Blog Archives

June 28 – July 4, 2023

Highlights this week:

Bratton…lani faulkner for supe, Landmark theatre news. Greensite…will be back next week. Schendledecker…black lives matter in Santa Cruz. Steinbruner…Bruce Daniels resigns, groundwater agency issues, private well owner’s problems, Pure water Soquel, Cabrillo name. Hayes…Junes flower. Patton…my so-called friends. Matlock…gagging the mona lisa’s sugar-daddy. EaganSubconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week. Quotes…”July”


MORE ECONOMICALLY SUSTAINABLE LOCAL LOGGING… Back in the 1890’s these loggers probably used the same justifications for their clear-cutting as our local foresters do today. What would Santa Cruz County look like IF someone prevented this “selective forestry”?

Additional information always welcome: email
photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.



This is the campaign season. Announcements and campaigns are made or whispered every day. I ran this article June 6 and it bears repeating…and remembering,

This is from a notice Sally Arnold sent early this month…

“Together we built a landslide defeat of the Deceptive Measure D proposal to tear out the tracks, kill our transit future and delay trail construction.  After that historic victory, we thought that our elected officials would respect the will of their constituents and work toward trail construction and planning for rail service.

But that has not been the case.  Some politicians are still trying to stop construction of the trail!  This is a threat to the rail and trail that we must take seriously.

Recently, Supervisor Manu Koenig (District 1) wasted everyone’s time grandstanding and refusing to accept the Environmental Impact Report for Rail Trail segments 8 & 9, which were just funded for construction.  His failures to listen don’t stop with the Rail & Trail. First District residents are complaining about his focus on his wealthiest constituents rather than the majority of First District residents.  Whether it’s Coastal Commission policy, parking programs, bike lanes, housing or zoning – small businesses and constituents are upset with the incumbent.

One strategically placed government official can do a whole lot of damage if they have an agenda that’s not aligned with the will of our community. The Board of Supervisors is a small body (only 5 elected supervisors) so just one troublesome supervisor can make it difficult for the board to get things done for all of us.  This is why all of us, no matter which district we live in, should care about the District 1 supervisor’s race.

That’s why, as members of the No Way Greenway Campaign Committee, we are excited to support Lani Faulkner for First District Supervisor.  Lani brings a wealth of experience from her successful career in Biotechnology to her community involvement.  Lani serves on the Executive Committee of the Santa Cruz Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Community Traffic Safety Coalition, Equity Transit, Friends of the Rail & Trail and the NAACP.  Her work on the Democratic Central Committee and with local union leaders has given her the connections and relationships needed to get things done. Her experience working with government agencies is exactly what we need in a local leader.

First District residents asked Lani to run for First District Supervisor because she’s a true part of the community, who raised her family in Live Oak . She makes herself available, knows how to listen and is committed to finding common ground. Lani’s diplomatic approach to problem solving will help our whole community.

This race has direct consequences for not just the First District but the whole County.  In a time when we need to bring the community together to solve some of the tough challenges ahead of us, we need a Supervisor who works well with others.

Early endorsement and donations are important.   You can add your name and support Lani in other ways here: Endorse Lani for Supervisor

Feel free to call us if you would like to discuss this remarkable candidate.

Sally Arnold (831-419-4622)

Matt Farrell (831-331-7496)

No Way Greenway Campaign Committee go here for background on No Way Greenway.

LANDMARK THEATRES = COHEN MEDIA GROUP. From rumblings and rantings I wouldn’t bet on our Nickelodeon theatre ever opening again. I’ve been told that it has serious architectural issues like leaks, plumbing, rot and etcetera. Then too I can’t see Landmark/Cohen keeping the Del Mar in operation if audiences don’t increase. Cohen Media Group who bought out Landmark in 2018 has been both closing and opening movie theatres in places like Arizona, Annapolis, Closter, New Jersey and it closed its Pico Boulevard theatre (with 12 screens) last May. Cohen Media also has other financial interests and that’s why we see Savile row men’s clothing trailers at the Del Mar every time. It doesn’t seem like too many years ago that Mayor Chris Krohn re-opened the Del Mar restoring its historical value by screening “China Clipper” movie complete with a parade down Pacific Avenue.
In case you’re wondering, Landmark closes many, many of their theatres every Monday. Stay tuned and go to the Del Mar.

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.

EXTRAORDINARY ATTORNEY WOO. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.7 IMDB). According to some recent article Korean films are leading the world in popularity nowadays. That proves true with this one. Attorney Woo is an autistic and brilliant young woman attorney (27 years old) . The plot and drama and the laughs in the first episode makes this well worth hanging with. She defends a senior wife who hit her husband with a clothes iron. Serious, funny heartfelt and worth watching.

HUNGER. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.6 IMDB). A Thai film that gets deeper by the minute as it deals with a high end restaurant named Hunger. The head chef is mean, cruel and very successful and he trains his staff of ex noodle joint kids in ways to make all foods into art pieces…but at what cost personally? Vegies might not like this one.

SLEEPING DOG. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.01 IMDB). This tricky German movie about a policeman who has amnesia and is then assigned a new rookie to investigate a murder case that was supposed to have been solved. It turns out that the police department has some issues that make this a pretty good movie.

BLACK MIRROR. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.8 IMDB). They call it an anthology series. That means 27 separate episodes, each with its own separate plot and stars. Well-directed and nicely paced and stars such as Jon Hamm, Salma Hayek, Rory Kinnear, Miley Cyrus, Annie Murphy, and Oona Chaplin all have good parts in one of the series. Odd, fascinating, perplexing and well worth watching.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG- BLACK & BLUES. (APPLE TV) (7.4 IMDB). This documentary should be required viewing, especially for Americans. His early New Orleans history, his world travels, his use of marijuana way back when, and especially his side of the scene involving race relations after being accused of Uncle Tomism for decades. Orson Welles, Dick Cavett, Ed Murrow, Leonard Bernstein are a few of the stars in this dynamite treasure.

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.

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.

June 26

Gillian will be back next week…

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 26


Last Saturday, the SC Equity Collab‘s Black Lives Matter street mural in front of city hall was finally repainted, almost two years after its hate-fueled defacement.

My initial response to these street murals, as they cropped up around the country, was lukewarm. Like many of my BIPOC friends, I support the Movement for Black Lives’ “Vision for Black Lives Policy Platform,” which seems to put us politically to the Left of many other local BIPOC community members. I thought, hey, if that’s what people want to do, good for them, but it’s not really my thing. It seemed like a liberal, feel-good activity, and I didn’t really see how painting the slogan large-scale would change policies, save lives, and improve material conditions for millions of Black people in the US. As Black Lives Matters became more popular, it also seemed to become less radical, defanged (though it has still done much good).

But I’m rethinking my stance.

I was not part of the original painting process or the restorative justice process that followed, but about a year and a half ago I began to get to know some of the people involved through other community organizing efforts.

I attended two of the court dates for the mural defacement trial. One was about putting a price tag on the mural, since it was made with professional and non-professional volunteer labor and fundraisers. The professional artists who made it happen backed up their estimate of about $100,000 with detailed records of hours spent, typical professional muralist fees, and supplies. The artists also wanted community compensation for non-material damages, but in a criminal case that’s not allowed. Hearing the breakdown and justification, I gained a new appreciation for muralists and the specialized work they do.

The other court date focused on video and social media evidence against the defendants, Brandon Bochat and Hagan Warner. Not just the video they made when damaging the mural with their truck tires, but other racist incidents while driving, text messages, and social media trolling of local BIPOC people who spoke out about how the mural defacement intensified how marginalized and unsafe they often felt, and feel, in Santa Cruz. And BIPOC people do feel marginalized and unsafe in Santa Cruz, every day–if you don’t believe it, ask and just listen.

Both court dates were intense, emotional, deeply upsetting, and exhausting–and I was a white person on the periphery. Listening to, and believing, how the creation of the mural, its defacement, and this lengthy restorative justice process affected those at the center was essential to me beginning to understand it all. And even though I had heard a lot of it over the past year, the panel discussion at the mural repainting deepened my understandings.

Saturday I learned that, from the beginning, SCEC organizers Abi Mustapha, Sean McGowen, Taylor Reinhold and Shandara Gill wanted the mural to be more than a painted slogan, they wanted to seize the opportunity to create a platform for community dialogue and policy change.

I also heard, although the words were not explicitly used, that the post-defacement restorative justice process was abolitionist. No one called for jail time, no one thought that a punitive process would heal those harmed or prevent a future hate crime (if you don’t think this was a hate crime, please talk to Black people about how they feel about it). The call was not to reform carceral systems, but to work towards ending them even while engaging with them.

Organizers were intentional and insistent that Brandon and Hagan should not just be handed over to probation officers to perform some random community service. They remained engaged and advocated to co-create of new ways of healing on all sides of harm done by hate crimes. They showed up, they called the community to show up with them, they engaged the Conflict Resolution Center and Showing Up for Racial Justice to aid in the process, and they have been transparent and accountable to all of us in their communications.

Brandon and Hagan were both at the mural repainting Saturday, and they seemed to have really grown, so that they could truly engage with and understand our BIPOC community and the significance of Black Lives Matter. Through this process of restorative justice, they have been brought into the community, rather than shunned.

Thank you SCEC and collaborators for helping to make a world where breaking cycles of harm and finding universal liberation is a little more possible than it was three years ago. Black Lives Matter murals around the country may be fading away, but I’m glad ours has been repaired.

There were quite a few items of particular interest in last Tuesday’s city council agenda:

Closed Session:

1) Property: Approximately 8.15 acres located on Mount Hermon Road in Scotts Valley, CA (I’ve had some help researching this property, expect a column on it in the next week or 2.)

Consent Agenda:

  1. Update of Various Council Policies (CC) (including 2.1: Interim Use of Skypark Property)
  2. Dissolution of the City/County 2×2 Committee and Appointment to the Santa Cruz Housing for Health Partnership (H4HP) Policy Board (CM) (why appoint Deputy City Manager rather than Homelessness Response Director Larry Imwalle to this board?)
  3. City Overlook Emergency Shelter Operations and Management Contract Approval (CM)
  4. Tier 3 Safe Parking Operations and Management Contract Approval (CM) (11 and 12 are funded for the upcoming fiscal year from the remains of that $14 million, 1-time grant from the state)
  5. Contract Amendment for Kimley-Horn Associates for Professional Services Related to the Downtown Plan Expansion (PL) (it’s worth looking at this little document, which includes the below)

Extended Project Schedule and Next Steps

The Downtown Plan Expansion was initially scoped to be complete by the middle of 2023, and due to various factors this deadline has not been achieved. The amended scope also reflects additional management costs due to the extended timeline and incorporates sufficient funds to ensure completion of the project by March of 2024. At this time, the approximate project schedule will include another round of community engagement on a range of design and land use topics in late summer or early fall, a draft of the Amended Plan for public review by October or November, and release of the EIR in November or December. Public hearings for the policy amendments and certification of the EIR are targeted for early 2024.

  1. Overnight Parking Permit Fees Related to Oversized Vehicle Ordinance (No. 2021-20) Implementation (PW) (the stakeholder group has yet to be formed, and now it seems like Santa Cruz Cares and ACLU are not guaranteed spots on it.)
  2. West Cliff Drive Stabilization Project (c401501) – Ratification of Plans and Specifications, Authorization to Advertise for Bids and Award Contract, and Authorize Professional Service Agreement for Construction Support Services (PW) (and authorizing an exemption from local employment requirements, so much for Keeley, Golder, Brunner, Watkins, and Kalantari-Johnson supporting Good labor practices!)

General Hearing:

  1. Five-Year Strategic Plan (CN) (as I flagged in my April 21st column, among other things, we’re looking into establishing a Regional Public Safety Training Center.)

If you missed this year’s Day Worker Center fundraiser, you can donate now, while you listen to this playlist by Juan Antonio Cuellar, Collection Curator of the Arhoolie Foundation’s Frontera Collection.

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:

June 26


Last week, longtime the Soquel Creek Water District Board member Bruce Daniels resigned, effective June 19.  His letter of resignation was not included in the meeting packet, but General Manager Ron Duncan stated that Director Daniels wanted to do other things, such as travel and work on writing computer models for students wanting to study climate change.

Somehow, I think it could be related to the Board’s action last January to dissolve funding for large conservation projects that the District has been collecting for a couple of decades in response to his failed attempt to convince the Board to declare a moratorium on new connections.  He always voted “NO” for any new service requests the Board reviewed, citing critical overdraft problems he felt needed to be addressed.   Staff convinced the Board in January that it was no longer necessary to continue collecting $55,000/acre foot new water demand, meant to fund large water conservation projects that would not otherwise get funded.


The District collected a lot of money, doubled the number of water demand offsets they could sell, and used the money to buy new water meters that staff claimed would save a lot of water.  Shouldn’t that have been a standard operational expense?


Well, last Tuesday, the Directors discussed how to fill the Board vacancy. It was quite a dog and pony show. Even though Director Daniels had just submitted his resignation, Ms. Traci Hart, Director of HR, already had researched two plans of action the Board could take: 1) hold an election, or 2) appoint someone to their liking.  No surprise, Director Bruce Jaffe quickly responded that he had no interest at all in discussing an election.

“It’s a lot of work to run,” agreed Chairman Carla ChristensenHmmm….do they already know who they want on the Board?  Has Director Daniels made his selection behind the scenes and resigned mid-term to ensure his choice would be a shoe-in?

After some back-and-forth about who on the Board should serve on the Ad Hoc Committee of two to develop an application, they voted to schedule two Board meetings to interview the applicants on August 8 and 9.  Only then did Manager Duncan state that elections are expensive, the last one costing about $60,000.  Really?   Ms. Hart had earlier admitted she had not been able contact the County Elections Director to find out the cost, and whether or not there were an election for other matters on the November 2023 ballot.

Director Rachel Lather remained quite silent, only saying she was too busy to serve on the Ad Hoc, but offered “Well, I remember I worked hard on my application.”

She was appointed to the Board in 2016 when Director Rick Meyer passed away.  I remember how their selection process went, because I attended both of the Board meetings to interview replacement directors.  It was pretty clear to me that the Board had already decided Rachel Lather was their choice because she knew so much about sewage, having worked for the County of Santa Cruz in the sanitation dept.   The District was already gearing up to rubber stamp the PureWater Soquel Project to inject treated sewage water into the groundwater.  Let me tell you, there were some really excellent candidates who were not considered.

Also, I later learned that Rachel Lather was a close friend of Director Carla Christensen, which likely swayed the Board’s selection.

As we all know, an appointee becomes the “Incumbent” on the ballots for the next election….and has a significant advantage over others who may run for the Board.  That is what has helped keep Rachel Lather on the Board.   She refused to vote on the last repressive District rate increases that have raised the cost of water 9% every year for the past five years, admitted that she has lost sleep over the Board’s approval to double the number of new water demand offsets sold, and questioned why the District borrowed 100% of the money needed to fund the new Quail Run tank that benefits the Aptos Village Project but has never built the tank.

According to the District website, the applications are due July 31, but the applications are not yet available. 

2023 Board Vacancy

It will be interesting to see who the Board appoints.  Because of Manager Duncan’s repeated reference to “dedicated people on the Standing Committees” as possible Director appointees, I am guessing the choice will be a fellow who has CONSISTENTLY been their greatest cheerleader for big rate increases.   The District is currently working on a plan to raise their rates again… their project to inject treated sewage water into the groundwater is a lot more expensive than planned.  Stay tuned.


The June 15 MidCounty Groundwater Agency Board meeting featured a presentation by Ms. Georgina King, hydrologist Montgomery & Associates.

“We have seen a steady decrease in groundwater pumping, and expect that to hold.” she said.

However, there are increasing chloride levels in the south area of the Basin, which could be an indicator of an advancing freshwater / saltwater interface.  Mind you, this is NOT where the PureWater Soquel Project is scheduled to pressure inject treated sewage water, ostensibly to push back seawater intrusion.

 2022 Groundwater Annual Report, filed April 1, 2023, using data from last year (even before the big winter rains) 

Look at page 25 of the Report: Overall, 401 acre-feet less groundwater was extracted in WY 2022 compared to WY 2021,

No surface water from the SCWD to SqCWD for in-lieu use was transferred in WY 2022. (That means no water transfers from Santa Cruz to Soquel Creek Water District.  There was plenty of water available, but Soquel Creek Water District just did not ask to activate the agreement that would then allow them to buy excess water from the City and thereby reduce pumping from the aquifer.  Their justification was that the District staff was too busy with the PureWater Soquel Project construction.)

Look at the groundwater extraction amounts in the table on pages 27-28 to see how water use has consistently decreased since 2008.

Look at the encouraging increased groundwater storage maps on pages 35-37, notably in the aquifer areas that Soquel Creek Water District intends to pressure-inject treated sewage water.

The MidCounty Groundwater Agency Board also approved their 2023 budget…how to use $7.6 Million grant money?  The budget includes spending $20,000 for public outreach. “What DOES the agency plan to do for public outreach in the coming year?” I asked.  No reply.

Spending $65,000 for metering on non-diminimus well owners, those pumping more than 2 acre-feet/year, will perhaps help those private well owners pay for the mandated meters that will soon assess them for groundwater extraction

It will be interesting to see the results of State-funded helicopter flights using magnetic resonance data to determine what the saltwater / freshwater interface status is.  The State is really dragging their feet on releasing this information.  However, based on the information, the MidCounty Groundwater Agency has budgeted $150,000 to do this analysis again, with a more refined level of surveying.

Take a look at what is planned that will affect the groundwater level and administration of such in the Midcounty areas.  Here is the link to the MGA website: Recent News | Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency


In the next few years, there will be increasing pressure to tax private well owners in Santa Cruz County for their groundwater extraction.  The representation of those well owners on the MidCounty Groundwater Agency (MGA) is up for selection.

The application process is underway.  Unlike the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency, which allows the private well owners to select their representative, the MidCounty GSA will have an executive committee from within to decide criteria.    Last week’s Board approved Sierra Ryan (from the County), Jon Kennedy and Curt Abramson (current private well reps) and one other executive member to develop an application process and criteria,

The Executive Committee (Soquel Creek Water District General Manager Ron Duncan, the City of Santa Cruz Water Dept. Manager Rosemary Menard, the Central Water District General Manager Ralph Bracamonte, and Sierra Ryan as County of Santa Cruz Water Resources Director) will decide who represents the private well owners, not the private well owners,

The application for the Private Well Owner representative is not available yet, but watch for it here and consider applying if you are a private well owner:

Private Well Owners | Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency


The City of Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Dept. held a public hearing on June 14 (as reported last week by Bratton Online contributor Joy Schendledecker) to check off a mandatory box required to renew the City’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to discharge treated sewage water into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  The Santa Cruz City Council will review and approve the report on discharge contamination in August.  The County of Santa Cruz is also working on what dumping limits are set, and the contaminant concentrations allows, and the matter will come before the Board of Supervisors for approval.

The City, with the help of Kennedy Jenks Consultants, conducted five sampling events at 19 sampling stations over a period of 16 months of industrial sources as well as at the Wastewater Treatment facility to generally monitor the household waste contaminant levels.  Because of the sampling results, five new pollutants will be monitored.

Ms. Melanie Mow-Schumacher of Soquel Creek Water District talked about the PureWater Soquel Project, stating roughly 25% of the wastewater effluent will be piped from Santa Cruz to the Treatment Plant under construction across from the County Sheriff Headquarters.  Because the District plans to inject that treated sewage water into the aquifer, it is important that the City have a good handle on the levels of contaminants and their sources, so hence, the NPDES permit update is crucial for them.

Will there be real time data sharing between the City and the District’s PureWater Soquel Project to be able to alert each other for unusual contaminant spikes or system failures and thereby ensure treatment system redundancy would effectively prevent irreversible and significant groundwater contamination?  The District’s treatment facility will have real-time monitoring of contaminant levels.

What bothered me is that the treatment “brine” from the PureWater Soquel Project will get dumped directly into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and not treated again, as was stated in the 2018 Project EIR.  There are many carcinogenic contaminants that are a result of the disinfection process that will become one of the City’s industrial pollution sources…hence the inclusion of the District in the public hearing.

One member of the audience commented that it is difficult to find that level of information on the City’s website to see whether there are or have been spikes in wastewater contaminant levels.  She also mentioned the leak in the City’s sewage effluent outfall pipe going out into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  Ms. Ann Hogan, Director of the City’s Wastewater Treatment Dept., mentioned that the website will be updated soon to connect with a STATE data tool called CRISPR that will soon be integrated with website information.  Ms. Hogan stated that there have been two dye-plume studies conducted recently of the damaged effluent outfall pipeline, and results will be made publicly available soon.

I left the meeting feeling that the City will do its best to monitor the industrial point-source contaminants, but the wild cards will be domestic sewage contamination levels and the PureWater Soquel Project effluent contamination concentrate and elevated temperature fluctuations.  Keep your eye on the City’s website improvements and ask the City Council to repair the damaged sewage effluent pipe that is allowing treated sewage (and PureWater Soquel contaminant “brine”) to be dumped closer to the beaches than is permitted.

Santa Cruz City Council

Here is a link to the EPA Clean Water Act website, detailing what the NPDES permit process involves.

Oddly, in a recent legal action I had regarding the California Coastal Commission’s rubberstamp approval of the PureWater Soquel Project, the First District Court of Appeal opined that “the Clean Water Act is only a suggestion and is not legally binding.”  Isn’t that interesting?


This Friday at a bit after 1pm, Dr. Matt Wetstein, President of Cabrillo Community College, will be the guest on “Community Matters” online radio program.  Listen in:

You can call in with your thoughts:  831-265-5050.



Cheers and Happy Belated Summer Solstice,


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 25


There are many native dandelion relatives on California’s Central Coast, and none of them are weeds. They all have that enigmatic seed head, so familiar to most of us. I’m naming a special wildflower “June’s flower:” the largest native dandelion of them all, Agoseris grandiflora, aka giant mountain dandelion.

We become familiar with dandelion seedheads at a young age. Children’s books and movies feature the beautiful plumose globes of seeds as they break apart by blowing people or from a breeze. Individual seeds are carried off, gliding on delicate parachutes to an uncertain but hopeful future. You might discuss the symbology with someone, and I’d be curious to learn what you ascertain.

As US citizens grow older, the capitalist marketing firms barrage our eyes and ears with quite contrary dandelion symbolism. Targeting adults, synthetic pesticide corporations portray dandelions as an Evil Weed that must be constantly battled. Dandelions’ menacing toothed leaves pop up and stretch skyward from otherwise perfectly manicured 2″ tall vibrant green, grassy lawns. Angry, menacing faces are transposed onto cartoon dandelion flower heads, taunting consumers. Standing on the aisle at the nursery or hardware store, we breathe peculiar, nasty chemical odors as we learn that ‘broadleaf’ herbicides miraculously kill dandelions, leaving the surrounding grass unharmed no matter how clutzy you might be with the spray bottle. And, you must spray! TV or internet advertisements portray constant waves of enemy dandelion parachutes blowing in from ne’er do well careless neighbors with unkempt yards. Hippies even cultivate dandelions and shun pesticides! Oddly, the dandelion and the whole lawn care racket has become another aspect of political division in the USA. This is serious, deep stuff.

In a related situation, I recently encountered similar division reading an internet ‘dialogue’ about a recently discovered new population of the extremely endangered Santa Cruz kangaroo rat. Some commentators suggested that anything called a ‘rat’ were welcome to go extinct as far as they were concerned. A rat is a rat is a rat, they claimed, and if a species were to go extinct, it was ‘Nature’s Way.’ Such is the state of manufactured political division and miseducation in the USA. Kangaroo rats are as related to the invasive house pest rats as humans are to lemurs. The same can be said of the invasive, non-native dandelion and our native giant mountain dandelion, though the two species look superficially similar. Nevertheless, I bet some folks suppose they have no use for even native dandelions; I hope that they are too few to threaten the web of life that provides us all the comforts we currently enjoy. Our native dandelions are important!

As with other of my featured “flowers-of-the-month” I have featured, you will not easily encounter giant mountain dandelion unless you go looking. To find it, go to dry, sunny locations where the soil is poor. Shallow rocky areas and road cuts are likely spots. The species likes hotter exposures – south- or west-facing slopes are perfect. It doesn’t like much shade, so the dominant surrounding vegetation should be short, sparse, and grassy. Examining iNaturalist and CalFlora databases, it doesn’t seem too easy to find the species unless you go the high ridge of the spine of the Santa Cruz mountains.

Try to arrive at a likely spot well before noon: giant mountain dandelion flowers close at midday. But, in June, you are more likely to spot the plant from its giant dandelion-like seed heads. Unlike many other similar species, this species’ heads are huge and pure white.

Trying to pick this one from the many other dandelion relatives will require a bit of guidance. European dandelions like moist ground, but giant mountain dandelions like dry ground; the two will never grow together. People commonly think that rough cat’s ear is a dandelion. I knew a Sicilian man who made dandelion wine out of a bucket full of those flowers, and he said it worked! Rough cat’s ear makes a flowerhead that is off-white, brownish…not the pure white we’re looking for. When it comes to more pure white seed heads, you might find many small ones on branches, but giant mountain dandelion has only one seed head per stem. The branched one is a new invasive species that is romping around the meadows in this region, and it’s called beaked hawksbeard.

Although the giant mountain dandelion has the biggest seedhead of them all, there are many other native dandelions with a grand range of different looking seedheads. The rarest of them, and one of the rarest plants in general, is the Santa Cruz dandelion – a plant that lives in only a handful of patches on Earth. If you find yourself in a particularly arid spot, especially inland on poor soils, you’ll find oodles of small native dandelion relatives with brownish shiny seedheads just an inch or so in diameter. These are in the Microseris genus and they all ‘nod in bud’ – flowerheads that bend down until right before they open.

What good are dandelions?

I have been asked time and again ‘what good are they?’ when I mention a given species. Giant mountain dandelions (photo to right) are certainly beautiful, and their seedheads are somehow very satisfying to blow, if you like to set dandelion seeds on their great journeys. Chalk up two values: visual aesthetics and fun. I’m not sure if they make good dandelion wine; one could try but it would be best to grow a stand of them to get enough flowers and not impact wild populations. I haven’t tried eating the greens, but I bet that they are very bitter: I haven’t seen bites taken out of them in nature. Some birds love dandelion seeds, and I suppose these are no exception, though the large amount of fluff might dissuade.

Wind dispersed seeds of plants that like hot, dry ground…doesn’t that sound like a good recipe for natural slope stabilization? We had plenty of landslides this past winter and need all the help we can get if the creeks aren’t to stay muddy.

Finally, it is the age of concern about pollinators. Honeybees are having troubles, and we have been turning to native pollinators with hope. The big juicy flowers of giant mountain dandelions are one more wildflower to support native pollinators. There may also be pollinators that depend on eating giant mountain dandelions during their larval stages – something that deserves exploring!

Your Turn

Okay- I hope you will take the challenge to go out now and find this giant native dandelion in its native habitat. You can click here for more information, though that CalFlora link suggests the species is in peak bloom in April- not so here on the coast! There are good photos at that site, so you can see the distinguishing features. The iNaturalist site for the species is here; by following this series of each month’s wildflowers, I’m hoping you’ve downloaded iNaturalist and will enter a photograph when you find this species.

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 19

#170 / My So-Called Friends

New York City Smoke, June 7, 2023

My so-called friends 
Have fallen under a spell.
They look me squarely in the eye 
And they say, well, “All is well.”
Can they imagine the darkness 
That will fall from on high 
When men will beg God to kill them 
And they won’t be able to die?

Bob Dylan, “Precious Angel

The lines above keep haunting me. And our global warming crisis proceeds. Pundits pick their sides.

An editorial in the June 9, 2023, edition of The Wall Street Journal comments on the forest fires in Canada that were raging on that date (with the smoke from those fires, as seen above, descending on New York City, and on Washington, D.C., and on much of the East Coast). The Wall Street Journal says that all that smoke should not make us worry that those fires and the smoke are a sign of an out-of-control global warming catastrophe.

Of course it is true, as The Journal tells us, that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does blame the fires on “climate change,” but the editorial in The Journal says that such fires have been occurring in Canada’s boreal forests of conifers, birch and poplar “for thousands of years.” Nothing to worry about, in other words! No reason to panic or get concerned! Our spell-bound “friends” at The Wall Street Journal are telling us that “all is well!”

Economist Paul Krugman’s June 9, 2023, column in The New York Times advances a different view:

I think it’s fair to say that even people who accept climate reality have tended to assume that really serious impacts still lie some years in the future; I sometimes find myself thinking that way, even though intellectually I know better. But it has long been clear that the damage from climate change will gradually build over time, as formerly freakish disasters become bigger and more frequent, as once-in-a-century floods, fires and droughts start happening every few years, affecting ever more people. The climate crisis will get much worse, but it is in fact already well underway.

And there are no safe places. Some people have tended to assume that a warming planet is only bad for faraway places that are already hot — India, say, or the Middle East — and might even be good for people living in colder climes. But right now Canada is on fire, and central New York State — heretofore famous for cold winters and lake-effect snow —has been hit as hard as or harder than New York City.

Things could be worse. Indeed, things are certain to get worse: Even effective climate action now won’t be enough to prevent disasters from becoming even bigger and more frequent for many more years.

While this is not really a happy admission, I am thinking that Bob Dylan is the one who has given us the most accurate “heads up” on what’s coming down the line.

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 26


The GOP, or Repubititanic Party, continues its path of blindly meandering along toward the inevitable implosion behind its self-promoting Orange-tinted leader, who has faced little criticism from his base, and even among those running against him for the presidential nomination of the doomed party. As the Former Guy told Maxine Hughes of Welsh channel S4C in a documentary entitled ‘Trump: Extreme World,’ “You have people that follow rock bands and they listen to the same songs over and over and over. You have people that go to the Mona Lisa. They love the Mona Lisa and they’ll see it hundreds and hundreds of times, and it gets better every time, or to a Broadway play where they will see it 20 times.” Comparing it to his campaign events where he rants against his critics and dog-whistles the crowd, he admits he has few talking points, riffing on the same 20 subjects each time. “You’re talking about the border, you’re talking about the military, you’re talking about low taxes, you’re talking about certain things. I can’t just make new things up because I want to make a speech. I can tell them in different ways and I do sometimes do that, a lot of times. But they just want to hear it again and again.” Along with that Mona Lisa smile, assuredly! Leonardo da Vinci would have grown impatient trying to keep him hushed and immobile, resulting in a work portraying the subject wearing a smile-obscuring gag and handcuffs – not a bad idea over all.

The dozen or so GOP presidential hopefuls have pretty much declined any heady criticisms of Trump, aside from Chris Christie, as they consider the slavish posse still lined up behind the leading contender. Former VP, and invertebrate, Mike Pence, typified this behavior recently on ‘Meet the Press,’ when Chuck Todd soft-balled him about a pardon for Trump should Pence win the presidency. His response, as described by Aldous J. Pennyfarthing, as if it were “what Jesus would say if he were the corporate spokesperson for a Fort Wayne-based lunchmeat company trying to get out in front of a listeria outbreak – Pence pounced like a NyQuil-besotted banana slug.” A shocked and frightened Pence said, “Well (Reaganesque), I just think the question is premature. Honestly (Pencesque), Chuck, I’ve pardoned people who were found guilty of a crime.” Todd then asked him what was the bar for a pardon. “Well (ditto), let me say first and foremost, I don’t know why some of my competitors in the Republican primary presume the president (sic) will be found guilty. Look, all we know is what the president (sic) has been accused of in the indictment. We don’t know what his defense is. We don’t know if this will even go to trial. It could be subject to a motion to dismiss. We don’t even know what the verdict will be of the jury.” Spoken as a true vice-presidential wannabe!? Aldous J. writes a reminder to Pence that “he almost met Jesus on January 6 via the hanging squad, and that Jesus probably felt a migraine coming on and didn’t want to deal with a guy who wouldn’t stop asking if it was really safe for him to be alone with the Virgin Mary.” Chuck Todd then asks, “If you were President Biden, would you pardon him right now?” Pence answers, “I think this whole matter is incredibly divisive for the country. And, uh, look, uh, I just think at the end of the day, it is saddening to me that we are now in this moment.” Pen in hand, Pennyfarthing writes, “The correct answer is ‘No,’ I hope he rots in prison!” He visualizes both Pence and Christie on the debate stage with the other one- to two-dozen contenders, when the moderator asks, “Hands up if at any point Donald Trump tried to kill you,” which is bound to result in at least two raised hands, and maybe more. Who knows? Agent Orange keeps a lot of secrets, and recovery is still going on. For most of us who are tired of hearing this incessant burbling, we can echo musical artist Jimi Hendrix and cry, “‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” And Pence, using the mondegreen, “‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy.”

The ex-prez surely didn’t feel he was posing for a portrait when he faced off with Fox’s Bret Baier for an interview that was decidedly not in friendly territory, as historically has been the case. From the get-go, Baier pummeled him with curve balls, sliders and 98-mph fast balls that had him frowning and fidgeting red-faced, and on the edge of his seat awaiting the seventh inning stretch, or for a rain-delay to be called. Chuck Todd, and CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, who contributed to that network’s meltdown a couple of weeks ago, could learn a thing or two from Baier, an experienced reporter. Trump steamrolled Collins from his confused and jumbled memory, even with the softball questions she asked, as if he were being confronted with heavy accusations. The Don’s uneasiness showed his fear, being thrown off-balance by Baier’s insistence upon complete answers, not letting Trump’s attempts at dismissing questions derail his well-prepared interview. There was no hesitation as Baier interrupted, corrected, and challenged his interviewee, well-armed with quotes, sound clips, and charts with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back, even having to defend Fox after Trump said, “I’m no great fan of Fox,” Baier pushing right back with, “You’re sitting here.” DOJ Special Prosecutor Jack Smith and associates gleaned a goldmine of prosecutorial evidence against Trump, thanks to Baier’s persistence. Poor Donny-boy…he really could have used his usual hooting and hollering crowd, cheering on his lies and bullying, not having to deal with this Fox-y individual who knows where all the bones are buried, where the skeletons are closeted. An amusing piece by Mia Mercado in The New Yorker about ‘bones,’ says, “A skeleton is a gathering of bones. Bones will typically get together for festive events such as Halloween, pirate-themed parties, and morbid Christmas. A gathering of skeletons is known as ‘catacombs’ in France. In the United States, it is known as C-SPAN.” Add Fox News to your list, Maria!

The US Extreme Court has just about wrapped up the summer session with the big decisions on student debt relief, affirmative action, same-sex wedding sites, ‘independent state legislature’ theory, and a few others to finish out the traditional June-ending docket. Doubtless, they are attempting to get it all wrapped up to allow Justices Alito and Thomas to pack their bags in time to take off on whatever trips their sponsors have arranged for them, with fingers crossed that they get the docket for the next session lined up before the recess.  It’s unlikely that Chief Justice John Roberts will require any of the justices to remain after those decisions are handed down, which would allow him to give them a refresher course on ethics and allowable summer activities to document on their return…maybe some handouts as they go whooping and hollering out the front door, eh J.R.? Clarence Thomas seems to be the record holder on scored gifts and trips, though billionaire Paul Singer’s big catch, Justice Alito, may be closing that gap with his well-publicized fishing trip, and a newly disclosed trip to Rome, where he spoke at a ‘summit,’ courtesy of Notre Dame University’s Religious Liberty Initiative. Ending a fifty-year standing of a woman’s right to bodily autonomy deserves more than a stay in a D.C. area Hilton, so why not a hotel overlooking the Roman Forum? Stephanie Barclay, director of R.L.I., has confirmed that the cost of sending Samuel and wife, Martha, was covered by the ‘religious liberty’ group. Alito says there isn’t a conflict of interest here because the group has a number of components and he was not invited to speak by the ‘clinic‘ that may have business before the Supreme Court. So, the ‘clinic‘ involvement might have been a problem for him, but not the organization of which it is a part…ka-ching! Nothing to see here, folks, no need for disclosure!

What a group! Thomas and his sugar-daddy, Harlan Crow, who has funded numerous luxury trips for Clarence and his wife, college tuition for a nephew, home-purchase and free rent for mom, and secret payments of tens of thousands of bucks to wife and insurrectionist, Ginni, through an arrangement with Leonard Leo. Brett Kavanaugh had a court debut with 83 ethics complaints and sexual assault allegations that keep cropping up. Neil Gorsuch conveniently sold property after his court confirmation, to a law firm with business before the court. Amy Coney Barrett, former Notre Dame (where have we heard that name before?) professor, after being seated on the high court, sold her home to a recently hired prof who was assuming leadership at the Religious Liberty Initiative (aha!), making her the third court member to make money from property sales with influential conservative people, or to those connected to legal advocacy groups writing for the court. Drip, drip, drip. And, chief honcho Roberts has that “what,…you lookin’ at me?” expression, as his wife rakes in millions by recruiting attorneys for firms with business before the court. None of the justices deemed it necessary to recuse themselves as notable cases were tried! The generosity of billionaires contributed greatly to assembling the super majority group, and the financial incentives put before them dissuades the justices from deviating from the doctrinaire ideologues and the conservative positions they push. Existing charts have demonstrated the trend followed by jurists as they get older toward a more liberal bias, leading these wealthy puppet masters to counter that anomaly with their largesse, codes of ethics be damned! What next? Overturning state and local gun regulations? Gutting voting rights protections? Attacking climate-change decisions? Striking down Roe v….oh yeah, too late for ALL that! Our citizens are now realizing that our Supreme Court isn’t a body that issues earnest and principled rulings, though we may at times disagree; the court is now seen as the American right-winger’s rigidly partisan and unprincipled political weapon, likely to remain significantly unchanged for another forty years. Conservatives are quick to rush into the fray, defending the court for being attacked and intimidated by left-wingers. Take Senator Tom Cotton’s standing up for Justice Alito’s Alaska trip funded by Paul SingerFederal Elections Commission records show Cotton’s election campaign received close to $20K from a Paul Singer and family. The man clearly knows where to put his money…Singerin’ a song, side by side!

On a recent Amicus podcast on Slate, with Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Stern, they discussed the Supremes‘ ethics breaches, identifying the pioneer of such behavior as Justice Antonin Scalia, who was a frequenter of fishing trips, or stays at hunting lodges and resorts on his wealthy acquaintances’ tabs. Ah yes, Paul Singer was one of his patrons. Exemplar Scalia set the tone for both Thomas and Alito, who have no use for following hard and fast ethics rules. Lithwick says, “I don’t care where Sam Alito goes on vacation. I don’t care that Harlan Crow builds a petting zoo for Clarence Thomas in the backyard. What I care about is that there is a machine that seats justices at the court, and keeps other justices off the court, and that billions of dollars flood into this machine.” She asks Stern if he thinks some of the justices are moderating some of their decisions because of the stench from the bad publicity. He answers, “I don’t want to say the court has moderated. This court remains extremely conservative on issues the justices care about, like doing away with affirmative action, attacking the administrative state, and enshrining the right to discriminate into the law of religious freedom. And the more that Thomas and Alito look like crooks, there’s going to be a reaction from the other conservatives. They’re going to have the chief justice standing there with his arms wide open saying, ‘Oh, you want an alternative? Well, that’s what I’m here for. I’m John Roberts, and I live for this. You want a narrowly crafted compromise that inches the law to the right? I’m on it. You want a surprise, centrist victory that simply preserves the status quo while making progressives feel good? I can cook that up for you.’ John Roberts knows how to do this. And in times of crisis and uncertainty, that can look a whole lot more appealing than the nihilism offered by Alito and Thomas.”

This just in! Satirist, Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker, reports that the “situation in Russia descended into further uncertainty after Arizona’s Kari Lake stunned geopolitical experts by declaring herself the new leader of the Wagner Group. Speaking from the mercenary force’s new headquarters in Phoenix, AZ, the former anchorwoman claimed that she won leadership of Wagner by a landslide. She warned Russian state media against questioning her claim to the Wagner helm. ‘I will be your worst frickin’ nightmare,’ she said. Wagner troops expressed surprise at Lake’s sudden elevation and reservations about whether she would be an improvement over their former leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. ‘She seems really mean,’ one said.”

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:


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.


“We can’t possibly have a summer love. So many people have tried that the name’s become proverbial. Summer is only the unfulfilled promise of spring, a charlatan in place of the warm balmy nights I dream of in April. It’s a sad season of life without growth…It has no day.”

~F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

“July is a blind date with summer.”
~Hal Borland, Sundial of the Seasons

“But here I am in July, and why am I thinking about Christmas pudding? Probably because we always pine for what we do not have. The winter seems cozy and romantic in the hell of summer, but hot beaches and sunlight are what we yearn for all winter.”

~Joanna Franklin Bell

“Then came July like three o’clock in the afternoon, hot and listless and miserable.”

~Allie Ray, Holler


Language. It is so cool! I think most people have heard of mondegreens, but have you heard to eggcorns? Well, now you have. Thank me later 🙂

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