Bratton…Pellerin party, join the DSA, Kauai bargain. Greensite…on city Public Relations. Schendledecker…water pollution, trees, and Juneteenth. Steinbruner…McPherson retiring, county budget burst, Aptos Beach road, park funds, keep Cabrillo name. Hayes…we love this land. Patton…a word from the godfather of AI. Matlock …favorite daughter, mata hari and mister Magoo, how do you do? Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week…woodworking tips Quotes…“Crows”
DATELINE June 19
INVITE FROM GAIL PELLERIN!
Happy Summer! The weather is getting warmer and you can feel the energy shifting all around us – with school out and families on vacation. Though summer is in the air, the election is around the corner and I am excited to announce that I am running for re-election as representative for Assembly District 28. I look forward to continuing our partnership to address the needs of the district.
The end of this month marks our second quarter fundraising deadline. This deadline is critical to the campaign, and I need your help. If you are able, please consider making a contribution to my campaign by midnight on Friday, June 30. You can click here or the button below to donate.
I also hope you can join me at my birthday celebration and re-election kick-off coming up on Saturday, June 24. You can click here for more information on how to RSVP.
DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA…NOW! dsasantacruz.org This organization of locals and from around the nation is about the closest in goals and dreams of any group I know. Check out what they’re fighting for. They sent this notice….
“Just prior to the next Monthly Membership Meetingon July 8th (hybrid Zoom and at London Nelson Center) we will be hosting a New Member Orientation. Whether you are a new member or looking for a refresher on the working groups in DSA Santa Cruz please join us and we can help you get plugged into the chapter and learn more about what we have. Register here if you’re interested in attending.”
My daughter Jennifer (former Santa Cruzan) has a timeshare week in lovely Kauai they can’t use and have it listed on Airbnb which means it’s secure. There’s only this one week available and at only $150 per night it’s a hell of a bargain. Especially this season. That’s Westin Princeville Kauai July 3rd-10th
It’s a Studio villa and sleeps 4 people. This link tells you all about it…
Get in touch with Jennifer, she’ll work it out.
I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.
LIAISON. (APPLE SERIES). (6.4 IMDB). Vincent Cassel is the lead in this carbon copied spy story. The only thing new in it is that everybody uses computers and I Phones. I’m serious when I tell you it takes place in Damascus, London, Turkey, and bad old Syria. But it turns out that London has water barriers that raise and lower when the bad tides come in. Santa Cruz’s West Cliffs need some of these barriers, but don’t watch Liaisons anyways.
MY POLICEMAN. (AMAZON MOVIE). (6.5 IMDB) . A policeman and a teacher guy squabble back and forth throughout the entire movie deciding whether or not the policeman is gay. Lots of gay scenes in this one. It’s tender, and good old Rupert Everett is in it but can’t speak due to his ageing. Both tough and tender to watch and it’s handled beautifully.
EXTRACTION 2. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). Chris Hemsworth is the big star of this war movie. It takes place in Georgia (right where Europe joins with Asia. It’s nearly 98% hand to hand battling…way too much and we don’t care who wins anyways with a name like Tyler Rake for Hemsworth.
A BEAUTIFUL LIFE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). It’s supposed to be a romantic drama about life in the music recording business. It features a singer/ guitarist named “Christopher” who is very blah. It’s also about how one trains and performs under contract and it’s not worth seeing or reading about.
WHERE THE TRACKS END. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). A new film from Mexico centering on one school teacher and her favorite young student. It all happens along the Rio Bravo River among the very poorest of the students and citizens. It’s a genuine feel good saga it’s the field bosses fighting the helpless workers. It’s low key and near boring and undramatic.
THE DAYS. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.3 IMDB). Remembering what happened with the nuclear power plant disasters on Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and what could have happened in Bodega Bay and Santa Cruz this is a dramatic review of the seven days during the Fukushima Daiichi explosion in Japan in March 2011. A tsunami started the disaster in their nuclear reactor and it’s all carried out in three viewpoints… the government, the electric power company and of course the people/citizens including much of Tokyo that also lost power. Watch it by all means.
SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.
SHE SAID. (AMAZON MOVIE) (7.2 IMDB). I wish I had more thumbs to give this detailed “near documentary” of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse cases. The film failed miserably at the box-office, but won awards all over the world. Two New York Times women reporters (one played by Carey Mulligan the other by Zoe Kazan) pursue Weinstein leads all over the world. Ashley Judd, one of Harvey’s victims appears in it and acts her part. 82 women have come out revealing their having been raped by Weinstein. He’s now serving a 23 year sentence in what used to be the Erie County jail in New York State, it’s now called the Wende Correctional Facility. Go for it.
LOVE & DEATH. (MAX SERIES) (7.2 IMDB). Based on a true story out of Texas in 1980 this saga centers on a married couple and the male is played by Jesse Plemons, unfortunately. Being very truthful I’m admitting that I can’t watch Plemons in any role he’s been in. He’s slimy and reminds me all too much of Trump. He has an unhappy wife played by Elizabeth Olsen. There’s nothing believable between/within this couple and it’s just another murder plot like the million we’ve seen before.
THE CROWDED ROOM. (APPLE TV) (7.0 IMDB). Tom Holland does a deep and superior job of acting along with Amanda Seyfried. It takes place in Manhattan in 1979 and deals with D.I.D. (Dissociative Identity Disorders). Two murders happen and we get to watch Holland attempt to explain and examine his life before the killings. Only 3 episodes so far, and it’s all good.
HEARTLAND. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.5 IMDB). It’s been running 15 seasons so I watched a few episodes. It’s corny, mostly poor acting, trite and all about a family’s inter relationships which were boring and we’ve seen it in hundreds of movies before. Avoid at all costs.
TO LESLIE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). Andrea Riseborough is the roughed up, downtrodden former winner of a $ 190,000 dollar lottery who has spent it all on booze, drugs and a very loose way of life. We watch her trying to retain some semblance of her former life and consistently failing. Allison Janney and Marc Maron are of no help to her. The twists, and shocks to her system are devastating, sad and very realistic and human. Watch it but not when you need laughs.
VONNEGUT WAS RIGHT
If you’ve not read Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano, or not in a while, it’s well worth the read. His prescience regarding machines and AI is real for our time. One paragraph caught my attention. The character is quoting the definition of the job of Public Relations: “that profession specializing in the cultivation, by applied psychology in mass communication media, of favorable opinion with regard to controversial issues and institutions, without being offensive to anyone of importance and with the continued stability of the economy and society its primary goal.” Kurt Vonnegut. Player Piano 1952
And look how they multiply! A decade ago, public relations people were scarce in the city of Santa Cruz. Gradually, department after department created that new position so now, most have them. Do they fit Vonnegut’s description? Well just today the City of Santa Cruz Community Relations Specialist posted a public release titled Cowell Beach Water Quality Success Continues Fourth Year on Heal the Bay Annual Beach Report Card. The city and its working group that addressed the problem can take a victory lap on this good news. Full disclosure, I’m a member of the working group, representing the Sierra Club since 2014. The release of the Heal the Bay Report is always a bit anxious making for the working group since for a decade Cowell Beach was #1 bummer on the Report Card. In response, the group took concrete steps to address the problem and the result is ongoing good news that deserves inclusion in a press release. But that is not all the news in the Heal the Bay Report that covers beaches and waterways in the city of Santa Cruz.
There is another entry in the Heal the Bay Report that pertains to Main Beach. That entry, with accompanying data reads:
“Seven separate spills sent a total of 553,150 gallons of sewage into waterways. Thirty-six thousand gallons of sewage flowed into the San Lorenzo River less than half a mile upstream from Main Beach in January. We are alarmed as we could not find a record of a beach closure due to that spill.” Heal the Bay 2022-23 Beach Report Card.
This sure fits Vonnegut’s description of “specializing in favorable opinion with regard to controversial issues.” Only here, in our reality they bury the controversy. I guess it’s hard to put a favorable spin on spilled sewage. But to omit it entirely?
City council has just finished passing the budget going into the next year. I assume all the public relations positions were funded. They are well paid by frontline worker standards and far less useful in my opinion. Worse, their job is to manipulate public opinion, not share city news. Otherwise, we would have received a public release of the city’s good news on Cowell Beach and ways we need to do better on Main Beach. Except they strive to be favorable, as Vonnegut says, “without being offensive to anyone of importance.”
|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.
WATER POLLUTION, TREES, AND JUNETEENTH
Wednesday, June 14th, I attended the city’s “Industrial Users Local Discharge Limits Discussion” on the Enhanced Source Control 10-year Update (Becky Steinbruner was there too, check out her column below for her take).
This process is not to set what pollutants are allowed in our wastewater, but to identify what is already in there and place limits on it. Apparently, there is a bit of community freak-out each time this review comes up, because people misunderstand the testing and limits as new allowances for new discharge. That’s not the case.
This is the third review and update process since 2002, one of the ways in which we fulfill the Clean Water Act. The process is meant to allow for “apolitical continuity,” regardless of who is on our city council, according to Akin Babatola (City of Santa Cruz Environmental Compliance and Laboratory Manager). The mandate is to perform our wastewater treatment in environmentally responsible ways and defend against pollution, including now for water recycling (thus the “enhanced” of extra treatment and testing).
The city’s Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) processes wastewater from homes and businesses beyond city limits, with about 80% coming from households. Our stormwater runs straight into our waterways without treatment (except some seasonal treatment of Neary Lagoon water).
Household wastewater is monitored in aggregate by the WWTF and our pollutants are taken into account in the WWTF’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit for our Monterey Bay outfall pipe. Industrial Users include non-householders like UCSC, restaurants, breweries, and manufacturers like Santa Cruz Nutritionals. Industrial users have their own NPDES permits, with additional site monitoring carried out by our own Environmental Compliance Officers, as well as by consultants for things like this current review.
Chatting with Mr. Babatola after the presentations, I asked what kinds of industrial dischargers are of concern in our community. I was surprised to learn that breweries can be a real problem, not because they use nasty chemicals, but because there is an incredible amount of organic matter left over from the brewing process that can create bacterial overgrowth and algal blooms. Smaller WWTFs may not be able to handle the intensity of that discharge. Ideally, breweries have the resources to install bio-digesters on site, to convert their waste into non-waste products like animal feed or compost. Of course, not many local breweries have the space or funding to do what Sierra Nevada does.
I also asked about the Compounds of Emerging Concern (CEC) on the short list that we may need to add to the long list before the next 10-year review. These compounds have been around for ages, but it’s only now that we have both the methods to test for them when they’re dispersed in water AND the EPA has set standards for their testing and limits. Carbon disulfide, listed above as coming from rayon and cellophane, is more likely coming from the wrappings on all our digital device batteries.
PFAS compounds are a good example of a class of chemicals that are very concerning, and that we can test for, but the EPA hasn’t set their standards yet (that may change in a year or so). So they’re, unfortunately, not on the list of currently limited compounds, or even the compounds of concern–but that doesn’t mean that they’re not already in our wastewater or, potentially, outflow to the bay.
A much shorter version of this workshop will be presented to city council in early August for (hopefully quick and painless) approval. Our WWTF workers, lab, compliance officers, operators, and maintenance people do amazing work (and win awards for it!). Look for this agenda item when the council is back from summer break and write or call in to support these expert recommendations.
The county is doing their own review and will present it just once to the Board of Supervisors, so keep an eye out for that one too.
At last week’s council meeting, the appeal of removal of two very large redwood trees in a yard on Union Street was denied (item 26, you can read the documents and watch it here). The trees were planted too close to the historic house somewhere between 40 and 90 years ago, and now they are getting a bit snug, even perhaps squishing it a little on one side, and sending roots under the foundation.
The valiant appeal effort by Elise Casby and Marvin Lewis was asking for more time, an independent inspection (which owners had refused), and consideration of options for preserving both the trees and the house. Options might include: modifying the house to accommodate tree growth, moving the house, maintaining or modifying drainage systems, or (I wonder) just removing one tree plus moving the house.
The house is currently owned and looking to be sold by out of town landlords who have rented it out for years. Their argument, upheld by a slim majority of Parks and Recreation Commission members and a large majority of council members (everyone but Councilmember Brown, natch), was that they needed to protect the return on their investment, and ensure an easy sale. It seems quite common around here for houses to be lifted for new foundations or to be moved. I wonder what the cost comparison of that to what will surely be a VERY expensive tree removal would be.
Councilmember Golder said (in a nutshell) that she felt the preservation of the house was ultimately more important than preservation of the trees, because the house was older, and historic. I’m all for historic preservation, but on the other hand, this is a settler colonial house that can only hold a handful of people at a time, being given priority over two giant trees that could live for thousands of years and be home to countless critters. Could we not have negotiated between the two interests more? Private property won over trees, again.
I hope you all found ways to honor and celebrate Juneteenth, and to connect with and support our Black community members. Please watch the documentary “13th” to learn about how slavery lives on in the US carceral system.
On June 8th I was lucky enough to attend a special “Music for Abolition” performance at the UCSC Institute of the Arts and Sciences. It was filmed and I hope it will be available to share freely at some point, because it was absolutely incredible. We owe everyone involved in co-creating and supporting the IAS a debt of gratitude for bringing great programming to Santa Cruz.
Click on this …. and think about it!!
|Joy Schendledecker is an artist, parent, and community organizer. She lives on the Westside of Santa Cruz with her husband, two teens, mother in law, and cats. She was a city of Santa Cruz mayoral candidate in 2022. You can email her at: email@example.com.
BRUCE MCPHERSON IS RETIRING AS COUNTY SUPERVISOR
Last week, County Supervisor Bruce McPherson formally announced he will not seek re-election as Fifth District County Supervisor. It has been expected by many for a while, dating back to the contentious redistricting line discussions in 2021 submitted at the last minute by Scotts Valley Mayor Derek Timm, and that some felt were meant to redraw lines favorable to his running for Fifth District Supervisor.
One candidate, Monica Martinez, had already thrown her hat in the ring in April. The public would be wise to scrutinize her actions as CEO of Community Services for Encompass …more to come on that.
It will be interesting to see if Bruce McPherson really retires, or if he will seek another State-level seat? He did let me know his displeasure with “being termed-out in Sacramento” when I quizzed him about his opposition to the term limit proposal of County District Supervisors, last year by then-Supervisors Greg Caput.
No wonder Supervisor McPherson has been so outspoken recently on CZU Fire issues and Housing Element matters. He no longer has to “go along to get along” with issues and the pressure to have the Board unanimously approve everything.
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY BUDGET BURSTS PAST $1.1 MILLION WITH LITTLE TRANSPARENCY OR PUBLIC DISCUSSION
Last Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors and CAO staff fell all over each other thanking each other for passing the 2023-2024 Budget that has an even higher deficit than had been earlier reported, and made no mention at all of the looming CalPERS unfunded pension debt that is skyrocketing.
This all happened a full month earlier than is historically done, with public hearings reduced to half the time and eliminating both evening public hearings that have always been held in Watsonville and chambers in the Santa Cruz County Government building to give working people the opportunity to hear the proposed Budget overview presentations and ask questions / comment.
The information on the website is hard to find, and a link to the public hearings and inherent documents has been broken for weeks.
I have pointed these problems out to the Board more than once, and written the Director of IT for the county. I wrote a letter asking that the Board Cure and Correct the Brown Act violations inherent.
However, what has changed is that the Budget Hearings all have a posted transcript, beginning May 30. That has never happened before. Take a look at the abysmal transcript for June 13 Final Budget Hearing: 2023/06/13 01:30 PM Board of Supervisors Cont’d BUDGET HEARINGS – Last Day – Web Outline – Santa Cruz County, CA
When CAO Carlos Palacios initially was handed the reins of running the County by former CAO Susan Mauriello (she actually handed him what she called a “magic wand”), he said he would take a new approach with formulating two-year budgets that would improve long-term planning and cut costs. Remember that? Not so now. In fact, in the instance of County Fire Dept. and CalFire, we have not yet seen a contract for service agreement, yet the County Fire Department vague and confusing budget shows a negative $3 million figure. Hmmm..
Amazingly, a woman representing California State Association of Counties (CSAC) drove all the way from Sacramento to present two awards to the Board, one being for the Online Interactive Budget Website, and the other for Criminal Justice Council Policy Review.
She said the Online Budget website was really wonderful because it incorporates the County Strategic Plan. What? That’s the subjective list of feel-good words at the end of each agenda item that gets tallied up and converted into demonstrating how responsive each item is to problems at hand. The words are the same ones as were on the list the CAO posted in public hearings and gave everyone a fixed number of colored dots to stick on what they thought most important. Remember that little meaningless exercise?
Maybe the most amazing thing about that presentation was the photo op. when Chairman Zach Friend left the shelter of the dais and joined the CSAC lady on the public side of the Chambers, removing his mask so we could all see him suddenly smile for the camera.
You can watch it here, at minute 14:00: Video Outline – Santa Cruz County, CA
COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND PLANNING DEPT. REFUSED TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY ON APTOS BEACH ROAD
Last Tuesday, it was shocking to witness the County Planning Dept. twist information to thwart efforts of a property owner wanting to build an engineered retaining wall meant to prevent any further slide action threatening homes below, and the Board of Supervisors refusing to take action to protect lives and property, even though they could.
At issue is whether an engineered retaining wall at the top of a coastal bluff is properly called a shoreline protection element. The property owners, their civil engineer, and their expert land use professional said “NO”, and argued that at first the County Planning Dept. had agreed when accepting their application.
The Planning Dept. changed their minds months later and said the project had to have an alternatives analysis because of the impacts on the shoreline sand. The property owner initially rejected that, but finally had to cave in, spending the big dollars to provide such a report to the Planning Dept. The Planner, Mr. Evan Ditmars, first said the appellant property owner had not provided the Alternatives Analysis, and would be grounds for dismissing the appeal, which brought a gasp of exasperation from the property owner in the audience.
Later, when questioned a bit further by Supervisor Manu Koenig, Mr. Ditmars and Deputy Planning Director Ms. Carolyn Burke (who is apparently leaving the County job for one with another municipality) then admitted that they had received the required Alternatives Analysis but did not have time to review it.
Chairman Zach Friend then opened the floor to the public, violating County procedure as to how an appeal is to held. The Appellant paid likely over $2000 for the appeal hearing, but Chairman Zach Friend gave them TWO MINUTES for each who wanted to speak, even cutting off the appellant’s civil engineer mid-sentence because his time was up!
Chairman Friend then said the appellants could just start all over again, and re-apply with the now-completed Alternatives Analysis in hand. Another gasp from the property owner. Supervisor Bruce McPherson asked how much that would cost the property owner/appellant and could the Planning Dept. just review the Alternatives Analysis to see if the determination that there is no other alternative to building an engineered retaining wall to protect the homes below is valid?
Ms. Burke smiled and said they could do so for an hourly rate.
The topic then went to how much time that might take? She wanted three to four months. Another gasp from the property owner, who then spoke up and said they really want to get this done before another round of winter storms. Finally, the Board agreed to allow 30-60 days, and a report back.
It was shocking to hear the Planning Dept. twist things, and to hear the Board of Supervisors refuse to really jump in and try to protect life and property, which is their primary responsibility as elected public servants who have all signed an Oath to uphold such duty, under the California State Constitution Article XIII Section 35(a)(2).
Listening to what transpired at that appeal hearing last Tuesday is worth your time to do, and to write a letter to the Editor with your thoughts, and file a complaint with the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury.
Here is the link to the video. Click on Item #13 on the agenda and listen carefully to what you hear.
Here is the link to the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury website, where you can file a complaint, as well as read their investigative reports.
HOUSING ELEMENT NEEDS YOUR INVOLVEMENT
The County and all cities are feverishly working on putting together an updated Housing Element of their General Plans that will make the State Housing and Community Development (HCD) smile with approval by January 1, 2024, while incorporating the ridiculously-high mandated building rate without infrastructure to support it. 6th Cycle Housing Element Program
Here is your last chance to weigh in on this process with the County:
Community Open House
Watsonville Civic Plaza Community Room
275 Main Street, Watsonville
Food will be provided
Spanish interpretation available
Wednesday, June 28th
COUNTY PARK DEDICATION FUNDS SEEM CLOUDED
Here is what the County Budget Final Day documents said last week, leaving me to wonder where a seemingly errant $1.5 million in Capital Improvement Projects for Parks may have gone???
Due to the nature of capital projects, budget appropriations often carryover from one fiscal year to the next and remain programmed to a specific project until completion. Any remaining funds after a project is completed can be reprogrammed to support other existing projects or new projects. Park Dedication Funds are capital funds collected via park impact and in-lieu fees imposed on new development. Use of these funds is restricted to acquisition and certain improvements to parklands. Previous action by the Board consolidated 19 separate Park Dedication Funds into a central fund to increase their effectiveness in supporting park capital projects that have been prioritized in the Capital Improvement Plan, Parks Strategic Plan, and other emerging critical needs, all guided by making equitable parks investments throughout the county.
The County Administrative Office is engaged with project teams on year-to-year fund balance amounts in order to further supplement the proposed Capital Projects List using one-time project savings and balances. These proposed uses of additional funds will be presented on June 13, 2023 at the Last Day Budget Hearings to support the existing capital program priorities of the Board.
More details on projects and project changes, budget goals, fiscal sustainability and future considerations for FY 2023-24 will be included in the Capital Projects budget presentation.
The Capital Projects Proposed Budget includes $20,598,354 in expenditures offset by $15,598,354 in revenues and $5,000,000 in General Fund contribution, reflecting an increase of $3,022,221 or 17.2% from the FY 2023-24 Base budget (the Adopted prior year budget adjusted for known active projects and projects completed in the current fiscal year).
Here is what the Last Day Budget Summary actually stated:
$1,961,996 increase of Capital Projects as detailed in Exhibit 2, that includes $250,000 for prior Board directed capital project initiatives, including neighborhood improvements in areas impacted by vacation rentals in Districts 1 and 2, and $1,711,996 to appropriate one-time Parks District unobligated fund balances per Board Direction on May 31, 2023, from the now consolidated Park Dedication accounts and in alignment with Board capital priorities and in conjunction with County Parks;
BUD-2023-39 Consider approval of the 2023-24 County of Santa Cruz Proposed Budget Concluding Actions; approve the Continuing Agreements List for 2023-24; authorize the Auditor-Controller, with the concurrence of the County Administrative Officer, to
Now I understand the significance of former CAO Susan Mauriello’s gift of a “magic wand” to CAO Carlos Palacios when she retired.
BRANCIFORTE FIRE DISTRICT RESIDENTS WILL HAVE NO REPRESENTATION AFTER ANNEXATION WITH SCOTTS VALLEY FIRE IS COMPLETE THIS FALL
Last week, the Board of Directors for both Scotts Valley fire and Branciforte Fire Districts met, both approving without any amendment, a Plan for Services for Branciforte Reorganization. Neither Board honored what the people of Branciforte Fire District (“Happy Valley area”) have been told…that there will be redistricting action after the annexation that will ensure equal representation and control of funds, equipment and assets of Branciforte Fire area taxpayers. Thus, all power will remain with the at-large elected Scotts Valley Fire Board.
Judging by how that Board treated me during my public comment time, I am worried they will pay no heed to any future recommendations the proposed Branciforte Advisory Commission might offer.
Right now, Branciforte Fire District residents are considering a Special Benefit Assessment ballot Prop. 218 action that will decide whether they will pay over $1million in addition to what they already pay in special fire assessments to support their local station. LAFCO Director Joe Sereno has threatened that if they do not pay this staggering assessment, they will suffer closure of their station. Scotts Valley Fire has said it would likely be used at critical fire and storm times, and maybe for other emergency uses, too.
Take a trip up Branciforte Drive and see what you think the people have to say. Stay tuned. Will the Branciforte Fire Board wake up and amend the Plan for Services to insist on district-based elections for the Scotts Valley Fire Board after annexation before it is too late? Let’s hope they pay attention to what happened in the Central Fire District annexation of Aptos/La Selva Fire, wherein the agency converted to district-based elections for Board members, providing a more equitable level of representation.
SCOTTS VALLEY FIRE PLANS TO PUT A $21 MILLION BOND ISSUE ON NOVEMBER BALLOT
Chief Ron Whittle, at his final Board meeting before retirement, last Wednesday told the Board the plans for a new fire station are nearing completion, but at a higher cost than had been anticipated. He said he felt the new administration building associated with the fire station was “kind of big”, and he would like to see whether reducing that would lower the cost, and the dollar level of the impending Bond that will be on the November ballot.
This begs the question….Will the property owners of Branciforte Fire District have to pay for that too once they are annexed, if the Bond passes? Will they get to vote on that November ballot measure? Hmmm….
CABRILLO COLLEGE NAME SHOULD STAY
Last Wednesday, the five chosen names for Cabrillo College were unveiled by College President Matt Wetstein and Trustee Cuevas. I got stuck in traffic, and arrived late, just as people were scurrying about with post-its to “vote” for their favorite of the five names, but I met a lot of people who were leaving the room with frowns.
It turns out I was spared yet another self-congratulatory presentation bordering on condescension, and the blind insistence that Cabrillo College simply must change its name. People wanted to know the results of the “Survey” asking for new name suggestions, and were told that a total of 383 of the more than 1000 suggestions stated the name should stay as Cabrillo College.
One brave citizen had stood up as the post-it frenzy was about to begin and said “If you think the name should not change, put your notes on that whiteboard over there.” Several people did.
Well, the arrogant Name Trustees have just launched yet another “Survey” where you can digitally put your post-it and vote for your favorite of the five.
Take note…There is no choice provided for “NONE”. Local Historian Sandy Lydon was in the audience, and pointed out that technically, Cabrillo College is not in Aptos. “Folks, we are in Soquel. Borregas Creek is the dividing line between Soquel and Aptos. The post office messed up.”
Hmmm…That explains why Cabrillo College was not in the Aptos/La Selva Fire service boundary.
Write a letter to the Editor of your favorite newspaper and share your thoughts on this matter.
MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. ATTEND A PUBLIC MEETING AND ASK QUESTIONS AND EXPECT ANSWERS.
DO ONE THING THIS WEEK AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.
Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com
WE LOVE THIS LAND
(I wrote this column after cogitating about a quote from Zachary Ormsby, a local BLM land manager, referenced here.)
Are there none among us who do not love this land?
It has been said that we all have in common the love of the land. I rather doubt it, but who am I to judge? Does everyone you know love the land? How do you know? Do you talk about this love with others? Do the actions of those around you indicate their love of land?
Perhaps these concepts hinge on definition. What does “land” mean? What is “love?”
The term ‘land’ is an odd one. In movies, sailors celebrate ‘land-ho!’ There once was a class distinction ‘landed gentry,’ also no longer used. There was once a ‘back to the land’ movement, but I haven’t heard that used in a while. At about that time, Aldo Leopold proposed a “land ethic,” which almost no one thinks about or has really formulated for themselves.
There are two more common ways the word ‘land’ is used. The most common seems to be in real estate: to buy or sell “land,” with or without “improvements,” such as a house, normally modified by a number of acres and usually in reference to more rural locations. For instance, you might hear something like: “Paulette purchased 5-acres of land out in Zayante with a 3-bedroom house.” Or “I’m looking to buy a few acres of land in the hills above Soquel.” Around here, only the relatively wealthy would be using this terminology.
A small subset of people would hear the other way the word ‘land’ is used nowadays. Open space agency personnel talk about the ‘land’ they manage. They create ‘land’ management plans and even sometimes engage the public in those planning processes. In this case, ‘land management’ is supposed to mean the entirety of what is good and necessary to steward a given place. When such agency personnel refer to the ‘land,’ they mean a given property, sort of in the same way the term is used in real estate.
Collectively Loving the Land
I haven’t heard anyone exclaim “I love this land,” but I have heard people proclaim their love of country. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I love my country!”? My mother used to say, “I love my state!” referring to Virginia, but I haven’t heard anyone else mention such strong feelings about a state. I have heard people say, “I love Santa Cruz!” normally when something odd happens that seems unique to the weirdness of the City.
In reference to love of ‘land,’ I have heard recreationalists say, “I love biking at Wilder Ranch,” or, “I love watching the waves from the bluffs at 4-mile,” or “I love taking wildlife photographs along the Enchanted Loop Trail.” Do those sentiments indicate a love of the land that is Wilder Ranch? Would you say that, collectively, those people love Wilder Ranch? This is starting to get confusing.
Nature is so nurturing that we develop attachments to place, but I wonder if those attachments are the same as love. Hearing or saying “I love my…partner, child, parent, friend” conjures up powerful emotions. We love to be loved and live to love. Love is all there is. Loving people has elements of caring, respect, nurturing, and a hundred other things. Some say that we cannot love what we do not understand, and I sense most people seeking to better understand those people that they love. This level of striving to understand is not the same with most people’s relationship with nature, or ‘land.’
When you say, “I love drinking tea with Lois,” you are not saying “I love Lois.” Likewise, saying “I love biking at Wilder Ranch,” is not the same as saying you love Wilder Ranch. We are clear on the first, but people seem confused about the second. In both cases, there is a sense of sentimentality about an action. If you truly loved Wilder Ranch, what would you in fact be doing with that strong emotion?
If you loved Lois and she was threatened by something, you would undoubtedly consider helping her. To do otherwise would suggest that maybe you didn’t really love Lois that much, really. Likewise, if you loved Wilder Ranch and it was threatened by something, would you consider helping? If you didn’t, would you feel good about saying that you loved Wilder Ranch – the actual ‘land’ that is Wilder Ranch?
Seeking Land Loving Relationships
Ideally, the best place to look for people who truly love open space “land” such as Wilder Ranch would be the responsible land managers. Those people can develop deeper relationships with the land because they interact with it often and must understand it to responsibly manage it. There are dangers in developing such a love for open space, though.
Even the land managers “in charge” of a given piece of ‘land,’ have told me that the choice to adequately manage the land is not theirs. Apparently, they answer to someone higher up in the bureaucracy, are pressured by politically powerful interest groups, or something…they never really say. What they do say is that they must ‘balance’ varied demands on the land; in such a way, I wonder if they experience trauma from seeing the land they love damaged. Do they harden their hearts, create boundaries so that they do not love the land too deeply, or do they find solace in religious beliefs about destiny, the nature of humans, or some such things? Perhaps these people can never let themselves love the land, or perhaps their love of the land is something mysterious and different from their love of people.
Besides the idiosyncratic, institutionally bounded loving bond that certain open space land managers might form with the land they oversee, who else might love the land? Most would recognize that indigenous people have an actual love of the land they call home. So, might other people get to know a given piece of land and grow to love it? In both cases, you would imagine that these people would spend a lot of time considering how best to nurture those places and would strive to protect them from harm.
My challenge to you: learn to love some open space land, and act on that love as if the place were your own…as if that place were your lover, your child, or your parent. What if we actually collectively loved the land…all those different groups who land managers are torn to pieces trying to please…to ‘balance?’ We can nurture each other’s love of the land, especially by deepening understanding, rooted in a commonly embraced land ethic.
Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at firstname.lastname@example.org
That is Geoffrey Hinton, pictured. Some call him “the godfather of A.I.” I recommend that you read the Wikipedia entry linked to Hinton’s name, to get a sense of his credentials.
If you click this link, you will be able to read a short article that outlines Hinton’s growing trepidation about the rapid development of “artificial intelligence” and what that will mean for us. The “Now This News” website, from which I got the article, and the picture of Hinton I have placed above, informs us that Hinton has recently quit his extremely high-paying job at Google, because Hinton wants to “talk about AI safety issues without having to worry about how it interacts with Google’s business. As long as I’m paid by Google,” Hinton says, “I can’t do that.”
Hinton does not, I was happy to see, present A.I. as some kind of independently-existing entity that is now seeking to displace human beings from their position in the world, on the basis of a claim that we will all soon be “outmoded.” Some discussions of A.I. do seem to characterize A.I. in just this way, pretty much portraying A.I. as some kind of new “creature,” a Frankenstein intelligence that will soon wreak havoc upon, and then displace, all that is human.
It may well be true that the technology that makes artificial intelligence work, invented by human beings like Hinton, can now accomplish certain things much more rapidly and comprehensively than any human being ever could. Still, the way I read what Hinton is saying, artificial intelligence is (and will remain) a human-developed “tool.” It is not some separate and independent creature that will ultimately be able to dispose of human beings altogether.
Hinton, in fact, is not so much worried about what “A.I.” will do, but about what “bad human actors” will do, utilizing the new capacities available to them through A.I.:
“It is hard to see how you can prevent the bad actors from using it for bad things,” Hinton told The New York Times in a highly publicized interview published May 1.
“Hinton says one of his primary concerns with AI is its potential for spreading misinformation. He noted that, given how simple it is to use AI for text and image generation, it’s become easier for people to create fake content. Hinton worries that we’ll eventually reach a point where people might “not be able to know what is true anymore (emphasis added).”
“Personalizing” A.I., thinking of A.I. as some new “entity,” separate from ourselves, is a category error. “A.I.” is not, in fact, independent of its human creators – and never will be. Human beings always need to look to themselves to figure out what to do about everything – and now we have to decide what to do about this new “tool” that can, literally, make it impossible for anyone to know what is “true,” and what is “real,” and what is not.
We must know “the truth” if we want to be able to act in a way that can be successful in attaining the outcomes we want to achieve. If the result of using A.I. will be to make it impossible to know or discover the actual truth – and that is what “the godfather of A.I.” is telling us may happen – then it seems rather clear what we need to do with A.I.
Get rid of it!
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
FAVORITE DAUGHTER, MATA HARI AND MISTER MAGOO, HOW DO YOU DO?
Fox Network hosts excitedly announced that Melania Trump had entered the federal courthouse in Miami for her husband’s arraignment, showing some support for him in his moment of need. Only problem being is that it was The Don’s political aide, Margo Martin, sometimes described as a look-alike for the former First Lady, but a bit of an embarrassment for the incompetents who have been masquerading as news-hounds, while hanging onto every word Melania uttered for too many years. Someone who wasn’t expected to show up, and didn’t, was daughter, Ivanka Trump, who wished ‘Daddy‘ well…from afar. She and husband, Jared Kushner got their two billion dollar reward by playing footsie with the Arab Prince Bone Saw, so they’ve no more need for the orange-complexioned doofus who showed them the ropes in their life of crime. About the 37 felony count indictment announcement, Ivanka said, “I love my father, and I love my country. Today, I am pained for both. I appreciate the voices across the political spectrum expressing support and concern.” So, that’s it…no defense, no comment, close the shades, dim the lights until this is over…and keep the choppers gassed up just in case you have to escape this chaos upon which you left your fingerprints.
Of course, who could blame them after seeing the incriminating photos provided by DOJ in its indictment. As Aldous J. Pennyfarthing says, “Trump is just a low-rent mashup of Mata Hari and Mr. Magoo, and now Republicans are scrambling to find their moral compasses. Unfortunately, they left them behind during their endless debauched evenings with Trump and they can’t go back to look for them now. Dude’s radioactive. Most Republicans are blaming the Biden Administration for a political prosecution, but President Joe Biden had zero to do with Trump’s indictment and is likely as confused as the rest of us as to why anyone would put a chandelier in the bathroom. I guess when you’re the biggest egomaniac in the history of the planet, it automatically seems like a cotillion.” Especially with the plastic shower curtain hanging on a spring-loaded shower rod to conceal the bath/shower. Aldous J. says Trump has big problems now, “But someday after he loses his long, courageous battle by being hit by a Central Park hansom cab while bending over to pick up a Ho-Ho, his family will likely rediscover their affections. But for now, the apple of his weird reverse-raccoon eye is keeping her distance.” Ivanka posted a tribute on Instagram last week, assumed to be for her father’s 77th birthday, saying, “I wish you a year filled with the happiness you deserve. Your love, energy and strength inspire me every day.” Many suspected it was praise for another birthday celebrant; however, she included photos of her posing with her perp dad, unable to make a clean getaway!
Trump was clearly looking for a bigger crowd to show up outside the Miami courthouse to protest his arraignment, especially after posting on his social media account, “See you in Miami on Tuesday.” Federal and local security feared that their local plague of Proud Boys might cause problems, so Mayor and newly-declared GOP presidential hopeful, Francis Suarez reassured citizens that security would be tight. Tess Owen commented on Vice News that the Proud Boys were too obsessed with Bud Light to care about Trump’s appearance. The weekend preceding the court date, the ‘Vice City’ Proud Boys chapter in Miami reposted a flier promoting the protest, but by Monday they were back to targeting Pride Month, according to Owen. Cape Fear Proud Boys in North Carolina were actively posting updates about their protesting of a drag show in Winston-Salem, ignoring the indictment, and Proud Boys’ Tulsa chapter interrupted their anti-Pride buzz to acknowledge the death of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, writing, “Rest in peace king.” Bud Light’s sponsorship of a family-friendly Pride event in Flagstaff, AZ attracted more ire from the group, so it’s up to Trump to find a flash-point with Diet Coke to get the no-shows’ attention, it seems.
After his court appearance, Trump and his cronies stopped at Versailles restaurant in Miami, located in Little Havana. Taking advantage of the cameras, phones and reporters who followed along, his entourage awkwardly held an impromptu prayer circle before Trump yelled to the diners inside, “Are you ready? Food for everyone! Food for everyone!” Needless to say, as per his modus operandi, he quickly vacated the premises and everyone got their own bill, bamboozled by Cult 45 again!
One attention getter for many, was Diaper Don’s winning the judge lottery…luck of the draw in having Judge Aileen Cannon to oversee his indictment case. Haven’t we seen enough of her already? Previously, the 11th Circuit Court reversed her decision in the investigation when she tried to give special treatment to a “deserving former President of the US,” which would have held up the case, decidedly in Trump’s favor. Cannon’s premise that a former president is not subject to the law as would be any other defendant because “…the stigma associated with the subject seizure is in a league of its own,” which quickly fell flat with the Circuit Court’s panel who said she didn’t have jurisdiction and should have no say in the case. Judge Cannon completely overlooked existing law and appointed a ‘special master’ to prevent the Department of Justice from reviewing Trump’s purloined documents. “The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so,” they wrote in dismissing her meddling.
Objections to her being assigned to this new position were swift, with petitions circulating to have her removed, or impeached, in light of her mangled, result-oriented diversion, and highly questionable favoritism toward the Former Guy. Now, with another chance to show her gratitude to Trump for appointing her to the judgeship, columnist and former US attorney, Harry Litman, writes, “There are nearly 700 federal district court judges in the country. Of all of them, Cannon is the first whose fairness might reasonably be questioned. And of all the cases in the federal court system, none calls for a judge and process that inspire public confidence more than this one. It’s of paramount importance that this case be assigned to another judge — any other judge.” There are 18 judges in the South Florida Federal District Court, so the chances of drawing AILeen’s name from the pool would be less than 6%! Why was her name even a part of the selection process?!! It appears that she will not recuse herself as she has already issued her first order to get the ball rolling, instructing attorneys in the case to get in touch with DOJ’s litigation security group to expedite the necessary security process for viewing classified materials. Notice of compliance to her instructions was to be filed by June 20.
It will now depend upon how efficiently Cannon manages her docket as to how long the case will take — trial before or after the 2024 election? Land mines lie in wait for our court system, with many opportunities for sabotage along the way. Should Cannon attempt to toss out the case, it can be appealed and overturned. She can use voir dire in seating the jury by asking questions to determine if prospective jurors are free of prejudice or whether they can be fair and impartial, thereby stacking the jury Chockful O’ MAGAnuts. She will have the ability to sustain any frivolous objection by the defense attorneys and overrule the prosecution’s meritorious ones. Maybe she will direct a verdict of acquittal to render the jury as nonessential, or declare a mistrial for any number of reasons…perhaps the jury is deliberating past time for her lunch date, or by stretching out the various deadlines to run out the clock. And, because many procedural moves cannot be appealed until proceedings have closed, Cannon will be in complete control. KABOOM!
Harry Litman details Trump’s plan to escape accountability: “Trump is engaged in an outlandish and, for the country, very dangerous plot to delay the case until he can end it by winning the presidency in 2024. At that point, he could just order the Department of Justice to stand down. Note that Trump wouldn’t have to run the legal risk of pardoning himself at that point. Even if he is speedily convicted — a prospect made considerably less likely by the assignment of Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon to the case — his conviction would almost certainly still be on appeal by January 2025, allowing him to simply order the department to drop the case. How can Trump, abetted by Cannon, go about maximizing the delay? Through a series of pretrial motions, all lacking merit to various degrees but nevertheless likely to take up considerable time.” Those boxes now being unloaded at Mar-a-Lago contain champagne, confetti, and party streamers for the big celebration. Judge Cannon has to watch her step because if she dares to veer off-course, The Don will turn on her…Fair Game! A bad spot to be in…just ask Lindsey Graham, or any GOP presidential campaign wannabe, none of whom wish to anger the MAGA king! He’s comin’a getcha!
The GOP is entangled and lost in an M.C. Escher drawing of their own making as they attempt to defend Trump after his indictment over the classified materials he stored haphazardly throughout Mar-a-Lago…one incriminating photo shows boxes stacked in a room with a photocopier placed conveniently to accommodate his Secrets ‘R Us minimart. Trump’s apologists can’t get their story lines to meld properly as they ignore the contents of the indictment, slip-slidin’ on the thin, transparent veneer of denial as they accuse Biden and the DOJ of political conspiracy to destroy the former prez’s candidacy. Senator Chuck Grassley wins the Lamé Excuse Award explaining his avoidance of the formal charges document, by saying he’s “not a legal analyst,” though it’s a quick-read, a plainly-worded paper. You could finish it off easy enough, Senator, as you sip your Metamucil-laced Ovaltine at breakfast. So, while many of the MAGA crowd “haven’t read the indictment,” Speaker McCarthy cops to have read “portions of it,” and Senator Graham, teary-eyed, weaves all over the road, still unclear about what’s going on. ‘Little Marco’ Rubio whines, “there’s no evidence the secret docs were sold to a foreign power and that nobody else had access to it,” a theme which he might want to keep mum about for now. We can only count on it to get worse, with the investigators holding much information close to their chests for now, and the Trumpers exercising extortion, sedition and espionage to keep their voters in line, sprinting with a Josh Hawley-like elegance, fists raised high, through the halls of governance.
Ron DeSantis followers, who want to promote his candidacy and his love and respect of all mankind, chose to demonstrate outside Disney World in Orlando — not with flowers, balloons and sweet treats for the attendees, but with DeSantis campaign signs and Nazi flags. Sad that parents and their young ones had to be met with such a display of hate, some followers of the Florida governor carrying signs reading, “Destroy all Pedophiles,” “White Pride Worldwide,” and “DeSantis 2024 Make America Florida.” State representative, Anna Eskamani called it “absolutely disgusting,” but also “absolutely revealing because it shows DeSantis is doing what they want and they love him for it, and they’re not afraid to show it.” Gonna get worse before it gets better!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
“A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing”.
“Even a cock crows over his own dunghill“.
~Navjot Singh Sidhu
“No matter how much the private sector crows that corporate tax breaks will lead to more jobs or robust economic activity, such benefits rarely materialize”.
See Jane drill is a YouTube channel that does all kinds of cool carpentry and home improvement stuff. Check them out, starting with this ticking stick, which is obviously brilliant 🙂
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