Blog Archives

June 17 – 23, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Cutting back on tourism, Chris Krohn mistake, Bushwhackers Breakfast Club. GREENSITE… on Trees. KROHN…Black lives matter, police reform, community policing, defunding police. STEINBRUNER…county health and beach closings, county budget hearings, Aptos Village stop light, Sea Breeze fire. PATTON…Disbanding the police EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Whales”.

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PACIFIC AVENUE SANTA CRUZ circa 1925.  Check out the super wide streets. Wide enough for cars, passing lanes, and electric trolleys. Also see the town clock in its original position atop the then ODD Fellows building. On the left side just beyond the trolley is the original St. George Hotel.                                        

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters with Johnny Carson

Trump impersonators

DATELINE June 15

HAWAII, SANTA CRUZ AND TOURISM. Hawaii became our 50th state in 1959, right after Alaska became # 49. Before that and up until the Covid pandemic, Hawaii developed into a premier tourist destination. Now some Hawaiians are looking at severe cuts, or even elimination of the business approach to tourism. Given Santa Cruz’s bowing and scraping to tourists, it could and should do the same. The Latest issue of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs monthly newspaper Ka Wai Ola has an article that says…”Most people in Hawai?i, especially kanaka, already know that tourism has been complicit in helping to destroy beautiful and unique aspects of this special place for decades now. The pandemic has forced everyone else to admit that Hawai?i’s dependence upon tourism is not sustainable and not pono.”

(pono means goodness, morality…kanaka means humans, people, neighbors )

For starters read the complete article in the newspaper… https://kawaiola.news/cover/revisiting-tourism

Read statements such as…”With tourism suddenly halted because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the empty airplanes, vacant hotel rooms, closed restaurants, deserted beaches and uncertain future left everyone asking the same question: where do we go from here?”

Of course this is a huge leap for Santa Cruzans to take, especiallygiven  the Seaside’s Boardwalk and their huge tourist draw. But read again…”We need to redefine and refine our values, then build up accordingly. We need to recognize and admit that the old norm had many flaws, including an over reliance on the industry ideas of tourism and what it should be, and work together to create a new norm, one where we heavily influence the narrative and one that benefits the many rather than the few,” he said. Talk to your friends and neighbors about cutting tourism to a reasonable, sustainable size. Again, read that Revisiting Tourism article again and I quote…”We owe it to our ancestors to continue to be strong and to persevere,” he said. “We owe it to our descendants to be smart and to make this work. This is our time.”

CHRIS KROHN MISTAKE. Last week I wrote that Chris Krohn won first place in the Santa Cruz for Bernie selection for reps to the national Democrat Convention. But he lost by one vote in the County-wide endorsement. Mea Culpa again.

BUSHWHACKERS BREAKFAST CLUB. Every Friday morning on KZSC (88.1 fm or live online at KZSC.org) from 8:10am-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 anything but theater screens  Tune in this Friday and learn about “The Assistant” with Julia Garner, “Jeffrey Eppstein: Filthy Rich” , “Bron”, “Da 5 Bloods” and probably a few more.

June 15

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.

 “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.” This first line from a longer quote by William Blake has been my mantra through years of trying to save Santa Cruz trees from wanton destruction. There has been some movement for the better. Thirty years ago the hatred for eucalyptus was vicious and visceral. The whitened bones of dead trees killed deliberately in our state parks along the north coast, is one man’s bigoted legacy. I’ll keep his name private. Today, while pockets of such tree hostility remain, most have accepted albeit grudgingly that blue gum eucalyptus provides nesting sites for at least 59 species of birds, which is about 40% of all species known to nest in Santa Cruz county. That, plus overwintering sites for the threatened Monarch Butterfly as well as significant carbon sinks in a warming world has spared some of the last remaining big eucalyptus trees from the axe and the butcher. Then there is always the unpleasant surprise.

The butchered tree pictured has long grown at 7th Avenue next to Five Branches Institute, ironically a University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is an Ironbark eucalyptus, a long-lived tree with deeply furrowed dark bark offsetting beautifully shaped leaves. Ironbarks encircled the bright orange restaurant at the corner of Murray St. and 7th Avenue until someone cut them all down. Ferrell’s Donuts on Mission St. is encircled by Ironbarks. A while back someone started to cut them down but was stopped after butchering only one. The RV parking lot at the end of Mission St. Extension has Ironbarks around its edge. I’ve watched over the decades as they are pruned on a regular basis, at first with some care and now with vicious indifference (go take a look). I doubt the trees will survive. I’ve held my breath over the years as the Ironbark at Five Branches is pruned, each time with less care for the tree’s health and survival. This latest hatchet job is not only the worst but is also a statement to arrogance and ignorance. 

Some cultures worshipped trees. My Celtic ancestors did. While that may be too much to expect in a world that worships money and commodities, one should expect better protection for our trees. Even if you are not moved by their beauty, you know they give out oxygen and take in carbon dioxide, what more do you need? Despite that, outside of the coastal zone, the county of Santa Cruz offers no protection for trees. There are timber harvesting regulations but beyond that, no protection. Any fool can cut down a tree in the unincorporated areas. 

Fortunately angels do not fear to tread where fools rush in. The second photo is taken in front of Branciforte Middle School. The people with signs are trying to save the tree pictured behind them. The tree, targeted for removal by the Santa Cruz City School Board will be a casualty of renovations currently underway at the school unless the School Board changes its mind. This is no ordinary tree. It is a memorial tree planted to honor the life of William Read described as “a pillar of the local community”, always helping others, who worked as head custodian at Branciforte Middle School. Another tree is planted at the school in honor of Mr. Read’s son Dennis, who died at far too young an age.  Mr. Read gave much to the community and the community wants his tree and his plaque preserved. 


In the words of East Morrissey Neighborhood Historian, Dan Model, “You can help preserve the memory of William and Dennis Read. Contact the Santa Cruz City Council and School Board at the addresses below. Tell them you want the plaques returned to their rightful places after the renovation is complete.  Tell them you want both of the memorial trees planted in William and Dennis’s honor, which are heritage trees, to remain.  Help save an important part of Branciforte Middle School history before it is lost forever.”  

Please send your message to The Santa Cruz City Council at citycouncil@cityofsantacruz.com, you can also message the SCCS School Board at trustees@sccs.net, Kris Munro, SCCS superintendent at kmunro@sccs.net, and B-40 Middle school principal Casey O’Brien at cobrien@sccs.net.   

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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June 15

YES, BLACK LIVES MATTER 

“The core Community-Oriented Policing philosophy was first enacted more than 20 years ago under the direction of then-Police Chief Steve Belcher.”

Police Reform?
What is “community policing?” Surely it goes back to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s when police were put on notice that they could not continue to patrol Black and Brown neighborhoods in the same way as they had become accustomed. Community policing in the 1970’s took the form of police foot patrols, and later the University of Wisconsin’s ace criminologist Herman Goldstein and his “POP, Problem Oriented Policing” took hold. It’s an updated and reformed version of an old concept. Goldstein’s work focused on not only getting cops out of their cars and getting to know neighbors who resided on their beats, but by using some of these relationship-building techniques police were trained to think more deeply and understand how to solve the intractable problems (crimes?) afflicting various parts of a community. In 1982, with the publication of an article “Broken Windows,” published in The Atlantic Monthly, it seemed that community policing took a setback. Broken Windows ultimately led to the now infamous, stop and frisk policy that was made popular by former New York City police chief, Rudy Giuliani, and hopefully finally put to rest as a police policy, by current mayor Bill De Blasio. More recently, along came PredPol Inc. a form of policing put forward by a company that “uses predictive analytics to support law enforcement” by using software they develop and sell to police departments. Both PredPol and stop and frisk target communities of color and are part of the problem our society has been embroiled in over the last several decades, that being a violent culture embedded in police culture itself.

“Officers became responsible not just for responding to calls, but for solving the problems the calls reported,” Belcher said. “It was an evolutionary process.”

Is Community Policing Working in Santa Cruz?

Many community policing techniques have been tried over the years, then reformed, then tried again, then reformed again. Most recently, Police Chief Andy Mills is often seen walking up and down Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz and actually talking it up with business owners, houseless people, and visitors from out of town. Chief Mills has sought to be a model for this kind of community policing to his rank and file. From my perspective, it has worked in an uneven way for several reasons. Communicating with locals is uncomfortable and not easy for many police officers. It is also quite time consuming, and cops might wonder, is this why they were hired? What community policing has lately come to mean in Santa Cruz are the resident’s police academy; the yearly get-to-know-your-neighbors block parties, both sponsored by the SCPD; and a Police Auditor position to analyze and process complaints against police. (BTW, as far as I know, the Santa Cruz’s Police Auditor, Bob Aaronson, left about a year ago and I do not believe this position has yet been filled, although the city web site continues to list his name, which is also part of the larger problem of effective police oversight.) )

“Community-Oriented Policing also brought focus to the root cause of issues. Rather than repeatedly dealing with the same call for service, officers gave new attention to problem solving in order to prevent the issues from reoccurring.”

What Might Defunding the Police Look Like?

If community policing was ever to be successful in Santa Cruz police ought to spend much more of their time on foot and on bicycle patrol. After all, it would be implementing the Chief’s example, and really do some community policing. I walk around Santa Cruz a lot and I find few police officers doing the same. Yes, they’ve got a good bit of geography to cover during their shift, but they can leave their vehicle, or bicycle, close by and just walk. I would recommend getting to know at least two or three neighborhoods per week. What the public often glimpses are police personnel hanging out in groups shooting the s**t, often for long periods of time, (especially during parades, Halloween, and protest rallies), or simply jetting around, several miles above the speed limit, in their new SUV police cars and never really getting to know the community members where they patrol. I know from personal experience that the Chief has tried tirelessly to put forward his mentor Goldstein’s POP approaches to policing, all of which are centered around community policing, but there still remains a department largely out of touch with regular Santa Cruzans. Why? Perhaps because we are asking the wrong people to do the wrong job and they’re obviously way over-burdened with it. Aren’t we asking our $30 million a year police department to carry out the work they were not necessarily trained for nor signed up to do? I think so. Most definitely, public safety needs to be redefined. What I hear Santa Cruzans crying out for right now are jobs for the unemployed, more social workers and drug and alcohol counselors, lower rents, and transitional housing opportunities, not necessarily all in that order. We have been directly and indirectly asking police to address many of these needs and it’s finally becoming clearer and clearer to decision-makers around the country that this is no longer feasible.

“Early Community-Oriented Policing initiatives in Santa Cruz included…Specifically assigned beats for officers so they could get to know neighborhoods and residents could become familiar with them.”

Are We the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For?

Yes, we need to shift our priorities and just like the bank robber Willie Sutton and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders replied when asked essentially where the money is, Sutton responded, the banks, and Bernie said, the Pentagon. Well, in Santa Cruz the bulk of the general fund goes to the police department. So, Defunding the Police in Santa Cruz would start by shifting money from their budget to a human services budget. This would be a beginning. It does not mean Abolish the Police, but it does mean creating a seismic shift of resources away from what the police are trained to carry out and towards those services offered by social workers, counselors, and housing specialists that we so sorely need and, which PD will never be able to adequately deliver. Arguably this is a heavy lift and a policy change that has never happened in Santa Cruz before, but the current social movement that’s been unfolding over the past 21 days offers opportunities to serious address the way public safety is looked at and carried out in Surf City. We should be mindful that these moments do not come along very often. Be the change you want to see in the world, and know we are the ones we’ve been waiting for come to mind right now precisely because Black Lives Matter.

Retweet: “Today’s police forces look more like armies equipped with weapons of war. A fed’l program from the 1990s sends surplus military equipment to NYPD & other police. Today, I’ve introduced legislation to end this initiative once and for all.  #BlackLivesMatter

#EndPoliceViolence” (Rep. Nydia Velazquez June 10) (Send the BearCat back!)

Santa Cruz Main Beach, June 15, 10:37am…

This picture speaks loudly about what “community policing” is NOT. How do we break down the barriers between the community and its police department? Is it possible? Why are these vehicles on the beach? It’s a ridiculous show of force on a balmy day on a sparsely populated beach. What might a community policing scenario look like on this beach on this day? One police officer and one ranger ride their bicycles from the PD dept. on Center Street to the foot of the Wharf. Each is wearing a face mask and sporting comfortable shorts. They wave at residents along the way. The pandemic face mask hides their wide smiles. Each officer locks their bike at the bike rack by the Ideal Fish Co. and proceed by stairway down onto Main Beach. Each public safety official is carrying a package of masks to hand out. They inform every beach-goer of the rules and that they’d be safer wearing a mask. ‘Wouldn’t you like a mask?’ They both cover the entire Main Beach from the Wharf to the San Lorenzo River and back to the bikes in less than an hour. And today they would’ve encountered over 100 people, most willing to have a pleasant encounter with a public safety officer. These actions would speak volumes and break down that constant wall, real and imagined, between officer and community resident and visitor alike.

(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 ckrohn@cruzio.com

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June 15

LEGAL CHALLENGE TO SANTA CRUZ COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER EVIDENCE-FREE BEACH CLOSURES
On May 29, two local attorneys, Aaron Lodge and Monica Vantoch, issued the County Board of Supervisors a 16-page Demand Letter that the Santa Cruz County Health Officer Orders restricting public uses of the State beaches be lifted by 5pm June 4.  Five case laws support the illegality of the Health Officer’s beach restrictions.  The County Supervisors did not act or even respond.

Here is a link to the Demand Letter, found in written correspondence listing (g) for the June 16 Board of Supervisor meeting

Therefore, legal action most likely will ensue in federal court.  Why won’t the Board of Supervisors do their job to reign in the evidence-free orders of this non-elected official when it is their duty to do so under Health and Safety Code 101080?

On May 1, County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel ordered all beaches closed between 11am and 5pm daily to discourage people from outside the County coming to gather at the beaches.  This Order has been enforced by seven County Sheriff deputies added to patrol the beaches on ATV’s and issue violator’s misdemeanor citations for $1000 each.

Gail Newel admitted publicly that the beach and other outdoor locations pose a very low risk of virus transmission.  However, her evidence-free basis to close the local beaches remains in effect until July 6. 

If you have an opinion about this evidence-free order meant to keep people from enjoying the famous Santa Cruz beaches, please write the Board of Supervisors;

Chairman Greg Caput greg.caput@santacruzcounty.us
Ryan Coonertyryan.coonerty@santacruzcounty.us  
Zach Friend zach.friend@santacruzcounty.us
John Leopoldjohn.leopold@santacruzcounty.us
Bruce McPhersonbruce.mcpherson@santacruzcounty.us 

Ask them to step up and do their jobs!  

HOW WILL AMERICAN TAXPAYERS EVER DIG OUT OF THIS DEBT QUAGMIRE?
Last week, the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of recessions, declared that the U.S. economy entered a recession in February, even before the COVID-19 economic disaster began.

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

FIRE AT HISTORIC SEABREEZE TAVERN
Multiple fire agencies responded Sunday night to the fire at the historic Seabreeze Tavern on the Rio del Mar Esplanade.  Built in 1928, it is the oldest building on the beach front area, and has an interesting history of ownership.  

According to a County Planning Dept. staff report, the existing structure was constructed in 1928 as part of the Raphael Castro Hotel, and was used as a bar/private club. The Sea Breeze tavern opened in the first floor of the building around 1956, and operated until the late 1980’s. The two residential units on the second floor have existed since construction. The building is designated as a Historical Resource (NR-5) as it is the last remaining building of the Raphael Castro Hotel and the only remaining building from the Aptos Land Company development. 

However, the information is different in Kevin Newhouse’s Aptos History book, wherein he states:

“A.A. Linderbach erected the Sea Breeze Building in 1926.  It was the first to be built in the Rio Del Mar flats.” (after a major sand hill was flattened to raise the elevation of the area a whopping 7′!!!)  “It was the first sales office for the Rio Del Mar Company and has a long history as an apartment house, bathhouse, restaurant, and tavern.  One of its most interesting owners, Geogia Derber, purchased the property in 1973.  She opened a bar and ran a successful business until 1988, when she closed its doors and retreated to the upstairs apartment.  She died on June 8, 2004.  She was an only child with no heirs.  The County of Santa Cruz administered her estate.”

New owners Sarah Unger and Rich McInnis purchased the Tavern in 2005 from probate court when the mysterious reclusive owner Georgia May Derber passed away.  They re-opened the refurbished historic structure in 2007. (See this feature in the Santa Cruz Sentinel from December 2007)

The property recently was purchased by a corporation in Redondo Beach, California.  According to staff at the Santa Cruz County Assessor Office, the first transaction occurred on February 21, 2020 to Tampery Rentals REO LLC, with a second transfer to a related company named Hollyvale Rental Holdings LLC, both with a common address in Redondo Beach, California.

Will this historic building be saved or bulldozed?  The assessed value is $1.66 million.

Hollyvale Rental Holdings is part of a multi-national corporation, with an authorized agency owner listed as “Neighborhood Stabilization” on the most recent Secretary of State filing

Here are photos of the fire

The cause is under investigation.

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A REMOTE MEETING IN YOUR PAJAMAS.  TAKE A WALK ON THE BEACH IN FRESH AIR AND SUNSHINE TO KEEP HEALTHY. JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Cheers, Becky Steinbruner

831-685-2915

ki6tkb@yahoo.com

I welcome your thoughts and discussion!

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

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June 12
#164 / Disbanding The Police

I never had that Norman Rockwell relationship to the police that is illustrated so lovingly above, though I must say that the “runaway” kid shown in this famous portrait looks a lot like me at about that same age. My idea of the police, as I experienced it based on my draft-resisting interactions during the late 1960s, was a lot more like the photo below, which appeared in the June 10, 2020, New York Times

That photo, of course, shows Martin Gugino, a Buffalo, New York peace activist, who was pushed to the ground by two police officers as Gugino was attempting to document a protest against the killing of George Floyd. Gugino suffered a serious head wound, and had to be hospitalized. He was left to bleed as other police walked by. The president then accused Gugino of being an agent provocateur, implying that the police did just the right thing by attacking this seventy-five year old man. 

There are lots suggestions that police misconduct should result in “disbanding” the police, or “defunding” the police. Predictably, objections have been immediately voiced to any such thing. There really are public safety and security concerns that our police forces have traditionally handled, from runaway children to violent demonstrations. Not to mention dealing with those who break into cars to steal items visible through the windows or who engage in package thefts from unattended porches. “Defunding” public safety at a time when people are feeling more “unsafe” than usual seems contraindicated, and could be politically counterproductive. But maybe eliminating public safety is not, actually, what is being called for. 

I have a couple of suggestions that I think might help us, as we consider how to “disband” or “defund” the police. First, get rid of all that military gear, specifically including the uniforms that make our local police officers look like a “Star Wars” invading army. Second, start doing some better analysis on what our communities are really expecting our police to do, and then tailor responses to the actual requirements, reassigning duties as appropriate. 

When someone with advanced weaponry and high explosives appears in our community (as just happened in Santa Cruz County), a law enforcement agency needs to have officers available, properly trained and equipped. However, that is not the typical case. Our public safety providers should be of, by, and for the community, and should come dressed accordingly. They do not need to appear with threatening firepower displayed on most occasions. Sending armed officers to take reports about porch burglaries sends the wrong message – and of course that is amplified if the officers are white, and they are walking into neighborhoods mostly inhabited by persons of color. Complaints about drug abusers injecting in the street? Send in the social workers! AND… as one final suggestion, hire members of so-called “minority” communities to do a lot of routine patrol and police work in their own neighborhoods. We could do that, right? They just need to be responsible. They don’t need military-style training and equipment.

These suggestions, plus others along the same lines, could be called “disbanding” the police, but that really only means disbanding the police as we have most recently deployed our officers, dressed up as if they were going to war, and as if our own communities were the enemy. 

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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I’ve been hooked on watching clips of these auditions for years. I never watch the whole show; a good audition if just enough, thank you 😀

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

    WHALES

“There are people in this world who can wear whale masks and people who cannot, and the wise know to which group they belong.”
~Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume 

“If you swim with sharks, make sure you have the appetite of a whale.”
~Matshona Dhliwayo 

“We better rethink our future to disguise our ongoing damage to the climate, this sperm whale ecosystem can’t go on forever let revolutionize our strike to make earth a finer place.”
~Khoi Tran


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
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