Blog Archives

January 4 – 10, 2023

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…more on the dangers from Lockheed Martin missile making. GREENSITE…on saving heritage trees, then and now. KROHN…on vacation. STEINBRUNER…local radio stations, Watsonville floods, State Resilience Centers, recycled water usage, coastal wind energy. HAYES…Our storms and floods. PATTON…”Alone?” MATLOCK…loving the smell of sausage McMuffins in the morning. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS…on donating clothes. QUOTES…”Floods”


KNIGHT’S OPERA HOUSE IN SANTA CRUZ 1877. This lovely addition to our local culture opened November 23, 1877. It was hauled to Capitola in 1921 and burned up (and down) in 1961. While in operation locals were privileged to see and hear such stars as classical pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, author Jack London and even John L. Sullivan who was the last of the bare-knuckled boxers. It cost $4,200 to build!

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE January 2

MORE ON LOCKHEED MARTIN. My last column December 21-January 3 contained a lot of concerns, warnings and plain fears about the danger of such little attention or awareness being paid to our very local Lockheed Martin Missile producing plant on Empire Grade in Bonny Doon. The response from readers was and is encouraging. I stated…

I’ve copied details from the NY Times and Wikipedia and Lockheed Martin right here…

“Lockheed Martin, the nation’s largest military contractor, had booked more than $950 million worth of its own missile military orders from the Pentagon in part to refill stockpiles being used in Ukraine. Lockheed Martin is listed as the largest U.S. government contractor and ranks first for the number of incidents, and fifth for the size of settlements on the ‘contractor misconduct’ database maintained by the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group. Since 1995, the company has agreed to pay $676.8 million to settle 88 instances of misconduct.”

According to the magazine Politico, Lockheed Martin has “a political network that is already the envy of its competitors”, and its contracts enjoy wide bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress thanks to it having “perfected the strategy of spreading jobs on weapons programs in key states and congressional districts”. The company’s 2010 lobbying expenditure by the third quarter was $9.9 million (2009 total: $13.7 million).

Lockheed Martin employs approximately 115,000 employees worldwide, including about 60,000 engineers and scientists as of January 2022.

According to a Lockheed Martin brochure about the Santa Cruz facility, local work projects include the U.S. Navy’s Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. Programs such as Peacekeeper and the space shuttle have been worked on at the Santa Cruz facility in the past, according to the brochure.

It only takes a few minutes to check up on Lockheed’s current products and to realize how little protection or awareness we have about our dangerous neighbor.

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.

GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). A star studded semi comedy about a murder and who done it? Daniel Craig is back in this part two of Knives Out and again has a western accent plus a surprising relationship with a surprise guest star. Serena Williams, YoYo Ma, Kate Hudson, Hugh Grant and Ethan Hawke all mug a lot around Ed Norton the mysterious billionaire host. It’s diverting and worth a smile or two.

GODS CROOKED LINES. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.0 IMDB). A genuinely thoughtful film dealing with truth. A therapist is sent undercover to a psychiatric hospital to find a murderer. She herself gets involved and has to prove her own innocence. But who is lying which court case do we believe? The ending will leave you absorbed and curious, go for it.

BARDO: FALSE CHRONICLE OF A HANDFUL OF TRUTHS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.0 IMDB). Another cinema well done puzzle piece directed by Alejandro Inaritu. It starts off in Santa Monika of all places where a Mexican author and filmmaker returns to his native country to receive an award. There’s a series of painful flashbacks nightmares and visions as he faces the future. One funny but strange inside joke is that Amazon (yes that Amazon) is about to buy Baja California. It’s about the media, government, and fame and it’s an excellent movie.

TREASON. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.2 IMDB). Ciaran Hinds plays the government official who is almost poisoned and Oona Chaplin (Charlie’s granddaughter) is his aide de camp. It’s a tricky trio of investigators with Russian backgrounds and connections trying to determine who is really guilty. Its politics, loyalty, love and espionage all wrapped together. Thoughtful, well done all wrapped together in a fine movie.

THE LOST PATIENT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.3 IMDB). A teen ager wakes up in a hospital after three years to eventually remember that his entire family had been murdered in their house. Who did it? There’s a black hooded maybe killer, a woman therapist or who else? Much mystery, a lot of flashbacks and it’s almost believable.

ATTACK ON FINLAND. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.3 IMDB). There’s a big celebration in Finland’s palace and the president is shot and dies. Who dunnit is the big question. There’s armed guards but some of them are very suspicious. Guests are taken as hostages and threatened. It’s about changing the way all of Europe is controlled…a huge problem but this movie doesn’t add much in the way of tension or drama.

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.

AVATAR: THE WAY OF THE WATER. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (8.1 IMDB). This 3D and 3 hour movie is a technical marvel. The plot and main thrust of the movie is bewildering and pointless. It appears that humans once invaded Pandora and are attempting to invade Pandora again. But Pandora’s tribes fight each other keep trying to make peace. It’s 95 % battles and violence and killing with bows and arrows and the latest/future type high tech weapons, which is baffling. Names lie Tuk, Lo’ak, Spider, Mo’at, Recom, fike and Aoning don’t make the story any easier to follow. It’s funny to actually see Edie Falco from the Sopranos as a general and Sigourney Weaver reassembled as a 14 year old. Rumors have it that are some sequels planned, so be very aware.

AMSTERDAM. (HBO MAX) (6.1 IMDB). It’s billed as a comedy and the actors work hard to make it light but the setting is so serious you can’t forget it. Taylor Swift is purposely pushed under a swift moving car and three friends spend the movie trying to figure out who did it and why. It’s got Robert De Niro, Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, Chris Rock and Anya Taylor Joy all mugging their ways against some neo-Nazis who manage to remind us of Donald Trump followers and their tactics…go for it, you’ll have some laughs.

RECRUIT. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB).If you read ahead on this one it’s listed as a thriller and drama. It isn’t either one; it’s a dud, flop, it’s a non-holiday turkey and I couldn’t take more than 20 minutes of the terrible acting, poor photography, and ridiculous story line.

PELOSI IN THE HOUSE. (HBO DOC.). (4.4 IMDB). Nancy Pelosi’s daughter Alexandra had, and still has very exclusive privileges that allowed her to film her Mom under some life threatening circumstances including the January 6 attack on the White House. Nancy was the speaker of the house and drew some highly threats while doing her job. It starts in 2017 when she takes her oath of office and because Alexandra was there we see the armed Trump lovers attack with some previously unseen footage. Even if she wasn’t from what we call our home town of San Francisco we can share her fear as she and Mike Pence flee and hide during that Trump war.

THE DROPOUT. (HULU SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). Another very serious and devoted woman’s career is dramatized here as Elizabeth Holmes played by Amanda Seyfried is brought to justice. Elizabeth Holmes is the young woman who invented the Theranos blood testing device that was a scam. William Macy, Bill Irwin, and Sam Waterston portray such figures as Larry Ellison along with Steve Jobs and their dreams of glory and stockpiling mountains of money. It’s well documented, it does drag on a bit as they stretch it into eight episodes but what a story.

January 2


The public’s determined battle to save some of the heritage trees that grow on Lot 4, site of the current Farmers’ Market and the proposed site for the city’s library/garage/housing project has a historic antecedent.

The Cork Oak pictured, planted in 1879, is one of the oldest trees in Santa Cruz. It would have gone the way of so many of our big trees, cut down to make way for human development, had public outcry not been raised loudly and clearly in 1970 to save the tree. In response to the public outcry, the developer altered the project design to preserve the tree. Thanks to that community effort fifty years ago, and a responsive developer, the tree still lives with at least another century of potential life left. Birds still flit amongst its branches, and we still get to enjoy the tree as we hurry along Soquel past 7th Avenue, an area now dominated by development and mostly denuded of trees.

The difference between then and now, apart from far fewer heritage trees left standing, is that there are city laws that protect heritage trees. Or should protect heritage trees. Or would protect heritage trees if the city followed its own laws.

Notice that in 1970, before any city ordinance was written to protect heritage trees, the developer at that time altered the project design to protect the heritage cork oak tree in response to raised community voices in defense of the tree.

In 2022, we have a city ordinance and resolution to protect heritage trees. It states, as one of three removal criterion and the only relevant one in this case, that a heritage tree can be cut down, “if a project design cannot be altered to accommodate the heritage tree” 1 (c) (3).  Despite this clear directive, no attempt was made by the city or its hired architects to design in such a way as to preserve even one of the nine heritage trees onsite. Despite the many iterations of design presented to council and the public from 2021 to 2022, with reduction in the number of parking spaces, the addition of housing units, commercial and child-care space, the only living things onsite, the heritage trees, legally protected, did not rate a mention during the design process.

It’s hard not to be cynical when laws are passed only to be ignored by city management staff who are tasked with their implementation.

There is one last chance for the city to do the right thing. One last chance to save at least two of the nine heritage trees on Lot 4.

On the city council agenda for the first meeting of 2023 on Tuesday January 10th, Mayor Fred Keeley and Councilmember Scott Newsome are asking city council to support a council review of the Parks and Recreation Commission’s approval of the tree removal permit for the nine heritage trees on Lot 4.  That this review should take place when the full project is brought before council for deliberation and approval. That date is uncertain at present.

This recommendation, if approved by council, is a step in the direction of proper procedure. However, and it is a big however, if it is not accompanied by a recommendation that in the interim, the design be altered to accommodate at least the two heritage liquidambars, both deemed worth preserving by the consulting arborist, then it is just delaying the inevitable tree removals. At the final hearing of the project, no design change will be entertained. The time is now.

This is where you come in. Just as in 1970, when the community made its voice heard to save the Cork Oak, you need to make your voice heard if you want future generations in 100 years and beyond to read a plaque under these trees in front of the library that reads, Saved by the Community in 2023.

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


 (Chris is on Vacation)

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at

Email Chris at

January 2


Supporting local radio stations has never been more important than now, given the myriad of local issues and the ever-present natural disasters, such as the recent flooding, and during the past wildland fires.

KSCO radio has served the public need for local people discussing local issues, and has provided reliable up-to-the-minute information for the public during emergencies.  Now, it is for sale, with a few offers coming in, but not acceptable.  In order to keep a local flavor to the station’s broadcasts while reducing costs until a purchase agreement happens, Station owner Michael Zwerling has developed a very affordable and scaled program fee schedule, and welcomes anyone who would like to purchase air time to contact him.  The more often someone purchases air time in a week, the more affordable it becomes (only $100/hour if you purchase seven or more hours weekly!) and the host can keep 100% of any advertising money pledged for supporting their program.

Sound interesting?  Contact Michael Zwerling to learn more about how you can keep local radio alive in Santa Cruz County that will benefit everyone.  Michael Zwerling

Here is a link to a recent interview with MZ: Is the end near for local radio at Santa Cruz’s KSCO?

Many of KSCO’s long-time local show hosts have banded together to launch an online radio platform called “Santa Cruz Voice”. You can learn more about that soon-to-be-online digital platform here

Our Community is lucky to have other great local radio stations such as KZSC.  Listen in on Friday mornings to the Bushwhacker’s Breakfast Club with host Dangerous Dan to hear interviews with Bruce Bratton, and local elected officials including State Senator John Laird, and newly-elected State Assembly member Gail Pellerin.

And a very active newcomer is KSQD, featuring “Talk of the Bay” daily, with local hosts such as Chris Krohn:


A friend who regularly listens to radio station KPFA let me know there were some recent problems with that station’s financial matters.  The KPFA bank account seized by federal marshal to collect settlement fines related to WBAI lawsuit

KPFA GM and Business Manager Funded WBAI Shutdown | Pacifica In Exile

As with all things, we must be vigilant.


Winter arrived on New Year’s Eve with a real Hoorah in our County.  Although local news reported the evacuation and flooding at areas along the San Lorenzo River, less was reported about the Watsonville flooding in areas predominantly inhabited by senior citizens.  A friend sent the photos below of areas near downtown Watsonville.  She had earlier witnessed sedans being swept aside on Holohan Road.

Here is a link to photos and a video taken by Mr. Bob Wiser, near the old Watsonville Hospital area at Green Valley and Holohan Road

On the left is a picture of Aptos Creek at the Esplanade…where major flooding also occurred.

While I was clearing culverts and directing emergency traffic on our privately-maintained mountain road that day, a long-time resident told me it brought back memories of the 1982 storms.


The California Strategic Growth Council has released the Draft Guideline for Community Resiliency Centers, with Public Comment open until January 27, 2023.  There are also a number of regional virtual Public Meetings on this 75-page document and the one for our area is January 17, 2pm-4pm.

What exactly IS a Community Resiliency Center, anyway?  Take a look at the description and Draft Guideline.  I think that community colleges, library meeting rooms and county fairgrounds need to be included in the list of eligible locations for public information centers and shelter.  I think that the shelters need to include accommodation for pets and livestock, especially in rural counties.  What do you think?

I hope you will participate in the January 17 Public Meeting and submit your comments on how the State will fund Community Resiliency Centers.


I attend most meetings for the City of Santa Cruz Water Commission, as well as the County Water Advisory Commission meetings, but did not know about the City’s Engineering Report for Recycled Water plant being built at the wastewater treatment plant that may produce recycled water in the future for irrigation but that is currently part of the treated sewage water system sending effluent to Soquel Creek Water District’s PureWater Soquel Project facility in Live Oak.

I discovered it by accident while researching a document on Soquel Creek Water District’s website. The Report is dated August, 2022

Page 1.1 states:

“The disinfected tertiary recycled water produced at the NPR facilities will initially be used for on-site plant uses. Future intended uses include landscape irrigation and a truck fill station. The City is currently evaluating the plans for recycled water distribution and NPR uses; thus, review and conditional approval for the General Order (State Water Resources Control Board Order [SWRCB] WQ 2016- 0068-DDW) or other order specific to the distribution of disinfected tertiary recycled water is not being sought at this time. A supplemental Engineering Report will be submitted to DDW by the City in the future, seeking approval for the future recycled water conveyance system and users.”  ….and …. 

“A new 6-inch recycled water pipeline will be installed and capped at both ends to allow for future connection and distribution to offsite uses.”

Previous discussion about the PureWater Soquel Project and CEQA Addendums included language that the City of Santa Cruz would receive 360 Acre-feet annually from Soquel Creek Water District’s expensive treatment project in exchange for supplying the source sewage water.  The 2021 Project Addendum stated that the City would install the 6″ purple pipe to convey the water back to Santa Cruz from the Live Oak treatment plant.  I have not observed any such pipe being installed in monitoring the installation of Soquel Creek Water District’s large pipelines throughout the City and the unincorporated street areas.

When I wrote Ms. Menard in November to ask for an update, she acknowledged my question but stated the holidays were busy.  I wrote again last month, and received the following answer:

The Pure Water Soquel Project utilizes the secondary treated effluent from the City’s Wastewater Treatment Facility as source water to the Advanced Purification Treatment Facility located at the Chanticleer site.  To move the water from the WWTF to the Chanticleer site a new pump station is being constructed at the WWTF and its construction is temporarily displacing an existing tertiary system owned and operated by City staff.  This tertiary system is not permitted Title 22 water and therefore can only be used on site at the WWTF for the purposes of operations (cleaning, etc.).  Its use offsets up to 200,000 gallons of potable water use each day.

A new tertiary system will be constructed as part of the PWS project and is sized to replace the volumes of water previously used on site and will have some additional capacity for off-site purposes such as irrigation and truck fill station.  And, should additional capacity be needed, the new system could be expanded to a certain extent.

The new system does meet the treatment requirements of Title 22, but will require permitting through the RWQCB before becoming an authorized off-site use.  And of course will required City approvals consistent with the WSAC (Water Supply Advisory Committee) recommendations and agreements.

In 2018, the City completed a two-year study of potential recycled water uses, described on page 1-4 of the Engineering Report:

Irrigation Projects:

  • SCPWD Title 22 Upgrade Project (This has been renamed the City of Santa Cruz NPR Project, the subject of this Engineering Report.) – This project would meet in-plant demands, develop a bulk water fill station and serve the nearby La Barranca Park. Public Works staff is advancing this project. 
  • BayCycle Project – This project would expand the Santa Cruz NPR Project to increase production and non-potable reuse to serve UCSC and City customers along the way. This is a longer-term project that would require partnerships with end-users to be successful. 

Groundwater Recharge Reuse (GRR) Projects:

  • Coordination with Pure Water Soquel – This project would entail continuing to work closely with SqCWD to support the evaluation of the Pure Water Soquel project. 
  • Explore GRR at Beltz Wellfield – This project would replenish the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin in the Beltz Wellfield area, through a collaborative project with Pure Water Soquel or as an independent City-led project. 
  • Explore GRR in Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin (SMGB) – This project would replenish the SMGB through a potentially regional project with the potential to make the region more resilient in the long term.

The feasibility study showed that the groundwater recharge projects listed have merit but need further study and likely are dependent on California water authorities approving direct use of treated sewage water for drinking.

That may happen by the end of this year.

So, I guess we will not be seeing purple pipe connected to the Soquel Avenue Bridge along with the large blue (purple tape-wrapped) pipes containing chloramine-laden treated sewage water associated with Soquel Creek Water District’s expensive and questionable project anytime soon.

Personally, I hope the recycled water is only used for irrigation because there are inadequate long-term health studies in populations who drink this treated sewage water containing low levels of contaminants that cannot be removed by existing treatment methods.


Last November, Soquel Creek Water District Board authorized another study to analyze the behavior and movement of the injected treated sewage water planned at three locations in Aptos with the PureWater Soquel Project.  The previous model by HydroMetrics (aka Montgomery & Associates) showed customer water use had substantially declined since 2014 and the projected future water demand was less than initially planned.

It also showed that groundwater would flow to the surface if the PureWater Soquel Project operated concurrently with the City’s Aquifer Storage Recovery (ASR) injected potable water project.  Information provided in the City’s recent water supply update to the City Council revealed that the Project agreements between the City and Soquel Creek Water District have been delayed, due to this modelling problem.

Take a look at the Report and Scope of Work for the newest RFP and model that will likely be reviewed by the District’s Board later this month (the RFP applications are due January 3)

Applicants have the option of using the existing model, or starting all over from scratch.

I think it is curious that the District’s newest Granite Way Well in Aptos Village is not included in what is to be added to the new model: (see page 5)

  1. Scenario Development 
  2. As-Is Operations (Based off item A.2. Datasets) 
  3. Add Pure Water Soquel, new groundwater well (Cunnison) and several various pumping regimes for modeling future scenarios (Alternate facility set) 

iii. Create Winter, Average and Summer Demand Set 

  1. Conservative Fire Flow Scenario for gravity fed portions of system, boosted zones, and areas served by fire pump.

The real topic of interest here is found in the Phase 2 Scope of Work Description (See page 7):

Questions that the phase 2 integrated model may need to answer include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Evaluating System Capacity to transfer water between agencies.
  • Water transfers need to be supported by Winter or Summer Demands of both agencies.
  • Water transfers need to consider various pumping goals and pumping regimes that will be provided by groundwater modeling scenarios. These annual pumping goals need to be translated into control sets.
  • Evaluate any facility capacity issues/limitations that may identify future capital improvement projects related to transmission, storage, pumping, etc. 
  • As part of a risk or sensitivity analysis, certain scenarios may be developed to find failure points or identify infrastructure weak points or ‘bottlenecks.’ 
  • Evaluating Water Quality Concerns including:
    • Water age and development of disinfection byproducts 
    • Source Water tracking and time it is expected to stay in certain areas of the system
    • Ammonia & Chlorine interactions: 
    • Evaluating detention times in system, chloramine formation and degradation 
    • Evaluating System Energy demand for various scenarios

Write to the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors with your thoughts about this and plan to participate in their next meeting on January 17.

Board of Directors and Emma Western

[Board Meetings and Agendas]


Many thanks to the reader who sent this interesting article:

Thousands Will Live Here One Day (as Long as They Can Find Water)

In my opinion, this mirrors the Aptos Village Project and the planned massive development in Live Oak.


The first floating offshore wind lease just happened, as U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy  auctioned off the rights to the Golden State Wind lease area, off the coast of Morro Bay. It includes three of the five areas to be auctioned.

The new owner of these rights, Ocean Winds, is a consortium of wind energy companies headquartered in France, Spain and Portugal, and is the fourth largest in the world.

According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy website, the remaining two lease areas were sold in an area offshore of Arcata and Eureka.

Will the floating structures handle tsunami activity….given the recent activity of the Juan de Fuca Plate?

Will there be mitigations for migrating seabirds and whales?

Contact the Bureau with your questions



Cheers and Happy New Year,


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 2

Storms and Floods

The sky has been raining sweet water across our landscape. What happens once that precious water hits the ground? Is rainwater welcome where it flows and where it ends up? Our collective actions make a big difference about how to answer these questions.

Stormy Times and Mud

For a while in the recent past, the ocean has been stormy with massive wind-blown, white capped waves. We get outdoors when we can and gaze out to sea from the bluffs, noticing bands of brown water coloring the otherwise steel gray ocean. Even streams draining relatively pristine watersheds are pulsing sediment now, providing the sand that will replenish beaches. Our mountains are naturally erosive, but humans have been adding to that erosive potential to our own detriment for far too long.

Do We Need Reminders?

Most years, winter storms remind us of certain places that routinely make the news. Suddenly, people remember that they live in drainage basins also known as “watersheds.” As winter rains commence, more people recall more often the names of rivers and streams. It is flooding time. The flooding San Lorenzo River often threatens Felton Grove and Paradise Park, causing mandatory evacuations. The Pajaro River, Corralitos Creek, and Salsipuedes likewise often pose flooding threats in Watsonville.

Floods: Non-Natural Disasters

Government and the media have trained us to call flooding a “natural disaster.” As with most disinformation, such “fake news” coalesces on grains of truth. Rain is natural. Atmospheric rivers are normal. Flooding happens naturally. Landslides and debris flows occur without human mistakes. If we didn’t have a deep geological history of erosion, some say that the Santa Cruz Mountains would be as tall as the Sierra Nevada. And yet, the frequency, severity, and impacts of damaging flooding is nearly entirely the fault of humans, resulting from poor decisions, often due to greed exercised through political power.

US Flooding History

For the USA, the best documented history linking damaging flooding to greed and political power has been focused on the floods along the Mississippi River. No one should unquestionably call floods ‘natural disasters’ after the investigations and media about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. I am disappointed by the cultural amnesia of the import of George W Bush’s admission that the sole book he recalled reading was John Barry’s Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America. That book documented how the Mississippi’s 1927 flood propelled popular sentiment to supporting federal assistance programs for flood-ravaged communities. And so, was it any coincidence that decisions at the highest level of that Bush administration delayed federal assistance for Hurricane Katrina preparation, creating predictable levels of death, destruction, and suffering? Did these officials actually think this was a good way to drive home the Republican party’s political message that Americans should not depend on federal governmental assistance? To shirk collective responsibility of such human-caused disasters, we must be trained to look past the decisions that ‘We the People’ made that are responsible for flood suffering. Our third-rate democracy allows greed-driven political decisions to create unsustainable levees to support short-term profits for commerce and real estate, benefiting the very few with disastrous long-term impacts disproportionately borne by the poorest, most marginalized communities. For this economic model and democratic structure to keep some semblance of function, some in power recognize that governmental assistance disaster recovery programs are important. I urge you to think about the lessons from Mississippi’s floods and national politics when thinking about local flooding and the political and media messages that entertain us during such disasters.

Recent Watsonville Flooding

Low-income housing areas in Watsonville recently experienced ‘unexpected’ flooding after levee failures. Why weren’t the residents notified? To believe the media, the fault was theirs: some hadn’t signed up for reverse 911…there was a warning! We pride ourselves with our disaster management systems. The Federal National Weather Service office in Monterey has highly skilled personnel who turn their full attention to flood monitoring, drawing data from radar, real-time rain, stream, and river gauges, and powerful computing. Flood watches come first then flood warnings. Interagency cooperation allows reverse 911 messages to be broadcast via cell phones and land lines, dedicated weather radio channels create alarms, and social media and web posts get regularly updated including pickup locations for sandbags. Emergency personnel deploy quickly to close off flooded neighborhoods.

Recent Rural Road Collapses

Landslides and trees fell across roads, blocking transportation routes for rural communities. Sometimes, the downslope side of the road collapsed. First cracks appeared, running parallel to the slope; then the side of the road slumped lower than the rest; after that, the section of road slid down the hill. Two lane roads will now have only one lane sections until The County can afford expensive repairs. Other times, the hill above the road slid down onto the roadbed, sometimes right across the road. Soil, gravel, rocks, and boulders blocked roads.  You might be able to see the top of the landslide, bare rock or dirt scalloped away, a boundary of precarious bared roots now reaching into the air. Somewhere, someone in the County is mapping the obstructions and prioritizing the deployment of detour signs and earth moving equipment while road closure maps are posted online. Meanwhile, rural residents tap into reserved groceries and try to figure out how to get to town for their jobs and supplies.

What Do We Ask?

The questions we ask about how these flood or landslide disasters occurred says a lot. Do we ask why people chose to live in such disaster-prone areas? Do we ask what history made such areas disaster prone? Do we ask how we can make people safer in the future? Do we ask how we can avoid repeating poor historical decisions that lead to such disasters? How do we prioritize which questions to focus upon? Who should be asking which questions? All these questions have answers including economic, political, and social dimensions.

Pursuing Answers

By law, real estate sales must disclose known disasters, so peoples’ choices about where to live should be well informed, but are they? It would be interesting to examine the history of the Watsonville levee failure: who built the levee – how and why? Did decision makers ask levee engineers to propose designs that accounted for historic flooding, maintenance expenses, and upstream development/land management constraints? If historical decision making was faulty, how has current decision making improved? As we recover from disasters, do we ask our elected officials to prioritize not only emergency response but also improved resilience?

Restoring Floodplains

As old, poorly designed levees fail across California and locally, we should be thinking about floodplain restoration wherever possible. Why do we continue pouring money into developing flood prone areas with real estate improvements that benefit the very few? I have been reflecting on the upswing in development of downtown Santa Cruz, which clearly is unsustainable both from river flooding and sea level rise…there are other town centers to develop that are safer! Instead, the City is pursuing treating the San Lorenzo like a big flood conveyance culvert instead of the river it is…as short-term ‘fix.’ To our south, the Pajaro and Salinas River floodplains could be restored to provide more flood protection for surrounding communities: there are many farmers willing to sell their land, but who should pay?

New Construction

As we develop new roads, trails, and other infrastructure, we should be mindful of their contribution to flooding. Is the City of Santa Cruz integrating rainwater catchment with their new developments? I see no evidence of flood mitigation with the ongoing, endless Highway 1 ‘improvements’ near Santa Cruz. The rail trail developments certainly don’t adequately address hydrological impacts. In our natural lands, there is no consistent approach to trail use to assure recreational impacts address flooding. Meanwhile, at Cotoni Coast Dairies, BLM bulldozed acres of bare soil just before this winter’s rains without any erosion control – slurries of mud and debris are flowing into streams and wetlands.

Next Steps

We can do better. Previously, I urged everyone to be involved with rain gardens – either as volunteers in public spaces or on their own lands. Cry out to the right people when you see bare soil – on farmlands or in construction zones. Only support trails groups like the Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Stewardship if/when they create soils saturation and trail use indexes that inform conservation lands managers to close and then re-open trails as appropriate and according to their purported mission to create ‘responsible outdoor recreation.’ Hold elected officials responsible to improve the resilience of infrastructure repairs/construction, enforce adequate disclosure notifications during real estate sales, and shunt new development to better areas. Together, we can be effective land stewards by fighting the greed that would otherwise cause un-natural flooding and landslide disasters in the future. We should never be cursing the rain.

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


December 23, 2022

#358 / Alone?

On the day before Thanksgiving, economist Bryce Ward wrote a column in The Washington Post that was headlined as follows: “We are spending scary amounts of time alone.” The pandemic has made things worse, of course, but Ward’s column asserts that “our social lives were withering dramatically even before covid-19. Between 2014 and 2019, time spent with friends went down (and time spent alone went up) by more than during the pandemic.”

Here is the statistic I thought most telling:

The percentage decline is … similar for the young and old; however, given how much time young people spend with friends, the absolute decline among Americans age 15 to 19 is staggering. Relative to 2010-2013, the average American teenager spent approximately 11 fewer hours with friends each week in 2021 (a 64 percent decline) and 12 additional hours alone (a 48 percent increase).

What’s going on here? Well, here’s my bet:

Human contact that is mediated through a screen feels like real contact (so we don’t feel alone). However, that kind of contact is what I’d call “empty calories” in terms of genuine human interaction. Ward notes that market penetration for smartphones crossed 50 percent in 2014. I am pretty sure it’s near 100% now. So, we are alone more, but we don’t necessarily “feel” alone, since we are in contact (or in what feels like “contact”) almost 24/7.

We have a problem here, Houston. And we have the same problem in New York City, LA, Paris, Geneva, Santa Cruz – and everywhere else. Ward thinks we should be doing something about it. I do, too!

My suggestions have appeared in my blog postings on a regular basis:

  • Talking to strangers
  • Physical proximity to other persons
  • Small group meetings
  • Real life
  • Political engagement

That’s my prescription!

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 2


Aldous J. Pennyfarthing writes on Daily Kos, “Maybe we should have stopped being surprised about all the things Trump doesn’t know after he suggested bleach injections were the best way to keep Frederick Douglass from dying of COVID-19…but it still boggles the mind how pig-ignorant he was about matters pertaining to his own supposed job.”

Aldous J. is referring specifically to the daily schedule DJT pretended to have during his time in office. When he found that his daily activities were public knowledge, he insisted the staff release a schedule that claimed he worked in his office “from early in the morning until late in the evening,” and “make many calls and have many meetings.” We all know that his “public schedule had long consisted of vague generalities,” and his “executive time” is a mystery to this day. “It could have been anything from eating Egg McMuffins in bed to eating Sausage McMuffins on the toilet to eating Sausage McMuffins with Egg White while being languorously sponge-bathed by Reince Priebus,” says Aldous J. Seems like a lot to be accomplished in the thirty minutes he actually allowed to morning time which in reality started at 11:30.

The absolute silliness of The Don’s NFT hero cards, which sold out immediately at $99 apiece got a more serious evaluation by Meidas Touch on Patreon. Seems that the mechanics of the sales can be related to historical frauds, which fits right in with the Grifter-in-Chief’s M.O. The difficulty in tracing either buyer or seller allows the card to be resold at an ever-increasing price from which Trump gets a share of the selling price. This would allow a dark money MAGAbacker, or perhaps several, to continuously increase the value of the card(s) with each sale, dumping untraceable cash into the faltering presidential campaign. The card we all should want to see is the one with the Former Guy boarding Air Force One with toilet paper stuck to his shoe…get the petition started!

The Orange One can’t seem to get his campaign started, however. It has been met with mockery and non-committal commentary by the GOP stalwarts which must be a heavy burden for the former prez considering all the legal arrows coming his way. Twitter has had a field day with his announcement, “In order to make America great and glorious again, I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.” Jokers immediately pounced, declaring that the former MAGA acronym would be replaced by the MAGAGA acronym. Comedian John Fugelsang says, “I tried to say #MAGAGA and activated by gag reflex.” Anticipating MAGAGA hats, law professor Laurence Tribe said, “if it makes you gag, get used to it.” The very thought of it makes you…well, you get it.

As might be expected, Baby Fingers blasted out on his Truth Social platform a threat to the unenthusiastic GOP that he will continue to devastate the party by exploring a third-party run at the high office. Probably because he was unable to write a coherent ultimatum, he referred to an article by Dan Gelernter from American Greatness, a pro-MAGA website, entitled ‘The Coming Split.’ “I have no intention of supporting a Republican Party that manifestly contravenes the desires of its voters,” Gelernter writes. “The RNC can pretend Trump isn’t loved by the bases anymore, that he doesn’t have packed rallies everywhere he goes. But I’m not buying it: Talk to Republican voters anywhere outside the Beltway, and it is obvious that he is admired and even loved by those who consider themselves ‘ordinary’ Americans.”

Gelernter pledges his support, as many Trump enthusiasts will do, if a third-party candidacy is necessary. He doesn’t believe such a move would be successful, stating that he is “not interested in propping up this corrupt gravy-train any longer,” as he portrays Mitch McConnell as completely out of step with the party base. Because Moscow Mitch has lost his control over the party, he and his cohorts would be immediately overrun by the alternative MAGAGA horde, reducing the GOP to ashes, whereupon, Trump will launch a revenge campaign to turn the GOP ashes into dust. Those millions of voters he brought into the Republican fold will follow him unhesitatingly, assisting him in his quest of utter destruction. If it isn’t MINE, it will belong to NOBODY! Gonna be a grand ol’ party!

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is still insisting that only he is qualified to be the Speaker of the House, but is having a tough time driving that home to his associates. Arizona’s Representative Andy Biggs and House Minority Whip, Steve Scalise are seeking the position, so things are a bit confusing for Kev as he tries to carry the MAGA banner, unable to convince a hard-headed contingent to support him in his quest. He speaks of “passing the big bills,” and “changing the course of history,” but we all know the one-trick pony GOP is about cutting taxes for the wealthy, as they have proven each time they are in power. Their entire agenda can be boiled down to three words: ‘Own the libs,’ according to Dartagnan on Daily Kos. Kevin and the Kohorts really don’t have an agenda aside from attempting to stir the masses with their unimportant diatribes on FoxNews against Hunter Biden, immigration, persecution of Trump and the peaceful J6 rioters, Benghazi, energy independence, or Afghanistan (which wasn’t important to them until Biden got us out of there). Dartagnan goes on to say, “But hey, Kevin, thanks for the laugh.” If only… lists the five most-watched cable news shows in America as 1) The Five, 2) Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3) Jesse Watters Primetime, 4) Hannity, 5) Special Report with Bret Baier – all on FoxNews! With this far-right domination of cable news pushing their agenda of COVID lies, election conspiracies, and attacks on LGBTQ+, we have seen a rise (thanks go to Elon Musk, also) in racism, antisemitism, misogyny, and transphobia – lies fed to a receptive public which lead to disruptive and destructive behaviors. After his Twitter takeover, Musk has shown that he has no concept of the principles behind the First Amendment, by allowing conspiracy theorist and neo-Nazis to proliferate on the site, while he recklessly bans responsible journalists and posters. You’d think that fleeing advertisers would convince him that he has lost his way, and a downturn from neglect of his Tesla auto business would surely be an attention-getter. Must be an ashes to ashes, dust to dust philosophy resembling The Donald’s?!! The first man in history to lose $200 billion!

Meanwhile, Trump’s taxes have been released to the world, and Ginni Thomas has expressed regret for her role in the J6 Insurrection, so 2023 is off to a wonderful start. Let’s work to bring that to fruition…with issuance of a few orange prison jumpsuits! Happy New Year to all!

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.


“Years of drought and famine come and years of flood and famine come, and the climate is not changed with dance, libation or prayer.”
~John Wesley Powell

“It’s a relief to hear the rain. It’s the sound of billions of drops, all equal, all equally committed to falling, like a sudden outbreak of democracy. Water, when it hits the ground, instantly becomes a puddle or rivulet or flood.”
~Alice Oswald

“People shouldn’t be living in certain places – on earthquake faults or on flood plains. But they do, and there are consequences.”
~Vaclav Smil


We all have too many clothes it seems, and instead of throwing them away, we should (and do!) donate them, right? Right. The question we often don’t ask, however, is what happens with the clothes that get donated and don’t sell? Watch this documentary, and think about what you can do.

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