or Thurgood Marshall, and if they wanted to know what MLK Day was all about, they might ask somebody…in a whisper! And, Anne Frank? Don’t ask! In essence, the government can remove any content of ‘disapproved speech’ which raises the question of the purpose of educational resources in restricting access to diverse literature. A federal court will hear the school board’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, crucial in determining the validity of both sides’ arguments re the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The outcome will likely have implications not only for Florida, but educational content across the US. Taken straight from the banned dictionary: Ignorant – lacking knowledge or awareness, in general, uneducated or unsophisticated. So, there ya go, Bill-O…just find that group and you can post photos and info to your heart’s content!

GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie showed some awareness in abandoning his bid for that spot, leaving the field for the MAGAs and the wannabe-MAGAs to fight it out. Bridgegate and all his failings aside, national affairs correspondent John Nichols wrote, “He was the last high-profile GOP contender who was fighting for whatever remains of the soul of the Republican Party.” Christie’s announcement was a concession/confessional as he stepped aside, admitting that ego was his downfall in becoming involved with Trump’s Spray-Tanic political quagmire that he now battles against. Some of his words were admirable in the melancholy atmosphere of the gathered supporters who came understanding what they would hear regarding his nowhere-role in today’s GOP. He vowed to keep up the pressure against Trump’s candidacy, telling his crowd and all voters that the former guy is unfit and should never be near the oval office again. Bocha Blue, in his essay in The Palmer Report, drops a few lines from ‘Vincent‘ by singer/songwriter Don McLean“Now I think I know, What you tried to say to me. How you suffered for your sanity, And how you tried to set them free. They would not listen, they’re not listening still. Perhaps they never will.”

Christie also offered a few unsolicited words, picked up on an open microphone, about Nikki Haley who has seen her poll numbers pick up in recent days. He said, “She’s going to get smoked, and you and I both know it. She’s not up to this.” At this writing, Iowa caucuses are hours away, so in retrospect was she up to it? How did she fare against DeSantis? And how badly, in a cloud of dust, did The Donald leave her, stranded and smoking? A NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll had shown that 43% of Iowa’s Haley supporters would cross to the Democrats and Biden’s candidacy in the general election rather than give their vote to Trump, with 23% supporting Trump if he is the GOP candidate. Independent Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. could see 19% of Haley’s supporters swing into his column. “Haley is consolidating the anti-Trump vote. She does well with people who define themselves as anti-Trump,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who has spent three decades conducting surveys in Iowa. Still afraid to attack Trump too directly, in the final GOP debate with rival DeSantis, Haley was asked, “Does Donald Trump have the character to be President?” A momentary deer-in-the-headlights look brought her answer, “Well, I think the next President needs to have moral clarity,” and after a pause, “His way is not my way.” Still running for numero dos, Nikki? During the debate, if DeSantis mentioned Nikki’s record, she would tell viewers, “Go to,” ignoring an equally valid site,! A Mike Luckovich political cartoon has contestant Nikki Haley on TV’s ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ with the posted question, “What was the US Civil War fought over?” The board shows _ _ A _ E R Y, so Nikki takes a stab at guessing the missing letters with “D R A P E R Y.” A perfectly good MAGA answer…after all, Scarlett O’Hara in the Civil War epic, ‘Gone With the Wind,’ makes perfectly good use of drapes, and who can forget the Carol Burnett Show’s sketch of that particular movie scene, curtain rod and all?

Johnny One-note Trump never participated in any of the candidate debates leading up to the Iowa caucuses, his reasoning being the polls showing him to be the runaway choice of the MAGAGOP, and it’s just as well since everyone knew what was going to come out of his mouth, with nothing pertaining to the topic at hand. His so-called debating style actually has a name with historical roots: the Gish Gallop. It is defined as a well-established method of outmaneuvering rhetorical opponents with an overwhelming onslaught of dubious arguments, also known as ‘spreading‘ in the debate community. The style’s name is attributed to Duane Gish, a biochemist and creationist who in the 1980s and 1990s used it to his advantage in evolution dialogues. The Gish Gallop leverages two basic human reasoning tendencies, on the concept that it’s easier and faster to make false claims than it is for an opponent to disprove even one. If the opposition fails to disprove every one of the questionable claims, triumph goes toward the ‘spreader.’ In setting up organized, formal debates, the Gallop (not to be confused with the Gallup) has met disapproval with rules limiting the points made by a presenter within a certain time frame; however, in today’s political atmosphere, televised debates, radio show panels, and talking-head presentations make Gish’s showbiz style right at home – an entertainment network’s dream come true.

Coping with a Gallop opponent can be done, but it’s time-consuming, and the open-mindedness and ability to recognize what is happening is paramount. By reframing the argument, a skillful debater can simply ignore the list presented and focus on a single coherent counter-argument not easily debunked, making the presenter look like a flake. Trump has perfected the Gallop, probably unconsciously, with his spewing of rapid-fire lies, insults and accusations, burying most opponents who are likely unprepared and limited in time to respond to his overwhelming blast. We have seen weak-willed interviewers who fail to interject, correct or take a pause to respond to his gibberish, being totally unprepared to counter his tricky onslaught with facts, documentation or relevant information. Eugenie Scott, a biologist and retired anthropology professor, founded the National Center for Science Education in 1981 to ensure that evolution, not creationism, is taught in our schools, says, ” Debate is a sport. It is not a way of informing the audience or the public of the accuracy of an opinion. It is played by rules that are different from those of logic and empirical evidence.” She also describes debates as “drive-by shootings when it comes to critical thinking.” And, speaking of drive-bys, we must remember that Hillary Clinton was deemed the winner in all the Trump/Clinton debates in 2016 and we see how that ended. Raise your hand if you believe RFK, Jr.‘s claim that the COVID-19 virus may have been “targeted” to spare Ashkenazi Jews and the ChineseNew York Times columnist, Farhad Manjoo, writes, “You can come with all the facts in the world, but when you’re dealing with a conspiracist, there’s no real way to ‘win’ an argument. For people whose views aren’t anchored to facts, ‘winning’ is simply getting attention. And when you publicly argue with someone like Kennedy, you’ve already lost.”

Speaking of losing, our former prez has been convicted of fraudulently and massively inflating the worth of his properties, enabling him to borrow excessive amounts of cash on properties worth billions of dollars less. Then he backtracks to the original evaluations when it comes time to tax time, with no taxes being paid as a consequence of the claimed write-offs. He faces a fine of $250M and possibly seeing his businesses shut down in New York. Those properties with his name on them are owned by the banks, so the $80M and properties he garnered from his late father are dust in the wind since he has overextended himself. Speculation is that his cash-poor situation as he faces several penalties from his numerous court disasters will take down his empire…those unsuspecting MAGAs who send him their hard-earned monies from his beggarly entreaties on Truth Social can barely pay his legal fees. Plus, he is about to lose what was once a real ego-booster…his 2007 Hollywood Walk of Fame star! Hugo Soto-Martinez who represents the district where the star is located is looking into having the star removed. He says, “Donald Trump is a racist, fascist, and a threat to our democracy. We’re looking into where the authority lies, what the legal issues may be, and what a process for it might look like.” This will be a first, and most believe the ultimate authority for removal of this embarrassing honor is the City Council. Removal would also save a fortune for the city, which has had to pay for many cleanups, as the star has been defaced, smashed and otherwise damaged to the tune of $20,000 or so. Bocha Blue writes on The Palmer Report that complete removal is best…Hollywood stars are for the talented, and Trump’s only talent is starting insurrections and name-calling. As Joseph Heller says in his novel, ‘Catch 22,’ 

“Some men are born mediocre,
some men achieve mediocrity,
and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.”

Which box does Trump fit into?

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


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

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

“Martin Luther King, Jr”

“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr in 1959

“For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr in 1968

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr in 1963

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr in 1956


Jimmy Stewart, War Hero? Sure, just check out this video… there’s a lot I didn’t know.

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