Blog Archives

July 13 – 19, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Donna Meyers moving to Carmel, more about Pacific Avenue, SCChamber Players Concert, Krohn KSQD interview, film critiques, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…more on the Downtown Extension project. KROHN…Crazy Times, City growth, Roe v Wade, getting along. STEINBRUNER…County Fair Board and barns, Calfire understaffed, Grand Jury and fire risk. HAYES…Botta pocket gophers. PATTON…A house divided. MATLOCK…A need for courage, creativity and resolve (gun control). EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS PICK OF THE WEEKcrowd at a Green Day concert when they think no one is watching…QUOTES…”TIDES”

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PREVIOUS NICKELODEON SITEBill Raney turned this bakery at 210 Lincoln Street into the 4 screened Nickelodeon Theatre, which opened July 1, 1969. Covid closed it in March 2020. Landmark Theatre chain owns the building and there’s no news on its re-opening. On the right of the bakery is movie star Zasu Pitts’ former home, now owned by Cynthia Mathews. That’s why, when she’s in office, she can’t vote on some downtown measures due to conflict of interest.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE July 11

 

LATTE BREAKING NEWS…EX SANTA CRUZ MAYOR DONNA MEYERS MOVING TO CARMEL! Donna Meyers was elected to the Santa Cruz City Council in 2018. Her term ends this December and she’s moving to Carmel. We need to have a news contest and see who does the second reporting of her move. The Sentinel, Lookout, Local, Patch? Hopefully we’ll learn about her sense of commitment, loyalty, and community.

BEAUTIFYING, ENLIVENING PACIFIC AVENUE. Some super reactions and ideas came in about bringing more life back to our Downtown. Here’s a letter from a reader with her powerful views…

“Around 10 years ago, I offered to create a program for Downtown, based on a program in Los Gatos, to sponsor the planters in downtown. The theory is that companies or families would adopt a planter, keep it in fresh plantings, weed & care for their planter. The downtown crew would water them, since they already do. Los Gatos always looks so friendly with their flowers and frequent benches.
Los Gatos Adopt-A-Planter Program

At the time, Dannettee Shoemaker was in charge of SC City Parks & Rec… and P&R was in charge of Downtown. I presented her with my proposal and she handed it over to her second-in-command. He told me he’d support the idea, ONLY if I also started an “Adopt a Median” program for the medians around town. I passed, since I was doing this for free and for the love of Downtown. I didn’t want to sign up to arrange the median on Morrissey to be landscaped, ya know?

City Council doesn’t care what Downtown looks like or they wouldn’t keep turning it into an ugly area lacking the charm it once had. Parks &Recs has never cared what Downtown looks like. What about the Downtown Association? Shouldn’t they be interested in a program to put things in the empty windows?

Speaking of the City Council and the plans for Downtown… Petaluma has kept its lovely & charming old downtown. One smart thing they do: when Starbucks wanted to put a store in Downtown Petaluma, they were required to create a public space next to it. This is what Santa Cruz should have required of Starbucks on Ocean & Water (and all new buildings), so the entrance to Santa Cruz would look better”. There’s a lot to consider and a lot needs to be done…we just need responsible leaders in the City Structure or the Downtown Association or the Chamber of Commerce to get to it. As previously stated that applies especially to the former Palace Stationers, Peets Coffee and the Pizza house next door.

SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS CONCERT. For more than 40 years the Santa Cruz Chamber Players have been presenting six or more excellent concerts per year and I’ve attended almost all of them. Last Sundays (07/10) concert featured The Nisene Ensemble playing the music of Gabriel Faure and His Circle of Influence (Martinu, Boulanger, Kodaly, Bloch and Saint-Saens) it was surprising in its newness, and excellence. Michel Singher founder, conductor of Espressivo the small intense orchestra, was there and he liked it too. The Chamber Players next concert will be September 17 and 18 with music by Beethoven, Jon Scoville, Ligetti and Couperin. Go here for tickets and info…. www.scchamberplayers.org

TALK OF THE TOWN RADIO PROGRAM KSQD. Chris Krohn came by my home last week (see attached photo in his section) and interviewed me for his KSQD program to be aired Tuesday, July 19 at 5 p.m. KSQD is at 90.7 fm There are also other ways to listen. We covered a lot except maybe my film history of at least six years of film classes at UC Berkeley and here at UC Santa Cruz. Plus my friendship in Berkeley with Pauline Kael, one of the world’s best film critics.

BANJO LESSONS NEEDED!! A good friend (also named Bruce) wants to find a banjo teacher who teaches 5 string banjo and Scruggs style. If you know anybody call Bruce at 831 331-5380, and tell him I sent you!!

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.

THOR:  LOVE and THUNDER. (Del Mar Theatre) I’m not going to see, let alone review this mess. Marvel super hero films don’t qualify in my definition of cinema, even if Natalie Portman is in it.

BLACK BIRD. (APPLE SERIES) (8.5 IMDB) Ray Liotta’s last film and it’s a good one. Greg Kinnear and Taron Egerton also star in this former cop who’s now in jail and gets offered freedom IF he’ll go to another prison to secretly question and get a confession from another felon. It’s a bit hammy and slow moving but watchable.

HELLO GOODBYE AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN. (NEFLIX MOVIE) (4.7 IMDB) It is billed as a “teenmovie” and I thought it would be a switch from all the heavy serious films I usually watch. I wouldn’t advise any teen I know to see this mess. Maybe or possibly kids under 10 could possibly like it. Stay warned.

AV THE HUNT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.5 IMDB). A dark, depressing view of violence against women. It’s a Turkish movie and has superior photography but it’s a pointless tirade against the tribal, traditional sex prejudice that is rampant and never ending. Mostly implausible and has a plot that needed more work.

THE TURNING POINT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.1 IMDB). A robber hides in a nice guy’s apartment and they become unbelievably good friends. Many cinema zingers in this Italian pseudo comedy/drama. Not very funny, not very plausible and poor acting too. Don’t waste your time, and warn any sensible friends too.

THE WRATH OF GOD. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB). This excellent Argentine moviemakes a mystery out of a famous author’s connection to the murders he writes about. Those murders all center on a beautiful former employee of his. Believable, tense, absorbing and good viewing.

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 Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

YOU DON’T KNOW ME. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.8 IMDB). A British courtroom drama centers on a man accused of murder. It’s tight, well-acted, intriguing, believable, and even mysterious. His surprising version of his innocence is certainly worth your viewing.

THE PRINCESS. (HULU MOVIE) (5.3 IMDB). Hard to imagine watching a princess escaping from a castle tower movie again. This trite piece of junk adds nothing to the oft repeated retelling. The princess isn’t exactly beautiful, she’s supposed to be about 15 years old and has had martial arts training! The fantasy it tries to create is almost worse than those related on Fox News!

OFFICIAL COMPETITION. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.2 IMDB) This is a Spanish must see comedy for any and all cinema enthusiasts. Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas take the leads in this film centering on how movies are made. Plenty of inside digs and barbs on art house creations will keep you involved and even laughing. Surprising to watch Cruz’s comic timing…who knew?

THE TERMINAL LIST. (AMAZON PRIME) (8.2 IMDB) Chris Pratt takes the part of a Navy Seal officer whose troops were ambushed during a secret mission in Syria. He suffers from shell shock/concussion and the search for the unknown enemy is a good one. The movie is believable, well-acted, nicely photographed and even mysterious. Go for it.

MARRY ME. (AMAZON PRIME) (6.0 IMDB) This is meant to be a comedy and features Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson. Her role is a hugely successful superstarwho gets jilted by a big deal rock star and ends up partnering with a “humble” normal guy instead. Wilson’s forever mugging and hammy style of delivery make this barely viewable. There’s some singing and more staging by Lopez but it isn’t worth your time.

THE DESPERATE HOUR. (HULU MOVIE) (4.7 IMDB) Naomi Watts must have been paid millions to do this tragic flop. She plays a mother out jogging whose son Noah is inside a school that is being held captive by a shooter. She jogs throughout the entire movie and telephones everybody involved to learn about and connect with her son. There’s little tension, unfair emoting and is a below the belt attempt at reality.

DOOM OF LOVE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.8 IMDB). This movie from Turkey is flimsy, trite, and dull and is supposed to deal with a young man’s search for inner happiness. He deals with love, playing the drums, and finding friends. Because his business had failed there’s a big focus on making money OR being happy…apparently we can’t do both. Much better to take a walk in this beautiful July sunshine.

BACKTRACE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (3.8 IMDB). It was mostly curiosity that made me watch a movie with Sylvester Stallone in it. And even wearing a foolish looking wig he’s still painful to watch.  Mathew Modine plays a guy who stole a big bunch of money and hid it. He does time in prison, gets released and they give him drugs so he’ll remember where he hid it. Stallone is the cop who supervises the search. Not worth your time or even thinking about it.

CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH. (APPLE MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB).  A very corny, poorly acted, fell good movie about a kid who falls in love at a Bar Mitzvah party. He dances and dates an autistic girl and makes friends with her mother. I couldn’t take more than 23 minutes and 3 seconds.

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JEWEL THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS. Their next production is “Deathtrap” which was Broadway’s longest running comedy-thriller play.  Tense, funny, and the movie version with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve was near perfect. It’s at the Colligan Theatre and runs from July 6 through the 31st. Call 831 425-7506 or go to www.JewelTheatre.net

CABRILHO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts on July 24-August 7. Yes, Cristian Macelaru the music director is returning and will be conducting. The concerts will include three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie‘s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States. Tickets are on sale now!!

39th ANNUAL MUSICAL SAW FESTIVAL. The 39th Annual Musical Saw Festival will be on Sunday August 14 from 10:00 am to 5pm at Roaring Camp in Felton. The world’s greatest saw players come out of the woodwork to join other acoustic musicians in a variety of musical performances. You’ll hear bluegrass, country, folk, gospel, blues, classical, and even show tunes (believe it or not, no heavy metal) throughout the day. Festivities start at 10:00 AM, with spontaneous acoustic jams throughout the day. There’s a Saw-Off competition from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and a Chorus of the Saws at 3:45 PM, with up to 50 saw players trying to play in unison. And for those who want to learn how to play music that really has some teeth in it, there’s a free Musical Saw Workshop at 4:00 PM. The entire event is free, and fun for the whole family. For more information, check out www.sawplayers.org , or  www.roaringcamp.com . Held by the International Musical Saw Association.

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July 11

IF YOU THINK IT’S BAD NOW…!

Traffic crawls southward down Center Street on an unremarkable Saturday afternoon, July 9th.  Drivers inch towards the first roundabout, in and out of gridlock as vehicles from Front and Center streets converge. Walking to London Nelson center I have a hard time imagining the Downtown Extension project with its 1600 housing units in this same area, in towers between 15 and 17 stories high to bankroll a new enlarged Warriors arena, and all the additional vehicles such a project will generate.

You may recall the already approved project at 130 Center St. adjacent to the Hertz rental car business in the photo. When built it will be 75 feet high or 5 stories for 233 units between 290 and 400 square feet, aka SRO’s or Single Room Occupancy units. This single project is estimated to increase daily traffic by 1100 vehicle trips. I represented the community group, Santa Cruz Tomorrow in appealing the project based in part on the failure of the traffic study to include weekends for its projections, which concluded there would be no significant impact from such an increase. One of those sneaky although apparently legal maneuvers to avoid grappling with real life impacts. In theory, most traffic is commuter traffic so that is what is usually studied and that they did. Except as anyone who lives in Santa Cruz can tell you, these roads are heavily tourist and visitor impacted on summer weekends, so those days, not only weekdays should have been the obvious days to include in the study. When this fact was pointed out, planning staff responded that the project didn’t cause the heavy weekend traffic so there was no need to study it. Except one is supposed to study if a project will worsen existing conditions, not whether the unbuilt project caused existing conditions.

We lost that appeal. The developer offered 4 additional “affordable “units to bring the total to 15% and UCSC students generated over 100 form emails in support of the project, so not one council member was willing to take the traffic impacts and the appeal seriously.

As the Downtown Extension project is pushed forward by city planning staff and the Santa Cruz Warriors, experience suggests the aim will be to get the project approved with as few hurdles as possible, even if a hurdle for the developer lessens the impacts for neighbors, residents, and visitors. Given the fan base for the SC Warriors, including past Mayors and council members and the involvement of well-endowed groups such as YIMBY’s (Yes in Your Back Yard) and MBEP (Monterey Bay Economic Partnership) and SHC (Student Housing Coalition) this will be a fight for the soul of Santa Cruz surpassing the struggles to save Lighthouse Field and Wilder Ranch. The pro-development forces go well beyond the usual suspects; the propaganda will evoke abstractions such as equity and sustainability even as long-time local low-income workers are forced to relocate.

The project requires an EIR, an Environmental Impact Report which is expected to be launched late August or early September. If history is a guide, (Wharf Master Plan, anyone?) the city will do its darndest to avoid an honest assessment of environmental impacts. It shouldn’t be so, after all, city management staff should be working for us, but bringing this project down from its high in the sky profile to something more in keeping with Santa Cruz will require alert community scrutiny, input and if needed, legal challenge.

If the Santa Cruz Warriors require imposing unprecedented 17 story buildings on our town to fund their arena, maybe their funding strategy needs a more careful review. Better now than after a year’s work, to end up in the same place as the Oakland A’s with a lawsuit threatening its new stadium and related project due to inadequate attention to its environmental impact.

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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July 11

CRAZY TIMES.

Crazy bat-shit times in America. Insanity coursing its way through the Open Veins of North America, and this time we are pillaging ourselves. Exhibit A, former President Donald Trump, according to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ secretary Cassady Huchinson, lunged for the clavicle (throat) of his driver, demanding he be allowed to join protesters on January 6, 2021 as they marched on the Capitol to disrupt vote tallying. Exhibit B, US sends $40 billion in military weapons to Ukraine…so much for the peace dividend vision after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Exhibit C, D. E and F, supreme court essentially strikes down Roe v. Wade, thus ending 50 years of women’s freedom to choose and have sovereignty over their own bodies; same court strikes down gun-control law in NYC; same court sides with football coach’s proselytizing of young players in organizing his prayer group at the 50-yard line after each game; and finally, supremes also rule that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot regulate the coal industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is the WEEK that was, and a week from hell. What’s in store for us in the coming weeks? And why aren’t we calling for a General Strike? Shut it down until the Democrats get enough votes to turn this around. Are we Americans not that courageous after all?

Homefront

What about Surf City rhetoric and reality? Protests at the town clock and the county building yielded outrage against this Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade debacle of a decision. It is likely that upwards to 80% of Santa Cruz voters support a woman’s right to choose. No ifs, ands, or buts. The jury of the people’s court is clear on abortion rights, case settled for Santa Cruz County. What is not so clear are the egregious claims that a place cannot be found for Food Not Bombs to feed hungry people; that the UC Regents has purportedly bought, for the first time I know of, real estate—168-unit Hilltop Apartments at 363 Western Drive—that is occupied by townies to pack it with gownies; that the nefarious, underhanded, and low-down political action committee (PAC), erroneously called Santa Cruz Together, is already organizing their real estate and developer loot to defeat what most consider a pretty reasonable initiative, the Empty Homes Tax; also, that out of town real estate people are seeking to turn the existing Santa Cruz County Credit Union building on Front Street into the “Cruz Hotel” with of course, what all locals have been clamoring for, a rooftop pool; and finally, another PAC has been recently organized to defeat the visionary and community inspired, Our Downtown, Our Future initiative headed for the November ballot. Many of the same people attacking these local initiatives and supporting the greed-driven development of Surf City wax awfully progressive, and a bit hypocritical, when it comes to a woman’s right to choose. Santa Cruzans, choose wisely this November.

Can’t We All Just Get Along

Well, yes, we could if money and prestige and empire-building were not involved. I get along pretty well with most of my neighbors, politics aside. We talk baseball, birds, our gardens, and again all politics aside, we all agree the city’s street sweeper rarely comes down our street even though city officials maintain that it should be there the very next day after garbage collection. How’s your street doing? It does seem somewhat easy, and frankly beautiful, to live in a town that collectively is absolutely appalled by the above supreme court decisions—feels really good, doesn’t it–but on another hand, is so divided on the future of Santa Cruz itself. And it is not divided by simple yes and no wanton speculations. There are many shades, opinions, beliefs, and judgements in-between. I simply cannot agree with the sentiment I often hear, Well, that’s Santa Cruz, they can’t agree on anything…or when it comes to 16 and ½ story buildings, oh, that’s just progress. People have been drawn to Santa Cruz over the years since the university arrived because it’s a place that has shown over and over again that you actually can fight city hall and banks and developers, and corporate real estate interests. Lighthouse Field, Wilder Ranch, no nuclear power plant in Davenport, the preservation of the Pogonip and Moore Creek Uplands greenbelt properties, several parcel tax initiatives for public schools approved, and the recently passed NO on Measure D (it might be dreaming of rail, but people are still dreaming and that is reason enough to stay here!). And now, there will be two initiatives on November’s ballot that have the chance of shifting the city’s status quo power dynamic–similar to how the monied interests took it on the chin in the Measure D election—and displayed how community power might be wielded in the name of the community. Our Downtown, Our Future and the Empty Homes Tax are glimmers of real people-power, real opportunities for folks to get involved and decide what kind of town they want to live in, one that is architected and handed them by city planners, developers, and real estate people, or a future designed with care, and love, by the voting public? We will have our say in November. These two initiatives will be fiercely contested by the very interests who might benefit from owning two or three homes and letting them sit vacant, or who want a library-garage to support a Cruz Hotel and Warriors home games. Tuesday, November 8th is decision-day, although everyone will receive a ballot by mail starting in early October, and Santa Cruz city voters will absolutely have something to vote for this November.

“Many of us have spent weeks in armored vehicles & traveling through backs of buildings because of right-wing threats.

You don’t hear much about it.

@GOP Leader McCarthy said he wants to promote House members who incited violence.

Their feigned horror at protest is a silencing tactic.” (July 9)

Bruce Bratton at home and awash in memorabilia, mementos, and memes

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 KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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July 11

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FAIR BOARD HAS NEW DATE TO DISCUSS WHETHER TO DEMOLISH LIVESTOCK BARNS AND ERASE EMERGENCY LIVESTOCK SHELTERING AT THE FAIRGROUNDS

If you care about whether rural residents with livestock will continue to have any future ability to shelter their animals safely at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds,

please mark this NEW DATE of July 19 to speak up.

Last week, the CEO did a bang-up job withholding critical information and convincing the Livestock Committee to agree with him that the barns cannot be repaired in time for the September 14 Fair to correct the damage done by his earlier renegade actions that caused them to now be UNSTABLE AND UNSAFE.    He insists it is not possible, but the California Construction Authority (CCA) inspector who has been involved in the debacle, disagrees.  Although the engineer from Donald C. Urfer & Associates chose to do a very complicated and expensive design to repair the unstable upright support posts, she could have designed a simple re-enforced concrete slab meeting State Building Codes, and the CCA would accept that method of repair.

This same CCA inspector has also been conducting the inspections of the new expensive electrical improvements in the barns, paid for by public taxpayer funds with SB 5 grant monies.

He said he was also very surprised when the CEO informed him last week that the barns were going to be demolished.  How can CEO Dave Kegebein state to not only the CCA inspector, but also the County, Animal Services, and Equine Evacuation leaders, that the livestock barns will be demolished when the Fair Board has not approved such action???

Write to the State leaders who oversee the Fairgrounds and attend the

July 19 hybrid Fair Board Special Meeting at 6:30pm

Mike Francesconi <mike.francesconi@cdfa.ca.gov>

Michael Flores <michael.flores@cdfa.ca.gov>

Samantha Diaz <samantha.diaz@cdfa.ca.gov>

And copy

Don Dietrich<dietrich@santacruzcountyfair.com>

Cynthia Mazzei <cynthia@santacruzcountyfair.com>

CALFIRE IS UNDERSTAFFED AND CANNOT MEET 3-PERSON / ENGINE STATE RESPONSE REQUIREMENTS

I continue to hear that this fire season, CALFIRE does not have the people to staff their fire engines at the State-required three responders/engine level.  CALFIRE/ Santa Cruz County Fire Chief Nate Armstrong alluded to the problem in his June 28 presentation to the Board of Supervisors “We’re hurting in the crew world, for sure.”  Social media posts this weekend regarding the Armsby Fire in Morgan Hill confirm it.

More Tweets from Zeke Lunder ~ The Lookout

There is a staffing crisis unfolding in the wildland fire world. Incident command teams can’t roster enough people to respond to large fires, and many that are getting staffed are short in key positions. This will be a major issue in 2022. Here are some firefighter perspectives

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Locally, this could indeed pose a risk of CALFIRE again using the 2020 CZU Fire fiasco’s mantra of “lack of resources” to justify letting our communities burn.

Think about that as you listen to what County Fire/CALFIRE Chief Armstrong told the Board of Supervisors during his annual 2022 California Fire Season Report in Item #7:

(beginning at minute 1:25:35  with comment at minute 1:26:45 that CALFIRE usually has 200 hand crews trained, but this year only has 60-70…the number needed for a single large wildland fire…”We’re hurting in the crew world, for sure.”)

[Meeting Minutes]

Contact State Senator John Laird with your concerns about the risks not being addressed by CALFIRE, and ask for an investigation as to why the staffing is so dangerously low:

email Senator Laird directly at Senator.Laird@senate.ca.gov

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION ON LOCAL FIRE RISK

Here is yet another good 2022 Grand Jury Report: “Reducing Our Community’s Risk From Wildfire: It Will Take Time, Money and Serious Cooperation”.  It is a follow-up to the 2020 Report “Ready? Aim? Fire!  Santa Cruz County in the Hot Seat” responses by the County Board of Supervisors.

To summarize the positions stated in those responses two years ago:

  1. Property owners are responsible for vegetation reduction on their property, not the County. 
  2. The County could improve its vegetation reduction activity on County-maintained roads. 
  3. County Fire does not have a plan. It coordinates with CAL FIRE to identify priority projects. 
  4. Because there is no funding for vegetation-management planning, the planning isn’t being done. 
  5. Priority projects are only done after grant funding has been obtained.

the County Fire Master Plan (pdf)

Ah, yes…there is that familiar CALFIRE mantra “lack of resources” again.  It was interesting that a member of the public raised the issue on June 28 to the Board and Chief Armstrong about the County’s violation of defensible space State requirements by failing to do roadside mowing anymore. (hear Mr. Deitch’s good testimony before the Board at minute 1:54:00 on June 28 public hearing

When Chair Manu Koenig asked Chief Armstrong about developing new emergency evacuation routes and maintaining the ones existing, the CALFIRE mantra “not enough resources” bubbled out again as a vague answer that also rolled in the statement that the FireSafe Council and Resource Conservation District advise CALFIRE about potential projects, but it’s a problem when private landowners won’t cooperate.

Rubbish!  And no one answered the question from the public about why the County doesn’t mow evacuation route roadsides for public safety.

Here is the link to that good Grand Jury report on what needs to improve for fire defensible space and reducing wildland fire risk in our Community

The report notes on page 4 that CALFIRE has not updated the Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) since 2007, and likely the risk severity has changed in Santa Cruz County and statewide.   Even the city areas are likely more at risk, because of changes in fire behavior…we saw that in Santa Rosa in the 2017 Tubbs Fire.

Take a look at the 2007 map, and see what your neighborhood was designated for risk.

Sign up here to get information from CALFIRE regarding work to update the FRAP assessments

Maybe something will happen soon that could help prioritize the State’s resources for emergency response, and you’ll be the first to know about it!

Write to the Santa Cruz County Fire Dept. Advisory Commission (FDAC)

Doug Aumack dougaumack@att.net, Melissa Scaliamelissa.scalia@fire.ca.gov

 The next FDAC virtual meeting is scheduled for July 20 at 4pm

Rushing to complete the County Fire Master Plan will likely be on the agenda (because it is expected to be completed by the August 3 LAFCO meeting), as well as discussion of the Grand Jury Report.

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION: MISUSE OF LIBRARY FUNDS USING MEASURE S TAXPAYER MONEY TO BUILD A COMMUNITY CENTER WITH NO BOOKS?

How can the Board of Supervisors justify approving the use of Measure S tax monies, which are restricted to improving libraries in the County, to build the Live Oak Library Annex near Simpkins Swim Center, when there will be NO BOOKS AND NO LIBRARIANS AVAILABLE at the facility?

Take time to read this excellent County Grand Jury Report: “How a Community Center Became a “Library”…The Transformational Power of Measure S Funds”.

It begins with this…

“In 2016, residents within the Santa Cruz Public Libraries’ service system approved Measure S, a special tax that, over time, would raise $67 million. As a special tax, Measure S funds were restricted for use in modernizing, upgrading, and repairing local library branches. 

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors elected to use Measure S funds to complete a Santa Cruz County Parks project which they call the “Live Oak Library Annex.” The Annex (currently being constructed) is about one mile from the existing Live Oak Branch Library. The Annex is, in essence, a collection of study and education spaces with publicly available computers and internet that will be managed by County Parks staff. Santa Cruz Public Libraries (SCPL) will not have librarians or books for loan at this location.”

Measure S Report (pdf)

Hold the Board of Supervisors accountable.  While the Annex Community Center is likely needed for activities associated with the Boys and Girls Club and the Parks Dept., it is fraudulent to use Measure S monies that voters passed with promise that the money would be used for libraries.

This Grand Jury Report illuminating misuse of Measure S tax money, along with the other excellent Grand Jury Report released stating that the Board of Supervisors never intended to actually restrict Measure G funding to matters promised on the ballot, should cause every voter to soundly reject any other tax measure on the ballot in the future until local government can clean up their act and regain voter trust.

Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, boardofsupervisors@santacruzcounty.us

and copy

Senator John Laird email Senator Laird directly at Senator.Laird@senate.ca.gov

LET AMBAG KNOW WHAT YOU THINK

This just in….

Interested Parties:

AMBAG is developing a Regional Early Action Program 2.0 (REAP 2.0) framework and we could use your help. REAP 2.0 is a new $10 million grant program provided to our region by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). This grant program is intended to help communities accelerate housing production, improve housing affordability, place housing closer to jobs, and reduce vehicle miles travelled in personal vehicles. In addition to these objectives, the grant seeks to address housing and infrastructure needs of communities, accelerate infill housing production to benefit disadvantaged communities, provide more transportation options, and affirmatively further fair housing.

 AMBAG’s eventual REAP 2.0 program will be driven by the State’s final program guidelines and a stakeholder engagement process. Throughout 2022, AMBAG will be conducting outreach to a broad array of stakeholders to identify programs and partners and develop the full REAP 2.0 application, due to the State by December 2022.

Please take the short survey to provide us feedback on how AMBAG should structure its regional REAP 2.0 program.  For more information on REAP 2.0, go here.

Regards,

Heather Adamson

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Please take a moment to complete the Associated of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) to let them know what you think about mandating dense developments without sufficient infrastructure to support it…and whatever else is on your mind about the quality of life in beautiful Santa Cruz County.

WRITE ONE LETTER TO PROTECT EVACUEES AND THEIR LIVESTOCK AT THE FAIRGROUNDS.  MAKE ONE CALL TO HOLD A LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL ACCOUNTABLE TO ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS.  

ATTEND A PUBLIC MEETING.  

JUST DO ONE THING THIS WEEK AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Cheers, Becky

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

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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July 10

BOTTA POCKET GOPHERS

Pocket gophers are an important and very common mammal in many habitats in our area, so it seems appropriate to learn a little more about them. Most people know them as pests of ornamental plants or crops, but they play important roles far beyond that pestiferousness. And, just look at how cute they can be – photo by Flickr user Chuck Abbe


What is a Pocket Gopher?
Why is this critter called a pocket gopher? No, it’s not because of some 1970’s fad of domesticating gophers and putting them inside pocket protector-lined pockets. BTW, this fad fantasy must include pocket protectors because gophers have sharp teeth that they habitually gnaw with to wear them down…without such nervous-seeming gnawing, their teeth would be 11″ long by the end of the year. This fad could really take off one day because pocket gophers are not legally protected by the State!

Back to the subject at hand…the ‘pocket gopher’ name comes from odd pockets that these critters use as their cargo containers, hauling soil or food. Those pockets extent from the cheeks back to their shoulders. Inside those furry pouches, they haul food into their burrow, creating food storage piles in a deep portion of their burrow system. This food pantry also serves as their sleeping, baby raisin area, so food’s close at hand. That makes me think that maybe there’s a niche for food-storing bedroom furniture for humans!

Local Gophers
Our local species of pocket gopher is the most widespread in California, and so there’s lots of information around about its natural history. Our species, Botta Pocket Gopher, is almost everywhere in the state except the high Sierra Nevada. Like most pocket gophers, the males of this species are larger than the females. So, it’s likely that the Jury Room sign that was posted for years ‘Home of the Giant Gopher’ referenced a male. Not that you’d try, but you tell pocket gopher species apart from where they live and then the size of their rear feet, the shape of their ears and the relative size of the dark area around their ear.

Territorial Gopher
Pocket gophers are very territorial, protecting their extensive burrow system which represents the extent of their feeding ground. The size of their territory depends on how much food there is, but they range from the size of a tennis court or, sometimes, you can fit 10 gopher territories in the space of a tennis court. If you kill a gopher, its burrow system won’t be vacant for long…

Waves of Dispersing Gopher Young
During breeding season, gophers become less territorial, allowing visitors into their burrows, which seems sensible for reproduction. Where people aren’t watering plants, and the summers are so very dry, pocket gophers have a single breeding season in late winter. They bear 2-5 blind babies (aka ‘pinkies’). Gophers kick these offspring out of their burrows as soon as they are weaned (40 days after birth), and those young have to find a place to live. Those dispersing gopher children are why folks suggest leaving root protection cages out of the ground 6 inches. That wave of dispersing gophers will try to occupy whatever burrows they find…including the burrow complexes that have been abandoned by other gophers due to trapping or old age. People think that our gophers only live 3 years.

Gophers Drought Solutions
Gophers are soil engineers and are so good at their work that they are known to be an important solution to California’s water crisis.

Some have suggested that restoring mountain meadows in the Sierra Nevada could store as much water as two new giant reservoirs. Part of this would be done with reintroduction of a different rodent, the beaver, but another part is already under way by the pocket gopher. Pocket gophers are excellent hydrological engineers, assuring infiltration of snow melt and rain through the soil through their burrows, which include specific drainage architecture. Gophers can drown and need to breathe air, so their burrow systems must accommodate drainage for the rainy season.

Native Meadow Gardener Gopher
The better local natural historians around us will already know about the super-diverse and super-interesting mima mound meadows around Santa Cruz. These are caused by eons of soil movement by gophers, which means that they are literally “ecosystem architects.” Atop the mima mounds, there are poppies, lupines, purple needlegrass and other ‘dry’ loving species; between the mounds there are buttercups and rushes as well as streams and pools of water weeping from ancient gopher mounds during the winter. Dry and wet gopher-created ecosystems in close proximity makes for extraordinary species diversity.

Gopher Burrows: Habitat for Other Creatures
All of those gopher burrows are quite inviting to other creatures. In other places, scientists have described insect species that only live in gopher burrows. I see a species of brown fly come out of gopher burrows around here – there’s probably much more to be discovered. Pocket gophers don’t much like to invite things to enter their homes, so they plug their holes with a distinctive soil plug. However, I’ve seen newts poised for nocturnal forays at the mouths of gopher burrows. Others have seen rare California tiger salamanders using gopher runs. Those tunnels would of course be cooler and moister than the surrounding habitats in the summer. I commonly see the aptly named gopher snake winding its way from one gopher hole to the next, only the middle of its body visible. If gophers plug their holes, how do the snakes find their way in? Somehow they know…I saw a gopher snake recently quickly and energetically ‘dive’ into a gopher-strewn dirt pile and disappear quickly. Many are thankful for gopher predators because of the damage gophers can do to human-plants. Gopher snakes and alligator lizards are the most effective gopher control, because they can get down in the gopher burrows and eat the pinkies, controlling many gophers at one sitting.

What to do About Gophers
There are plenty of websites with information about how to, and many tools to, kill gophers, but is there another way to coexist with these creatures? I have spent a fair amount of money and time killing gophers or protecting plants from gophers using buried metal caging, and I have a few suggestions for gopher coexistence.

Lawns are pretty much passé at this point in California, so how about letting gophers make their homes in what would have been a lawn? The only drawback I’ve experienced is the mounds of dusty soil that they pile up, making a mess of what I want to be level ground without trip hazards. Use a gravel rake and smooth those mounds out and you’ve got a great seedbed for wildflowers to sprout from next spring. Yes, with all of that soil disturbance, gophers are doing a great job of preparing wildflower beds – poppies, lupines and other wild pea relatives, new yarrow seedlings, redmaids, owls’ clover, and lots more appreciates that fresh ground.

Another thing to do is choose plants that gophers don’t bother. Colt rootstock for cherry trees is highly resistant to gophers. Wild rushes (especially Juncus patens) stay green through the summer and are so tough that gophers can’t destroy them.

A final solution is to cultivate meadow voles, which are superior at running gophers out of their tunnels. Voles like lots of mulch – put mulch around and voles proliferate…and the gophers run away (or die at the homicidal teeth of the vole militia).

I’d like to see more discussion about human-gopher coexistence, so these important creatures can continue to do so much good across our region.

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: www.greyhayes.net

Email Grey at coastalprairie@aol.com

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July 6

#188 / A House Divided?

I was genuinely thrilled when I saw the cover on the July 4, 2022, edition of The New Yorker magazine. I have reproduced the cover art, above, and you can get a better view by clicking this link. I thought the cover image truly captured what our national holiday is all about. Red letters on the left. Blue letters on the right:

On the left, “Black Lives Matter,” and one of those “In This House We Believe” signs, like the one on my own front lawn. On the right, an admonition to “Back The Blue,” and to “Thank A Veteran.”

In front of the house on the right, there is a plastic, artificial lawn. On the left, prolific natural growth – a pollinator’s paradise.

On the left, there is a “Little Free Library.” On the right, a home surveillance camera.

On both front porches, there is an American flag, and residents on both the left and the right are on their phones.

We may have different views, and concerns, but we are all Americans, here!

That is how I “read” the front cover image, which is by artist/cartoonist Chris Ware. That is the message I got when I just looked at the picture as I pulled the magazine out of the mail.

It may well be, though, that Ware didn’t intend his image in quite the way I saw it. He titled the cover, “House Divided.” I found that out when I opened up the magazine.

The magazine has published a brief little interview with Ware, in which he indicates some trepidation about the nation’s future. Ware said, in fact, that he “was buoyed by the brief flirtation with reality that the January 6th hearings have resurrected in a sliver of the G.O.P., but now the Texas Republican party’s vote to adopt a platform that asserts the illegitimacy of Biden’s electoral victory makes it feel as if something very, very, very bad is about to happen.”

Well, something “very, very, very bad” could be about to happen, and if Abraham Lincoln is right (and he was a pretty smart guy), “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

But let me suggest that the kind of divisions pictured in Ware’s cover drawing are not the kind of “divisions” that mean our house “cannot stand.” In fact, both the home on the left, and the home on the right, look pretty solid to me. We are “in this together,” I hear them say, despite those different opinions and views about priorities and politics. This is exactly why I was cheered by the image.

I think we need to see our differences for what they really are: differences. Differences of opinion – not different truths! That’s OK. Let’s celebrate those differences, right? We have to learn to do that. Wait! Even better: we know how to do that!

All sides can fly the flag. That’s what this picture tells us. We are all Americans here!

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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July 11

A NEED FOR COURAGE, CREATIVITY AND RESOLVE

After the recent spate of mass shootings, the dumbest man in the U.S. House of Representatives and beyond, Louie Gohmert of Texas, ranted about the debate on gun reform legislation saying, “Look, maybe if we heard more prayers from leaders of this country instead of taking God’s name in vain, we wouldn’t have the mass killings like we didn’t have before prayer was eliminated from schools.” He went on to say that most shootings were in Democrat controlled cities, so it’s their fault, and unfair to accuse pro-gun Republicans of complicity in the murders.

A political cartoon blasted the blindness surrounding the gun debate by pointing out that a recent E. Coli outbreak was related to Romaine lettuce, with thirteen people hospitalized, and fortunately, no deaths. The product was pulled from nationwide shelves within hours. In 2016, firearms owners were responsible for 38,000 deaths, and the intervening years have resulted in no action to ward off the danger. Yes, we’ll have our AR-15s, with Marie’s Chunky Bleu Cheese dressing, on the side, s’il vous plait.

A ban on military-style assault rifles, as were used in UvaldeBuffalo and Highland Park, doesn’t seem to be in the offing, though President Biden is trying to take the recent bipartisan gun reform to the next level by banning these weapons of war. He takes credit for leading the fight in 1994 to ban these weapons, but blames the NRA, gun manufacturers and their lobbyists, and ‘others’ for overturning the ten year existence of that law in 2004, even though mass shootings decreased in that period. Sadly, he will not get the support in Congress for the success of his efforts. Polling shows that such a ban is approved by 51% of Americans, somehow a low percentage which will surely go up as the carnage continues.

The necessity of such weaponry was expressed by Senate Minority WhipJohn Thune of South Dakota, in support of farmers and ranchers who must kill small rodents to protect their interests, with prairie dogs being named as an example. His sentiments were echoed by Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, who said his constituents need to protect their chickens from raccoons and foxes. The family of the AR-15’s inventor has said he would be horrified to know that his battlefield design is being used to slaughter children and innocents, so let’s hope and pray that prairie dogs, foxes and raccoons don’t start to proliferate in shopping malls, churches, schools, and during patriotic events.  And, we’ll have our AR-15s with a side of protected Kentucky Fried, y’all.

“The gun lobby has backed and bought a lot of opposition to gun violence prevention,” 
remarked Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut“The NRA is less powerful than they were, due to legal fights, but they still have the fear factor. They can intimidate.” The group’s continued clout was evident by the GOP heavyweights who attended and spoke at the NRA convention held after the Uvalde massacre of nineteen students and two teachers. CEO Wayne LaPierre described his organization as a champion of school safety, crediting their School Shield Program for helping fund and promote the “necessary security that every school child needs and deserves.” This program was launched after the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders of twenty students and six adults, NRA’s website proclaiming it to be “America’s Leading Charitable Organization Helping to Protect Our Children.” Leaked documents show that in 2021 the program was expected to spend less than $20,000, from their revenues of $282 million, or 0.007% of its income. These documents also show that Mr. LaPierre billed NRA $39,000 for designer suits purchased on one visit to Zegna in Beverly Hills. This is compounded by LaWayno’s purchases totaling $274,695.03 between 2004 and 2017 at the posh Rodeo Drive operation. The NRA defends these expenses as justified due to the CEO’s many public appearances…because he can’t afford to buy his own suits on a salary of +$1.8 million? In 2019, the NRA Foundation supposedly distributed tens of millions of dollars (but reported no grants under School Shield), only reporting grants to schools with competitive shooting programs. AR-15s with a Juicy Juice box and a couple of Oreos?

Texas lawsuit filed by a former NRA advertising agency, alleges that School Shield was only a ‘shell program’ initiated to accelerate fundraising appeals, with no intention, or worthwhile wherewithal toward validity. An early settlement for undisclosed funds avoided a trial which would have disclosed the Shield program and other facets of NRA activities. A primary recommendation of the Shield program was placement of armed law enforcement officers at schools, in the face of failure during the shooting at Columbine, where officers were present, and later, at Uvalde. Critics of the program note that placing armed officers at every school would “increase juvenile contact with the criminal justice system” and “increase the potential for injuries and deaths from firearms.” Other recommendations suggest drastic pruning or elimination of trees near buildings, removing dense vegetation or planting thorn-bearing or sharp-leaved plants, and hardening campuses by installing ballistic protective glass, and creating a single point of entry with an entrapment area. Senator Ted Cruz picked up on this theme by proposing just one door for ingress and egress, with armed officers standing by. Imagine the lineup before morning classes at some schools…by the time everyone made it inside the class would be over, or the day would be over. Or, how about a separate building for each class, with only one door each, having an armed officer or two? Schools don’t receive enough money to initiate such programs, even though politicians continue to tout the NRA’s proposals. Uvalde’s Robb Elementary received a state grant of $69,000 in 2020, and the presence of armed officers did not ward off Salvador Ramos‘s siege; and, increasingly it appears that throwing money at such programs has had no effect on the violence. Hopes and prayers were only an afterthought. The next time someone utters ‘thoughts and prayers’ after a school shooting, outfit them immediately into a strait jacket and send them off for a mental evaluation to the Institute for Hopes and Prayers Conversion Therapy!

A search for clear answers on the rising tide of bloodshed has experts looking at the factors of COVID-19 stresses, fraying trust between police and citizenry, anger at government institutions, mental strains of modern life, and obviously, the absolute numbers of gun ownership. Some say it’s the natural evolution of societies in decline, or, Tucker Carlson might blame it on the loss of testosterone among American males. Or addiction to porn, perhaps. The Fourth of July weekend gave us the Highland Park parade shooting, but also, in Chicago ten people were killed, and sixty wounded in a string of shootings. Across the country our pressure cooker society saw several more deaths and injuries, not qualifying as a newsworthy mass shooting because of ‘low numbers of victimhood.’ The Washington Post reports federal data on background checks showing firearms purchases in 2020 and 2021 of more than 43 million. Not surprisingly, the rate of gun deaths in those years hit the highest level since 1995, with over 45,000 fatalities each year.

Local leaders, law enforcement officials, and anti-violence operatives say the trend is settling disputes by gunfire, and not by fisticuffs as in the past. The Reverend Eileen Smith in Pittsburg says, “They’re not fighting, at least not outside of school. They’re killing.” Access to guns weighs heavily in this, and Americans are arming themselves from fears and divisions, scary public conflicts of gunfire, or simply because they know or suspect others may be armed…“I need a gun because everyone else around me has a gun.” The frequency of nonfatal shootings and deaths has become a uniquely American phenomenon. Other countries have people living in unfavorable circumstances, who may be angry or alienated, but guns are absent. Behavioral scientist, Andrew Morral at the Rand Corporation says rise in gun sales might play a role. “But the real question in my mind is, is that the key driver? Does that explain a lot of the jump or a little of the jump? And I don’t know.”

Following a mass shooting, politicians are quick to bring up mental health, but research has established that those with mental health issues are a small percentage of interpersonal and gun violence, and are more likely to be the victims of such. This insistence of a mental health problem allows officials to distance themselves from the horror of the event, a way to explain a profound and mystifying occurrence without having to deal with it directly, validating a fake explanation…a person has done a terrible thing because they are mentally ill because they did a terrible thing. And, on and on.

Much of this lies with Second Amendment interpretations, with some politicians translating their zealotry into law. The rest lies with everyone who has yet to find the courage, the creativity, or the resolve to stop it. As filmmaker and activist, Michael Moore said, “Look, I support all gun control legislation, not sensible gun control. We don’t need the sensible stuff. We need the hardcore stuff that’s going to protect ourselves and our children.”

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: cornerspot14@yahoo.com
 

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. Viewclassic 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 TimEagan.com you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.

QUOTES. “TIDES”

“Life is a little like a message in a bottle, to be carried by the winds and the tides”.
~Gene Tierney

“The thing about literature is that, yes, there are kind of tides of fashion, you know; people come in and out of fashion; writers who are very celebrated fall into, you know, people you know stop reading them, and then it comes back again’. 
~Salman Rushdie

“Little ups and downs and high and low tides are there in everyone’s career”. 
~Randhir Kapoor

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This makes me smile. The entire crowd at a Green Day concert singing along to the music playing while they wait for the band, truly a joy!


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
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