Blog Archives

January 6 – 12, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Bemoaning our “educated” community, request for support. GREENSITE on Houseless camping at San Lorenzo Park. KROHN…remembering Ruth Hunter. STEINBRUNER…Cleaning up the Davenport Cement Plant, no public access for Board of Supes, saving the Robert Merriman House’s last chance. PATTON…Risk. EAGAN…Classic Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Common Sense”


PACIFIC AND WATER STREETS, DECEMBER 26, 1951. I can’t read the gas prices at Spike Jones’ (not that Spike Jones) station, and it’s probably just as well. This was our most “official” holiday tree way back then.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email

DATELINE January 4

ANOTHER YEAR AHEAD. Let’s hope we see an end to the terrible fighting right within our self labeled “educated” community. Brave protectors of the homeless, against the police trying to evict and crush our homeless camps. Right-wing Take Back Santa Cruz, trying to stop Harm Reduction Coalition from saving addicts’ lives. Developers lying about their ability to build affordable units, and catering to Silicon Valley commuters. While you’re thinking about, it check out the Harm Reduction Coalition site. Be sure also to check out Becky Steinbruner in this week’s emergency reminder of how our county is completely disrespecting the Robert Merriman house at 1500 Capitola Road, in favor of the Mid pen Development. If you’ve missed their message, read the Homeless Union’s Facebook page, and learn what accomplishments and goals they’ve achieved. 

Our long-standing heroes at Food Not Bombs need help of many kinds. Go to Lest we forget, the Trump vote in 2019 was bigger than his last: he got 26,438 votes here in our liberal territory last November. I’ve said it before but I seriously doubt this crop of Santa Cruz City Council persons will display any real courage or leadership when it comes to facing Martin Bernal, and his self-serving machinations in dealing with any or all of above.

ABOUT BRATTON ONLINE. None of our weekly writers (Krohn, Greensite, Steinbruner, Patton, Eagan, and specifically me, have ever received one cent from BrattonOnline. There’s no such thing as members, dues, fees etc. We create it every week, to spread news and opinions. Our only costs have been in the online transcribing of the works. Those costs have risen, and we want to pay webwoman Gunilla Leavitt, so she can better handle those finances. Please consider sending what you can afford. You’ll be glad you did, and so will we.

You can use PayPal directly, or click the donate button. The PayPal email is and you can use the send to family and friends feature. The name that comes up when you send money is “Online Payment”. You can also use Venmo (@Godmoma) or CashApp (@Godmoma9) if you would rather. We thank you for the support!

I am forced to admit that I haven’t seen a movie especially in the recent year that would come close to Marcel Carne’s  “Children of Paradise” or “Les Enfants du Paradis”. It was filmed in 1945. I watched it for the umpteenth time again last week. It’s the perfect movie. None of the following even come close.

DOCTOR SLEEP. Stanley Kubricks’ The Shining, taken from Stephen Kings’ book, and starring Jack Nicolson, remains classic. Doctor Sleep stars Ewan McGregor and claims to be – and tries hard to be – a sequel taking place 40 years after The Shining. There’s a Jack Nicolson lookalike, a few scenes near the end of that classic hotel, views of the twin girls standing in the hallway, but it’s a lame attempt. There’s also the repeating phrase “Pain purifies steam”, which is as mystifying as it is confusing. Do not go to any trouble or expense if you expect to be treated to a deserving sequel.  

BORDERTOWN. Be sure to link on to the Finnish Bordertown, there are many Bordertowns online. A conflicted chief investigator leads his team through clues and false leads to solve some complex murders. Like Sherlock Holmes, the investigator has his flaws and a mysterious past. Watch this one it’ll take your mind off reality.

THE MIDNIGHT SKY. George Clooney plays a terminally ill, very alone guy stationed on a doomed earth in 2049. He tries to communicate with astronauts including Felicity Jones, warning them to not return to earth after an EVENT that destroyed everything. It’s mystical, dull, pointless, and a poor addition to Clooney’s career.

NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS. 99 on Rotten Tomatoes, and yet it’s hard to find. Try HBO, or Prime video. It’s the story of a teenage girl and her girlfriend traveling to New York City from Pennsylvania and having to go through very realistic, inhuman, authentic issues and problems to end her pregnancy. It’s cruel, truthful, and will leave you with new energy to change the abortion laws and practices…don’t miss it. 

THE MESS YOU LEAVE BEHIND. An engrossing series. A young new teacher in Spain replaces one who either committed suicide or was murdered. The Students are hiding something, and they share or lie about their connections. Many time frames, from past to present. It’s based on a book and is well worth watching. 71 on Rotten Tomatoes.

The movies below are not ranked in any particular order. I’ve eliminated some of the most boring, time wasting flops…enjoy what’s left!! 

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM. (Single) This near musical is adapted from the play by the same name. It’s also acted as a play more than as a movie or straight drama. It all takes place in 1927 when Ma tries to record the first of her more than 100 songs. The late Chadwick Boseman is Ma’s choice for first trumpet, and Ma’s played by Viola Davis in case you don’t recognize her.

MY OCTOPUS TEACHER. (Single) A documentary by a filmmaker who for some personal reason decides to relate to an octopus in the ocean near the tip of Africa. The octopus is about 1 1/2 feet across and has a very threatened life from sharks and nature. The octopus befriends the filmmaker and the movie is surprising and revealing in the ways it details the complexity of all our lives. Highly recommended. 100 Rotten Tomatoes

ROSE ISLAND (Single) Based on a true and fascinating, engrossing story of an Italian  guy back in 1968 who actually built a platform off the Rimini coast and tried to establish it as his own country. It actually went to the United Nations and later they moved international territory boundaries from 6 to 12 miles offshore. Watch it and dream. 78 Rotten T’s

AVA. (Single)Watch John Malkovich, Colin Farrell and mostly Jessica Chastain try to save this boring, poor copy of a spy movie. 15 on RT. Geena Davis was brought back from somewhere to play a ridiculous role and she too fails miserably. It’s war within war as international spy teams distrust each other. Don’t bother.

THE CALL.(Single) Korean movies have a certain something that set them way apart. It’s mostly intelligence, clever plots and not quite spelling everything out for the audience. 100 on Rotten Tomatoes!!! An old cell phone rings and communicates between 20 years of haunting calls. Daughters talk to dead grandmothers and all in the same house. Time switches, serial killers separated by time. Fine acting. You’ll be puzzled and completely engaged watching this one.

THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN. (Single) Try very hard to imagine Mel Gibson and Sean Penn together in a true story about the creating of the first Oxford English Dictionary. This movie was made three years ago and it’s so bad Mel Gibson tried suing the production company to get out of it. He lost. Sean Penn is supposed to be a lunatic murderer who is also a language fanatic. Gibson who’s from Australia fakes a Scottish accent and takes charge of the Oxford dictionary through the letter T. Sean Penn becomes bald with a ten inch beard and adds a significant amount of words to the project. To realize our Oxford Dictionary has this history is mind boggling. The movie is dull but unusually fascinating…if you like words. 43 on RT

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA.  (Single) Will Ferrell is too old now to be playing these loony goofballs. There really is a Eurovision Song Contest and apparently it’s almost as odd as this movie makes it out to be. Rachel McAdams who is now 42 plays her dimple cheeked cute role as best she’s allowed to do. It’s Farrell  (aged 53) who has outgrown the kind of humor he worked so hard at 15 to 20 years ago. 64 on RT. Oops I forgot to relate that Pierce Brosnan is in it too, most likely just for the money.

PROM. (Single) This is a big new musical in every sense of the word. It stars Meryl Streep singing, dancing and mugging her way through this simple copy of a Stephen Sondheim type show. Even though the “plot” centers on our serious and contemporary prejudice against gay men and lesbians Streep, Nicole Kidman and James Corden make it all cute flashy, obvious, and not quite memorable. 

WHAT WE WANTED. (Single) An Austrian relationship challenge. A couple can’t have children, whose fault is it? His or hers? We watch and relate to their problems. They take a vacation in Sardinia. The couple next door add huge problems to our main characters. If you’ve had issues in your relationships this may or may not be your best choice…but you will relate to this saga I guarantee.

MANK. (single) Mank is short for Mankiewicz as in Herman Mankiewicz who was the screenwriter of  Orson Welles “Citizen Kane”. C. Kane for non movie goers has been generally regarded as the best movie ever made. It’s on several worldwide “best of” lists and you owe it yourselves to see it at least once. But Mank the movie is mostly made for movie nuts. Amanda Seyfried plays Marion Davies, Charles Dance is William Randolph Hearst, and Tom Burke is Orson Welles. Mank was a professional screenwriter who drank more than anybody and somehow managed to finish the script for Citizen Kane just in time. Gary Oldman is way over the top when he plays Mank, but with the flash of this very Hollywood script he fits in perfectly. You’ll love it.

THE MITFORDS. (single) A fine documentary movie about the wild, wooly, and brilliant  six Mitford sisters. Plus there’s info here for all Santa Cruzans who remember when Jessica Mitford visited and lectured at UCSC. It should be called A Tale of Two Sisters. Jessica who we called Decca was an ardent left wing proponent. She married Oakland Civil Rights Attorney Robert Truehaft and they both attended my wedding in San Francisco back in 1967. Decca’s sister Diana was actually in love with Adolf Hitler and remained that far fascist right all of her life.  Watch this documentary it’s a family like no other.

A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK. (single) This is Woody Allen’s newest movie and although it bears a lot of resemblance to his earlier movies it’s only a poor copy at best.  It has a 45 on Rotten Tomatoes and that’s generous. Elle Fanning plays a poor copy of Diane Keaton in Annie Hall doing her flighty-nutty best to be like other humans. Jude Law is in it too but we’ll never figure out why, he does nothing to further anything. Timothee Chalamat is the usual Woody Allen type character in the movie and he has little reason to be there either.  It lacks the charm, sharp humor, social commentary and the class of what used to be Woody’s signature on cinema.

PROFESSOR T. (Series) Egged on by daughter Jennifer I too really liked the Belgian crime series Professor T. It’s not easily available so try going to PBS Passport series, it’s well worth your searching time. The Professor teaches at the Antwerp University and is a habitual germophobe. He advises the local police and detectives and manages to bring in humor which makes this 3 series very enjoyable. Beware of the German version and the Czech copy, 

THE LIFE AHEAD.(Single) To see Sophia Loren at age 86, and see her looking like she’s 86 is a treat. She plays a holocaust survivor who acts as mother to some children of prostitutes.  Her interaction with a Senegalese 14 year old boy is a neat piece of cinema and it’s directed by her son Edourdo Ponti. 

THE MAN WITHOUT GRAVITY. (Single) Another Italian near fable about a baby born and floating to the ceiling attached to his umbilical cord. What he does with his life, and his decisions about letting the world know he floats make a near masterpiece. Not too near Italian Classics like “Life Is Beautiful” or “Amarcord” it’s still fun to think about.

CALL MY AGENT. Daughter Hillary found this one and she’s right, it’s a good one. There might be a problem in finding this one under that title on Netflix, if so try “Dix Pour Cent”. Billed as a comedy it centers on the lives of the talent agents and stars who work at a famous show biz agency in Paris. Tempers, jokes, love affairs, and much talent all get very mixed and still it’s almost riveting.

THE VOW. 82 ON Rotten Tomatoes is just about what I’d give this documentary. NXIVM is the name of a self awareness, mindfulness group. It has masters and slaves and even branding women members in private places. It’s a documentary but not your average documentary. If you’ve ever belonged to or have thought about joining one like maybe Scientology don’t miss this partial opening of their secret doors. Just a few weeks ago (Nov.2) Keith Raniere, the real life NXIVM leader was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

January 4

We are no closer to handling the houseless crisis in the new year than we were in the old. If anything, the situation has worsened with the latest standoff over city manager -ordered evictions from the unsanctioned ever-increasing camping at San Lorenzo Park. Faced with a hostile push back, the police backed down, apparently to avoid escalating the potential for violence. Supporters then obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop any further evictions. The TRO ends on January 6th. By the time you are reading this we may know what comes next.  I doubt it will be a workable solution.

The need to step in to terminate the camping at San Lorenzo Park was evident to all but the campers and their supporters. The latter dismiss as lies the documented incidents of theft, public defecation, aggressive behavior, destruction of public property and impact on city maintenance staff. The most vociferous supporters are Trump-like in their creation of an alternate reality hurling phrases such as “homeless haters” “privilege” “fascist city staff”, making dialogue difficult if not impossible. While the majority of those camping may indeed be down on their luck and trying to hold things together, never bothering anyone, there are plenty of others whose behavior, not housing status is unacceptable by any standard.

I stepped in where angels fear to tread by posting a comment online pointing out that San Lorenzo is a children’s park: that the most impacted by the camping take-over of the Park are the children of low-income mostly Mexicano families who live in nearby small apartments with no back yards. The levees and San Lorenzo Park were where the families used to take their children to play and ride their bikes. No longer. Now they stay inside. Some have had their bikes stolen. One family had bags of clothes ready for the laundromat stolen from the trunk of their car. Next day they saw men who were camping lying on their clothes on the banks of the river. They have had racist insults shouted at them when they went for a walk on the levee. They have turned their children towards home on seeing a man masturbating in the middle of the levee path. Although the father of one of the families could ride his bike to work along the levee he doesn’t feel safe doing so. He leaves for work in the dark and comes home in the dark. Doesn’t this all somewhat complicate the picture? Who are the less fortunate here?

The city spent $200,000 cleaning up some of the unsanctioned large campsites in Pogonip. I saw the environmental damage. It was not pretty. Fecal pollution drained into the San Lorenzo River while piles of garbage next to empty dumpsters attracted rats. 

It’s obvious that a site suitable for large-scale camping has yet to be found. It won’t work if it is anywhere near where people live in houses and neighborhoods given the reality of the anti-social impacts described above. Arm chair radicals can talk all they want about the impacts of late stage capitalism, private property and privilege but that doesn’t get us closer to a solution that provides shelter, attends to addiction and curbs anti-social behavior. The current dichotomy with one side seeing saints and the other side seeing scum, with insults traded in equal amounts is not the path to a solution. 

I thought I had a solution on a recent hike in the New Brighton State Beach area. Walking through the campground it became obvious that this would be a perfect location for a houseless campground when space is not available at current indoor sites in the city.  It can accommodate RV’s. There are 114 well laid out, large campsites with nearby toilet blocks. There are no neighbors. The campground is currently closed. State Parks would have to agree so politicians would need to be involved. Since the State has imposed its will on our local ability to have reasonable zoning laws to protect neighborhoods, perhaps they can give something in return. It would need an investment of maintenance staff, shower blocks and shuttle for those who can’t walk to a bus stop. Expensive but not when compared to what is being outlaid right now with little success. Food Not Bombs and Harm Reduction Coalition are both mobile.  Even if it were temporary until the Park opens in the summer, it gives time to locate an alternative permanent site in the county and takes the brunt of the impact off the city. 

Take a walk along the levee from the trestle to Water Street Bridge, note the tents growing in number on Main Beach and next to the river, see the piles of garbage, talk to Parks maintenance staff and low-income renters in nearby apartments before you decide to support continued camping at San Lorenzo Park or any city park for that matter.

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 4

I am remembering Ruth Hunter. She died three years ago, but in this time of remembering and making new year resolutions, I want to resolve in myself to be more like Ruth: inspiring, thoughtful, creative, and courageous. Many of us in Santa Cruz truly stand on the shoulders of those incredible activists who came before us like Ruth and…Bill and Bernice Belton, Jerry Kaufman, Fred Hirsch (died last month), Mardi Wormhoudt, Keith Sugar, Joyce Malone, Reed Searle, Gordon Pusser, Doug Rand, Marge Franz, Sherry Conable, David Minton Silva, and Dick Doubrava. There are many more, but these are the activists I am thinking about this week.

“Those we love don’t go away,
They walk beside us every day.
Unseen, Unheard, But always near,
Still loved, still missed, and very dear”
(Irish Prayers)

Peace Activist Ruth Hunter Lives Until 102?
Ruth Davis Hunter was anything but conventional. She raged with the Raging Grannies; stood firm in solidarity with the people El Salvador and Nicaragua during Ronald Reagan’s not so secret wars in Central America; she yelled “no nukes” long before it was fashionable and became a movement that all but ended the growth of nuclear power in the US; and she even stood with militant laicized priest, Roy Bourgeois, in protest outside the dreaded, “School of the Americas” in Georgia where foreign army personnel are trained to keep their country’s domestic activists at bay by US soldiers. Ruth Hunter was a mentor for many in the Santa Cruz community, and a pillar inside the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILF). 

Ruth had been arrested 17 times in the pursuit of her ideals: equality, environmentalism, feminism, and justice for all. I was witness to her arrest in Seattle in 1999 during the World Trade Organization protests. Once handcuffed, Ruth went quietly through the tear gas into an awaiting bus. Earlier she had been spotted dancing with Turtles and Steelworkers as the “Battle in Seattle” played itself out on national TV. She always smiled too when the police put the cuffs on, it might’ve been her trademark. Ruth’s activism was legendary, her writing prolific, and her empathy voluminous. She died this past election day, Nov. 6th, at 102 years young. 

Ruth Hunter–mother, activist, rabble rouser, and genuine Mensch–was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 15, 1916. Her parents, Molly and Isadore Davis emigrated from Russia and settled in Minneapolis, where they raised five children: Julius, Edith, Ruth, Evelyn and Samuel. Ruth married Seymour Borshell in 1936 and their first child, Sue Carol, was born in Minneapolis in 1938. In 1944, the young family settled first in Santa Monica, and later moved to Van Nuys. Ruth and Seymour divorced in 1950 and she moved on with her daughters to San Francisco near the beginning of the Beat era. Ten years later, she married Carl Hunter who into the new family with four children, and the two families blended, living out a real-life Brady Bunch scenario. 

Ruth studied to be a bookkeeper, and later became an academic counselor for adults on career education. She taught eighth-grade social studies in Daly City and later opened a business with Carl, The Button Moulders, “turning rocks into beauty.” Eventually she and Carl also designed, made, and sold stained glass. 

Throughout most of her centenarian life, Ruth was an outspoken advocate for feminism, social justice, and peace. She was a political activist’s political activist. Beginning with the League of Women Voters petition drives, city council campaigns, No Nukes rallies, and most recently, the Occupy Movement she carried on her own vigorous brand of activism and social change. Ruth traveled to more than 49 countries, expressing opposition to war, fascism, and government corruption everywhere she went. 

As a writer, Ruth wrote about getting arrested for civil disobedience in Santa Cruz, Seattle, and Santa Monica. She published dozens of op-eds, letters to the editor, essays, interviews, and memoirs, always standing on the side of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. Her book is titled, What a Life, a collection of interviews with women over 80, and it inspired two musicals, The Activist and The Activist II. They were written and composed by her husband, Carl Hunter. 

This fierce, feisty, funny, brave woman, is survived by her daughters, Sue Leonard and Peggy Brooks, step-daughters Pat Gordon and Terry Brown, step-sons Richard Hunter (and wife Kim) and Michael Hunter (and wife Lani). She had three grandchildren, seven step-grandchildren, and fourteen great-grandchildren. Her activism was as fierce as it was forthright. Ruth is already greatly missed. 

A Celebration of Ruth Hunter’s Life was held on Friday, November 30 at the Louden Nelson Center from 5:30 to 7:30pm and one of the highlights was former Congressmember Sam Farr’s recollection of drinking mojitos with Ruth at the bar in the Havana Libre hotel in Cuba.

“I’ve survived sexual assault, police abuse, domestic violence, and being unhoused and uninsured. That’s not a unique pain I carry. It’s one that so many of us live with each day. Today, I take my seat in Congress to fight for a world where nobody has to endure that pain.” (Jan. 3 @CoriBush)

I forgot what a magical place Land of the Medicine Buddha is…it sits Soquel alongside a spectacular part of Nicene Marks State Park too. If you need to get outside, this place is so close and so cool. 

(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

January 4

Greetings and Happy New Year to All,

In response to requests, my columns this year will be shorter, covering no more than three topics.  This is a real challenge for me because there are so many issues that I feel Bratton Online readers should be made aware of…it’s like drinking from a fire hose these days.  If there are certain types of issues any of you are especially interested in, please do let me know. I really welcome discussion and always enjoy hearing from readers. Thanks! Becky 831-685-2915

The County Planning Dept. extended the public comment period to January 22, 2021, so here is your chance to weigh-in with your thoughts about having 165,000 cubic yards of grading and contaminated storm water runoff in the Davenport area.  The Regional Water Quality Control Board is the primary enforcement agency here, but the Planning Dept. claims a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) will suffice.  This essentially means “no big deal”.  But take a look: CEQA Documents Open for Public Review 

How can such extensive work in a contamination zone, with the town of Davenport residents immediately adjacent, be “no big deal”?

Here is a description of what’s in those 13 appendices you will find on the Planning Dept. website:

  1. #1 Final North Cement Kiln Dust Area Closure Plan & Post Closure Monitoring and Maintenance Plan 
  2. #2 Storm water Hydraulic Analysis Report
  3. #3 Final Geotechnical Design
  4. #4 Multi-Season Construction Wet Weather Preparedness Plan
  5. #5 Dust Mitigation Plan
  6. #6 Retention Pond Corrective Action Plan
  7. #7a Waste Discharge Requirements-Order from State Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Coast Region)
  8. #7b Monitoring and Reporting Program (I could not get this file to work)
  9. #8 Plans
  10. #9 Biotic Assessment
  11. #10 Air Quality Modeling
  12. #11 Construction Noise Model
  13. #12 List of Mitigations 

Send your comments to: PROJECT PLANNER: David Carlson, (831) 454-3173 EMAIL:  by January 22. 

The matter will come before the Planning Commission at some point, to be determined.

If you want to participate in the County Supervisor Board meetings, you may be in for a real challenge because as of this writing, the day before the January 7 Special Board Meeting, the website provides NO ACCESS information for the public. 


I couldn’t believe it either, so I took a screenshot and have attached it. None of the various link access modes is active.  Again, on the day before the first virtual-only Board meeting, there is no access information provided to the public.

I think many people would like to participate in the meeting wherein the Board will install Bruce McPherson as Chair and Manu Koenig as Vice-Chair for 2021.  I also think that many people would be interested in hearing discussion about whether the County will continue a Local Health Emergency due to the CZU Fires.  See an excerpt from the staff report below.

January 5 Special Board of Supervisor Meeting Agenda

On December 1, removal activities under the Government Program began. Five teams of CalRecycle contractors are currently conducting toxic ash and foundation removals as part of the Phase II work. As of December 29, 2020, CalRecycle and their contractors have removed toxic ash and foundations on 56 properties. The Environmental Health (EH) Division has received approximately 669 applications for the Government Program. EH has received 177 applications for the Private Contractor Program and work is underway on some of those parcels. The County has issued a certificate of completion to four parcels that were cleared under the Private Contractor Program. Progress on Phase II can be found at 5244e18396528. Public Health staff has confirmed that it is necessary to keep the local health emergency in place during this stage. Staff will continue to monitor conditions and report back to the Board on whether and when it is appropriate to terminate the local emergency. 

Call your Supervisor and ask when this big censorship problem will be fixed: 831-454-2200. 

Sadly, the County cares nothing for preserving important historic resources such as the Robert Merriman House in Live Oak that could serve as an inspiration to young people and link everyone to how a world-famous hero who lived in our agricultural community went on to do great good for the world.

Your final chance will come January 11, 9:30 am, to weigh in on any shred of historic interpretation of this site, a condition of approval for MidPen Housing to begin bulldozing highly contaminated soil and build affordable housing on top of the carcinogenic vapors.  Don’t worry, the County Redevelopment Successor Agency has dropped the sales price of this publicly-owned land to $ZERO for one parcel, and essentially pennies for the other.

The New Year’s Day edition of the Santa Cruz Sentinel Classified Ads featured a small-print Notice about the Public Hearing that will be held before the County Historic Resources Commission on January 11 at 9:30 am to consider the interpretive panel(s) honoring Robert Merriman.  This is a condition of approval for the MidPen Housing development project planned for the site.  I have scanned the ad and attached it below.   

The legal notice ad has not appeared in the newspaper since.  How clever.

There is no information about this hearing on the County’s Historic Resources Commission website.

Earlier Commission discussions about this Project included interpretive panels that also addressed the historic ranchette farm that this parcel modelled and likely initiated in the Live Oak Community.  The newspaper legal ad makes no mention of that topic, only describing Robert Merriman’s role in fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

There are significant serious soil contamination problems at that site.   Will the Commissioners be made aware of that issue as they discuss placement of the interpretive panel(s)?  The eastern side of the property should certainly be avoided if MidPen takes no clean-up action.

Here is a link to a recent Santa Cruz Sentinel report about that problem. 

Let’s hope that full information about this hearing and the text and graphics of what the Commission and public will consider on January 11 are made easily available on the website as soon as possible.  Write Annie Murphy <> and Michael Lam <> with your thoughts.

Read about the importance of Robert Merriman in past Bratton Online posts:

July 10-16, 2019
November 27 – December 4, 2019
September 4-10, 2019


Cheers, and Happy New Year,

Becky 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


December 27, 2020
#362 / Risk

The image at the top of this blog posting celebrates the board game “Risk,” which can be played online. The online “risk” that I want to comment upon, however, isn’t a “game.” 

In an article published on November 27, 2020, New York Times reporters Ellen Barry and Nicole Perlroth advise readers as follows: “Patients Put at Risk as Russian Hackers Sabotage U.S. Hospitals.” That is the headline I read in the hard copy version of the newspaper. Online, the Barry-Perlroth article bears the following headline: “Patients of a Vermont Hospital Are Left ‘in the Dark’ After a Cyberattack.”

The events recounted in the article are pretty horrible. Hackers, believed to be Russian, penetrated the computer systems of something like a dozen United States hospitals and made it impossible for doctors, nurses, and other hospital personnel to access patient records. A hospital in Vermont was especially hard hit: “In Vermont, the damage radiated out through a sprawling network, hitting especially hard in the cancer center.” Without access to patient records, chemotherapy and other treatments could not be given. Recovery will take “months and months,” according to hospital administrators.

While the compromise of the hospital’s computers took the form of a “ransomware” attack, in which the target person or institution is told that their access to their suddenly inaccessible computer files will be restored upon a ransom payment, the payments demanded in this instance were so impossibly large that it seemed that the real objective was not to obtain the ransom, but simply to create chaos and disruption. If that was the real purpose, it succeeded.

Besides the empathy any reader might feel for those patients affected – cancer victims in this case who are now facing their life threatening disease without any way to get immediate medical help – my sense is that this news story, and the stories documenting other hacks, more recently revealed, ought to make us rethink our commitment to computers in more general terms. Virtually all of our vital services, from hospitals, to power companies, to water companies, to… (you name it) are now increasingly reliant on computer systems that are susceptible to attack, and the consequences of such attacks can be life threatening. 

We have based our contemporary society and economy on the idea that the complex computer systems that operate them, mostly based “in the cloud,” are reliable and secure. In fact, they are not. 

The issue is not unlike global warming, in this sense; the problem is huge, and while we can intellectually understand the danger, there is nothing immediate (until something bad happens) that suggests that today, right now, we need to start making profound rearrangements in how we have organized our lives.

And yet… so we must!

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


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


“Common sense is not so common.”

“Common sense is what tells us the earth is flat.”
~Stuart Chase 

“In the present case it is a little inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible to any public office of trust or profit in the Republic. But I do not repine, for I am a subject of it only by force of arms.” 
~H.L. Mencken

“Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.”  
~Rene Descartes

I love this stuff so much! Did you know that statues in ancient times were never marble white? They were painted, and very colorfully so! But in the 1800s, when many of these were “found” (stolen, if we want to be honest about it), they would scrub them clean, ignoring all trace of paint, and doing much to promote whiteness as an ideal. Anyway, I ramble, and this video is about colorizing statues digitally. It’s amazing how different they look! You should google the brightly colored ancient statues though…

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