Blog Archives

July 14 – 20, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Community Credit Union For Sale, St.George Hotel Not for sale, Rail with Trail news. GREENSITE…on light pollution. KROHN… UCSC and the way it used to be.  STEINBRUNER…1500 Capitola Road contamination, Newsom’s money and fire risk, Live Oak Library and addition issues, septic system rules, local state of emergency. PATTON…Critical Race Theory. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Stars”

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CATHCART AND FRONT STREETS 1959. Now the home of Crazy Crab, Ocean City Buffet and Sesame Korean Grill. Many name changes at this location. It was also the Pontiac Grill.
                                       
photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.
Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE July 12

SANTA CRUZ COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION FOR SALE. I remain firmly in the middle of all the shouting, booing, and general hoopla centering on whether or not the Community Credit Union should sell their building to the hotel developers. Their board of directors will be talking about it soon. Like any other business that becomes and remains successful, the credit union wants to grow and add new smaller branches, plus more ATM machines. For comparison, what if Bookshop Santa Cruz fell into a huge financial bonus and wanted to open new and smaller branches around the county….is that bad? I do not want any more hotels in Santa Cruz. We need low income/affordable housing, but developers, like Owen Lawlor and Barry Swenson and son, see big dough and a very easy/encouraging City Council that allows such detracting development. The Credit Union says,  “The Santa Cruz Branch building is quickly becoming obsolete in the context of changes in the financial services industry, customer/member preferences and the pending loss of all current parking spaces due to redevelopment projects planned and underway in Downtown Santa Cruz”. They also state, “The credit union will maintain a presence in Downtown Santa Cruz through lease or purchase of a smaller space”. 

If any locals think stopping a hotel in this space will change anything, please realize and admit that the money and power behind this hotel location will just be shifted to another nearby and close location. And yes, I’m a very longtime member of the Credit Union and was a good friend of Margaret Cheap who was a major player in creating the Credit Union. Matter of fact she and a friend were my overnight guests at my former Swanton Road home back in the day. 

Competition? Bay Federal Credit Union has grown into our area’s three counties, and still there’s Wells Fargo, Bank of America, CITI, and many more. They all compete for new money; who do we want to support? 

SAINT GEORGE NOT FOR SALE. After all the hustle, bustle and fuss about the future of the St. George last week, apparently it was for naught. I talked with Christin Coffin, the property manager, and she said that the change in ownership is just a paper move. That means that developer Barry Swenson (operating as Green Valley Corporation) the present owner, has given the property rights over to his son who works under the title of Baron Ranches, Inc. Christian said the residents have nothing to fear about moving, etc.

RAIL WITH TRAIL. Coast Connect and Friends of Rail and Trail released more good news. Their newsletter included… 

“Survey of Active Voters Shows 74% Support Passenger Rail! The independent data collection firm FM3 Research did a survey of randomly-selected Santa Cruz County voters to find out their opinions on passenger rail. They talked to a selection of voters taken from the county voter registration lists. FM3 Research found that 74% of the county supported moving forward with the rail and trail project! Check out all the details here

The TRANSIT CORRIDOR ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS Study for Electric Light Rail has been completed!
The recently released TCAA business plan has some pretty great news for electric passenger rail service in Santa Cruz County.

  1. There are now many all electric trains and street cars available today that we can implement, ensuring a sustainable, quiet and traffic free option along our branch line. In fact, the TCAA indicated that adding rail will reduce our local GHG emissions by 1482 metric tons annually, the equivalent of planting 24,500 trees and growing them for 10 years every year, year after year.
  2. We will be a part of a regional transit system, connecting to the state rail lines and Monterey rail line at the Pajaro junction. Imagine traveling stress free between where you live and San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles or anywhere else in CA or the USA.
  3. There are current funding possibilities for more than 57% of the total projected cost, this is fantastic at this stage of the project development. 
  4. Our neighborhoods will be safer and more walkable, the neighborhood traffic reduction achieved by adding electric rail transit is projected to reduce vehicle, bike and pedestrian accidents by 346 collisions every year.
  5. One thing is clear, light rail transit is an increasing priority in our community. Support has grown dramatically. There have been new endorsements from two city councils, several Democratic community clubs, local labor representatives, and many business and community leaders.

Unfortunately, the Regional Transportation Commissioners are currently split in a 6:6 impasse and have not authorized RTC staff to move forward with applying for funding for initial engineering and design work! The commissioners need to hear from us. Please click here to tell the commissioners you support taking the next steps to add zero-emissions passenger rail to our public transportation system.

For more information and connections go to coastconnect.org  

Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming 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.

SILVER SKATES. (NETFLIX SINGLE). This is a zillion ruble Russian production that is great fun to watch. No violence, no blood, just a costumed fantasy taking place in 1900 Moscow. It’s a fairy tale and a genuine break from all the brutal movies we produce and watch here in the states. The skating is wonderful and the story of a poor boy meeting and wooing the daughter of a rich power father is traditional and fun to watch for a change. Only 40RT, but what do they know?

XTREME. (NETFLIX SINGLE). The opposite from Silver Skates…this mess is violent, bloody, and pointless. It happens in Barcelona and when there’s a lead character who is as evil, ruthless, judo savvy, and talented…you have wasted even more of your time. Find any other movie to watch.

SOMOS. (NETFLIX SERIES).This is a confusing series that contains stories about a teen age girl football player, a handicapped boy, prostitutes and more all happening in the Mexican border town Allende around the year 2011. The movie tries to make real the lives of the hundreds of locals killed by a cartel that ruled that part of Mexico. It lacks depth and we are left with almost a documentary of this true story. Don’t tell anyone I sent you to it.

HOW TO BE A TYRANT. (NETFLIX SERIES). Narrated by Peter Dinklage this documentary series shows how evil dictators throughout history have used the same tactics to win and maintain control. Such demons as Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Mao Zedong and everybody but TRUMP are carefully explained. You’ll compare TRUMP tactics about every ten seconds while watching this “how to” lesson book. It’s a bit too cutesy to be classic but it’ll surprise you when you realize where the USA is headed with TRUMP being able to do what he is still doing. Watch it and take notes.

SOPHIE: A MURDER IN WEST CORK. (NETFLIX SERIES). (100RT)This brilliant and suspenseful documentary deals with a murder of a well-known French woman in a little far off town in remote Ireland. It happened in 1996, the Irish police/Gardi are involved from the beginning. The main and really the only suspect is a news correspondent and what is shocking is that the case isn’t solved yet! Accusations, confessions, suspicions, fly everywhere but the courts in France and Ireland can’t work together so the main suspect is still free and selling books about the case on the streets. A well worth your while way to wonder about the Irish Police. 

PRIME TIME. (NETFLIX SINGLE). It’s a Polish film about a wild-near crazed 20 year old kid in 1999 on New Year’s Eve/ Millennium night who bursts into a TV studio demanding to be put on the air to get his message out. The studio goes crazy, cops deal with him, (56RT) he takes hostages and it drags on bit by bit. The kid has a troubled past which is obvious but the ending and his message to the world will leave you guessing. Mildly approved. 

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, 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.  

THE LITTLE THINGS. (HBO SINGLE). Denzel Washington returns to the screens along with Rami Malek and Jared Leno in this cop versus cop versus a maybe criminal drama. Denzel is a cop in Bakersfield who gets sent to LA in 1990 where he has to deal with fellow cop Malek who is solving, chasing, shadowing, and beating a very suspicious, devious local jerk. (6.3 IMDB). Washington has to live with a sad and mysterious past that haunts him while he works to solve this serial murder case. Not a great film but Denzel does make it worth watching…at least up to the ending, which is nearly a cop-out.

THE TURN OUT. (PRIME VIDEO SINGLE). A very depressing but effective view of the sex lives of teenagers and truck drivers…especially in West Virginia. There’s a mix of religion, AA, and the main character is called “Crowbar”. This is a very real issue and more help is needed to change their worlds and their opportunities. No fun, but illuminating.

THE TOMMOROW WAR. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). (53RT). A science fiction fantasy starring Chris Pratt that has time travelers coming back to us from 2051 to help us change our future. The problem with 2051 is that monsters/10 foot lizards have pretty much taken earth over and they can only be stopped by a vial of special fluid. I recommend it if you like what you’ve read. It’s escapist, suspenseful, excellent special effects….go for it, with that proviso.

NO SUDDEN MOVE. (HBO MAX SINGLE). A very classy new film directed by Steven Soderbergh (88RT) starring Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Jon Hamm, Kieran Culkin, Ray Liotta and more. It’s about Detroit and secrets between auto manufacturers and is mostly true according to the closing credits. It is involved, well thought out, exciting, perfectly acted according to the Soderbergh style. Watch it ASAP and enjoy all the deep moments.

AWAKE. (NETFLIX SINGLE)  If you haven’t been terrified (or bored) by the covid pandemic this movie won’t help. (27RT). It’s actually a science fiction drama where something happens that causes almost all earthly electricity go shut down. Then it turns out that no one can sleep anymore. They go crazy, wear masks, and try various ridiculous tricks to remain sane. You’ll have the same problem only in how to stay awake during this mess…avoid it.

SAFER AT HOME. (HULU SINGLE) only (7RT) so far but I predict that this one could catch on. Some friends get together on at least four Zoom cameras and celebrate the Covid pandemic by taking Ecstasy pills. The characters aren’t that well developed, and their actions aren’t too credible but just the filming with different cameras from unusual vantage points makes some interesting possibilities even when it’s set in the year 2022. 

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)

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July 12

A GLARING EXAMPLE
Rarely does a bank get singled out for praise but praise is due to the property and project managers of the US Bank Branch at 110 N. Morrissey Blvd. When a member of the International Dark-sky Association (IDA), Santa Cruz Chapter (of which I am a member) brought to the bank’s attention the light pollution blasting from the numerous wall pack lights on the bank’s periphery, the project manager bought replacement, properly shielded wall pack lights, and the difference is captured in the before and after photos below.


Andy Kreyche: IDA Santa Cruz

Andy Kreyche: IDA Santa Cruz

Eliminating light pollution is not simply an aesthetic preference. It is increasingly being recognized as a significant source of human sleep deprivation, human health problems documented by the AMA; a disruptor of avian migration; a killer of migratory birds; a cause of the rapid decline in insect populations as well as negatively affecting the life cycles of plants. To quote from the IDA website, which is an excellent resource for learning about light pollution:

“For billions of years, all life has relied on Earth’s predictable rhythm of day and night. It’s encoded in the DNA of all plants and animals. Humans have radically disrupted this cycle by lighting up the night. Plants and animals depend on Earth’s daily cycle of light and dark rhythm to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, sleep and protection from predators. Scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night has negative and deadly effects on many creatures including amphibians, birds, mammals, insects and plants.”

Not only does light pollution negatively impact all life, in less than 100 years, the bright starry night sky including our own galaxy, which was previously visible with the naked eye, has been lost to over 99% of people in the USA and Northern Europe. This brightening of the night sky with artificial light is termed “skyglow.”  For children born today it essentially is the night sky; featureless, with a yellowish glow that never really gets dark.  

The good news is that it is one of the easiest pollutions to fix and reverse. Just turn off the switch! Of course nothing involving humans is ever quite that easy.

We have become conditioned to believe that light equals safety so the more the better. Perhaps there is an evolutionary sense of safety around a night fire but we have gone a bit too far in that direction by trying to erase all darkness. Corporate interests capitalize on light to display and persuade. Poorer communities are often the most impacted by light pollution but it is largely a product of greater affluence.

As is documented on the IDA website, overly bright lights, especially LED’s, if not properly shielded make it difficult to see due to the glare and create adjacent deep shadows where a person with bad intentions can remain hidden. Forty years ago as a new staff at UCSC and in charge of Rape Prevention Education, I intervened to dissuade the administration from changing the lights in the small wooden bus shelters from the soft low wattage to a brightly lit alternative. The logic was obvious, at least to me.  A brightly lit person in a bus shelter is an easier target for someone to evaluate and surprise. The person in the bus shelter cannot see out into the darkness due to overly bright lights within. I was successful and the lights were not changed, at least during my 30 years, nor were there ever any reports of attacks on women at night while waiting at bus shelters.  Much of the education I did with new students was to reassure them that the dark woods and softly lit paths on campus were not the sites of sexual assaults. Those sites were parties, usually well lit, loud and populated. It was difficult then to overcome the myths associated with the dark and that hasn’t changed. What has changed is far more light pollution emanating from the City on a Hill, something that IDA Santa Cruz is trying to address. With the return of students will come the return of the rugby field lights that create a massive source of glare for the town and can be seen from 4 miles south along Highway 1. UCSC’s motto of Fiat Lux: Let There Be Light should not extend beyond the metaphor of learning and education. Or maybe the educators need educating.

There are many examples of light pollution in the city of Santa Cruz and far more skyglow than in previous decades. Car lots, ball fields, bridge lights, businesses, private homes, even city hall are all sources. This, despite the fact that the city’s General Plan mandates the city take steps to reduce light pollution and create a Dark-Sky Ordinance. Other cities have adopted such ordinances with good effect. Our reputation as an environmentally aware city is questionable in this regard. 

Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel, well shielded, with dimmer and off-switch. IDA Santa Cruz recently worked with city Public Works to ensure that the new lights planned for both sides of the San Lorenzo River levee, the area that currently has no lights, be properly shielded, of warmer color temperature and equipped with adaptive controls. While not everything we suggested was adopted, there was progress achieved. Next focus is the bridge lights.

Rather than community members taking on one source of light pollution at a time, as with the U.S. Bank, far more progress could be made if the city council adopted a model Dark-sky Ordinance and enforced it.  If you would like to get more involved, or share a light pollution example, or find out how to get the city to better shield your street light, you can reach IDA Santa Cruz at: www.santacruzdarksky.org   

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 12

UCSC AND THE WAY IT USED TO BE.
The not so big secret up on The City on a Hill these days is that many (most?) graduate students prefer to work and live remotely because of the high cost of housing in Surf City.  According to the UCSC administration web site, there were 1,954 graduate students out of a total campus population of 19,161 (2020). The fact is, lots of grad students simply will not be physically present when September rolls around and classes begin, in-person, this fall. Of course, talk is also around will it be safe? Will everyone be vaccinated? Will campus be fully operational and open? The short answer from the UC administration is yes, you must be vaccinated and classes will be in-person, but many graduate student teaching assistants will likely attend their seminars and teach remotely, on Zoom presumably. There seems to be support among faculty for this too, as on-line learning seemed to go well from a UC bureaucracy perspective during this past year of pandemic learning. Teaching assistantship salaries were increased slightly following the February 2020 wildcat strike, but the extra cash still disadvantages grad students when compared to much lower rent regions like Merced or Ann Arbor, or even Chicago. Fellowships and teaching assistantships do not go very far in Santa Cruz when studios go for $1500-$1800 and one-bedroom apartments can be $2500 per month. The current TA salary should be around $2500 per month this year. So, at least for the fall quarter, graduate students on campus may be scarce. No one seems to know how many undergrads may choose to live at home and attend remotely either. Everyone I’ve talked to acknowledges the inferior quality of education students receive via zoom. Some students say they prefer Zoom, but the vast majority do not and long to get back to live campus classes. The silver lining here may be that if enough students stay away, apartment rents may become more stable, but still will likely not be coming down anytime soon. Supply and demand is not working in Santa Cruz because as supply increases, rents have actually gone up. Explain that Mr. Adam Smith! Building thousands more apartments may be beneficial for those looking for a second (or third!) home, but it does nothing to actually help the financially-strapped student, let alone the struggling family seeking to stay in Santa Cruz.

Housing Refugees, Santa Cruz to Chicago

This past week I was in Chicago and ran into a couple of Santa Cruz housing refugees working at the Trader Joe’s in Hyde Park, right down the street from the University of Chicago campus. I was as surprised to encounter them, as you might be reading this account. I casually said to the cashier, Ethan, “Most Trader Joe’s employees where I live in California are still wearing masks.” (as he was not). He asked, “What part of California do you live in?” I said, “Santa Cruz”. “Really? I’m from Santa Cruz!” he replied. “Where?”, I asked. “Scotts Valley.” 

Ethan moved here last September because of the high cost of housing. He couldn’t get out of his parents’ home so he decided to take his chances on the Chicago housing market. He said he now lives in a studio, “almost as big as a one bedroom, for $700 a month, and that includes the heating bill.” He introduced me to another employee, Sarah (both did not want to offer their last names), also from Santa Cruz. She said, along with her boyfriend also from Santa Cruz, they had been paying $1650 for the master bedroom in a shared house with students in Felton. The couple began paying $1350 for a downtown one-bedroom apartment next to the Trump hotel in downtown Chicago when they first arrived. It was a kind of luxury apartment she said. The couple more recently decided to move to a $1000 per month large one-bedroom apartment to be closer to her Trader Joe’s job where she earns $16 an hour. I asked if she could pay the rent on her TJ’s salary. “It would be tight if my boyfriend was not also working, but I could pay it, but now I can save something.” Ethan had some advice for those still living in the Cruz. If you’re breaking even, or even going into debt in Santa Cruz you should leave. It’s not worth it. It can be better elsewhere, he said.

Santa Cruz, Before
I was looking for a summer read for the long train ride to Chicago last week and came across an ancient text, The Underground Guide to the College of Your Choice. It was published by Signet Classics in 1971 and the author is Susan Berman. I remembered finding it in a scrum of books at one of our neighborhood reading kiosks you now see all over town, but I had never really looked at it. Written inside the cover it says, “To Anne, Isn’t college fun????” It is an eye-opening account of college coming out of the 1960’s, not just for its dated language, sections are titled “Sergeant Pepper Section,” and “Academic Bullshit,” along with one on “Bread” (how much it costs), but also for the bygone era it describes. Eight UC campuses are covered in the book in about two pages each. Berman writes that “UCLA is the school of clean hippies,” and “[E]veryone wants to be cool and they try but their clothes are the newest hip and their mind is the plastic hip. When they visit Berkeley they are afraid of picking up germs.” (p. 63) Of Santa Cruz she says, “Santa Cruz is highly experimental unstructured campus just ten years old. No grades are given. The school is located on the coast of California on 2,000 wooded acres. Flowers, woods and meadows abound. ‘Power to the imagination’ describes the campus which is modeled after the Oxford system of ‘cluster colleges.'” I excerpt a good portion of Berman’s description here about UCSC as it helps to reflect on some of the ideals and way of life that used to be, what we have become, and where we might be going as a college town and California beach community. Berman’s writing is like finding notes in a bottle, washed up onto Main Beach and found while jogging.

Sergeant Pepper Section:
Admission is highly selective for 3,000 students; the average board’s scores of incoming freshmen are 630. Less than 5% are Third World and foreign students. 65% of students live in dormitories.

Academic Bullshit:
The “cluster college” system makes for an intense course of study. There are six colleges, each with a specialty such as Social Science, or Performing Arts. The graduate school is miniscule although a Ph.D. in the “History of Consciousness” is offered…Several undergraduate courses are favorites including “Wine Appreciation” and courses in ethnic studies…Students can teach and initiate courses within the system…No grades are given and the academic environment is highly responsive to student desires…

Bread:
Since most students live in the plush, colorful dorms, it is an expensive place to learn. Dorms run $1200 a year, have few regulations. Off-campus housing is cheaper and students are beginning to group together and rent farms. 7-15 students can go in together on this–it’s a very groovy idea. Cars aren’t necessary as an orange tram called the “elephant train” transports students around campus. Hitching is popular. Date costs are miniscule–coffee or nature dates in the woods are the usual. Old, sloppy clothes are worn. The work-study program is severely limited. Loans and scholarships are scarce. No community jobs.

Brothers and Sisters
Ratio cats: chicks–1 : 1.
Most are backwoods, hip, into natural environment, hiking, health foods and the outdoors. A full set of hair (head and face) is necessary for a cat. Hand-me-downs and ponchos for chicks. Kilo cleaning parties are preferred to powderpuff football.

Dating and going together aren’t the most popular alternatives. Most people prefer doing things in small groups of around six…Greeks are nonexistent…It’s a suitcase school–a lot of weekend traveling…There is a highly vocal movement…No one has ever been arrested (it’s true) and local pigs have not yet been noted on campus. It’s radical but apathetic because of location. Santa Cruz struck against Nixon’s Cambodia policy.

Survival:
A lid goes for $12, a cap of acid or a dose of mescaline is $2.50. No birth control devices are available as there is no Planned Parenthood in the area. No mental health counseling–progress is hurting in these areas. Abortion referrals are through the grapevine only. Draft counseling through The Resistance…Pets are all about…Local hangs are the “Bookshop” and the “Catalyst” in the city of Santa Cruz…The school has an underground paper,”Stevenson Libre” in addition to a community underground paper, “Free Spaghetti Dinner.” Foreign flicks and art flicks are at the Nickelodeon.

Environment:
Mental–The environment is heavy with nature-loving types. They are into growing things and wood sculpture. Read seed catalogues, Autobiography of Malcolm X and Buckminster Fuller before you come.

Physical–The campus is the most beautiful one in California…The rainy season is heavy with a little fog but just serves as a refreshing element…No noise or pollution.

Wow, have things changed…

“Tell ‘em loud and proud girl! GOP will strip your unemployment protections and dismantle any semblance of a public safety net we have left! Then make working people pay way more for everything on low wages while Wall St gets a meal ticket! Good ol conservative values baby!” (July 10)

(By the way, if you want to know what the Alexandria Ocasio Cortez vision is, go to this Vanity Fair article from Dec. of 2020.)


I was not aware of this Warhol until last week when I encountered it at the Art Institute in Chicago. “A Little Race Riot” by Andy Warhol, 1964.

(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 16 years. Krohn was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. That term ended when the development empire struck back with luxury condo developer money combined with the real estate industry’s largesse. They paid to recall Krohn and Drew Glover from the Santa Cruz city council in 2019.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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July 12

STATE WATER QUALITY CONTROL BOARD ADVISES 132 PROPERTY OWNERS NEAR 1500 CAPITOLA ROAD NEIGHBORHOOD TO DO THEIR OWN TESTING FOR CONTAMINATION
If you live or work near the affordable housing project at 1500 Capitola Road, which will include a low-cost medical clinic and Dientes clinic, beware of possible soil and groundwater contamination problems.  The State is asking that people pay “out of pocket” to do their own testing so the State can get better data???  Strange but true, and the State mailed notices to advise such

Those impacted should receive a physical notice in the mail, which was sent out Tuesday, according to the state board.
To check if your home or workplace may be impacted, review the water board notices at bit.ly/3d9cBgD and navigate to site maps/documents. If a resident’s home or business is located within the notice’s “Site Location & Investigation Area” map, its possible dry cleaning solvent contamination could be present.

The notices, in total, were sent to 132 entities, including landlords, tenants and residents, as well as homeowner’s associations, according to Dan Niles an engineering geologist with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, who’s overseeing the investigation.

Contact Supervisor Manu Koenig with your thoughts: Manu.Koenig@santacruzcounty.us

COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION TO CONSIDER LIVE OAK LIBRARY ANNEX, PAID FOR BY MEASURE S LIBRARY MONIES TO FUND NEW RECREATION DEPT. ADDITION
When voters approved Measure S to fund libraries, we thought it would fund libraries, but that is not proving to be the case!  Consider the current plan to dump $5,750,600 in Measure S monies to remodel the Parks Dept. space at Simpkins Swim Center.

Make sure you weigh in on this matter when it is considered by the County Planning Commission this Wednesday, July 14

Consider this…..

From the Parks Dept. website: Park Projects

From the Board of Supervisor Agenda Packet of December 10, 2019   which included  excellent public correspondence re: Measure S funding most  of the Project, with vague disclosures, no library staff planned, and poor attendance at community meetings.

“Financial Impact
This action will add $591,625 to the existing agreement for professional services. The source of funding for the Live Oak Library Annex Project is the Santa Cruz Libraries Facilities Financing Authority, Measure S for Libraries ($5,750,600) and the County Library Fund ($302,340) with sufficient funds available in GL Key 191405. The project funding total is $6,052,940.”  Elsewhere it is stated the total project cost would be $7,050,000.

Indeed, why are Measure S funds being used to seemingly remodel the Parks facility?

“The proposed library annex would be added to the existing recreation facility and community center as part of the Simpkins Swim Center facilities.”

Also, it will remove handicap parking that I see used heavily during swim hours and community meetings that happen at the Swim Center.  It will remove 11 trees, but only replace 8.

“Grading of approximately 570 cubic yards (cut) and 420 cubic yards (fill) is proposed to prepare the site for the project. The existing circular driveway is proposed to be modified to remove the circular component and seven adjacent parking spaces to accommodate the proposed addition and hardscape improvements at the new front entry to the swim center building. Adequate parking will remain in the main parking area, with sufficient parking for the swim center, library annex, administrative offices, and the adjacent Schwan Lake trails.”

Here are the plans for the proposed Live Oak Library Annex at Simpkins Swim Center

COMMENT ON SEPTIC SYSTEM RULES THAT WILL MAKE RURAL LIVING OUT OF REACH FOR MOST
Here is a summary of the significant changes to the County’s septic system rules.  Many areas would become unbuildable…isn’t that called “a taking”?

Write Environmentalhealth@santacruzcounty.us with “LAMP COMMENT” in the subject line right away.

COMMENT ON COUNTY LOCAL HAZARD MITIGATION PLAN BY JULY 23

WHAT IS A VENDORLESS VENDOR?
This term appears many, many times in the County’s Budget, and often involves hundreds of thousands of dollars.  This seems incredibly vague to me, and makes the County Budget lack public transparency.  Here is the reply I received from County Auditor-Controller Ms. Edith Driscoll, when I inquired about the matter: 

Ms. Steinbruner,

A vendorless vendor is listed for contracts that require multiple vendors to fill the needs of the contract. So, one larger amount can be encumbered for the contract with multiple contractors/vendors. When the various contractors submit their invoice, the dollar amount is extracted from the contract and then the vendor number is changed to pay against that vendor.

Best Regards, Edith Driscoll

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS EXTEND LOCAL STATE OF EMERGENCY ONE LAST TIME

Keep that money flowing in…..

DOC-2021-563 Adopt resolution extending for thirty (30) days the proclamation of a Local Emergency by the County Administrative Officer and declaration of a Local Health Emergency by the County Health Officer related to the CZU August Lightning Compl

On the Consent Agenda Item #29 on June 29, 2021

Debris removal under the Government Program began in late 2020. As of June 24, 2021, CalOES and their contractors have removed debris from 652 parcels. Soil sampling has been approved at 648 of these parcels and erosion control has been implemented at 638 parcels. A small number of the remaining parcels were deemed ineligible for participation because they did not have a qualifying structure or qualifying trees, etc.

As of June 24, 2021, EH has certified the clearance of 594 parcels under the Government Program and 166 parcels under the Private Contractor Program, for a total number of 760 cleared properties to date.

This will be the last extension necessary for the local emergency and local health emergency, as Phase II work is nearly completed and CalOES will be concluding their work at the end of June. Progress on Phase II cleanup conducted by CalOES can be found here.

COUNTY GETS EVEN MORE MONEY THAN ANTICIPATED

Background

On April 13, 2021, the Board approved the County of Santa Cruz ARPA Recovery Plan using an estimated $52.99 million of ARPA funds to recover $28.4 million in lost revenues and $24.6 million in COVID-19 related costs associated with the COVID-19 emergency. The Board also directed the County Administrative Office to return to the Board with an update on the ARPA Recovery Plan each month from May through December 2021.

Additional direction was given by the Board to increase the ‘Board Directed COVID Response’ line item within the ARPA Recovery Plan from $1.0 million to $1.2 million and to develop a framework to use this line item for three uses: $500,000 for expanding broadband access, $300,000 for supporting local apprenticeship programs, and $400,000 for local business support for woman and minority-owned businesses.

Update on FEMA Claims and Reimbursements

Staff estimates roughly $55 million of FEMA eligible costs have been or will be incurred since the inception of the public health emergency through September 2021. However, in reviewing the nature of these costs, staff has concluded that about 20% or about $11 million is at risk of being disallowed by FEMA. Should this occur, disaster operations may need to be reduced or ARPA funds would be needed to support continued County disaster operations.

Since the last update, no changes in the FEMA claims process have been made. Through May 2021, the County has submitted to FEMA approximately $25 million in eligible claims, of which $5.08 million has been approved. Of that $5.08 million, $2.2 million has been received by the County. 

A key component of the County’s ARPA Recovery Plan is the reinvestment into operating reserves. However, U.S. Treasury interim final rules now forbid the use of ARPA funds to be directly used to replenish reserves. In Attachment A, staff is proposing to eliminate the use of ARPA funds for reserves and instead use ARPA funds to offset the full cost of eliminating the County furlough.

AND QUICKLY……

WILL GOVERNOR NEWSOM’S $1 BILLION HELP COMMUNITIES REDUCE FIRE RISK?

It is looking more and more problematic for those who have lost homes in wildland fires will face mounting difficulty and opposition from the State Board of Forestry:  

Rural areas ask for help as California fire season heats up

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  JUST DO SOMETHING 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 9

#190 / CRT

Critical race theory is an intellectual movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour. Critical race theorists hold that the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.

Encyclopaedia Britannica   

“Critical Race Theory” (CRT) is in the news. It is also quite controversial. It is not a topic I find easy to address. However, as difficult as it may be to address Critical Race Theory, it seems pretty clear that we do need to address it. We do need to try to solve the puzzle that it propounds. In doing so, it is necessary to address the issue of exactly who this “we” is that “we” often mention as we discuss social, political, and economic issues. In other words, when I say that “we” need to address Critical Race Theory, who is this “we” that I am talking about?

One of my favorite phrases is the claim that “we are all in this together.” I think of this statement, first, as one that speaks to the profound truth of our mutual interdependence. Second, I think of this statement as a unifying way to urge all of us to engage in collaborative and cooperative efforts to address the challenges and opportunities we have in common. However, any claim, explicit or implicit, that there is an inclusive “we,” particularly if made by someone who is white, is subject to rebuttal by Critical Race Theory. At least, that is how I am understanding the situation.

Derrick Bell, pictured above, is sometimes called the “Godfather of Critical Race Theory.” Click on that link, for instance, to read a Wall Street Journal book review by Adam Kirsch, which calls Bell exactly that. Bell’s book, reviewed by Kirsch, was published in 1992 and is titled, Faces at the Bottom of the Well. According to the review, Bell’s book “blends the genres of fiction and essay to communicate [a] powerfully pessimistic sense of ‘the permanence of racism,’ [a phrase which is] the book’s subtitle.” As the review puts it:

Are Black people at home in America, or should they think of themselves as sojourners in a land that will never belong to them? Is racism a social problem that can be solved, or is it a permanent condition like mortality, which can only be met with defiance?

As I am understanding Kirsch’s review (since I have not read Bell’s book myself), Bell basically says that the separation of whites and blacks in this country into two different groups, never to be reconciled, is, in fact, a “permanent condition.” The review sums up the message of Bell’s book as follows:

In the conclusion to “Faces,” Bell argues that the struggle for racial equality is worthwhile even though it will never succeed. Like the French existentialist Albert Camus, who saw Sisyphus’s eternal effort to roll a boulder uphill as a symbol of human endurance in an absurd world, Bell demands “recognition of the futility of action” while insisting “that action must be taken.”

To the journalist and historian James Traub, who profiled Bell for the New Republic magazine in 1993, this amounted to a recipe for paralysis: “If you convince whites that their racism is ineradicable, what are they supposed to do? And what are blacks to do with their hard-won victim status?”

For his supporters and critics alike, Derrick Bell remains a central figure. Nearly three decades after the publication of his most widely read book, his stark vision of the racial divide in American society and history has retained its power to provoke debate and activism across the political spectrum. 

Kirsch’s review of Bell’s book prefaces the concluding statements I have just cited with the following discussion, illuminating the fact that Critical Race Theory tends to strike people quite differently, depending on whether they are white or Black.

Faces is, significantly, a series of essays based in “science fiction,” with Bell’s fictional stories helping to convey the points he wants to make: 

Not every story in “Faces” has a dark ending, but most do—especially the last and most famous, “The Space Traders.” In this tale, aliens arrive on earth and make the U.S. government an offer: In exchange for miraculous technologies that can heal the environment and ensure prosperity, they demand to carry off the entire Black population of the U.S. in their spaceships. When a referendum is held on whether to accept the aliens’ offer, “yes” wins with 70% of the vote.

Since the U.S. population was about 12% Black in the 1990 census, Bell is suggesting that the overwhelming majority of white Americans would agree to send their Black fellow citizens to an unknown fate. This conclusion reflects his theory of “interest convergence,” which says that white Americans will only act in the interests of Black people if it also serves their own interest. When the interests of whites and Blacks are opposed, Bell argues, whites will always choose to put their own interest first.

For Bell, this is the lesson of American history. As he observes in “The Space Traders,” “Without the compromises on slavery in the Constitution of 1787, there would be no America.” Similarly, after the Civil War, whites in the North and South sacrificed the rights of former slaves for the sake of sectional reconciliation. Bell suggests that the same thing would happen in the alien scenario, and the story ends with a nightmarish vision of Black Americans being herded onto spaceships: “Heads bowed, arms now linked by slender chains, black people left the New World as their forebears had arrived.” 

The image suggests that 400 years of American history have changed nothing in the relationship between Blacks and whites. At the heart of the debate over critical race theory, then and now, is whether such a view is justified. Ms. Alexander, author of the 2010 bestseller “The New Jim Crow,” wrote in the foreword to a 2018 reissue of “Faces” that “As a law student, I read nearly every word Bell wrote; as a civil rights lawyer, I was haunted by his words and ultimately forced to admit the truth of them.”

Other commentators have strongly disagreed. The political scientist Adolph Reed, Jr., whose work focuses on race and inequality, wrote about a conference he attended at Harvard Law School in 1991, where “I heard the late, esteemed legal theorist, Derrick Bell, declare on a panel that blacks had made no progress since 1865. I was startled not least because Bell’s own life, as well as the fact that Harvard’s black law students’ organization put on the conference, so emphatically belied his claim.” Mr. Reed dismissed the idea as “more a jeremiad than an analysis” (emphasis added).

With these long quotes, you are reading almost the entirety of The Wall Street Journal review. If Kirsch is properly articulating Bells’ message, as I think he probably is, then that message is very definitely a “powerfully pessimistic sense of the permanence of racism.” Other recent discussions reinforce this conclusion. 

Esteemed author Michelle Alexander, for instance, is quoted as saying that Bell is regrettably right in arguing that “nothing has changed” over 400 years in the relationship between Blacks and whites. This means, as I read it, that Alexander agrees with Bell that there is no common cause between whites and Blacks – and that there won’t ever be one, no matter how much whites may want to claim there is. In this view, CRT asserts that there is not, and never will be, an inclusive “we” that includes us all. When a white person says, for instance, that “we” must work to eliminate racial injustice, CRT would seem to label such an assertion as an effort to deflect attention from any real commitment by whites to do something that would result in actual equality. 

This is, for instance, what seems to be a major claim of Catherine Pugh, a Black attorney. She reinforces a pessimistic message about Critical Race Theory in her online article: “There Is No Such Thing As A White Ally.” For Pugh, white-Black contention and opposition is baked right in at the most profound level of our human interactions. Pugh’s companion piece, “Humor Me: Let’s Play “Spot the White Supremacist,” is withering in its conclusion that white efforts to denounce “White Supremacy” are really an effort (implicitly insincere) to distract attention from “everyday racism,” which is omnipresent in our contemporary society, and which none of the white people standing strong against “White Supremacy” have any intention of giving up. 

Pugh is writing on the “popular” level. Tommy J. Curry, now a professor at the University of Edinburgh, writes on the academic level. His article, “Will The Real CRT Please Stand Up?” warns readers that white academics are infiltrating Critical Race Theory, and diluting its essential message. It is critically important, he says, not to “cuddle white associations [in an effort to] advance the ideals of peaceful racial coexistence.”

Critical race theory is best construed as being a relentless and restless advocate for justice such that, to the extent that race remains a permanent feature of social reality, there must be constant vigilance for justice. There can be no determination of the absolute arrival of true racial justice; its advent forever deferred, its pursuit reaches no termination. Consequently, the insomniac career of critical race theory is one without end. 

Efforts to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory, particularly in the South – now a major political ambition of “conservatives” – can certainly be seen as a way that whites can avoid having to confront the endemic racism that has permeated almost every aspect of our political, social, and economic life. These efforts reinforce the idea that whites simply don’t want to admit the truth of the racism that characterizes our society. The Atlantic has a pretty good article on this topic, titled, “The GOP’s ‘Critical Race Theory’ Obsession.” 

Chase Iron Eyes, who proclaims his admiration for what Catherine Pugh has to say about purported white “allies” (namely that there aren’t any), nonetheless urges all of us to make an alliance with those striving for racial justice. His powerful appeal that “We Must Teach Critical Race Theory” is heartfelt: 

So what is CRT, exactly? CRT is not a curriculum; it is a lens and a practice. Simply put, “In the K-12 classroom, CRT can be an approach to help students understand how racism has endured past the civil rights era through systems, laws, and policies — and how those same systems, laws, and policies can be transformed.” 

Practically, including CRT in the classrooms means tearing out racism, patriarchy, and colonization — root and stem — before they have a chance to blossom. All Americans were raised under these systems and we continue to be affected by them today. 

It’s time to start teaching history from a place of truth. We have to be brave enough to lean into our discomfort. Right now we can deepen our allyship for our Black relatives and honor the next seven generations, not just by creating a “holiday” that acknowledges the enslavement of Black People, but by including CRT in our K-12 public school classrooms (emphasis added).

oooOOOooo

“It’s time to start…from a place of truth.”

This is the advice of Chase Iron Eyes, urging that we start teaching Critical Race Theory in our schools. That certainly seems like good advice. Starting from a place of truth is always good advice, whatever the subject to be addressed. However, without starting to sound too much like “Pontius Pilate,” what is the truth? What do we think is that “place of truth” from which we can address Critical Race Theory?

A profoundly pessimistic view of our situation is advanced by Derrick Bell, the “Godfather” of Critical Race Theory, whose views are seconded, in various ways, by the others I have mentioned in this blog posting: Michelle Alexander, Catherine Pugh, and Tommy J. Curry. These Black voices, all of which I came across quite accidentally, and independently, tell us that there is no inclusive “we,” and that the essence of Critical Race Theory is to understand this truth, and to admit that whites have constructed a politics, economy, and society that is unremittingly oppressive and unfair  to Blacks, and that there is no common humanity or common cause that can ever overcome this fundamental reality, and that can bring Black and white together in a place of racial justice. 

The “Dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was, apparently, just that, a dream. 

The most extreme statement of this view suggests that claims by whites that they want to achieve racial justice and reconciliation are either intentionally or unintentionally simply ways to perpetuate a world that has been constructed of, by, and for white people, and that white people’s interest is making themselves feel better, as opposed to changing the world to be more just. To repeat a quote from the review of Bell’s book: 

When the interests of whites and Blacks are opposed … whites will always choose to put their own interest first.

Is this “the truth?” Is it impossible for either a white person, or a Black person, to say “we,” and in saying “we” sincerely and genuinely to include everyone, Black and white together? The readings I have been doing seem to say that my statement that there is such an inclusive “we” should be suspect. Such statements, in fact, may be counterproductive. 

Because I continue to believe that “the truth” is that “we” are “in this together,” Critical Race Theory is making me think. And what I am thinking is that when I talk about the social, political, and economic issues related to racial justice, I had better not assert that “we” should do this or that

Where racial justice is concerned, in other words, it’s time for some “I” statements. What “I” will do, not what “we” must do, needs to be the focus of our policy prescriptions. There is a long therapeutic tradition that says that this is an important insight

If CRT helps to get us to such insights, it will be doing some good! 

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

    STARS

Remember here in Santa Cruz about ten years ago when we could see the Milky Way and galaxies?

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
~Marcus Aurelius

“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.”
~E.E. Cummings 

“We all shine on…like the moon and the stars and the sun…we all shine on…come on and on and on…” 
~John Lennon

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The narration is just a tad annoying, but all the clips make up for it. Pay attention around the 5:40 mark for a glimpse of San Francisco 4 days before the 1906 quake…


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
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
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