Blog Archives

June 15 – 21, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Beautify Pacific Avenue, train to Davenport National Monument, Friends of the North Coast, UCSC #2 in impact, Streamers & movies, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…on Downtown Extension Project. KROHN…Vote turnout, 3rd district runoff, Greenway and money. STEINBRUNER…City Water Commission, cost of water, new Aptos Library, County Budget hearings, AMBAG and housing. HAYES…Drying Grasslands. PATTON…a story about Alex Padilla. MATLOCK… Presidential medals of freedom gathering dust-heroes unavailable. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS… on Roman disappointment…QUOTES…”Birds”


VIEW OF THE SAN LORENZO RIVER, DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ 1967. There’s the Riverwalk Park, Duck Island, and Dakota Street. The “new” county building was built in 1968 so this must have been taken from part of the construction.

Additional information always welcome: email


BEAUTIFY PACIFIC AVENUE. Our Santa Cruz Pacific Avenue Downtown looks terrible. All those shuttered, closed businesses with sloppy, hasty, taped up, butcher papered windows is a disgrace. Starting with the former Andy’s Auto Supply, then there’s Logo’s, Palace Stationers, Peets, and the long time deserted Starbucks patio plus more. Why doesn’t the Downtown Association or MAH, The Chamber Of Commerce, or the schools do something to brighten up those windows and make our downtown attractive and encouraging? Get those great muralists to create windows that cheer us up, have schools put children’s art on display, Have a nursery create a growing display in that old Starbuck’s patio. People are coming back to Pacific Avenue, let’s think of even more ways to restore its charm and uniqueness. 

TRAIN TO DAVENPORT & COTONI-COAST DAIRIES NATIONAL MONUMENT. It’s just a matter of time now before we can jump onboard the new Rail Trail train to Davenport! I never saw a mention of Davenport as a train destination during that Greenway hustle. It will be a prime mover of all the locals and tourists who want to visit the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument which will be opening soon. This 5,800 acre park that was created by President Obama in 2017 will for sure draw nearly everybody when it opens by the end of this year. When Fort Ord opened as a National site more than 400,000 folks jammed in and the same will happen in Davenport when the Bureau of Land Management goes beyond its faulty management plan they submitted in March of 2020.

I’ve been making and taking notes on this for years now because that Park opening will make Highway One jammed like we’ve never imagined and no one has taken any precautions. 

FRIENDS OF THE NORTH COAST NEWS. The group Friends of The North Coast has existed since 1991. Go here to check out their remarkable and courageous works. We can all learn a lot about their views and concerns over the Cotoni-Coast Dairies National Monument.

UC SANTA CRUZ NAMED NUMBER 2 FOR MAKING AN IMPACT. Here is what we received as a press release on June 6. UC Santa Cruz named No. 2 public university for ‘making an impact’ Princeton Review has named UC Santa Cruz the No. 2 public university in the nation for students focused on making an impact on the world. The honor underscores the university’s commitment to encouraging positive social impact and is an increase from last year’s No. 3 spot. Go here for the full story. Later in the message we see… UC Santa Cruz was also listed as No. 30 on the list of Best Value Colleges (Public Schools).


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 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. 

A CHIARA. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (7.1 IMDB)  An absolutely brilliant Cannes Film Fest Award winner that is one of the finest films I’ve seen in six months. A 15 year old girl in Calabria which is “in the toe of the Italian Boot” has a special heartwarming relationship with her father. This story is so heartwarming and sensitive I don’t want to give away the plot. It’s filmed and directed in such a creative way you’ll be stunned and completely absorbed. 

THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN. (HULU MOVIE). (7.0 IMDB) Based on a true story this man agrees to have a noted artist tattoo a VISA on his back so that he can travel to another country to see his girlfriend. The tattoo is a work of art and he gets paid heavily to go sit in museums and display his back. He’s a Syrian refugee and Visas are part of his life. It’s curious, weird, and was filmed in Tunisia. Go for it, it’s rare and unusual.

JURASIC PARK DOMINION. (Del Mar Theatre) (6.0 IMDB) No they don’t go back to the old Jurassic Park but all the dinosaurs you’ve ever read about all are alive and devastating our earth. Laura Dern, Chris Pratt, Sam Neil, and good old and sneaky Jeff Goldblum are back. It’s an absolute mess of killing, eating, chases and its 2 ½ hours long. Because the dinos must face our terrible modern lifestyles and inventions we end up rooting more for them than the poorly characterized humans. Don’t go.

INTIMACY/ INTIMIDAD. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.4 IMDB).  A Spanish series centering on four women and their hopes, dreams and the prejudice they face coming from so many directions. There’s a video sex tape that gets leaked, a murder that goes unsolved, campaign for Mayor and a sneaky lawyer. Worth some of your time, and not a monument to cinema by any means.

DNA.(NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.9 IMDB) The old Algerian grandfather dies and the entire film focuses on how the family deals with his previous stay at the old folks home, then his funeral, his casket, and even deeper diggings into family differences. It’s not fun to watch and will have you plotting how you want your passing to be handled

AMSTERDAM. (HBO MAX SERIES) (7.2 IMDB) Billed as a comedy but hardly a laugh it’s about a couple who adopt a stray dog named Amsterdam in the historic part of Mexico City. I didn’t find any funny scenes, no jokes, and a bit more than pleasant to watch. I only could take two episodes. There’s another new Amsterdam movie streaming now with Anya Taylor-Joy which I can’t stream yet.

IRMA VEP.(HBO MAX SERIES) (7.4 IMDB). Alicia Vikander is totally absorbing and believable in her title role. It’s a remake of an earlier version all about and American young woman going to France to remake a silent film focusing on vampires. It has fine, delicate moments of comedy and some deeper connections that will play out in later episodes.

THE THAW. (HBO MAX SERIES). (6.7 IMDB). A Polish movie which usually means great details, fine filming, and good effects, and this one sure qualifies. A woman detective with many, many memories of her own works against most of her fellow police to solve. A woman drowned and was murdered and she also had just given birth so the task is to find the newborn baby before it too dies. Well worth watching. 

WITHOUT SAYING GOODBYE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB) Also known as Backpackers for some reason. It’s a Peruvian movie in Spanish about a rich developer who comes to a beautiful beach town just like Santa Cruz and wants to build a seven story hotel and demolish an historical few buildings just to make a buck…just like Santa Cruz. He falls in love with a beautiful local woman and it’s all about will she convince him and his rich powerful father to give up their plans. The ending is sappy but there’s a fine tour of Machu Pichu. Chalk it up as cute, traditional, and pleasant and don’t cancel anything important to watch it. 

HEARTBEAT. (NETFLIX MOVIE)  An Indonesian movie about a new doctor coming to a village and the many disappearances that happen. Turns out he’s a genuine sicko/psycho who collects hearts from live patients and keeps them alive in jars in his room. He seems cool friendly and handsome. It’s corny, predictable and has a lot of excellent traditional dancing. You’ll appreciate Alfred Hitchcock much more after being led through this predictable mess. 

GODSPEED. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.6 IMDB). This Turkish movie focuses on war and the terrible and deep cost in human lives. It’s about a guy with a prosthetic leg AND PTSD! He and a buddy rob a house and do off balance actions over and over. Poor acting, lousy photography, miserable script make this a flop.

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.  

TOP GUN: MAVERICK. (CINELUX CAPITOLA MOVIE). Almost anyone and everyone could have predicted that this Tom Cruise remake/update of the 1986 Top Gun would be the number one hit in the USA box offices…and they are right. It’s a genuine Hollywood action movie, and Cruise fits the bill. It was filmed in 2018 and covid delayed. Plenty of in cockpit action when the Navy tries to stop uranium being shipped to some unnamed place which is probably Iran or Russia. Old Val Kilmer is dragged into it and good actors Ed Harris and Jon Hamm are rarely and poorly seen. Not my favorite movie, then again I don’t like war.

NIGHT SKY. (AMAZON SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). It’s good fun to see J.K Simmons (now 67) in a role other than as an insurance agent in those infinite TV commercials. He’s paired with Sissy Spacek (now 73).  They are an aging couple who have a secret underground door to a room with a view of being on another planet…or are they? It’s touching, surprising and audiences are begging for another season.

LA OCTAVA CLAUSULA. “The Deal” (AMAZON MOVIE) (4.5 IMDB) An unbelievable hammy, contrived Spanish movie. A very rich couple brings in a lover and the three of them get involved in murder. Much sex, poor acting and monotonous posing by stereotyped poor actors. Do not watch.

DISAPPEARANCE AT CLIFTON HILL. (PRIME VIDEO MOVIE) (5.5 IMDB). It takes place in the tourist section of Niagara Falls in Canada. A little girl age 7 thinks she sees a kidnapping and is haunted for life as she tries to relive and even confront the guy she suspects. But she isn’t completely believable in her older years and has problems convincing both herself and the people she confronts.

JUNE AGAIN. (AMAZON PRIME MOVIE). (7.2 IMDB). A deep, sensitive, well-acted and emotional story of a 65 year old Australian woman with dementia. Her senior care center scenes will ring tears from those of you who have dealt with dementia. She is then struck with a long bout of complete sanity and awareness and her family has to figure how to deal with her new reality. She wreaks havoc on their lives and is heart breaking. Watch it.

OUSSEKINE . (HULU SERIES) (7.2 IMDB). It’s a sad and true story of an Arab boy who is chased and killed by police in Paris. It could have easily have been about so many police fighting protesters here in the USA. The boy was innocent and the police go to subhuman lengths to frame him and save their reputation. Excellent film do not miss it. 

FLAG DAY. (PRIME VIDEO)(5.1 IMDB). This is a full on Sean Penn production. He directed it, he stars in it, his daughter (with Robin Wright) Dylan Penn is his co star. Sean plays a counterfeiter, a bank robber and a wasted human. Josh Brolin is in it too. It drags on and on, strange flashbacks, hammy acting, run of the mill photography and not worth your time.



SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. Present their rescheduled concert “Gabriel Fauré and His Circle of Influence, Part II”. Playing those dates will be the Nisene Ensemble. The Nisene Ensemble are: Cynthia Baehr-Williams, Concert Director and Violin, Chad Kaltinger, Viola, Kristin Garbeff, Cello and Kumi Uyeda on Piano. The dates are Sat, Jul 9, 7:30 PM, and Sun. Jul 10, the Christ Lutheran Church • Aptos, CA. Go here for tickets and details…

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!!


June 13


As you read this the council vote will have been made (6/14/22) to move the Downtown Extension project along for its required environmental review. The picture above is a pretty accurate scale of the buildings promoted by Planning staff and council majority to be the future for the 29-acre site between Laurel St. (the current boundary of Downtown) and the first roundabout just south of the Warriors’ Stadium.  

The project includes a new Warriors’ Stadium that has garnered support from groups as diverse as Dientes Community Dental Care and the Santa Cruz Symphony. All accept the high-rises without question. I guess they don’t live on the lower westside or care much about losing the character, feel and sense of place that is Santa Cruz. 

Planning staff reports gush over how the tall mixed-use buildings, one at 225 feet or 20 stories (the tallest above is 200 feet), three at 185 feet and one at 145 feet will “reshape the Santa Cruz skyline, identifying the entire downtown as a vibrant urban center serving as an attractor and wayfinding tool for both locals and visitors alike.” That such out of -scale buildings will “create a new downtown skyline that helps define the city’s core as a distinct place with a strong urban identity” and “taller buildings serve as a beacon for visitors drawing them to downtown where they can support local businesses.” You want such people on your side as you tell the cop that the red light you just ran was really the rosy glow of the sun dipping into an azure sea.

How many of the 1800 units of new housing will be below market rate is unknown. That will be decided later. To be sure the Regional Housing Numbers Allocation (RHNA) sets an unrealistic target for new housing for Santa Cruz city at 3800 units over the next 8 years compared to 700 for the previous 8 years but that allocation could have been appealed. One gets the impression that Planning and Economic Development are more into promoting growth rather than balancing growth with the needs of current residents and the carrying capacity of this small city. It also seems poor planning to squeeze half of the required units into such a small area with very real traffic issues. 

Talking of traffic, the absence of any mention of it is glaring. It is probably the Achilles heel for this project and as such will be buried by staff and consultants unless the community digs it up and insists that it be addressed in the environmental review process which will begin after the council vote.  

State law has removed the requirement that traffic congestion be studied under CEQA (CA Environmental Quality Act) and requires only that VMT (Vehicle Miles Travelled) be studied. In other words, if the 1800 units of new housing translates into six thousand more daily vehicle trips on the existing streets of Center and Front, that impact will not be judged as significant since no extra VMT are involved. You can bet that staff will argue for that position. However, despite the state law, CEQA allows for traffic congestion to be studied if a local situation is unique and the project is unusual. IMO both apply here. If you live anywhere on the lower westside or are a business trying to make deliveries to the Wharf or are among the thousands of tourists in roundabout gridlock on a summer weekend, or an emergency vehicle trying to respond, you know that traffic congestion from 1800 extra housing units and many new businesses is not a non-issue. Even if you support the project, studying traffic congestion per se allows for mitigations to be included in the EIR and there are mitigations that will make a difference. We tried to get that message across with the appeal of 130 Center St. but nobody on council was listening.

If the community is not heavily invested in demanding a rigorous, transparent environmental review including traffic congestion, it won’t happen. The alternative is pictured above although traffic is conveniently gone for the day.

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


June 13


Official Turnout

Santa Cruz county voter turnout was kind of low during the 30-day mail-in ballot primary period that ended on June 7th. How low was the turnout? It will probably not be as low as in 2014 county primary, which saw a modern-day low voter turnout of 35%. This primary season’s vote totals will more than likely exceed that, but total turnout will probably be under 40%. I had originally thought the turnout would be much greater given the fact that every registered voter in the county received a ballot in the mail, and Measure D, the “Greenway Initiative,” was controversial enough to bring out lots of voters too. But alas, it appears to be a poor showing by voters.

June 7 Primary Turnout

It seems tricky to figure out just how many people cast ballots in the June primary. In speaking with County Clerk Tricia Webber this morning (6/13), she said there are over 35,000 ballots that have yet to be tabulated. She is hoping to add another 10,000 more countywide votes to the total today, Monday June 13, at noon. So far now, 40,716 votes have been logged, with another 25k-30k waiting to be looked at. Webber said she could not add the not tabulated number to the overall turnout number because she can’t be sure all those ballots are good ones, yet. The mail-in ballot process has certainly brought additional challenges to the clerk’s office. Many of us want to rely on the initial numbers of 18.1% turnout, as the California Secretary of State’s web site still lists. That is, as of election night, there were 18% of ballots received and counted. The county web site now states “24.29%” as the turnout. According to Webber, that will rise as ballots are opened and counted. So, back of the envelope turnout math will likely see the total vote count rise to around 40% of registered voters.

Hanging in the balance

We all must sit tight as the ballots are counted. The city’s 1/2cent sales tax, Measure F, which by all measures is an up or down vote of confidence on the city council majority, as of today, the NO’s have about 51% of the vote, but that is only 153 votes separating it from YES. The 3rd and 4th supervisor races are both too close to call and as of today’s ballot dump it looks like Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson will run-off in November against Justin Cummings in the third district, and Jimmy Dutra will face Felipe Hernandez in the fourth district race. No on Measure D, the “Greenway Initiative,” is like a runaway freight train, or commuter train…the NO’s lead it by more than 17,000 votes, 72% to 28%. Now that outcome is a real head-scratcher!

Greenway and the $$$ Trail

The number of Yes Greenway votes as of today, Monday, June 13th totals 11,045. That amount will increase as the remaining 25,000-plus county votes are counted. The reported amount of money raised for the Yes on Greenway measure since October of 2021 is around $470,000. That amount comes to just over $42.55 per vote. More money reports and updated voting tallies are on the way, but that is a lot of money spent on a losing initiative.

“Corporate Dems have spent millions in Democratic primaries in Ohio, PA, TX, OR and MI to defeat Progressives. They want a “two party” system in which both parties are owned by big money interests. The future of American democracy is at stake. Fight back!” (June 6)

Art Tragedy at Tannery Arts Center

How did this art piece outside of the Colligan Theater…

Become this now-charred ruin?

Unbelievable. It appears to have been arson and it is being investigated by the SCPD.

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

Email Chris at


June 13


New water supply projects will be expensive, but sharing water regionally using existing intertie connections is not going to be considered because “Conjunctive use won’t solve the problem,” according to Commissioner Doug Engfer.  Well, maybe not, but it would help when the water is available in wet years and not be an energy hog.

Instead, the Commission discussed four possible supply augmentation capital projects, all of which will be expensive and significantly increase energy demands.

  1. Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)

    This would inject potable water, treated at the City’s Graham Hill Water Treatment Plant, into the aquifer in the City’s Beltz Well field in Capitola/Live Oak, cost $4,100 – $8,500/Acre Foot, require 0.6-0.9 MWh/Acre Foot, and take ten years to implement (several new wells would have to be constructed) this would yield 130-1100 Acre-feet annually.  This supply source would provide 44% of the needed 1.2billion gallons annual supply gap the City claims exists now.

  2. Indirect Potable Re-use (IPR)

    This would partner with Soquel Creek Water District’s expensive treated wastewater injection project currently under construction, cost $7,800/Acre-foot, require 5.5 MWh/Acre-foot to produce, and would take 8-10 years to come online, producing 1500 Acre-feet annually but only extracting 790 Acre-feet of that annually.  It would require constructing 9 wells for pressure injection of the treated sewage water into the aquifer, likely in the Pueblo Well field in Scotts Valley High area.  This project would supply 21% of the 1.2billion gallons annual supply gap.  The Commissioners were informed that if this supply were chosen, City customers would likely be expected to help pay for the PureWater Soquel Project.  That should give us all pause.

  3. Direct Potable Re-Use (DPR)

    This would depend on State law changing to allow direct sale of treated wastewater to customers in the potable supply service lines (aka, right to your tap), which could happen as early as December of next year.  It would include the City building an Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant at the sewage treatment facility, cost $3,500/AcreFoot with energy demands of 1.8MWh/AcreFoot, yielding 4800AcreFeet annually, supplying 100% of the 1.2 billion gallon annual supply gap and take more than 10 years to implement.

  4. Desalination 

    Dudek consultants provided the analysis for this possibility that could supply 100% of the City’s water supply needs at a cost of $4,500-$5,800/AcreFoot, requiring 4.7MWh/AcreFoot to produce.   Commissioners were reminded that a desalination plant cannot be built without the vote of the people, as required by the DeSal Alternatives Initiative language accepted by the City Council back in 2012.

    See Item 6.0 (page 120 of packet) You’ll find a useful table on page 135 comparing the four options

What projects, if any, would you want to pay for and drink the resulting water?  Now is the time to start letting the Santa Cruz City Council know your thoughts.


Information in the June 14 Council packet does not make it evident that water rates will increase a total of 53.5% over the next five years.  The Five-Year Pro Forma Budget included on page 27.60 agenda materials (page 250 of packet) as “Water Attachment 5”, shows water revenues nearly doubling by 2027.  

Referenced in the recommendation Letter from the City Water Commission,  the Council will likely approve the following rate increases:

2022   6.9%
2023  16.4%
2024  16.4%
2025    6.9%
2026    6.9%

The Council will also likely approve Item 28, imposing an emergency ordinance for two-day watering schedules. It seems the State is requiring the City take this action, despite Loch Lomond being 88.3% full,  and customers are already using less water per capita than the State average.


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) just issued a new ruling that their announcement two weeks ago calling for public comment on a new wildland risk fixed charge for utility district customers to help utility companies pay for improvements was premature.  Now the CPUC wants to know how you think they can best engage utility customers in “Listening Sessions” this fall and winter to discuss energy affordability.  If you have thoughts about this, please send them via “Public Comment” tab here.

Kind of sounds like a check-off-the-box formality, doesn’t it?

Here is a link to the new ruling

Many thanks to the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) Policy Advocate, Mr. John Kennedy, for keeping us all current and advocating on behalf of rural dwellers throughout the State.  

I still wonder why Santa Cruz County leadership continues to refuse to join this amazing organization? Please write the County Board of Supervisors (again!) and ask that Santa Cruz County step up to join this rural advocacy group.

Board of Supervisors 


If you want to take part in political speeches and maybe get a glimpse of the timeline and plans for the new Aptos Library, join the 30-minute groundbreaking ceremony this Wednesday, June 15 (12:30 pm-1pm).  Attendees are advised to park across Soquel Drive and will be escorted by Bogard Construction Co. staff beginning at 12:15pm.  Those needing ADA assistance are asked to call the Library Administration at 831-427-7706.

“The new Aptos Branch Library is a $14 million project funded by voter-approved Measure S and generous donations from the community. The new 12,400-square-foot space will include greatly expanded and improved amenities, providing a “net zero” structure to the community that produces as much energy as it uses over the course of a year.

The library is being built by Santa Cruz-based Bogard Construction, which has strong local ties and a breadth of experience building publicly funded projects. Anderson Brulé Architects has provided the project’s design services. The new building and site include an outdoor reading room, garden, patio, rideshare/bike parking, group study rooms, a gallery, community room and terrace, public art and historic features in partnership with the Aptos History Museum. 

The new Aptos Public Library is expected to be completed by Summer 2023.”


It is not too early to start plowing through the proposed 2022-2023 Santa Cruz County Budget, anticipated to have a $9million deficit, before official hearings begin next Tuesday.  The hearings are all hybrid, occurring on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Final hearing on Tuesday, June 28


AMBAG received two appeals regarding the Draft 6th Cycle (2023-2031) housing number mandates: one from Sand City and one from the City of Greenfield.  A 45-day public comment regarding those two appeals is now open until July 22, 2022.  

Comments should be sent to Ms. Heather Adamson  Copies of the appeals received can downloaded here

This new mandate will more than triple the number of required housing units required by the State under Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA). Governor Newsom ordered legal action in 2019 against some jurisdictions who were not building fast enough to keep up with their RHNA mandate.

Curious about the numbers for Santa Cruz County and cities therein?  See page 130

Interested in participating in an AMBAG meeting?  They are quite fascinating, and one is happening this Wednesday, June 15



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

June 12

Drying Grasslands

As Spring approaches Summer, the grasslands are drying, there is increasing chance of fire, and an emergence of the biology of summer. 

Already, there are grass fires easily spreading in the tall drying prairies. In most places, the tallest grass – the temporarily very light blonde European oatgrass – shines as it sways high above a mess of other grasses. There are so many grass seeds: if you are not careful, they will ruin your shoes and socks. Sometimes hidden in the grasses, native late season wildflowers are starting to blossom in the finest of grasslands.


Many fires start along grassy roadsides. Auto accidents are a common ignition source for wildfire. Ironically, pollution-saving catalytic converters produce nitrogenous fertilizer that rains down in the vicinity of highways, spurring a bumper crop of roadside weeds that become beds of highly flammable tinder when dry. 

Grass fires can spread rapidly. Most fire fighter injuries occur in grassy areas. When they respond to a grassland wildfire, fire fighters use big hoes (or bulldozers) to create a bare soil strip so that the relatively short flames can’t spread. Because grasses have such fine biomass, they don’t normally send embers downwind to create spot fires. Roads and trails can be enough to stop a grass fire from spreading. Mowed or grazed grasslands aren’t as tall and shorter grasses mean shorter flame length, so that a narrower bare strip fire break can be effective.

If you recall the Trabing Fire of 2008, that was caused by a poorly maintained vehicle backfiring flames along Highway 1 north of Watsonville, igniting roadside grasses that quickly spread into surrounding shrubs and trees. Twenty six homes were destroyed and people lost much loved pets and livestock.

Vegetation Management

The threat of grass fires keeps modern people busy. Road departments use mowers and herbicides to reduce roadside weeds. Ranchers and other natural lands managers use livestock to graze especially heavily along road corridors. People increasingly pay businesses to manage goats to reduce grassy fuels. 

Look around grasslands in Santa Cruz and chances are you’ll see management that is at least in part a response to fire danger. For example, UC Santa Cruz’ sole goal in grazing livestock is to reduce grassland fire danger. In addition, campus staff spend innumerable hours each year mowing the perimeter of the grasslands, along roads and trails. Santa Cruz City Parks and other managers act similarly.

Native People and Grassland Fires

The indigenous people of our area burned the grasslands on purpose, to manage the ecosystem for food, fiber, wildlife, and many reasons…some of which we will never know until we relearn that wisdom. The Portola Expedition meandered through the grasslands in our area and couldn’t find sufficient forage for their livestock because all of the grasses had been burned by the native peoples. During the era of native peoples’ grassland fire management, tule elk and pronghorn would have been driven into unburned areas, grazing more heavily in the forest understory or shrublands and so altering those ecosystems. 

We know a few of the effects of grassland burning. Without burning, the grasslands close in with invading trees and shrubs. With summer or fall burning, before the rains, the bare soil and lack of thatch create good conditions for wildflowers, such as the many native clovers that indigenous people loved for salads. The fires also helped favor plant species with oil rich seeds. Some native grasses make larger seeds after fires, and those bigger seeds made better meals.


One of the most obvious things about grasslands in the late spring are the millions of grass seeds. If you don’t notice them, try wandering off trail into the grassland in the late spring: your socks and shoes will soon be full of infuriatingly pokey seeds. Some of those seeds are dangerous. A large razor-sharp grass seed is from a nonnative species named ‘ripgut’ for what it does to the animal that swallows it. Those seeds as well as seeds from the also nonnative foxtail grass (a type of barley) or the native needlegrass can all embed in animal’s eyes, ears, nose, throat, or in any fold of skin and cause discomfort, infection, and death. Someone told me that those seeds can burrow right through the body because of their pointiness and barbs. 

Many of the nastier pokey grass seeds are nonnative, so there is potential for native grassland restoration to be useful for displacing those species. Native oatgrass, meadow barley, as well as native bromes and rye grass could be restored in areas to compete with nonnative pokey grasses; doing so might reduce veterinarian bills and would also be useful for wildlife. You can leash your dog but the poor foxes, coyotes, and bobcats have to contend with the weedy pokey grass seeds. I’ve seen photos of a bobcat with an infected eye, which seems like it could have been caused by an embedded foxtail seed.

Late Season Grassland Wildflowers

As the grasses dry, some wildflowers see a chance to blossom without grassy competition. Vinegarweed, doveweed, farewell to spring and native tarplants all blossom in the late spring to early summer. Mostly, those species establish in areas where grass competition is low…in areas where there was little thatch due to poor soil, grazing, mowing, or fire.

Vinegarweed is a mint family plant laden with stickiness that smells like minty/turpentine/vinegar. Tarplants likewise have amazing scents ranging from roofing tar to floral candy-pine. Doveweed is a silver-gray tufty groundcover with no scent, tiny flowers, and laden with irritating hairs. Farewell to spring flowers are mostly pink but sometimes deeper shades of red or even white. These late season wildflowers provide pollinators with nectar and pollen when most other flowers have faded. 


The antics of early summer grassland wildlife reflect the plant community status. Coyote, bobcat, fox, and raptors are preying on a bounty of seed-fat rodents. Gophers are making caches of hay in their underground storage barns, pursued by gopher snakes. Voles are grazing the bounteous grasses, also making storage caches in the gopher runs that they pirate. Mourning doves and quail are pecking away at the many fallen seeds, always wary for the Cooper’s hawk or white-tailed kite. Harvest mice are weaving thistledown nests as high as they dare in the grasses or shrubs, hunted by their mortal enemy- alligator lizards. 

A Good Time to Visit

It is a great time to visit the grasslands, but don’t step off the trails, lest you mess up your socks. I’m particularly fond of the artistry of early summer European oats: they won’t stay this shiny-blonde-beautiful for long…they fade quickly to a deeper dirty brown. Look at grassland through the lens of fire, explore for those late season wildflowers, and envision a future of well-stewarded prairies.

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at:

Email Grey at


 June 11

#162 / A Story About Alex Padilla

Alex Padilla has just been reelected to complete the term he is presently serving in the United States Senate. He has also won the Democratic Party nomination for a subsequent six-year term of office, with the runoff election to be held in November. He is apparently way ahead in that race, and I am delighted! 

Padilla was appointed to serve in the Senate by Governor Gavin Newsom, to fill the spot left vacant when Senator Kamala Harris resigned her Senate seat to become Vice President in January 2021. I think Senator Padilla has done an excellent job representing California since his appointment. As a very nice article in the San Francisco Chronicle makes clear, Padilla has been both hard-working and conscientious. 

I have a personal story about Senator Padilla, and thought this might be a good time to document my encounter with State Senator Padilla, in late 2006, after his election to the State Senate in November of that year. At the time, I was the Executive Director of both the Planning and Conservation League, and of the Planning and Conservation League Foundation, which have offices located in downtown Sacramento. While I still lived in Santa Cruz, I worked during the week in Sacramento and then came home for the weekends. 

One day, several weeks after the November 2006 election, while I was in the PCL offices, all alone, Alex Padilla suddenly appeared. I didn’t know Padilla, who was from Los Angeles, and he definitely hadn’t made an appointment to come to our offices. He just showed up. He is an imposing man, but supremely courteous and cordial. “Hi,” he said, “I am Alex Padilla. I have just been elected to the State Senate, and I would like you to tell me about the environmental issues pending in the State Legislature that you think are most important, and that you think I should know about.

One of the most important things that PCL does is to lobby the State Legislature on environmental issues, with specific reference to pending and prospective state legislation. As the Executive Director of PCL, I was certainly able to respond to Senator Padilla’s inquiry, which I did. However, the fact that Senator Padilla would walk over from the Capitol to ask for our views, on his own initiative, not in response to any overture from us – and with no demand that we come see him in his office in the Capitol – was unprecedented. It was, in fact, astounding. I think it’s fair to guess that no other State Senator, ever, did what Senator Padilla did when he came over to the PCL offices, as a new member of the Legislature, to ask for our best thoughts on key environmental issues. 

Alex Padilla is a quality person. I was very happy that he was appointed to take the vacant Senate seat, and I am, as I said right in the first paragraph, absolutely delighted that he has now won that office on his own account. 

Here is a salute to Senator Alex Padilla, from whom we can expect, and I am confident will receive, nothing but the best, as one of our two representatives in the United States Senate!

To Subscribe Just Click This Link


Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at

Email Gary at

June 13



Thursday evening’s (6/9) Prime Time, two-hour broadcast of the House committee’s investigation into the January 6, 2021 insurrection and riot at the U.S. capitol exposed Americans to some ugly, dramatic footage of the event, much of which had not been seen before. But, thanks to the eagerness of those flag- and club-wielding participants with their bear spray, videoing their actions for self-gratification replays, and for the world to see their ‘patriotism’, they also gave law enforcement and the courts a perfect source on which to base criminal charges. Smile for the camera…no need to stand back and stand by anymore! 

Monday morning’s (6/13) public broadcast #2 laid out a more detailed, thorough, incisive view, with day-to-day accounts by former Trump aides, attorneys, and advisors, who failed in their efforts to convince Humpty Drumpty that he lost the election, and to prepare for an orderly transition to a Biden Administration. As individuals bailed out, Rudy Giuliani stepped up, with the assistance of attorney Sidney Powell, who were unable to prove anything, and only ended up being embedded more deeply in the mire, notably by suits filed by Dominion Voting Systems who the two tried to blame for election irregularities.

TrumpCo filed a total of 62 lawsuits trying to overturn the election based on vote counts and fraud allegations, with the bulk being thrown out for lack of evidence, being based on gossip, innuendo, and misinterpretation and misreading of the U.S. Constitution. Attorney General Bill Barr was bedeviled by Trump to help him overturn the election, finally resigning on December 14, 2020. The former president, grasping at straws, was beguiled by every rumor or false report that popped up, getting Barr involved with a ‘whack-a-mole’ game. The AG felt that his boss knew from the start that he was the loser, but eventually became “detached from reality”, believing his own lies and forging ahead with the scheme to stay in office. Indeed, a drunken Rudy Giuliani on election night advised The Donald to just say, “we won!” and to continue in that aggressive vein.

Committee Chair, Bennie Thompson has laid out what the basics of their work entailed, as they conducted and videoed over one thousand interviews of Trump administration/campaign personnel in the probe to collect information that led up to the attack to overturn the legitimate certification of the 2020 Presidential election. Vice Chair, Liz Cheney presented what amounted to a thorough, point-by-point legal case for the prosecution of the former President and his minions. Several who were asked to cooperatively appear before the committee refused to do so, subsequently being subpoenaed. Several complied, a few now face criminal contempt, and arrests have begun…notably, Peter Navarro‘s. Not to be ignored are the fifty-eight defendants charged with conspiracy, 213 defendants charged with violence, and 303 pleading guilty to charges stemming from the siege. Five defendants have had jury trials, each being convicted on all counts. Two bench trials resulted in one mixed verdict and one full acquittal; two federal court cases were dismissed, with seven D.C. Superior Court cases being dismissed. 

NPR found that at least 14% of those charged appear to have ties to the military or law enforcement, as well as military service members and veterans, a distressing discovery. At least 136 defendants have alleged ties to known extremist or fringe organizations, to include QAnon, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and the Three Percenters. A disturbing finding points to the fact that the majority of those charged have no known connections to extremist groups, indicating how far extremist ideologies are being accepted by the mainstream. In public comments and court documents, the DOJ has roughly put cases into three categories: those who conspired to attack the Capitol; those who allegedly, violently attacked police, often with weapons; and the remainder who entered the building in the throng, with no additional criminality…likely Russian expatriates looking for a McDonald’s

Trump’s Attorney General, Bill Barr was videoed with his assessment that the election wasn’t stolen, and how he had attempted to convince his boss that it was all B.S., and not worth the effort to continue with his deception of ‘stolen votes,’ faulty voting machines or China’s meddling. Barr’s tenure was then dead in the water, with his opinion receiving a surprising endorsement by daughter and Senior Advisor, Ivanka Trump, who told the committee that she ‘respected and believed’ Barr’s summation of the election results. The next day, Orange Daddy, on his social media platform, weighed in on his daughter’s testimony with, “Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at, or studying Election results. She had long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General (he sucked!).”  Daddy’s on a tear…be on the lookout for speeding Greyhound or Trailways buses when you cross the street, Ivanka!

Former first-daughter’s husband, Jared Kushner, who was also an administration Senior Advisor, was asked what he thought of Cabinet members and other staff who were raising red flags and threatening resignation over his father-in-law’s drive to stay in power, blamed his nose-to-the-grindstone efforts in processing presidential pardons, and attributed the hubbub to “whining.  So, Jared, did your stuffed-shirt, self-importance get far enough down the list to complete your own pardon? Afraid you’re gonna need it, bud…your ‘prints are on everything! Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be your only avenue of escape, but watch out…his knives are sharper than those of your disgraced father-in-law’s.

Subsequent installments of the committee hearings may be history by the time these words are read, with devastating reporting on the hate groups, the white supremacists, and the coterie that make up the Trumpian Criminal Enterprise. Liz Cheney began her first-round presentation by saying,“Donald Trump oversaw and coordinated a sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.” Memorably, she later said,“Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

Cheney applauded VP Mike Pence, who refused to go along with the Clodwork Orange’s planned coup, and perhaps prevented DJT Junior’s visage from appearing on the ten-dollar bill by 2026. Jack Holmes, in Esquire magazine writes, “Here is another idea the committee might consider: Take a moment to praise Mike Pence. Congress can name a building in his honor. The House and Senate could propose nonpartisan resolutions recognizing Pence for his service to democracy. And then Joe Biden could give Pence the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Because while Pence may not be the hero you or I might have wanted, he was the hero America needed.” Far better, and more appropriate, why not name the new prison facility that will be needed to house all the Trump administration officials, the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and other insurrectionists, in honor of our white-topped ‘hero?’ What a jolt to see the image of DJT in an orange suit imprinted with ‘Just HANGin’ Out at the Mike Pence Federal Penitentiary.’ Save a size for Pence, however…there was much he could have done between November 2020 and January 6 with the awareness he had of Trump’s intentions. The committee can still use your help Mikey…you still have a chance to choose country over party, instead of aiming your hat for the ring in 2024. Remember, it’s only a cult of personality now, going the way of the Whigs if some responsible adults don’t step up, but you ain’t the personality-in-waiting!

The glaring question in this entire, ugly ‘coup in search of a leader’ chapter inserted into our history, is why didn’t more…nay, anyone, of consequence step up and lay bare what was really going on, instead of just tiptoeing around it, resigning and moving along to let it fester and continue to embroil our politics? Is it because the Proud Boys still have that stash of weapons hidden in Virginia, or because the letters, emails, tweets and UPS packages dispatched by the radical fringe to those who dare open their mouths in an attempt to right the ship of state? Pence and Barr are not the only ones guilty of dereliction of duty!

Chair Thompson warns, “Our democracy remains in danger. The conspiracy to thwart the will of the people is not over.” And, we can see it as right-wingers continue their efforts to make it more difficult for ‘unacceptable’ persons to vote, or as they attempt to fill governmental positions with officials who are willing to alter election results, as they criticize the J6 Committee as illegitimate, rehashing ‘old news’ that no longer interests people. GOP Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia, stands by the words he uttered last year, that the attack on D.C. was nothing more than a protest or a “normal tourist visit.” And, just last week, football team defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio of the Washington Commanders, dismissed the assault on the Capitol, as a “dust-up.” Then there’s Honest Representative Louie (Gomer) Gohmert, who lambasted the arrest of Peter Navarro, telling Newsmax, “If you’re a Republican, you can’t even lie to Congress or lie to an FBI agent, or they’re coming after you.” Preach, Louie, preach! 

The New York Times, in a perturbing story, “How the Proud Boys Gripped the Miami-Dade Republican Party,” has uncovered how the white-supremacist hate group has wormed its way into the supposed mainstream GOP, being accepted and rationalized by the ‘party’ leaders as they rise to power within the local leadership hierarchy. The chairman admits that there are “fringe elements, different points of view, but that’s how they are, and however wrong they may be, it’s our duty to protect everyone’s First Amendment rights.” Chairman Garcia goes on to say, “outright racism is merely a point of view in need of protection – and the radicals who spew hate speech and practice political violence are to be embraced and accepted into the fold of the mainstream.” This from a party who excludes people with a different political point of view, who perform in public venues, have their books accessible and read, and tell their side of the story in educational institutions. Okay, accepted by the party leaders, but…put there by…the voters? Welcome to the new normal!

Two prominent Republicans, U.S. House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise told the press that they had no plans to watch any of the J6 Committee hearings…Kevin with an outright, “No”, and Steve replying, “I’ll be busy.” In actuality, for the premiere they were probably watching Tucker Carlson on Fox, who ran his show for an hour with no commercial breaks (a repeat of the Benghazi hearings with his running commentary?), so that watchers wouldn’t be tempted to break away to watch the J6 hearing, which was broadcasting concurrently. Even with Carlson’s competition, the House production managed to have a viewership of twenty-million for Episode #1 according to Nielsen Media Research…not comparable to an NFL game’s draw, but not too shabby!

As Ivanka Trump attempted to get her Assaulter-In-Chief father to call off his dogs from the attack of the Capitol, he was heard to say, “Sure, in a jiffy!” which most would take to mean in a very short period of time – the blink of an eye. Surprisingly, a jiffy is an actual measurement of time, depending on who’s doing the talking. Chemist Gilbert Lewis defined a jiffy as the length of time it takes for light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum. Some physicists have defined a jiffy as the time it takes light to travel one femtometer, or one-millionth of a millionth of a millimeter; hence, each second contains about three hundred thousand billion billion jiffys. An electrical engineer could describe a jiffy as the time it takes a single cycle of alternating current (1/50 or 1/60 of a second depending on the electrical system. So, whatever may be true, all would agree that no one has ever accomplished much in a jiffy. Worked for Trump, didn’t it? Maybe not…to be continued!

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email:


EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog


“I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered”.
~George Best

“No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky”.   
~Bob Dylan

“It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up”
~Muhammad Ali

“Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble”.   
~Roger Tory Peterson


When I went to Rome way back in 1983 with my high school Latin class, I was very disappointed in the Colosseum. At the same time, I was annoyed with myself for being disappointed, and now, almost 40 years later (HOW?!?!?!?!?) I somehow feel better about it. I guess it’s because I now have an explanation.

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:
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @

Posted in Weekly Articles | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *