BRATTON…City Council election coming up, Housing California, Movie critiques. GREENSITE… Muzzling Debate at the Council Level. KROHN…letter to librarian Susan Nemitz. STEINBRUNER…is taking a one week vacation. PATTON…World View #101 EAGAN…Deep Cover and Subconscious Comics. QUOTES…”Warmth”
ALDERWOOD RESTAURANT FIGHT.
TUBA SKINNY STREET BAND, New Orleans.
DATELINE July 20
CITY COUNCIL ELECTION TIME. Folks have until August 7th to file for the four seats and run for Santa Cruz City Council, as we are reading and hearing already. One good thing is that Cynthia Mathews is termed out. You can put campaign signs up starting August 5th. No words yet from Robert Singleton or Greg Larson, or from any of the women who have accused them both of harassment…we’ll wait in place. Present council members Kathryn Beiers and Sandy Brown are both eligible and we’re waiting to hear from them. So far we need to listen and take a good look at Kayla Kumar, development director at Food What? And Barrios Unidos too. And at Kelsey Hill with her background with the Lakota Peoples Law project but also with the Romero Institute.
HOUSING CALIFORNIA. Long time friend Iris Murillo from Housing California sent this urgent plea and information…
“Eviction moratoriums will expire at the end of the month. Amid COVID, job, and income loss, thousands of Californians are struggling to pay their rent and may have to vacate their homes. As renters try to keep a roof over their heads, private-equity companies are also preparing to purchase distressed multi-family properties as many foreclose in coming weeks and months. We’ve seen this happen before during the Great Recession of 2008. These companies ultimately hike rents and evict tenants including families with children, seniors on fixed incomes, veterans, and those with disabilities. The result is fewer naturally occurring affordable housing units available for low-income Californians. AB 1703 can help stem the tide of displacement by…
The three sponsors, Housing California, Public Advocates, and Stable Homes California, are sponsoring AB 1703. This coalition is supporting the legislation of AB 1703 that would provide renters in tenant-occupied multi-family properties the first right to purchase their homes and stay housed during COVID 19 and beyond. Renters with help from land trusts may have a chance to own their homes. This legislation is COPA and TOPA at the state-level — community and tenant opportunity to purchase first.
The Senate Judiciary Committee may hear the bill as early as this Saturday July 25.. We are asking readers to call senate judiciary members, who serve on this committee, to voice support for the bill. Please contact the legislators through this portal: email@example.com or call phone: (916-651-4113)
BUSHWHACKERS BREAKFAST CLUB. Every Friday morning on KZSC (88.1 fm or live online at KZSC.org) from 8:10 am-8:20 am or thereabouts I present my “B Movie Bratton” segment of short critiques (not reviews) of what’s on our screens. Dangerous Dan Orange hosts the rest of the Bushwhackers B. Club. Lately of course those screens are on anything but theatre screens. Tune in this Friday and hear my critiques of such monumental flops as KNIVES OUT. It got great reviews, has a very famous cast including Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig with the worst fake cowboy accent ever, and even Jamie Lee Curtis plus Michael Shannon can’t save this waste.
Horses ears signal how the horse feels at any given moment. Pointed forward, all is good and whatever you are doing is fine with them. Slightly laid back indicates annoyance. Flat back and you’d better watch out, move away or take control. Ignoring such signals can get you a hard bite or debilitating kick if you are at ground level. Other species have their own means of expressing feelings. Their body language is a reliable indicator. Only humans it seems are capable of duplicity in this regard.
It took me a long time in my 30 years working at UCSC in Rape Prevention Education to grasp the fact that sometimes people being nice was genuine and sometimes it was not. There is also a cultural edge that makes it more difficult to spot the hypocrisy. By and large, Australians are direct in their communication style with a little sarcasm thrown in to make the point. Little if any time is spent telling you all the wonderful things you have done but there’s this one thing that’s an ever so slight issue that they would love to discuss…when it’s convenient of course. Aussies get right to the point with scant regard for niceties. A similar comeback is expected. Whether this is a better or worse communication style is a matter of opinion. In Santa Cruz, it is often misinterpreted and you run the risk of being labeled “aggressive” or “not a team player.” Such terms can be exploited to discredit you and to further the other party’s agenda. Both terms have been deployed against me for that end.
I found myself pondering all this as I cut a piece of apple for a friend’s horse whose ears betrayed his slight annoyance at my taking too long. Oh, that humans had horses ears! I mused as I recalled the hypocrisy of those at UCSC who smiled and said nice things as they worked behind the scenes to muzzle my voice on behalf of rape survivors and marginalize Rape Prevention Education. The same was true during my tenure as a commissioner on the city’s Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women in the mid-2000’s. At stake, was revealing the horrendous track record of SCPD in its response to those who had reported rape. The goal was an overhaul of police practices. I took the lead in the effort. The pushback from SCPD was outrage. No pretence at playing nice and burying the facts since we had already made them public. They accused the Commission of manipulating and misusing data, which we didn’t, and they produced an apples and oranges response to discredit the findings. Council sided with SCPD, refused to appoint a blue-ribbon committee and I was dumped from the Commission.
During the process I was accused of intimidating staff. I asked for examples but none could be remembered. I offered to meet in person but no offer was accepted. Councilmember Cynthia Mathews from that day on vowed I would never ever again under her watch be appointed to the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women of which I was a co-founder in 1981.
Similar tactics were used to ignite the recall against council members Drew Glover and Chris Krohn. With a new council majority, for the first time in a long time, city senior staff felt themselves under scrutiny. They no longer could assume council would heap praise on whatever project they brought forward for approval. Under the previous majority, some council members even apologized for asking a clarifying question of staff if there was a whiff of a perceived criticism involved. You could smell the power shift.
Glover and Krohn asked hard questions of staff, sometimes with ears laid back and a touch of sarcasm. For that they received a public shaming and eventual recall. What happened to me 15 years ago informally has now been codified into city policy under Human Resources. A direct style of communicating, especially if it is critical of staff, can now result in a violation of the respectful workplace policy with that entry in your file. While the policy may or may not work well for workplace violations involving staff, its broad sweep is being used against people we elect to represent us as well as their appointees to commissions. It is a muzzling of debate, a shift in the balance of power towards the non-accountable, non-elected branch of civil society. Unless checked and changed, expect it to be used increasingly to achieve council as well as commission docility and conformity.
|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.|
AN OPEN LETTER TO SANTA CRUZ LIBRARY DIRECTOR, SUSAN NEMITZ,
Dear Library Director Susan Nemitz,
I have always thought highly of you, Ms. Nemitz. As a councilmember, I enjoyed your enthusiasm and I was caught up in your aura of positivity and can-do spirit. Additionally, you are a librarian and I’ve always had the greatest respect for those who promote reading and individual and collective scholarship and help people with their research needs. The library has always held a special place in my heart and to now have it at the center of political controversy, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and combined with the pain of a slow economic meltdown, I am shocked and saddened that you are pinning your Santa Cruz legacy as Library Director onto the garage-library concept. I’ve been involved with this discussion since 1998 (or 2000?) when public works staff wanted to build a parking garage at the same site, “Lot 4.” A hoax is being perpetrated on this community. The public was by no means supportive of the city council’s recent 4-2 garage-library decision. I believe you sensed this earlier, and many now already glimpse an evident looming disaster if this project proceeds. I do not believe the feeling in the community has changed during the four years of this discussion.
My question is simple: Why did you as a reasonable and thoughtful director not advise the elected officials to take a step back from this decisional abyss? I believe you had a chance. From my political now-spectator lens, this project is surprisingly similar to the way the desalination issue played itself out here in Santa Cruz. In that case, previous city councils wasted somewhere between $7 million and $15 million on consultants to study, aver, assert, and cajole the community into accepting yet again, a last century technological fix, but in that case, it was to address our water problems. It was soundly defeated at the polls, or at least a past council saw it that way and never again brought it to the ballot for an up or down vote as the original ballot measure as written would force any council to do.
It is absolutely the wrong decision to build the library-in-a-five-story-garage-atop-the-Farmer’s-Market-site. If it is ever built, it will be a municipal mistake of Titanic proportions. It is a political error that’s currently tearing at the heart of this community. Not entering into this library-in-the-basement-of-a-garage deal would have left a door open for more creative solutions. This build baby build action has created a kind of heartache that now throbs through this town like a sucker punch in the gut. What you hear next may well be the sound of an exploding collective community appendix. Whether that takes the shape of a divisive election, a lengthy law suit, or people chaining themselves to heritage trees on Lot 4, it won’t be pretty.
Are You a Betting Person?
This decision hurts for several reasons. First, it defies the will of the thousands of Santa Cruzans. The winning candidates in 2018 said they agreed that voters did not vote for a library-garage project, they voted to remodel the current structure at its venerable downtown site. Even immediately before the vote, hundreds more let the city council know that they stood four-square against moving our downtown library. (By the way, did the city’s pollster, Gene Bregman, ever poll residents to find out if they favored this garage project? That wouldn’t have been difficult to do. I believe it may never have been done because he would’ve found overwhelming support to keep the library where it is and NOT build a parking garage atop the current site of the Downtown Farmer’s Market.) There is a distinct smell of a fait accompli here being carried out against the will of the electorate. My sense—political, social, and psychological—is that this project will likely not be implemented any time soon, if ever. I suspect you might have 5-10 more years with the city? You have a chance of advising the city manager to pull back and begin remodeling the current library as time is running out on using the bond money, and building costs escalate daily as you are well aware. Knowing the deep opposition to this project and the anxious vitriol that has been stirred because of certain city bureaucrats (not you) contempt for the public, I sincerely doubt the current project will even begin before you retire, and I state this for several reasons.
Santa Cruz’s Fighting Spirit
I have seen many projects going back to the convention hotel that was once planned for our wonderful Lighthouse Field… and then there was the 10,000 housing units once envisioned for the Wilder Ranch site, and other development pressures on the Pogonip. These projects all appeared to be done deals until the most important party came to the table, the community. Those projects never happened because of the powerful sense of civic pride and political acumen harnessed by locals, UCSC transplants, artists, and visionaries who all call Santa Cruz home. In addition, the Dream Inn was never put on a planned steroid diet of concrete once local organizing began. And remember, it took more than 20 years of land-use shenanigans of various sorts to allow the La Bahia to degrade and finally, at the eleventh hour of decrepitude, the Seaside Company prevailed. It was a painful battle that did not have to happen similar to this one. A revamped and remodeled library could have begun this year, and still can, and you could oversee it as it becomes the anchor of our city’s civic core, complementing city hall, the civic auditorium and the Greek church. You may even still be able to cut the ribbon of a remodeled and revamped library if we hurry.
The garage-library project promotes and idolizes last century technology. It flies in the face of our Climate Action Plan and oft-stated green community values. While we cannot house our homeless residents (witness the withdrawal of the “done deal” purchase of the Seaborg property to house a 24/7 navigation center on Coral Street), we now stand prepared to figure out how to house automobiles at $75k per space? Surely this is a Fellini dream I am having and will wake up in front of Happy Boys farm stand inside the current Farmer’s Market and purchase some heirloom tomatoes after checking out books at the 224 Church Street site. I know you read a lot. You are familiar with the work of Franz Kafka? Frankly, this library in a garage, on the site of the Farmer’s Market, goes beyond Kafka. It literally pokes a metaphoric stick not only into the eye of our community’s relationships with one another, but this decision infects our democratic institutions by by-passing either a plebiscite vote, or in not hearing the incredible outpouring of letters, emails. phone calls, newspaper opinion pieces, and civic sense not to build the parking garage. Perhaps Kafka’s unfinished book, The Castle, mirrors our own unfinished garage-library story here. His story was about an uncaring bureaucracy alienated from the community and unwilling to respond to the will of the people. I remind you, The Castle was an unfinished manuscript at the time of Kafka’s death. This garage-library story is not over yet either.
Furthermore, the library-in-a-garage project may well end up costing more than any other that the city has been able to marshal the people’s efforts and tax dollars to create, more than the sewer treatment project and the police department building, more than the purchase of the Pogonip and Moore Creek Uplands, and likely, before it is finally completed, more than the city’s one-year of General Fund revenue of $100 million.
This community deserves better. If I were a betting man, you, the Public Works department, the city manager, and some members of the city council have just thrown down the gauntlet. The clock is ticking and the community knows it. It was an initial decision that roils the community’s sensibilities and will likely be one of the two or three top issues confronted by candidates in the November election. We are confronting so much right now. This library-in-a-garage-atop-the-Farmer’s-Market controversy did not have to be one of them, unless it was to be a community-wide vote. That could’ve sufficed, but now we have what looks to be a looming blood bath of community disagreement. Where will it end? Not on Lot 4. Ms. Nemitz, I urge you to implement your good will, indomitable spirit, and energetic disposition to help turn this project around, it is not too late.
Sincerely, Chris Krohn
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His term ended in April of 2020.
Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
Becky’s taking a one week vacation and will be back here next week.
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.
Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com
#201 / Worldview 101
Come October, I will be teaching LGST 196, the Legal Studies Capstone course at UCSC. The course will be given online. In other words, just to be clear about what that word “at” implies, I am not actually expecting to be on the UCSC campus in person. Wish it were otherwise!
I first began teaching LGST 196 in Winter Quarter, 2014, and I have taught the course every year since then. As I teach it, the class is focused on the topics of “Privacy, Technology, And Freedom.”
This time around, I will probably teach the course a little bit differently, given that it will be online, but students can still expect to be discussing government surveillance, facial recognition, social media, “big data” and its impact on politics, biometrics, the “Internet of “Things,” and how privacy is protected in our Bill of Rights through William O. Douglas’ famed “penumbra theory” (See Griswold v. Connecticut).
I have greatly enjoyed teaching LGST 196, and as I look back, I see that I have injected into the Syllabus and Class Schedule a lot of my own theories and thoughts. These are outlined in a very summary fashion below. Candidly, the discerning student could probably figure out that the course ought to be called:
Gary Patton’s Worldview 101
- – Two Worlds
I think we best understand our human situation if we explain that situation through what I often call the “Two Worlds Hypothesis.” That way of thinking about our existence suggests that we live in “Two Worlds,” simultaneously. First, we live in the “World of Nature,” or the “World That God Made,” if you would like to remember the traditional way of thinking about it. We find ourselves most mysteriously here on Planet Earth, and we are (though we keep forgetting it) absolutely, totally, and ultimately dependent on the World of Nature (the World That God Made).
Most immediately, though, we don’t live in any unmediated way in the World of Nature. We live primarily in a “human world,” a world that human beings have created within the World of Nature. This is “our” world, and it is the immediate reality we inhabit. However, just as a reminder, while we live “immediately” in a human world that we create, we are “ultimately” dependent on the World of Nature, which we most emphatically did not create.
- – Law In The World of Nature
The “Two Worlds” that we simultaneously inhabit are governed by two completely different kinds of laws. First, within the World of Nature (the world we don’t create ourselves), the laws that govern are descriptions of what must and will happen.
The “Law of Gravity” is my go-to example (but all the laws of Nature operate in the same way). You can’t disobey the law of gravity, or any of the other Laws of Nature. “What goes up must come down,” and it will come down according to a law that perfectly describes what will happen.
The fact that the laws that govern the World of Nature cannot be broken, and that they inevitably and exactly tell us what will happen when certain things are done, is the reason that we can be sure that the continued combustion of hydrocarbon fuels, according to our current practices, will ultimately heat the Earth to the point that our human systems (dependent on the World of Nature) will fail, and that human civilization will (probably) come to an end, along with mass extinctions and physical changes in the World of Nature that will remind us (just in case we persist in denying the obvious) that we are ultimately dependent on that World of Nature, and that the World of Nature is governed by laws that we cannot ignore, without experiencing the consequences.
- – Law In The Human World
All that is pretty glum news, perhaps (since we keep ignoring the laws that apply in the World of Nature), but there is another kind of “law,” too. That is the kind of “law” that applies to the human world that we create. Human laws, unlike the Laws of Nature, are not descriptions of what must and will happen in various circumstances. Human laws are prescriptions, written down instructions that we give to ourselves, telling ourselves what we think we ought to do (not what we must do).
A human law tells us to stop at red lights, but we can run right through them. If we ignore our own laws, there may or may not be a penalty to be extracted. You can run a lot of red lights before you either kill somebody or are killed yourself. Maybe that’s why human beings get in the habit of thinking that all laws are like that, and that maybe we can get away with ignoring the law. Human laws, yes! You can ignore or defy them, and maybe even get away with it. The Laws of Nature, though, are not subject to avoidance or evasion. What goes up, must come down!
- – Changing Our Human Laws
The fact that human laws are not “given,” but that we can change them, is actually extremely good news. If our world is “governed” by human laws (which it is, to the extent that we follow our own laws, which most people do, most of the time), that means that we can change human realities by deciding to change the “law,” the rules that direct and govern our behavior. Human laws are “prescriptions” that we issue to ourselves, telling ourselves what we think we ought to do.
We are not inevitably constrained, in other words, by any existing realities, within our human world. Again, this is quite different from our situation in the World of Nature. In the human world, what “goes up” does not necessarily have to “come down.” We can change the rules. Since our laws are “prescriptions,” that means that if one prescription isn’t working we can write ourselves another one.
- – Possibility And Inevitability
Because we can change the laws that direct and govern human behavior, and by doing so change what our human activities will accomplish, “possibility” is the key operative category in the human world that we create. To the extent that we can bring ourselves to change the prescriptions that govern our behavior, we can completely change any aspect of the human world. At least, that will be the effect of changing the laws if we then actually follow them. As I say, this is quite a piece of good news! Within our human world, nothing is “inevitable,” and anything is “possible.” That does include, of course, both our most wonderful dreams and our most horrible nightmares!
- – Human Observervation
We are, as human beings, born to be observers. From our earliest moments of life, we look around to see what realities exist, both in the Natural World and in the world that humans have created. If we truly understand the “Two Worlds Hypothesis,” and consistently recognize that we live in two, quite different, worlds simultaneously, then we will understand that the realities we “see” in the human world, are something quite different from the realities we “see” in the World of Nature. If we truly understand that nothing is “inevitable” within the human world, and that “possibility” is the key category for understanding the human world, then we will also understand that whatever we “see” in the human world can be changed.
- – Actors Not Observers
Because we are, as humans, born “observers,” and because the World of Nature is a reality that exists outside our own existence, and is a world that we have not created, it is a common mistake to attribute an absolute “reality” to the things we “observe.” That may be fine as we study aspects of the World of Nature, but it doesn’t work very well in the human world, because the human world is not something that exists outside of our own existence. Human beings have created and can recreate the human world. Therefore, while it is good to know what human realities exist, as we observe them (from greed to goodness and from racism to reconciliation), we must always understand that our human world will be what we “make” it, and that the human world is the product of our “action,” and that what we see is not a definition of what can exist. Observation is only helpful to us if we do not equate what we “see” and observe with a message that what we see is what must be.
Because “possibility” is the key category for understanding the human world, which exists as it does because human beings have created it that way, then we will also understand that whatever we “see” in the human world can be changed.
- – Individuals
There is another important realization that can help orient us to our situation in the human world, and to how we should conduct ourselves within it. We need, always, to be very much aware of the “I,” and of our individual existence – of how important and powerful each one of us is. In fact, each one of us is an independent and individual human being, and every human reality has begun, or begins, within the mind, and heart, and spirit of an individual human being. Our individual ability to act, to create, to do something unexpected and new must never be forgotten.
- – We Are Not Only Individuals
However, it is equally important to realize we are not just individuals. Thinking always from an individual point of view is a perspective error. While each one of us is an individual, we are also, inevitably, bound up with others, and are part of a larger community. No one can exist individually and independently. Our lives depend on others, and as we are more and more learning today, we are inevitably connected to, and are part of, every other human being in the world. To the degree that we have two political parties in the United States – which is the typical way we tend to think of it – we have a party that clamors to make sure that no one forgets that the “individual” is where everything begins, and that the ability of individuals to act is supremely important. The other party tends to emphasize the collective nature of our lives, and that we must, as a community, provide support and assistance to any individuals who need that.
Both/And! That is the truth.
- – Putting The Formula To Work
If the human world is something that we create – and not through a bunch of individual and separate actions added up, but through a collective effort – we are talking about a world that we create through “politics.” We are individuals. We are inevitably a community, too. We need to debate and discuss what to do. We need to celebrate the conflict and contention as we have different ideas of what we should, in the end, decide to do (together).
The process is called “government,” and in the United States, our process is called “self-government,” a process in which we all know that we can be, and need to be, involved. That is how we govern ourselves and create the human world we want. And, of course, we can change our minds, because in our human world, the “Political World” that we most immediately inhabit, anything is possible. We can decide what to do. Should everyone have health care? Should public lands be opened up for oil development? Everything is possible, and noting is “necessary.” We debate, and then we decide. Here is the “formula” that describes this process. After the debate, there is a decision. We make a “law,” a prescription that tells us what we think we ought to do. That is how we govern our human world:
Politics > Law > Government
As I say, these ideas have slipped into my Syllabus and Class Schedule for LGST 196. Frequent readers of this blog will have seen these ideas before. I think this ten-point ouline is a good start on a “worldview” that is worth considering.
But, of course, this set of thoughts is really just a start. It’s the “political” part of the course. Besides including a lot more about the World of Nature, I know that a “Worldview 101” course needs to recognize art, music, and the Three Commandments: Faith, Hope, and Love.
And the greatest of these is Love.
Love for all humans. Love for this wonderful World of Nature, this blue/green planet of oceans and trees into which we have been so privileged to have been born:
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 email@example.com
EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. Out of the vaults and into the dark, strange world of only you know where. Scroll low down a little.
EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s hot, new, current, 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.
Steve Hofstetter is one of my favorite comedians…
“Love your haters. People shed layers when they feel warmth.”
“It is no small thing to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.”
“All the statistics in the world can’t measure the warmth of a smile.”
“The glory of fame isn’t in having so many people know you, but in having so many people know you care. Otherwise, it’s like being drawn to a fire to find no warmth.”
~Richelle E. Goodrich
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Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060