Blog Archives

January 25 – 31, 2023

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Ryan Coonerty’s new job,  and Bonline thanks to Chris Krohn. GREENSITE…Downtown Plan Expansion Project. STEINBRUNER…Estrada Ranch sale, Pajaro Area lockdowns, what new weather radar? Santa Cruz water to Soquel. HAYES…Action Alert!! Cotoni-Coast Dairies follow-up. PATTON…New Zealand and “the News”. MATLOCK…Fun, Fun, Fun ’til Daddy takes the Stingray away! EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week. QUOTES… “Rain”


SANTA CRUZ’S BOARDWALK PLEASURE PIER 1953. First built in 1904 this “Electric Pier” was the setting for many, many events. It was removed in 1964 when they also filled in the “plunge baths” in the Casino building.                                                    

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE January 23

RYAN COONERTY’S NEW JOB. ‘Twas nearly impossible to get final details on the new job Ryan’s taking over in San Jose. Apparently he’s going to be a part time legislative assistant to the new 40 year old mayor Matt Mahan. Just how much time and power he’ll have is still debatable but he’s going for it. Let’s hope he makes more of a difference in San Jose than he did as one of our supervisors.

CHRIS KROHN HAS LEFT THE WEBSITE. Chris tells me he gave it much thought and decided to shift priorities and won’t be writing for BrattonOnline anymore. Chris was mayor of Santa Cruz in 2002. And I can’t track back to when he started his writings here they date back at least 7 years and that’s one hell of a lot of energy, commitment, opinions and much care for the community. Thank him when you see him next time.

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.

WOMEN TALKING. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (7.5 IMDB). Based on a true story about a group of Mennonites in Bolivia in 2010 when the men were drugging, raping and abusing the women and children. This movie is adapted to an unknown location and stars Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Frances McDormand and even co- producer Brad Pitt (in a 5 second appearance). It’s about how the eight women decided to either stay or leave the colony and whether to take up arms and defend themselves. It all takes place in one barn room and it’s well worth watching. The issues, feelings, and prejudice that are dealt with are always with us…don’t miss it.

THE LORENSKOG DISAPPEARANCE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.1 IMDB). A Norwegian series about the kidnapping of a billionaire’s wife. The kidnappers send messages, the police are stymied, and puzzles erupt in every episode. It’s about the ransom being in crypto currency and it drags on forever. Folks who watched through the conclusion (not me) say the ending is ridiculous and superfluous.

ILLUSION. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.2 IMDB). This film from Poland is the near believable story of a mother’s search for her missing daughter. Her boyfriend is a suspect and so are some other dark possibilities, but this is centered on how the disappearance affects her as a mother and as a person. There are psychic overtones and some mysterious possibilities which make it magnetic and long lasting.

THE LYING LIFE OF ADULTS. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.6 IMDB). It all happens in Italy in the 1990’s. A teen age girl searches for her “true self” either in the well to do classes and rich settings in the city of Naples or a darker more fun self in the wilder and darker areas of the alleyways. It’s complex, fine acting, and well-directed.

BLACK BUTTERFLIES. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). A French film about a retired old man who hires a novelist to write his life story before he dies. The story is full of sex and murders and how he loved his one girlfriend and how they spent their strange times together. The   relationship between the writer and the old man grows very deep and involved and you’ll become totally immersed in how his biography unfolds.

THE LAST OF US. (HBO SERIES) (9.5 IMDB). I heard that this movie is based on a video game…I know nothing of the game. It starts off in Texas when there is a virus or parasite attack. A father and his son are the leads in this zombie takeoff. It later jumps 20 years later to Boston and a battle against the fireflies. It’s just another rip-off of the zombie attack movies except that it centers on the good people instead of the raging beasts.

TRIAL BY FIRE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.6 IMDB). A dramatic version of a very real tragedy, a fire in a movie theatre that killed 59 people in India in 1997. More than just the fire, it’s the story of how the victims banded together to seek justice against the wealthiest owners of the Mall where the theatre was located. Being an Indian movie it has its own style of camera work and acting. A fine movie, just terrifying if you go to movie theatres.

NOISE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.2 IMDB). Produced in Mexico, this is the story of a 25 year old daughter who disappears for more than two years. It’s very grim and deals in sex trafficking, and how the area police handle or ignore the issues involved. Many mothers and their daughters are involved and they all have intricate stories to tell. A fine film.

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

THE PLAYLIST. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). A dramatized story of what happened to the music business after and during the time CD’s were popular. How Spotify grew, who Sony made and lost millions, and most importantly how the recording artists make money. It’s a Swedish movie and will keep you surprised referring to the vicious music business and how it works.

THE KINGS OF THE WORLD. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.3 IMDB). Five teen agers in Columbia decide to take a very long trip to seek their friend’s inherited property. The camera work is near perfect, the acting is right on and the relationships between the five boys is at least meaningful.

BROKER. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.1 IMDB). Deep and meaningful this Korean film goes deep into the adopted baby business in Korea. It details the love, the disrespect, the care all humans give to our newborn. It’s complex but reveals family connections and legal barricades in our civilization. Brutal, tender, revealing and well-acted it’ll keep you remindful of your own family relationships.

WOMAN OF THE DEAD. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.8 IMDB). An Austrian movie centering on a woman who owns a funeral home in a ski resort and is determined to find out who ran over her husband while he was motorcycling. It’s available in a dubbed version which is distracting. Of a sudden she becomes a target herself for a mysterious reason. It’s slow moving and drawn out and requires patience.

NEW AMSTERDAM. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.0 IMDB). A handsome new Doctor takes charge of the oldest hospital in the USA/New York City the New Amsterdam based on the Bellevue. Like all good Doctor dramas he gets involved deeply with young kids issues, old people problems, drugs, and even a patient with a gun. It’s fast paced, well-acted and nearly believable. No big names but solid performances.


January 23


This is a partial view of the newest building under construction downtown. The actual mass is three times as wide as the center section in the foreground. The city’s website states it is 6 stories high. The building borders Pacific, Laurel and Front streets. When completed it will provide 205 apartments plus ground floor commercial.

Moving south of Laurel towards the Wharf is the area delineated by city planners for the most extensive, massive private development project in the history of Santa Cruz. Named the Downtown Plan Expansion Project, its goal is to finance a new Warriors Arena through the real estate market, with the Warriors as the developer, by providing 1600 or 1800 housing units, 8 times the capacity of the above building.

When first presented to the public, the tallest building proposed by city planners for this project was 20 stories or more than 3 times the height of the building above (twice as tall as the Dream Inn). Council balked at 20 and scaled it down to 17 stories or just under 3 times the height of the building above. Mayor Keeley’s and Council member Scott Newsome’s proposed amendment at the January 10th meeting scaled it down further so that 12 stories or twice as high as the building above will also be studied in the environmental review which is underway. There is no indication at this point how many 12 story buildings are contemplated for this 29- acre site.

Attitudes and opinions about this project cover the spectrum from horror to hurrah! While both were expressed at the council meeting, my hunch is that most residents are unaware of the sheer scale of the project. Cheerleaders include the building trades, certain labor unions as well as prominent business leaders, real estate developers and some housing activists. At the other end of the spectrum are those who see this project and other projects in the pipeline as signaling the end of the unique character and human scale of Santa Cruz, which was the blueprint for rebuilding the downtown after the 89 earthquake, a consensus reached by the diverse members of Vision Santa Cruz and passed into law by the then city council.

Of course, that was then, and this is now. Rents and housing prices then were affordable for most working people including blue-collar workers.  Since then, the major systemic change is that real estate has moved to #1 in investment portfolios and large investment syndications owning $60 billion worth of single-family homes is not unusual. With unlimited demand for real estate speculation in pleasant Santa Cruz, generated by the trifecta of UCSC growth, Silicon Valley, and the ability of high-tech workers to work from home, the cost of rental and for-sale housing is whatever the market can bear. Both have skyrocketed, putting home ownership out of reach for most of the middle class and all of the lower income working class. With unlimited demand, speculation in the driver’s seat, supply is no longer a price stabilizer.

To their credit, Mayor Fred Keeley and Council member Newsome’s amendment raised the percentage of affordable to market rate units to 20% of the whole project. While this sounds promising, it needs careful analysis before concluding that the project will do more good than harm for housing affordability and retention of existing service workers. To listen to the project supporters, these 320 below market rate units will enable our children to stay and live in Santa Cruz after High School graduation; will enable our workforce of teachers, firefighters, nurses, janitors, and service workers to live and stay in Santa Cruz, retaining diversity and inclusivity and ending long commute times. This claim is not supported by the facts or research.

Consider that in this project 80% (1280 units) will be market rate and above. Many will be luxury apartments. The view from the 12th story is sure to be stunning. Research from various cities’ Nexus Reports documents that people who can afford to buy or rent these high-priced units have equally high-end consumption tastes which generate the need for additional service workers to cater to the consumption needs. These new service workers also generate the need for additional affordable housing unless they are going to commute from Salinas or Hollister. They will compete with existing service workers and low-income students for the 320 affordable units and also compete with teachers etc. depending on which low- income category the units are slated for. In other words, 20% inclusionary doesn’t cut it.

New projects with 80% market rate units and 20% inclusionary will worsen, not improve the existing housing affordability crisis.

Nexus Reports project how many units are sufficient at the affordable level in a project consisting of both market rate and affordable units. While the figure varies by project it is usually in the 30% range. And that is the figure to house the increased number of lower income workers needed to cater to the new high-income residents. It does not include existing lower income workers who are leaving Santa Cruz as I write. Have you noticed the plethora of Help Wanted signs in restaurants, businesses, schools etc.?

There are solutions, not favored by developers and out of the scope of this column but 20% inclusionary is not one of them. Yes, better than no inclusionary, however a little less worsening of the housing cost crisis is still worsening it.

This well-documented reality and possible solutions should be the central discussion for city planners, city council and the community. If we allow feel-good empty rhetoric such as, “This housing is for human beings who need a place to stay” to define the discourse, we are participating in the immiseration of the working class while patting ourselves on the back for our largesse.

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.

January 23


“Who serves on the Santa Cruz County Treasury Oversight Commission?  How can I find the Commission’s minutes?”   Those were my questions to Mr. Brandon Marquez, the staff contact for the Santa Cruz County Treasury Oversight Commission

Here was his reply:

The commissioners are listed within our Quarterly Investment Reports. These are published on the County Treasury website. Be aware that our IT team has been in the process of restructuring the Treasury Oversight Commission website to include agendas and minutes of past meetings.



Notice that he did not provide a link to those County Quarterly Investment Reports.

What I did then receive was a notice of a Public Records Act request launched to provide the answers to my questions. The initial County response is due within 10 days…Hmmmm….

Why didn’t Mr. Marquez just answer my questions?

The County’s new Public Records Act request system is interesting and not easy to access.  You have to create an account to access any responsive materials, and it is nearly impossible to access the information of other Public Records Act requests that are supposed to be publicly-available.

On January 17, I received the following Public Records Act request answer to my query about the Treasury Oversight Commission:

After a review, the County has determined that it has non-exempt records responsive to the Request, which are enclosed. The County did not locate any exempt records. As always, the County reserves all rights.

The next Treasury Oversight Commission meeting is on 1/25 @ 3PM. It will be virtual. The agenda with meeting materials should be posted on the commission website mid next week.

Per your request, see the latest minutes approved by the Treasury Oversight Commission attached. Be aware that our IT team is in the process of refurbishing the Treasury Oversight Commission webpage to include a year’s back of agendas and minutes for public review.

Kind regards,

Laura Bowers, CPA

Chief Deputy Auditor-Controller

Here is the link to the Minutes of the April 27, 2022 Treasure Oversight Commission:

TOC Minutes 042722.pdf – NextRequest – Modern FOIA & Public Records Request Software

Really?  Note that Ms. Edith Driscoll, Director of the Auditor-Controller and Tax Collection Dept., made the recommendations of who would be the officers of the Commission.

Role of the Treasury Oversight Commission

The Treasury Oversight Commission provides oversight to the County Treasury by reviewing the quarterly investment report provided by the County Treasurer, reviewing the annual Investment Policy and directing the County Auditor to conduct an annual Treasurer’s compliance audit.

The Commission is supposed to meet in January, April and October, but it appears the Commission has not met since last April.

Treasury Oversight Commission

I think these Commission meetings need to have better public participation, and encourage you to listen in on January 26 and ask questions.


Recent lockdowns of the Pajaro area were a bit curious.  All roads accessing the town were blocked and guarded, supposedly due to potential flooding.  However, as I traveled Highway 129 on business, I noted the Pajaro River was not dangerously high.

I looked up the FEMA 100 year flood map to try to understand the reasoning.  It is interesting, and somewhat explains the heightened level of concern about the Pajaro areas flooding, but the River levels at the time did not seem to warrant the tight access lockdown of the residential areas in the neighborhood of a friend who lives in the agricultural areas against the eastern hills.

ArcGIS Web Application

I checked the rainfall and stream gauge levels, and saw they were not near flood stage.

Also, much of the area showed no evacuation warning or order on ZoneHaven: AWARE – Zonehaven

When I asked my friend “Do you think the County feels the River levee is going to fail?  I can find no warnings at all about this.  What are the law enforcement officials telling those no longer allowed to go to their homes in higher-ground areas is the reason people have to stay out of the Pajaro area completely?”

She replied that it is a not-so-secret plan if the levee looked as though it were going to breach, the County would blast an opening in a strategic spot to flood the ag fields as a pressure-relief for the potential urban flooding devastation, but it depends on what the farmers have planted and where, and the amount of damage that would be sustained if the County flooded the land.

Wow.  Now I better understand the situation.  Well, flooding the ag fields would help with groundwater recharge, wouldn’t it?  However, who knows how it would affect any certified organic farms, due to the unknown contaminants in the flood waters.  Hmmmm…

Learn more about the history of flooding and damages in the County here

You may also find the County’s 2021-2026 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) of interest: Local Hazard Mitigation Plan


The quick answer is “No”, but not sure why. According to the installation’s director, Dr.  Mark Strudley, it just was not ready to activate yet.


Today’s Sentinel reported that Loch Lomond is 102% full…that means it is overflowing.  That means that the conditions are right for the City of Santa Cruz to sell water to Soquel Creek Water District as part of an Agreement that has been in place for a few years, allowing for water transfers when water is abundant.  That means that Soquel Creek Water District can greatly reduce pumping from the Purisima Aquifer, deemed in critical overdraft by the State Water Board, and help the groundwater levels recover.   Right?

So, why wasn’t that even on the January 17, 2023 agenda for the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors to discuss?

Here is a link to the Water Transfer Pilot Project evaluation in 2019 by Black & Veatch Engineering that deemed the transfers a success

Drought conditions since then have precluded the regional transfer of potable water but now the transfers COULD resume, if the Soquel Creek Water District requests that it does….

Please write the District’s Board and make this request, because it will support aquifer recovery in a manner that does not pollute the groundwater like the PureWater Soquel Project has great potential of doing when operational.

Here is a link to the Santa Cruz City Water Dept. Weekly Water Supply data: Weekly Water Conditions in Santa Cruz | City of Santa Cruz

Consider adding discussion of harvesting stormwater when it is available, such as Southern California is now planning to fund with a series of small to medium collection basins and percolation ponds (many thanks to the Bratton Online reader who sent this link):

In a Drought, California Is Watching Water Wash Out to Sea

Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors  and  Emma

and also please write a letter to the editor of your favorite local news source or on social media

Submit Letters

Submit letters to the editor (150 words maximum) Please submit your letter to the editor to editorial@santacruzs…

Letters to the Editor | Good Times

Letters to the Editor | Good Times

Letters to the editor written by local Santa Cruz county citizens. Read about community issues here.


What WAS on the agenda was Item 7.5: Initiating a Rate Increase Study and Approving a Request for Qualifications to pay up to $150,000 for a consultant to work out a new round of rate increases.  See page 178

Somehow, the District did a smoke and mirrors analysis to show that their bloated rates are affordable, but insist that the expensive PureWater Soquel Project debt and cost-overruns have necessitated the need to continue to raise rates.  The last five-year annual 9% annual rate increases just wasn’t enough, and the final round of increases will take effect next month.

Wow.  If you are a Soquel Creek Water District customer, ask the District to serve on the Water Rate Advisory Committee (WRAC) that will likely be hand-picked by staff to serve as the customer advisory group moving the new rate increases forward.

Soquel Creek Water District Board and Leslie Strohm

Attend any of the current Standing Committee meetings that you can, especially the Finance Committee

It is interesting that the District’s Board approve Consent Agenda Item 4.10 to spend $27,392 for Knowlton Construction to remodel the District Office lobby to add 25 caliber bullet-proof glass protection windows at the counter? (see page 143 of the agenda packet)



This amazing bit of news was in the San Jose Mercury News this morning.

The Estrada Family essentially was handed $10.6 Million by POST to stay on their farm for free and no longer have to pay property taxes.  The ranch will not be open to the public as a park.  The Santa Cruz County Land Trust is negotiating a deal to buy more adjacent parcels of the ranch.  Same sweet deal.

No mention of reparations for the controlled burn that got out of control in 2021, but maybe that was the leverage the POST and State used to force the sale?  Also, what about the Estrada Deer Camp Event Center that has no record of permits for the commercial-grade refrigeration or electrical improvements, and has never been permitted for special events?    Will that get to continue and bring revenue to …..someone?


I also believe the County will lose a lot of property tax revenue in this deal because lands owned by these agencies are tax-exempt.

What a sweet deal for the Estradas, don’t you think?



Cheers, Becky

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at

January 23


In my last column at, I outlined the tragic history of the 5,600 acre Cotoni Coast Dairies property leading to BLM’s takeover of managing the property and urging readers to pay more attention and to be more active in the evolution of that management. January 30th is an important deadline that provides you an opportunity to help better protect the property: BLM is proposing sweeping regulations that supposedly ‘protect’ this public land, but they are acting prematurely.

After reading this, I am hoping that you will write a public comment note suggesting a delay for BLM’s rulemaking until that agency completes its required planning process for protecting Cotoni Coast Dairies as it is supposed to be with its designation as part of a National Monument. If you want to cut this read short and write comments, skip the upcoming critique and go to the last section below for more guidance.

Designed to be a Federal Yawner

If you were managing BLM and you didn’t want anyone to comment on your oversight of Cotoni Coast Dairies, you’d design public comment period notifications to be filled with confusing jargon, contradictory statements, and pointless direction for commenters. Here’s a link to the current set of rules which would govern Cotoni Coast Dairies in perpetuity and which BLM has published for public review through January 30.

Confusing Jargon

The press release announcing this public comment period opens with this typically confusing jargon: “The supplementary rule would provide consistency and uniformity for visitors.” Huh?

And there’s more confusing jargon – the comment period is about a ‘supplementary rule‘ – supplementary to what, you might ask, aren’t all rules supplementary? This seems either deeply philosophical or something that might better contemplated by Zippy.

Contradictory Statements

The press release for this public comment period begins with a curious and confusing quote from Acting Central Coast Field Manager Shekeetah Allen Genoway:

“We believe this plan will help…”    (emphasis mine)

Errr…I thought this was a ‘supplementary rule‘ not a plan?? Someone at BLM might be reading this and scoffingly muttering ‘Big Deal!’ ‘What’s the Diff?’ or ‘Who Cares!?’ Well, there is a big difference between a rule and a plan, and it is BLM’s duty to engage with and educate the public about said differences.

Pointless Direction

Acting Central Coast Field Manager Shekeetah Allen Genoway’s quote goes on to give very narrow advice on what the BLM hopes the public will comment about:

“We are seeking public comments to help us clarify language in the rules to ensure they are easily understood by users and public.”

(Jargon note: anyone who might visit the property is known to BLM as a ‘user,’ but I’m unclear about the difference between ‘users’ and ‘public’)

In short, BLM says that if the rules aren’t clear, then please give them feedback on how to make them clearer. In other words, don’t question the rules…don’t think about why such rules are necessary…don’t suggest better rules or how to improve the rules-making processes, etc. However, the rationale for public comment periods in a democracy is to open up all of those subjects for discussion.

The Wizard of Odd

Don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain!

If you are brave enough to open the Federal Yawner ‘Supplementary Rule,’ you can get to the root of what I see as the Big Problem by reading the ‘Discussion’ section. There, you will find a profoundly deceptive misstatement:

“The BLM completed the Cotoni-Coast Dairies Resource Management Plan (RMP) Amendment on June 23, 2021, to establish land use decisions that protect the objects and values of the Cotoni-Coast Dairies unit of the California Coastal National Monument and support responsible recreation opportunities.”

In fact, the RMP did not contain a list of the ‘objects and values’ called out in the Obama Administration’s Monument designation for the property. Therefore, the plan could not and did not ‘establish land use decisions that protect‘ them.

Moreover, the RMP’s recreational planning analyses harkened back to pre-WWI-style parks planning with no mention of modern recreational planning principles: social carrying capacity analysis (to avoid overcrowding and user conflicts – for instance, mountain bikers vs. family hikers with small children, or natural resource carrying capacity analysis (to avoid disturbing sensitive wildlife, etc.). So, the plan could not and did not ‘establish land use decisions….{sic}(that) support responsible recreation opportunities.’

In sum, this current proposed “supplementary” rule compounds and builds on the shaky house of cards that has been BLM’s balderdash-based planning for Cotoni Coast Dairies. And, it is on that level that I urge you to give feedback to BLM.

What to Do?

The best current direction for BLM is to keep the property closed until the requisite planning processes have been completed and there is a credible approach from which to establish regulations for the property.

According to BLM’s guidelines for managing National Monument properties (Manual 6220), the agency is required first to undertake studies inventorying the ‘objects and values’ of the Monument and determining how best to protect them. And yet, BLM has been opposing conservationists and the State of California’s natural resource protection agencies in its attempt to avoid such work.

The proposed “Supplementary” Rule compounds BLM’s prior mistakes, and in doing so confuses the public into thinking they are embarking on good conservation work by limiting visitor use. You might find it confusing to oppose such a ‘supplementary’ rule when it allows BLM to enforce off-limits areas if what we are looking for is to protect the large swaths of Cotoni Coast Dairies from being ‘loved to death’ by visitors. Perhaps they might need some rules like this, but the BLM’s decision to make these rules is premature. They must first recognize, list, and analyze the human impacts on the ‘objects and values’ protected by Monument designation. For now, if we show BLM we aren’t fooled by their tactics and demand that they do a more complete job of protecting resources, BLM will be forced to follow its own guidelines and get the planning right.

And so, I urge you to please write the BLM and let them know that they should complete the planning and analysis outlined in their guidelines for managing National Monuments (Manual 6220) before they create regulations that may or may not be necessary. A short note would suffice: Bureau of Land Management, BLM Central Coast Field Office, 940 2nd Ave., Marina, CA 93933, or emailed to:    or

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


January 19

#19 / New Zealand And “The News”

That is Auckland, New Zealand, pictured above. The picture reminds me of my trips into San Francisco on Highway 101. There are really some striking similarities in the way the cities look, seen from this perspective. I don’t know what they call the outsize tower in the middle of this photo of Auckland, but it seems to dominate the Auckland skyline the way the Salesforce Tower dominates the San Francisco skyline.

At any rate, my blog posting today is not about Auckland (or San Francisco), and it’s not about office towers and their priapic city displays, either. Auckland is the most populous urban area in New Zealand, and so this picture seemed suitable to draw attention to a blog posting prompted by a recent Wall Street Journal news story about New Zealand.

Specifically, I am referring to an article about how New Zealand is planning “to require online platforms like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. to pay news publishers for content.”

Click the link to read the entire story (the WSJ paywall permitting, of course). I think it’s good that New Zealand is going to try to make the giant online platforms pay local newspapers and other news sources for “the news” which we now read, increasingly, only on those online platforms.

What interested me most about the article, though, was not so much the specifics of New Zealand’s plans to make the giant online platforms compensate those who actually produce “the news.” I got to thinking about the “principle” involved. The “principle,” in my mind, is that those who actually help produce something that has value should be compensated for the value they produce.

What about workers in general? We have recently heard about the outsize profits of the railway corporations, as their workers go on strike. The oil companies are in the same position. The incredible profits that have gone to the giant corporations would not have appeared without all the workers who work for those companies. Yet, the “workers” don’t get to share, very significantly, in the business profits that their labor has helped create.

Here is a quote from the article about New Zealand’s plans to make the online mega-platforms pay for “the news” that they provide to those who visit their sites (and who, by visiting those online platforms, to get “the news,” create big profits for the platforms):

“It’s not fair that the big digital platforms like Google and Meta get to host and share local news for free,” Mr. Jackson said Sunday. “It costs to produce the news, and it’s only fair they pay.”

Like legislation elsewhere, New Zealand’s proposal would allow Google and Facebook to negotiate with publishers without government intervention. But if no agreement is reached, then the law would plot out a mandatory negotiating process.

Recognizing the massive income and wealth inequality in the United States, isn’t it about time that we set up just such a system for workers in general? In other words, because we are “all in this together,” it is appropriate for all major corporations to be sure that their workers get a fair share of the profits that are generated, ultimately, by the work those workers do.

The New Zealand proposal allows an initial negotiation, but with the government stepping in to make the allocations if the workers and the corporations don’t agree what’s “fair” to all involved.

Sound good? Worth thinking about, in my opinion.

Worth working for!

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

Email Gary at

January 23


The fun continues at the Biden Delaware home with FBI searches turning up more classified documents from the president’s Senate and VP stints, along with some written notes which were also removed. While the prez has assured us that “there’s no there there”, he has concern about his ’67 Corvette Stingray which got a thorough going-over by the squad of investigators who revealed, to Biden’s complete consternation, that the turn-signal lever is from a ’68 Corvette Stingray! His car club buddies are now considering disciplinary action for this deception, but in light of the discovery are taking it seriously enough to examine their own autos with more rigor. Now that’s thinking ahead!

Biden’s poll numbers had been riding a bit higher following the midterm elections, and many Democratic Party leaders had generally positive feelings toward his pending announcement for running again in 2024, but the classified document stashes have lowered the poll ratings and party stalwarts are having second thoughts about a second term in office. Chief of Staff Ron Klain’s resignation takes some of the shine off the administration’s reputation and is viewed as a major change in the fortunes of the incumbency. Attorney Klain gained traction serving under VP Gore and VP Biden, and had maintained a TV presence in the years before joining up with Biden again. His successor, Jeff Zients, part of the transition team leading up to the inauguration, has held several jobs stemming from his business acumen, rather than a political background. He gained prominence when he took charge of correcting the bungled website release under the Obama administration, which led to Biden’s appointing him as coronavirus response coordinator. His executive and management skills make him the wealthiest member of Biden’s coterie.

Overall, party loyalists feel Biden has done a good job, has made competent appointments, and should be able to run again as is his prerogative. Despite the advantages of incumbency, can he beat Trump, or a Trump-like candidate, a second time. Many feel that Joe should step aside and let a younger candidate step up due to the difficulties and pressure in the job, the big question being ‘who?’  Should the GOP put up a younger candidate, the issue of age will loom large.

The laid-back Trump campaign has gained a foothold with Biden’s classified materials fiasco, but the first campaign swing into South Carolina reveals complications as they find support for his early candidacy to be less than enthusiastic. Efforts to drum up endorsements or attendees to the event are lacking, with calls for a more competitive nominating process. Complicating the issue are former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley who has serious plans, as well as Senator Tim Scott, both seeking to possibly challenge Trump. It is expected, of course, that Senator Lindsey Graham will maintain his loyalty to the former president, as will Governor Henry McMaster, but Trump’s dominance has taken a hit. As Dave Wilson of the Palmetto Family Council, a prominent evangelical group, says, “There is more than a little bit of softening in Trump support in South Carolina,” many being turned away by comments made by DJT, questioning the loyalty of the evangelical crowd.

Republican state party chairman, Drew McKissick will not be attending the January 28 rally as he goes to California’s RNC meeting, Representative Ralph Norman, ally of both Haley and Trump has a prior commitment. Hope Walker, executive director of the state party, was offered a job on the Trump team, but turned it down to remain in her current role. Other party lawmakers in the state have disclosed that they will be unable to attend despite Graham’s arm-twisting and warning to get onboard now for the likely nominee. It appears that Florida’s Governor DeSantis has support equaling that of The Donald. Former Trump secretary of state Mike Pompeo has filled Facebook with his ads, with promises of helping “principled conservatives in South Carolina restore the American Dream!” And, Mike Pence has shown his smiley face, especially to church leaders in the evangelical-heavy state. The word is out, “Gentlemen (and gentlelady) – start your engines!”

The US Extreme Court released its report last week revealing that after the months-long investigation into the leak to the press of the Alito draft opinion in the Dobbs v Jackson/Roe v Wade decision, no leaker was identified. The report concluded that it wasn’t hacked, while it laid out steps taken to arrive at a more conclusive result. No relevant information was found on court-issued computers or mobile devices among personnel, or in call and texts records examined from those who had access to the opinion. Nearly 100 employees of the court were interviewed to solve this “extraordinary betrayal of trust” with Donald Trump calling for the jailing of the Politico journalists who exposed the document “until they reveal their source(s).” Most critics of the unresolved report lay the problem at the feet of the court’s marshal, Gail Curley, who had no business ‘investigating’ an internal problem, even though Michael Chertoff, former head of the Department of Homeland Security declared it to be a thorough investigation, and having no suggestions of useful measures that could have been undertaken.

Employees were threatened with losing their jobs if they refused to answer questions, so were the justices themselves questioned – dismissal not being relevant here? Ahem, Justice Alito! He is under heavy suspicion as being the culprit, having reasons for doing so, with a previous incident hanging over his unrepentant head. ‘Cover up’ is the watchword since the ‘investigation’ was not done by an arm of the law or the FBI, and Curley’s bosses are – the supreme court justices! So, the report is a standing joke for the masses, regarding a body which is too embarrassed to expose one of their own. It has marked the court as incompetent and afraid, being involved in a dirty business. A possible solution for Roberts and his henchmen could have been hiring a retired FBI agent, but, darn! –  a likely contender was just arrested. Former official Charles McGonigal of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in New York was found to have taken payments from a Russian oligarch to investigate one of his rivals. Probably could have worked for the Supremes pretty inexpensively since they know all the angles for absolution of guilt. Pity!

The court’s Roe v Wade decision gave wings to the pro-life movement over the weekend with marches and speeches around the country to celebrate their victory. In force also were pro-choice demonstrators showing their dissatisfaction with the court’s leanings. As satirical character Betty Bowers, the creation of Canadian comedian, Deven Green, says, “Texas doesn’t have a hotline if you see a man go into a kindergarten with an AR-15, but it does have a hotline if you see a woman go into a Planned Parenthood parking lot with her car.” Where is George Santos when you need him?

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.


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