Blog Archives

January 26 – February 1, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Joe B. over Bernie or Elizabeth! Girl Scouts protesting cookies, Democratic Socialists of Santa Cruz. GREENSITE…on yet another David and Goliath development. KROHN…Journalism II, Bellafonte, Crowley and Klein. STEINBRUNER…831 Water Street development, affordable housing possible, legalizing tiny homes, UCSC and UC Davis expansion. PATTON…Turnabout and revenge and humiliation. EAGAN…classic Deep Covers and Subconscious Comics. QUOTES…”February”

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CEDAR AND LOCUST STREETS (DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ) 1920. That would be the Red Restaurant and The Little Shanghai restaurants. The Literary Guillotine is in there somewhere too.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE January 25

BIDEN OVER BERNIE AND ELIZABETH. After a lot of watching and reading and thinking, I am finally of the opinion that Biden will do a much better job as our president than either Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren would have. I don’t believe either Bernie or Elizabeth has the patience or experience to face the myriad of small but dividing issues that have separated so much of our lives and politics. Their end goals might be even more beneficial to our Untied States than Joe B. would be able to push through, but I don’t think they have the calmness and friendliness that such a huge undertaking requires. Watch closely as Trump keeps fading into the shadows, as the far right recedes ,and as the long-time promises and needs of our national community are slowly brought into reality.

GIRL SCOUT COOKIE BOYCOTT. For actual decades I’ve urged boycotting Girl Scout Cookies. The encouragement of parents to teach girls to go door to door to compete against each other in selling a lousy and unhealthy product seems cruel to me. The cookie companies make much more money than the Girl Scouts do. Now Jennifer Bratton sent me the following

Scouts Boycotting Cookie season over palm oil concerns.

You’ll see concerns over child labor, deforestation, and the negative factors of the palm oil itself. Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakers (Weston Foods) are the two cookie companies that make the little devils. Interbake Foods and the Keebler Company are their owners. 

DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA LOCAL MEETING DATA. If you’ve wondered what Democratic Socialism is all about ,go to  https://dsasantacruz.org . The site will

give you DSA positions on The San Lorenzo site displacement, Bookshop Santa Cruz and the union and more. There will be an orientation meeting of the Santa Cruz DSA Sunday, January 31st from 4-5 p.m. For zoom link, email membership@dsasantacruz.org 

WHITE TIGER. (Single) A wonderful story and movie from a book about the class system in India. It takes place in Delhi, and centers on Balram, a young boy who grows from a very wise to near genius level in fighting India’s rigid social structure. Struggling upwards in the illegal government system, Balram ends up controlling a business of his own. A long war between servants, ruling classes, mobsters, and family ties, it’s brilliant. Go for it by all means.

PRETEND IT’S A CITY. (SERIES) 86 on rt. There are seven episodes in this diatribe about New York City, by author and critic Fran Lebowitz. Martin Scorsese is producer, interviewer and enabler ,as Fran takes apart the many sides of why people live in New York. If you like or even love New York City, you’ll howl over the issues, problems and challenges she makes such good fun of hour after hour. High rents, street crimes, crowds, weather, she covers them all.

THE RIPPER. (Series) There was a mass murderer in London in the late 1970’s and early 80’s who patterned his killings after the famed Jack the Ripper the century before (1888). This documentary is not only well done, but it centers on the very poor police investigations. A real change in online viewing… it’s perfectly assembled, logically developed and surprising in the exposing the lousy job the police and other authorities did in the decades during which they tried to catch The Ripper. The real Jack the Ripper (1888) was never caught, even though he’d sent letters to the police.

GIRI/HAJI. (Series) Giri Haji means Duty/Shame. Tricky, involved, many flashbacks, stabbings and only a fair series. It’s set in London and Tokyo, where a detective goes searching for his gang involved brother. Yakusas (Mafia) battle each other and share very weak promises and loyalties to their gangs. No standout acting or direction, it just seems to go in circles with no purpose. You can easily avoid this one, and no-one will know the difference. Trust me.  

BRIDGERTON. (Series) Set in 1813 London, this is a poor copy of Downton Abbey (1912-1926). Even the music background sounds the same, but the acting is miserable, the casting lacks class and the sub-plots are boring. One interesting thing is that the casting is multi-racial. That means there are blacks and Asians in roles that seem out of historical accuracy, but it is odd to think about what the real times were like. Julie Andrews does the entire voiceover for the series, but it doesn’t help the overall phoniness. 

KILL BILL, parts one and two. Quentin Tarantino created a masterpiece of movies with these dramas. Uma Thurman and David Carradine keep us totally absorbed in this saga of blood, sweat and brilliance. Sure you’ve seen it before (back in    ) but watch it again, there’s so many subtle touches we missed the first time.

TIGER. This is a two part documentary on HBO that tells us, or reminds us of all the troubles Tiger Woods has faced in his golfing career. His sex life, his injuries, his children, his completely domineering father; it’s all in this expose. Still we watch and admire Tiger for the way he’s survived. Completely riveting and revealing. Watch it quickly while HBO is still featuring it.

PIECES OF A WOMAN. (SINGLE) This movie is just a bit corny and cute but it’ll grab you in many different ways. A young couple has a baby with the help of a midwife. The baby dies and the plot thickens around the midwife and mom’s mother. The mother is well played by Ellen Burstyn. You could guess the ending but I’m not going to help you. If you need to shed a tear or two during these sad times go for it. I liked it a lot.

SURVIVING DEATH. (SERIES)There are 6 episodes, near-death experience, mediums (2 parts) signs from the dead, seeing dead people and reincarnation. The first one on near death experience reports on hundreds of folks who have died and experienced some startling sites. The two parts on mediums seems too hokey. If you’ve ever wondered about seeing ghosts watch the last two parts. It’s well done and even informative…no matter what/how you believe. 

LUPIN. (SERIES). A neatly twisted robbery plot of Marie Antoinette’s necklace from the Louvre. There’s revenge, politics (French politics) and many, many Louvre scenes. The plot is complex enough to keep you glued to your viewing device for all seven episodes. What is outstanding is that the acting is excellent and believable.

THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND.(SINGLE) Staten Island like New Jersey has a nutty and not too good a reputation around the New York City area. Marisa Tomei does a great job as mother to a bunch of teen agers trying to grow up on the island. Steve Buscemi has a bit part too. The boys hopes, dreams, smoking weed, and trying to face their predictable future make this a near tear jerker, I recommend it.

NOTES FOR MY SON (SINGLE). An 80 on R.T. this is a nearly true to life sad saga of a well known Argentine woman is dying of ovarian cancer. She’s got a 4 year old son and an engrossing husband who combine to make this a vastly superior movie. It deals with assisted suicide, euthanasia, sedated death in a completely realistic way. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the emotions, and it’s a fine movie.

THE MIRE (SERIES). A Polish murder mystery taking place in the early 80’s . An important community leader and a prostitute are found dead and some competing journalists/ writer’s  search for the guilty guy or woman will keep you centered. Well done, nicely acted, and another season is coming soon.

HISTORY OF SWEAR WORDS. (SERIES) Nicolas Cage hosts this six episode child like-idiotic documentary on our now way over used swear words. The six are fuck, shit, bitch, dick, pussy and damn. These words are so common and so often used on the internet and TV and the movies you’ll wonder why they bothered. The origin of “fuck” is interesting but not a shit to watch. And you’ll learn that Samuel L. Jackson is not the actor who has sworn the most on camera!!!

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January 25, 2021

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Developers’ renditions of projects are designed to minimize the visual impact. You can be sure that the development pictured above will be even more jarring and out of scale with the existing eastside neighborhood of one-story homes if the project is approved and built. And that is the likely outcome given the pro-development complexion of the current council majority and a planning department seemingly hell bent on bulldozing the character of Santa Cruz. That is, unless the community is vociferous in demanding council stick to its stated policy to protect existing neighborhoods and small businesses.    

The location for this proposed development is the corner of Water and Branciforte, kitty-corner to the Branciforte Small Schools building, which is a historic site. The school grounds were the center of Villa de Branciforte, founded in 1797 by Governor Diego de Borica of California on orders from Spain through Viceroy Branciforte in Mexico. The settlement existed as a separate township until 1905, when it was annexed to the city of Santa Cruz. 

While the address is listed as 831 Water St. the project will bulldoze 5 parcels of existing small businesses including DJ Mini-Mart and a Laundromat, which currently sit modestly on top of a marine terrace where the road descends steeply towards downtown. You’ll notice from the rendition that the plan for underground parking enters and exits on Water St.  That will make for dramatic collision opportunities.

How would you like this in your back yard? Well, you may be next.

The project is designed for a height of 59 feet (plus “accoutrements”) and for 151 units plus 9,000 square feet of retail with a 2,229 square foot bar on the roof.  No doubt we will be subjected to the usual yada yada of the need for all types of housing (not true) by YIMBY and Monterey Bay Economic Partnership cheerleaders plus a few building trades union members thrown in for good effect. Curious that the YIMBY’s (Yes In My Back Yard) never actually face a proposed mammoth development in their back yards but are sure happy to have it built in yours.

You can be fully supportive of the need for low cost housing and still oppose developments such as this one and others of similar scale such as last week’s approved Riverfront Development of mostly luxury condos. There seems no regard from council majority or planning department for established neighborhoods that include many low-income long-term residents. There is a growing body of research showing that this type of new mixed-use development mushrooming in Santa Cruz leads to the displacement of low-income residents who are forced to move, usually far away, as property values rise with the new buildings, and owners of small properties are seduced into selling their older single family homes or small scale businesses, to be razed and replaced with these large scale developments. 

A closer look at the size of the units should raise some eyebrows, or at least some questions about who will be the likely buyers or tenants. Building A will have 34 studios, 38 one-bedroom units and 2 two-bedroom units. Building B will have 68 studios, 8 one-bedroom units and 1 two-bedroom unit. 

The low-income workers I know, who are cooks, janitors, maids or house cleaners are mostly families with young children. None of these units, even the ones that are so-called affordable is geared towards their needs. Just 3 two-bedroom units out of the 151 total! It is clear what demographic this and all the other developments are marketed for: single high tech and other professional newcomers and second homers. If you doubt that, check out the marketing brochures for all the big new developments already built in Santa Cruz. Not only is this trend forcing out long-term low-income residents, it is also shortsighted. Once the single, affluent professionals decide to “settle down” and raise a family, they then look around to buy a single family home to buy, bulldoze and have built a high end modern, big footprint home, further gentrifying the town at both ends.  Their lifestyles leave a far bigger carbon footprint than the cook forced to move to Salinas.

If this is published before Wednesday evening, you can join the zoom meeting where the developer lays out his plans for this development. There will be a second zoom meeting at a later date, not yet determined. Neighbors directly affected will be there. Your support is important. Turning this development tanker around will take a town.  

Voice your Concerns!
Community Zoom Meeting 1/27/2021, 6 pm
https://zoom.us/j/92953946577 
Meeting ID: 929 5394 6577 
Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association  http://darksky.org    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.

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January 25

JOURNALISM PART II.

Newer Journalism
I had begun writing this column with the idea of highlighting some incredible writing about America, now. I am fast running up against the BrattonOnLine.com Monday deadline. In the age of internet, livestreaming and the 24-hour news cycle the journalists job has changed considerably. Often when I pick up my hardcopy New York Times and San Jose Mercury News in the driveway I often feel like I am reading yesterday’s news, or even two days ago, especially sports news because more often than not I am. The business model has changed for these companies and I would predict my generation will be the last one to receive paper copies of “the paper of record” or of the “Merc.” How I enjoy that tactile sensation of turning the paper, retreating back to the front page, and ripping a story out and placing it on the fridge for all to see. That era is near over with the next one still being churned out. 

Resisting a discussion of Tom Wolfe’s 1973 anthology, The New Journalism in which the dispassionate presentation of facts utilizes the literary devices of fiction writing, which Gay Talese, and Joan Didion are among the stars. Journalists today really have to be able to stand in front of a mike, know how to operate a video camera, understand best times of the day to post on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and be able to book spots on radio and podcast shows to highlight their stories. It’s a breath-taking skill set and may produce a new millennial’s super-journalist,’ and those who resist mastering new skills may be contributing to their own, and the field’s, future demise. That’s why I was surprised when a couple of local writers not long ago refused to come on a radio program I was hosting on KSQD 90.7FM to discuss their recent writing, but no worries, there were several others who were eager. Journalists and journalism outlets need all the free press they can get. This profession should not be constantly in survival mode, but recreating itself and responding to the various ways people receive information.

From Caen, Ivins, and Cockburn, to Bellafante, Klein, and Crowley
This week, I highlight three stories that came across my radar screen recently by Ginia Bellafante, one of my all-time favorite NY Times writers, UCSC graduate Ezra Klein, and S.J. Mercury News sports columnist Kerry Crowley. They are all exemplary political narratives that bring our attention to an ongoing historical narrative on how the wealthy keep getting over on the rest of us. These pieces might just also represent Wolfe’s new journalism of the 70’s, but fast-forwarded to a 2021 deadline I doubt even he could see from his Electric Kool Aid Acid Test days.

Journalism Today
Ezra Klein writes clearly, and rather brilliantly (note to self: show, don’t tell), in a New York Times opinion piece critiquing how Trump supporters treat him, “seriously, but not literally.” Klein writes: “But Trump did not want every legal vote counted. He wanted legally counted votes to be erased; he wanted new votes discovered in his favor. He wanted to win, not lose; whatever the cost, whatever the means. But in his pre-storming of the Capitol speech, Trump supporters seemed to take him literally. Klein states, “But at the same time, Trump was telling his supporters that the election had actually been stolen, and that it was up to them to resist. And they took him literally. They did not experience this as performative grievance; they experienced it as a profound assault. They stormed the Capitol, attacked police officers, shattered doors and barriers, looted congressional offices. One woman was shot in the mayhem and died.” Klein describes why Trump’s base was willing to follow him and that Trump has always been the sore loser. Remember, Ted Cruz stole the Iowa caucus vote; the Dems rigged the 2016 vote because Hillary received more votes even though he ended up as President, and so of course 2020 had to produce fake election results because that’s Trump’s life narrative. Klein’s conclusion offers an aha! moment: “The problem isn’t those who took Trump at his word from the start. It’s the many, many elected Republicans who took him neither seriously nor literally, but cynically. They have brought this upon themselves — and us.”

Kerry Crowley’s recent piece on billionaire and fanatical rightwing donor, Charles B. Johnson, is yet another display of hard news making it into the sports section. It might be okay if some yahoo billionaire is contributing his largesse to right wing causes like Rep. Lauren Boebert who “packs” while walking the halls of congress and who may have tweeted out Nancy Pelosi’s location during the insurrection, and losing Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, along with the max $2800 for a dozen other right of the conservative right candidates. This might not even be a story except for the fact that billionaire Johnson is majority owner of the San Francisco Giants. Yes, those SF Giants. Crowley writes, “Candidates around the country received a financial boost from Johnson around the same time the Giants announced they were laying off 10% of their full-time employees ‘due to unprecedented impact and continued uncertainty of the pandemic on our operations.'” Crowley’s reporting goes on to cite, “Reports in recent months have shown no owner in American professional sports (not Trump’s pals like Robert Kraft who owns the New England Patriots or Woody Johnson who owns the New York Jets) has donated more to campaigns than Charles B. Johnson. He gave out more than $4.2 million during this cycle and has donated upward to $10 million since 2015.” Well Giants fans, isn’t it time you ask Johnson to kindly leave? Will the baseball commissioner ban him for the Republican haters that he funds? Or, will everything be back to normal once everyone gets the vaccine and buys a seat in the outfield at Giants stadium this spring? I say, Goodbye Chuck, so long, farewell… (Kerry Crowley)

Ginia Bellafonte writes a golf story in this past Sunday New York Times, “New York and Trump, Unlinking at Last.” On the face of it, a mobster (not Trump yet) is forced to give up running a public golf course in the Bronx and the Trump organization later steps in. If it did not have so many of the trappings of the insular, locals (whites) only history of our Delaveaga golf course it would not have hit home as powerfully. While the city of New York spent $127 million constructing the course over a former landfill, it would take some 226 years for the city to recoup its investment. “The deal is structured to give the city 7 percent of gross receipts annually” on green fees that are $185 for each round of golf. Now, here is where Bellafante’s writing about New York inequities meets Santa Cruz. “If Trumpism in much of America is marked by righteous rage and nationalist grievance, among New York’s liberal ruling class it lives in gilt and self-deception, in the placement of a luxury commodity where there ought to be a utilitarian asset, in the capitulation to real-estate interests often with the distorted view that the benefits of serving the dominant will redound to the powerless — they just didn’t know it yet.”  Say it again Santa Cruz, “In the capitulation to real-estate interests often with the distorted view…” (Read the whole story here )

“This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.” 

–Martin Luther King, Jr. 


Is this the society we want to live in? A man in a motorized wheelchair precariously perched at the end of traffic island hoping for a few dollars from cars passing by? Welcome to Santa Cruz.

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

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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January 25

IS IT A GOOD IDEA TO HAVE A FULL BAR ACROSS THE STREET  FROM FOUR SCHOOLS?
Does it make sense to have a 2000SF full bar across the street from a school campus that includes four schools, three of which include high school students?  That is exactly what the five-story 831 Water Street project proposes to do, across from the Branciforte Small Schools Campus.  The State’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Licensing regulations do not allow liquor sales to be licensed if they occur within 600′ of a school, or within 500′ of a residence.  How can the City Planning Dept. ever make a finding that this mammoth project is compatible with the neighborhood character? 

Here is the information about the Project and this Wednesday’s Zoom meeting! 

I hope you will participate in the virtual public meeting this Wednesday, January 27, at 6pm and weigh in with your thoughts.  Please see the attached flyer at the end of this contribution for neighborhood information. 

IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING POSSIBLE?
Why did the Santa Cruz City Council approve three buildings, each seven stories tall, with only 11% of the units dedicated to affordable housing, rather than the City’s own requirement that it be 15%?? I hope you read Gillian Greensite’s excellent recap of this in  last week’s www.BrattonOnline.com   Online, wherein she reported Councilmember Golder’s conclusory statement that requiring the developer to comply with the City’s affordable unit requirement “wouldn’t pencil out” for the developer.  

Isn’t this just sickening???

Join others interested in seeing something different for a “Re-Imagine Santa Cruz”  Conference on February 4 (4pm-6pm) and February 5 (4pm-6pm) Conference | ReImagine Santa Cruz and a subsequent Brown Bag series of discussions, Housing & Transportation

LEGALIZING TINY HOMES
This Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors will consider proposed changes to County Code to allow tiny homes to be permitted and legal.  See Item #12:

2021/01/26 09:00 AM Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting – Web Outline – Santa Cruz County, CA

This was authored by Supervisor Manu Koenig, and is supported by Supervisor Bruce McPherson.  Read more about it in Supervisor Koenig’s inaugural newsletter:

COVID Vaccine Update, Live Oak Parking Program and More!

I think it is promising that Supervisor Koenig is scheduling virtual constituent meetings on the Monday evening before Board meetings to gather their input for decision-making and transparency.  Maybe the other Supervisors will follow his good example. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE UC SANTA CRUZ PLAN FOR EXPANSION TO PROVIDE ON-CAMPUS HOUSING?
You have the opportunity to weigh in on what UCSC is proposing to do to accommodate increased student enrollment, mandated by the State in order to provide educational opportunities for all.  

lrdp.ucsc.edu

Here is a link to a good report that includes an interview with University planning staff, discussing the intent of the Plan: UCSC releases draft for new 20-year development plan

Wondering how to submit meaningful comment on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Plan?  Below is a very helpful guide recently sent out by the City County Task Force to Address UCSC Growth Plans

Santa Cruz Task Force on UCSC Growth Plans info@actonucscgrowth.org

Thu, Jan 14 at 1:30 PM

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR COMMENTS ON THE EIR MORE EFFECTIVE

Get Prepared

  • Read the EIR (volume 1 volume 2) – or just read strategically those subsections related to your interests/concerns;
  • If you can,  search online for articles, studies, reports, and even contact organizations that support or have expertise in subjects relating to your initial concerns;
  • Look at the Executive Summary’s impact table for environmental categories discussed;
  • Outline/organize your letter (introduction, comments, conclusion, address, title of project, and attachments);
  • Visit affected locations or use Google Maps to view the proposed project sites. Even if you know the area, refresh your memory;
  • Decide on the main comment(s) or theme to express in your letter;
  • Questions to consider while reading:
    • Does the EIR ask the right questions?
    • Does it provide enough information to describe the likely impacts of a project?
    • Is the EIR identifying and analyzing the feasible alternatives?

Write Your Comments

  • Objectively evaluate the project, present your comments in a neutral tone, and be VERY specific. Generalities can be dismissed with generalities.
  • Separate your concerns into clearly identifiable paragraphs or headings and keep a tight focus on each separate issue. Don’t mix topics.
  • Avoid saying “I support the UCSC growth, but…” – just list your concerns, or your letter may be classified as a letter of support.
  • Consider ways to avoid impacts or enforceable ways to reduce the severity of impacts.
  • Quantify your objections whenever possible
    • If a potential significant impact has not been adequately identified; or
    • If no mitigation has been proposed for a potentially significant impact; or
    • If the mitigation proposed doesn’t appear to be sufficient or appropriate, then:
      • Identify the specific impact in question;
      • Explain why you believe the impact would occur;
      • Explain why you believe the effect would be significant; and, if applicable;
      • Explain what additional feasible mitigation measure(s) or changes in proposed mitigations or to the project you would recommend.
      • Explain why you would recommend any changes and support your recommendations with evidence. 
  • Whenever possible, present facts or expert opinions. If not, provide personal experience or your personal observations. Don’t just complain.
  • Focus on correcting their discrepancies, lapses in logic, lack of evidence, old data, etc
  • Include suggestions for making the Draft EIR better or offer specific alternatives and describe how your comments meet the requirements of the project and CEQAYour goal should be to write something that causes them to respond in a future document based on the evidence you have given.
  • Point out any inconsistencies in the document or the data. Point out outdated information or errors in logic. Focus on the sufficiency of the EIR in identifying and analyzing the possible impacts of the project on the environment and feasible alternatives. 
  • State your comment(s) with specifics and include attachments. Ask substantive questions. 

Send Them In!

Deadline: 5:00 pm on Monday, March 8th, 2021
Email your comments to eircomment@ucsc.edu

  • Send your comments in as early as possible, so UCSC has time to consider your concerns.
  • Address your comments to: 

Erika Carpenter
Senior Environmental Planner
Physical Planning, Development, and Operations
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064

  • Mention your expertise/experience briefly and include a return address
  • If you are submitting on behalf of an organization, include the name of a contact person who would be available for questions or consultation along with your comments.
  • Write a comment that includes a valid name and address. Submit it before the deadline. Keep a copy of your comments.
  • If you would like, send a copy to the City-County Task Force via email at info@actonucscgrowth.org.

Content: Disclaimer: This information is intended to serve as a guide and is not intended to be legal advice. Please seek professional help from a lawyer if you have legal questions or concerns.
Sources: 1) Quick Tips for Effective EIR Comments
2) How to Effectively Participate in the Environmental Review Process By Chatten-Brown & Carstens, Santa Monica, CA Website

Attend The Public Meetings:
February 3rd @ 5:00pm (zoom link TBD)
February 4th @ 5:00pm (zoom link TBD

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM NEGOTIATIONS OF UC DAVIS WITH THE CITY AND COUNTY?
Wouldn’t it be better to get representatives from UC Santa Cruz together at a table with representatives of the City and County and come to a legally-binding agreement to address problems about housing and infrastructure, rather than another threat of lawsuit?  That is exactly what the leaders of Yolo County and the City of Davis did in 2018.  We should follow their example and try to negotiate a similar legally-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). 

Read about the 2018 negotiations here.

The University agreed to increase housing to accommodate 100% of the new enrollment and catch up on unhoused existing student numbers by 2021, and also agreed to provide $2.3 million for infrastructure improvements.  The three entities agreed to form a joint task force to work out exactly how to plan and implement those improvements.  

When I recently wrote Santa Cruz County Supervisors about this, in relation to the County’s continued legislative priority to fight UCSC’s expansion, Supervisor Ryan Coonerty angrily responded that the City voters passed Measure U by 77%, and essentially that he felt the battle must rage on with legal sabers drawn because the UC Davis agreement was not legally-binding.  In my opinion, that attitude only serves to make the attorneys fat and happy. 

I responded to Supervisor Coonerty, asking him if he had contacted any Yolo County representatives to ask how the deal is progressing.  He never replied.  However, had he taken the time to actually read the article I sent all Supervisors about this (the same referenced above), he would have learned in the first paragraph that the MOU negotiated was legally binding. 

Out of curiosity, I phoned the Yolo County Board of Supervisor whose district includes UC Davis, and asked…”How is it going?”  The discussion switched to e-mail, with the response below from Yolo County Counsel Eric May: 

“I’m unaware of UC Davis being in violation of any terms of the MOU, and COVID likely gave us a bit of a breather on their growth and the demand for housing in the community.  

My sense is that the relationship among the University, City, and County has improved in the last few years.  I’m not sure how much the MOU contributed to that improvement, but it probably doesn’t hurt to have certain policy issues ironed out in an agreed-upon document.  The three entities also have been brought together by the COVID emergency to work together more, which hopefully will allow for more dialogue on housing issues when they (inevitably) come back to the fore.”

So, I hope you will contact your Santa Cruz County Supervisor and Santa Cruz City Council to ask that they consider following the excellent example demonstrated by UC Davis, Yolo County and the City of Davis.  Negotiations can work for the benefit of all involved, if given the chance…let’s try it here. 

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER. ATTEND A ZOOM MEETING AND ASK QUESTIONS.  SAY HELLO TO YOUR NEIGHBOR, REGARDLESS OF HOW THEY VOTE. 

MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE AND JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK.

Cheers, Becky Steinbruner 831-685-2915

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

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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January 21
#21 / Turnabout Is Fair Play – Could That Be Right?

I feel certain that this saying, “turnabout is fair play,” must be familiar to most of those who are reading this blog posting. The Grammarist dates the saying to the 1700’s: 

The phrase … originated in reference to gaming, meaning [that] taking turns assures a fair game. At that time, turnabout was rendered as two words as in turn about. Today, the term has taken on the connotation of revenge or retaliation, in the sense of two parties taking equal advantage of each other. Occasionally, turnabout is fair play is used in a friendly, teasing manner as an admonishment to keep things fair and equal.

Setting aside the occasional use of this phrase in a “friendly, teasing manner,” I’d like to focus on its use as a justification for revengeful and retaliatory actions against those who have wronged us. Let’s consider the possibility of that, as we think about the behavior of our former president, Donald J. Trump, and how we will respond to his behavior, now that he is gone. Is turnabout fair play?

Shortly after his election, in 2016, The New Republic noted that Trump specialized in humiliation:

Few people know how to humiliate like Donald Trump—he told his Twitter followers to check out a sex tape; he instructed Chris Christie to stop eating Oreos and forced him to assume the role of doting butler—but even fewer take humiliation as personally as Trump does. For eleven months, the Hillary Clinton campaign—as well as almost the entire Republican establishment—waged a war against Trump by attacking and undermining his claims that he was rich and smart and had a working penis. But you have to have shame to be humiliated, and Trump lacks it completely. The only thing these attacks achieved was the inevitable retaliation.

As The New Republic observed, Trump is a master of humiliation, and during the last four years, humiliation is exactly what Trump has so often dished out to others – and in great abundance. If that “turnabout is fair play” rule applies to politics – and why wouldn’t it? – shouldn’t we feel more than comfortable in trying to humiliate our former president right back? 

By extension, shouldn’t we also feel quite comfortable in seeking to humiliate his followers, too, millions of whom have rallied to him, and to his false claim that the 2020 election was some sort of gigantic fraud. Shouldn’t we, in particular, seek out ways to humiliate and pay back those elected officials (take Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley as examples) who pandered to Trump’s untruths, and who helped set in motion the events of January 6th?

The idea of seeking the humiliation of our former president, and of his followers, came to me as I read a recent article in Psyche, titled, “The History of Humiliation Points to the Future of Human Dignity.” The article began as follows: 

Humiliation is more than an individual and subjective feeling. It is an instrument of political power, wielded with intent.

Our former president certainly used humiliation as a political weapon, and in what appears to have been a very effective manner. Surely we all remember Jeff Sessions. After that example, who would want to cross Trump? Not very many people! So, shouldn’t we take a “turnabout is fair play” approach now, and give Trump and his supporters exactly the same kind of treatment the president gave to others while he was in office? 

The Psyche article suggests that we should not, and the article is well worth reading in its entirety. Here’s a short excerpt:

Mass opposition to the politics of humiliation began from the early 19th century in Europe, as lower-class people increasingly objected to disrespectful treatment. Servants, journeymen and factory workers alike used the language of honour and concepts of personal and social self-worth – previously monopolized by the nobility and upper-middle classes – to demand that they not be verbally and physically insulted by employers and overseers.

This social change was enabled and supported by a new type of honour that followed the invention of ‘citizens’ (rather than subjects) in democratising societies. Citizens who carried political rights and duties were also seen as possessing civic honour. Traditionally, social honour had been stratified according to status and rank, but now civic honour pertained to each and every citizen, and this helped to raise their self-esteem and self-consciousness. Consequently, humiliation, and other demonstrations of the alleged inferiority of others, was no longer considered a legitimate means by which to exert power over one’s fellow citizens (emphasis added).

I read this article yesterday, on a day that our new president called for “unity.” Maybe that word, “unity,” is not quite the right word – or, at least, it is not the most important word – because the divisions of thought, opinion, and circumstance in the public are profound, and real, and an appeal to something that is not widely felt or acknowledged will be unavailing. 

What will heal us, ultimately, will not be an appeal to a “unity” that many don’t believe exists. What will heal us, instead, will be our recognition of the dignity of every person, whoever they are, wherever they come from, whatever they believe. Using that approach to restoring a functioning democracy will require us to do the opposite of trying to humiliate those with whom we disagree – and who are, in fact, “wrong.”

This is not, really, saying anything different from what I wrote about yesterday, in my posting on “Talking With Strangers,” or that I wrote about on Monday, in “Trust Me On That.” 

Talk and trust. That’s what we need. We need to talk with those whom we believe have made a mistake – and who have made a mistake. We must trust that from such conversations can come conversion and real change. However tempting – however justified – we must try to avoid lording it over all those who have been mistaken, and wrong – Trump supporters, for instance, who don’t think that “white privilege” even exists, and who are resentful and aggrieved for reasons we don’t judge to be worthy. With all such persons, with everyone, we must talk as equals, and with no thought to humiliate. The opposite of humiliation is what is called for, conversations that provide no intimation that those with whom we disagree are “deplorable,” or unworthy. 

I am hoping that our new president, who has chosen the word “unity” to describe what I am talking about, will be a model for this kind of healing approach, an approach that aims to repair all those things that have so disproportionately divided us. The responsibility for such conversations cannot be delegated entirely to our Chief Executive. That responsibility must ultimately fall on every one of us. 

We are, each one of us, as citizens, responsible for the maintenance of democratic self-government, and that requires us to treat with dignity all whose with whom we share the world, and especially those with whom we differ. That is, of course, the hard part! Despite how hard it is to turn away from the “turnabout is fair play” response to legitimate grievance, it is our responsibility to acknowledge and triumph over our differences by elevating the dignity of every other person, and by setting aside an easy recourse to the humiliation of those with whom we have disagreed, and disagree. 

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

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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