Blog Archives

June 30 – July 6, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Leaf Blowers in Santa Cruz, Don’t Bury the Library, Researching your house’s history, GREENSITE…on city’s Sales Tax Ballot Measure. KROHN…Sandy Brown to the Rescue. STEINBRUNER…Read the Grand Jury Report. PATTON…”Slow Growth Gamble”. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Fireworks”


DAVENPORT TRESTLE 1906. This is the Ocean Shore Railroad filling in the trestle near Davenport. It would lead past Davenport up the old Highway One to the little town of Swanton.
photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.
Additional information always welcome: email



LEAF BLOWERS IN SANTA CRUZ? Whatever happened to the once energetic drive to rid Santa Cruz of gas leaf blowers? Today’s (6/28) San Francisco Chronicle has an excellent article titled, “Cities Weigh regulations, bans for gas leaf blowers”. [Here is a link, but it’s behind a paywall.] It talks about a statewide ban if an Assembly bill passes. Novato and Hayward are almost ready to ban the “noisy, smoke belching nuisances”. Oakland bans them so does Berkeley, Los Gatos, Carmel, Mill Valley, Sonoma, and Los Angeles bans them within 500 feet of residences. Davis bans their use by homeowners for more than 10 minutes. “Twenty other cities in California have outlawed their use out right and 80 cities have enacted restrictions”. So that sure seems like Santa Cruz should get back onboard and outlaw them completely. Who and what groups were fighting gas blowers a few years ago and what happened to that energy?


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LIBRARY UPDATE. Jean Brocklebank of Don’t Bury the Library organization stated some very poignant and purposeful facts and figures in reacting and following up on a recent radio interview she did. She stated,”Not only is Martín Bernal leaving (retiring), as is Susan Nemitz (resigning to focus on her health), so is are City Finance Director Kim Krause, principal management analyst for the entire Library Mixed Use project, Amanda Rotella (a key staff person at the Economic Development Department under Bonnie Lipscomb. Amanda was the principal management analyst for the entire Library Mixed Use project Oh, also the Fire Chief (Hajduk) is leaving but I don’t know if it is retirement or transfer to another city. Why so many all at once? Bailing from a sinking ship? Change of perspective about life in general?  Need to reduce stress (like Nemitz)?” Jean continued on some news and notes on the library history…

  1. At its present location since 1904 the downtown library has been an integral part of the Civic Center, right across the street from City Hall and nearby other city departmental offices, plus a block from the other civic center anchor, the Civic Auditorium.
  2. The decisions about the location of the downtown library were made by three different City Councils:
    • Decision to approve (2016)
    • New Council elected in November 2018
    • Decision to halt the project until a City Council Ad Hoc Subcommittee could look again at the controversial project (established in May 2019)
    • New City Council (due to Recall election) approves the project once more (2020)
  3. During its tenure, the Ad Hoc Subcommittee asked the City Council (CC) to issue an RFP for renovation of the downtown library. The CC did so. The result was really not a renovation but rather a rebuild. Still, it showed how a library could be rebuilt for the $27 million Measure S budget. It resulted in a 30,000 sf library, with the entrance moved to face City Hall.  It was called the Jayson Architecture proposal, as shown on our web site.

    Then the Subcommittee had another RFP for the Library-Garage proposal done, which pleased us because we knew that escalated costs meant there most probably could not be a 44,000 sf library in the mixed-use structure. We were right! The Library-Garage proposal (by Group 4) resulted in a 29,060 sf for $27 million. 

    Both were going to cost more than $27 million. 

    When I said that we would never know what a “renovated” library would cost, I meant that the Jayson proposal was predicated with everything inside the existing structure being tossed. That is, taking the structure down to its bones and rebuilding. Or, as Abe Jayson described it “imagine turning the existing library upside down … everything that falls out will be replaced.”

Don’t Bury the Library

RESEARCHING YOUR SANTA CRUZ HOUSE. Joe Michalak and Annette Hagopian gave a talk to the Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County on June 1st. They talked about researching your house’s history. Joe stated “researching one’s house is a relatively easy way to get to know your neighborhood and its people, past and present. This project grew out of a desire to demystify the process of researching the history of a property. Judy Steen and I have been researching local properties for the past few decades and now access to critical sources of information is much easier and more extensive thanks to the availability of vast repositories over the Internet. Here’s a copy. People can find it at the Genealogical Society by clicking here.

Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

GONE GIRL. (Prime Video Single) (87RT). Rosamund Pike never had it better than her role in this dissection of what’s behind or hidden in a marriage. Ben Affleck is her husband and Neil Patrick Harris is an ex who has never given her up. She disappears and the husband gets the blame. Whodunit is the theme and the ending will surprise many viewers Go for it.

POSSESSIONS. (HBO MAX SERIES). A very traditional Jewish wedding in Israel and just at the moment the beautiful French bride slices the wedding cake, the lights go out and the husband is bloody and dead. She’s helped in proving her innocence by a cross-eyed official from the French Consulate General’s office, which makes it all the more mysterious. After three episodes I’m still curious and watching.

KATLA. (NETFLIX SERIES) A volcano erupts in Vik, Iceland and strangers and family members who disappeared return covered with black ashes. How or why have they survived or did they survive? Great Iceland photography, fine acting, very original plot and views of Iceland’s volcano territory you probably have never seen. Go for it. (100RT)

FALSE POSITIVE. (HULU SINGLE) Pierce Brosnan goes against his James bond type character and is a pregnancy doctor/ fertility specialist. He supervises/controls one woman’s pregnancy and has a secret relationship with her husband. It’s controlling, creepy, and will keep you guessing about the truth until the end which was very disappointing. (52RT)

HOTEL COPPELIA. (HBO MAX SINGLE). There’s a civil war in The Dominican Republic in 1965. The hotel is really a brothel and the “girls” are strung out in many, many ways. The locals are fighting the war’s battles but the American troops take over and everything gets challenged, including loyalties. Odd plot gaps, not the greatest acting ever but watch it anyways.

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, 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.  

PHYSICAL. (APPLE SERIES) Rose Byrne plays a 1980’s housewife with some very bad dreams. It’s a comedy, and so there’s a few laughs as she faces food binges, a miserable husband, some strange fitness classes and has trouble with reality.(63RT). What it really exposes is our obsessions with body weight, mental problems, even political residue. I don’t watch many comedies but definitely offers some funny moments, and some serious introspection. 

RUN. (HULU SINGLE). (88RT) You’ll experience a mother like no other in this internal horror story. A teen-aged daughter who can’t walk, has diabetes, paralysis and more, finally realizes that her mother is not what she believed she was. This terrifying story reaches a climax a bit later than you’d think, but it’s still worth watching.

SECURITY. (NETFLIX SINGLE) In an Italian beachside small town much like Santa Cruz, a young girl accuses a man of power and political holdings of rape. She has a father who is, or was, a pedophile. Complex, involving, and well directed, it’s a wakeup call to think about our own security including our CCTV cameras and iPhones.

LUPE. (HBO MAX SINGLE). A serious movie centered around and focusing on a transgendered young boxer from Cuba who comes to NYC looking for his sister. Much nudity, some odd moments of joking, all centered on a transgendered world. He thinks his sister may be prostituting herself, and he finds support from a prostitute friend of hers. Not the greatest film ever, but it’ll give you a chance to think about that transgendered world.

LUPIN. (NETFLIX SERIES). I critiqued this first series episodes a few months ago, and now that the New Yorker wrote such a laudatory piece about Omar Sy’s starring role I’ve watched many more episodes….and they’ll all good. A neatly-twisted robbery plot of Marie Antoinette’s necklace from the Louvre, there’s revenge, politics (French politics) and many, many Louvre scenes. The plot is complex enough to keep you glued to your viewing device for the two seasons so far. What is outstanding is that the acting is excellent and believable. Omar Sy is the “new” Black star, and has everyone talking about him and his fabulous acting style. This is one of the finest detective shows I’ve ever seen….don’t miss it. 

IN THE HEIGHTS. (HBO MAX) (96RT).The huge, lavish, much-talked-about musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda, who became famous doing Hamilton. I loved the classical musicals, both onstage like Oklahoma and South Pacific, and the classic Hollywood musicals like Wizard of Oz, Annie Get Your Gun, Gigi, West Side Story, White Christmas, Carmen Jones, Oliver and dozens more — but Heights didn’t touch any of those high standards. It’s the story of a young girl of Puerto Rican heritage who went to Stanford, and was subjected to racial prejudice. Does she go back to Stanford, does her boyfriend go back to his Dominican Republic home? Who did win the lottery at the very last minute and how?  Go for it IF you like musicals… because there’s way too much music and not enough plot in this one. 

TRAGIC JUNGLE. (NETFLIX SINGLE) Set in the very deep, dark jungles of Belize in the 1920’s – and the Mexican border – we watch the workers strip the trees of chicle to make chewing gum. Then there’s two teenage girls who switch identities, and one of them is a very haunting witch who drives and kills the workers one by one. The plot goes everywhere and overly complex. You’ll wonder where the story is going for about ¾ of the movie then after that, you won’t care.

PANIC. (AMAZON PRIME SERIES) A teenage high school action thriller that has mostly 20 and 30 year olds playing the parts. The “kids” create a (literally) death-defying night of dangerous stunts. It all happens in Carp, Texas (a fictional town) and some of the stunts are genuinely scary. Each episode ends right at the critical moment when the teen is about to do the stunt. You won’t learn anything, but you’ll stop thinking about masks for a while. (68RT) 

HERSELF. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). A distraught mother of two daughters splits from her abusive husband, and works hard to build herself a new house from ground up. So it’s her story, a very Irish story (filmed in Ireland) touching, heartfelt, well-acted, not too significant… but go for it.

June 28

If you’ve ever participated in a Santa Cruz city council or commission meeting via zoom you know it can be a frustrating experience. Mayor and chairs often omit important public access instructions and the most common plea from a caller whose turn is up is “can you hear me?”  At a Planning Commission meeting the chair failed to have the call-in numbers posted on the screen after stating it was public comment time. I was following the meeting on Community TV and had sat through almost two hours of staff presentation and commission questions for a chance to speak on final approval of the Wharf Master Plan. Realizing the chair’s error and knowing that public comment time can be brief depending on how many are calling in, I scrambled to find the meeting on my computer where I knew the numbers would be posted. As the minutes ticked by I frantically willed my computer to hurry, located the numbers, followed the agonizingly slow prompts and crossed fingers that public comment had not ended. I was lucky.

Not so lucky for last week’s city council meeting. One item on the agenda was the proposed Ballot Measure for a half-cent increase in the city’s Sales and Use Tax. I have long been opposed to any sales tax increase since it is a regressive tax, disproportionately impacting low-income workers and families. This time I was following the meeting on my computer. When the Mayor called for public comment I was ready. Already dialed in, had followed the prompts and pressed *9 to indicate I wanted to speak. I listened to the other speakers, mainly union members and reps and waited for the last four digits of my number to be called with a finger ready to press *6 to un-mute myself. I waited in vain. I was not recognized. The public comment period was declared over and the Mayor returned the meeting to council for deliberation and action. Later I followed up to try to find out why my hand was not recognized. The response was there were no more hands up.  

Council member Sandy Brown taking a stand against the sales tax Ballot Measure

This item was a rare event in council proceedings. In order to get a sales tax increase on the ballot as an emergency measure, as was the case here, the council had to vote unanimously to do so. Council member Sandy Brown was the sole hold out and for good reason. For a ballot measure to pass with a vote of 50% +1 it has to be limited to a General Purpose tax, meaning it goes into the big pot of the General Fund; it cannot be earmarked for specific uses. To achieve the latter, a two-thirds vote of the public is required. Council could have chosen this option but were probably advised against it by the consultants since the danger is that it might not pass at the higher level. 

If you read the Ballot Measure language you would not know this distinction. Calculated to be misleading it is filled with specifics that the augmented General Funds will be used for: “affordable housing, reduce wildfire risk, maintain City facilities and essential infrastructure, fix streets, support transit, maintain parks and recreation facilities for youth and seniors, fight climate change and prevent reductions in important city services.” What’s not to like? This language may be on the slim side of legal but any new monies can just as easily and legally be used for more consultants, office makeovers or pay increases for top management. There was no hesitation from the council majority recently to increase the pay of a new City Manager by $5000 a month. The city was in no less of an “emergency” when that vote was taken. Fifteen million dollars is being pumped into the city coffers from the Federal Government and by all measures, tourists are returning in droves. 

Councilmember Brown had a clear position. She had worked hard to get a Livable Wage Ordinance passed in the city yet there were city workers (custodians, some maintenance workers, lifeguards etc.) currently earning less than a livable wage. She had supported sales tax increases in the past with the expectation that such workers’ pay would be increased to bring them up to a livable wage but this had never been supported by a council majority and she had no trust that this time would be any different. If there were a willingness to meet and discuss this issue before a vote on the Ballot Measure, depending on that conversation she would be willing to be supportive.  Two council members were willing to meet and have that conversation but not before a vote on the Ballot Measure.  Given that her vote was the only leverage she had to guarantee a meaningful discussion, Brown held to her position. She faced considerable guilt tripping from some council members who accused her of standing in the way of democracy and hurting those she professed to care about. The question was called and the vote was 6-1. A door was left open for the Mayor to call a special meeting and depending on conversations in the meantime, a new vote may be forthcoming before the deadline of August 6th. 

I hope council member Brown stands firm. Even if there is the unlikely commitment from council members to fully fund a livable wage from the General Fund, something they have not cared to do previously, there is still the issue that a sales tax is a regressive tax. There are many other workers in Santa Cruz earning below even the lowest paid city worker. For them every dollar counts. Even with most groceries, medicines, diapers and feminine hygiene products exempt from a sales tax, that leaves children’s clothing, furniture, car repairs and much more that will be just that more expensive. Our sales tax at present is 9.25 percent. A half- cent would take it to 9.75 percent. As for “letting the voters decide” and the Mayor’s comment that Brown was cutting off democracy, this it should be noted is also a class issue. Those who earn good money won’t notice the increase while those at the bottom pay scales will. The former are likely to vote yes, especially if they have bought the city’s propaganda of where the money will be spent. The latter are likely to vote no with a few others such as myself included. A well-off majority ignoring the impact on a low-income minority is more an example of class self-interest than true democracy.

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 28 


The Power of One Vote
That was an ugly Santa Cruz city council meeting last week. An emergency vote was called for by a revenue subcommittee’s recommendation. The issue of putting before voters a half-cent increase in the current 9.25% sales tax rate turned into an hours-long bully-fest as Councilmember Sandy Brown, the lone holdout, became the object of so much council angst and derision. She stood tall, which is difficult inside the Zoom screen, and did not back down. It was clear that unless the council approved a bonus for frontline city workers, and immediately brought the lowest paid up to the city’s approved living wage, Councilmember Brown would be voting no.

What Was the Problem?
You could cut the zoom room with a knife, the tension was leaking out from my computer screen. When Brown was attacked for not trusting other councilmembers, she took a deep breath and calmly explained, “There is a systemic lack of interest on this council in supporting our lowest wage workers,” which there is. Her argument was not about a lack of trust for individual councilmembers, it was projecting a much more inclusive and life-sustaining vision of the city workforce. The vote to raise the sales tax had to be unanimous because it was an emergency measure and state law dictates that the entire city council has to vote affirmatively to place it on the ballot. If passed, it would raise around $6 million, but other members of the council were not in a mood to compromise any of their tax monies because of Brown’s love affair with workers.

The Tyranny of the Majority
Alexis de Tocqueville, French diplomat, political scientist, and aristocrat traveled for nine months in the year 1831, ostensibly on a mission to examine prisons and penitentiaries in the US, but he became involved in conversations around politics and the democratic practices of the nascent American regime. Those travel journals resulted in an historic 1835 book, Democracy in America. In it, he discussed a concept that is relative to the current state of decision-making on the Santa Cruz city council. Tocqueville sums up our city council’s take no prisoners style like this: the tyranny of the majority. It is when a majority crushes all dissenting views, but according to Tocqueville, there may be a resulting political price to pay. This council’s tyranny of the majority certainly looked heavy-handed to those watching the meeting on Community TV, but Sandy Brown was not about to knuckle under. The tyranny of the council’s 5-2 majority came to reflect their ham-fisted, steam-roller approach to locals as they seek to appease all manner of realtors and market-rate housing developers they encounter. But on this night, it would be Dr. Brown who would prevail while invoking her relentless advocacy for the downtrodden. She sought only compromise while the rest of the council was looking for a knockout blow. But then it was too late. As one councilmember invoked, “calling the question,” in order to cut off debate and rush a vote, seemingly wanting to see Brown squirm and finally succumb to the hours-long haranguing by some colleagues, but she held veto power and was forced to use it when no one would support a resolution that incorporated her pleas for higher wages for low-paid city workers. With the majority not responding, voting NO was the only sensible thing she could do to ensure city workers would continue to have a voice at the municipal table.

What Else Was on the Table?
Perhaps Councilmember Sandy Brown was also reacting to a pandemic crisis that has been full with city bureaucratic incompetence and fellow councilmember overreach on a long post-2020 recall election wish list they had compiled. The absence of a transparent and open public process during the pandemic made the task of pushing through their shopping list of market-rate housing projects much easier. Maybe Councilmember Brown was also saying no to the thousands of market-rate units already permitted, or being planned, and that these same low-wage workers, for which she is hoping to win a salary bump, will never be able to occupy? Or possibly, it was a no vote against moving the library to a parking garage on top of the Downtown Farmer’s Market site while also axing several heritage trees? Or was it a no vote against putting the municipal wharf on steroids and placing a hotel where the Community Credit Union now sits on Front Street? It’s hard to tell, but there was Brown yet again advocating for low-wage workers. 

A Populist Seeking to Unleash Santa Cruz’s Better Angels
Sandy Brown’s message is simple. She represents constituents who want affordable, not luxury, housing; a downtown central park and permanent home for the Farmers Market; a remodeled library as the cornerstone of a downtown municipal plaza; and maybe most importantly, fair and just wages for city workers. Brown also made the point that a sales tax increase is regressive. Why not put before voters a hotel tax increase that affects tourists with disposable income, or an empty homes tax which asks those with second and third homes to pay if they leave their places vacant, or a real estate transfer tax so the city can cash in as well as the homeowner, on our ridiculous sky-high home prices? Here’s a wild idea, why not put all these taxes on the Newsome-recall ballot and see which one receives the most votes. What I heard at the council meeting was Councilmember Brown calling for a wider, more in-depth, post-covid community conversation around revenue-raising. I heard her saying why not tax the folks who can afford it most? Perhaps Brown’s vote was a vote of no confidence too. This city is hemorrhaging city staff and may soon be on life support: the fire chief, city manager, library, water, and finance directors are all bailing. Instead of passing this tax, maybe the city council ought to do some sober reflection and in-depth analysis of where city government is and where it should be going. Passing a regressive sales tax increase is not the answer for creating good and responsive local government.

“We’re working to win a Civilian Climate Corps in the reconciliation package. The last time the US did this, we employed 2M people and had record success in wildfire suppression – one the most rapid peacetime mobilizations in US history. We can revive it to fight climate change.” (June 23)

Santa Cruz Political Report on KSQD’s Talk of the Bay Every Tues at 5pm
Oakland, Vancouver and Washington, D.C. all have one, come 2022, Santa Cruz may have one as well. This week’s, Talk of the Bay, features Cyndi Dawson and Josh McCallister from the group, Empty Homes Tax. They are seeking to place a vacant, or empty, homes tax on the 2022 ballot. Joining them will be Maine’s Rep. Chris Kessler explaining how Maine is enacting one as well. If you miss it, go to our archive where all the past 26 episodes are located.

Absurd “preacher-man” absurdly tries to block musical offerings by the marimba band, Kuzanga, by amplifying his doom and gloom message over the band’s hopeful sounds. The Saturday night scene turned into mayhem at times and reflects a broken free speech policy on Pacific Avenue. 
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. Krohn was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. That term ended when the development empire struck back with luxury condo developer money combined with the real estate industry’s largesse. They paid to recall Krohn and Drew Glover from the Santa Cruz city council in 2019.

Email Chris at



Last week, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury released this report that is a must read: 

“The CZU Lightning Complex Fire – Learn…or Burn? Board Oversight – An Obligation to our Community”

“Nothing is yet published about the performance of our government leadership in holding Cal Fire accountable for past actions and ensuring readiness for the next event. 

The Grand Jury received complaints from residents angry over not fully understanding how everything went so wrong, and frustrated about feeling unheard by their local government leaders. Many are afraid that the county is unprepared for the next event.”


Why didn’t CAL FIRE conduct an After Action Review of the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, as is standard procedure for assessing what went right, and what needs to be done for future events?  CAL FIRE/ County Fire Chief Ian Larkin assured me that “no such document exists” when I submitted a Public Records Act request for it.

Why did the Santa Cruz County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the full-time position of County Office of Emergency Services Manager, held by the incredibly competent Ms. Rosemary Anderson at the time, be erased, instead delegating the critical work of planning emergency responses to whichever CAO staff might have time at the moment???  Why did the Board of Supervisors even accept such a ridiculous idea?  Supervisor Zach Friend stated he felt that other jurisdictions should help pay for funding the re-instatement of the job, but nothing ever happened to follow up on that further-ridiculous notion.

Everyone in this County needs to read this Grand Jury Report, and contact the Board of Supervisors.   We all have seen that, given the devastating fire in Santa Rosa, even those living in the suburban areas are at risk of wildland fire if the conditions are just so.  The Grand Jury has released a report this year regarding that risk for the City of Santa Cruz: City Wildfire Report

Write CAL FIRE and ask why there has been no After Action Review for the CZU Lightning Complex Fire.  Here is a sample of other major Fire After Action Reviews, to give you an idea of what our County is missing:



Cheers, Becky 

Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at


June 21

#172 / Slow Growth Gamble

William Galston, writing in the June 2, 2021, edition of The Wall Street Journal, suggests that President Biden is making a “Slow-Growth Budget Gamble.” Given the paywall protection that might well prevent non-subscribers from reading Galston’s analysis, I am providing an excerpt from his column at the bottom of this blog posting. 

Galston sees the “gamble” in the fact that the Biden Administration is not doing more to increase the growth of the economy. Our current two-percent annual growth rate is unacceptably low, from his perspective. 

From my perspective, the “gamble” is trying to increase economic growth at all, given that economic growth, as currently defined, is absolutely linked to an increase in the greenhouse gas emissions that are bringing us hurricanes, flooding events, droughts, immigration crises, wildfires, and heat deaths, with crop failures and food scarcity expected to arrive soon. 

The preceding list, of course, does not mention the species extinctions which are proceeding apace. We focus very little on anything that does not directly affect human beings (with the emphasis on “directly”). Despite our failure to pay attention, however, the “indirect” impacts of the Sixth Mass Extinction that is now underway profoundly affect humans, not just those living things we don’t notice, and don’t even know about. We are, as all living things are, dependent on the overall health of our planetary environment, and on all the various other species that inhabit it. What is bad for the butterflies, coral reefs, and the polar bears is bad for us, as well.

In a debate about what is most important for our future – the protection of our global environment or the growth of the national economy – I am not big on “betting.” Less growth, not more, seems like the safest – in fact, necessary – course for us to pursue. 


Biden’s Slow-Growth Budget Gamble
William A. Galston 

President Biden’s proposed budget would represent a sea change in American fiscal policy. If enacted, outlays over the next decade would increase by about $8 trillion and revenues by $6 trillion, bringing the deficit to $14.5 trillion from $12.3 trillion projected under current policy. The share of the economy flowing to the federal government would rise to about one-quarter, up from one-fifth, and the budget deficit would average about 5% of gross domestic product. By 2031 national debt held by the public would stand at $39 trillion, a record 117% of GDP….

But commentators have mostly overlooked the biggest surprise, and core conundrum, of the president’s proposal: Despite trillions of dollars of additional expenditures—some of which are investments, others not—the projected rate of economic growth increases only modestly, and most of the bump comes in the early years before tapering off.

During the next two years, Mr. Biden’s spending surge would help return the economy to full employment faster than staying at the status quo. This is a good thing. But between the beginning of fiscal 2024 and the end of fiscal 2031, the administration’s projections show GDP rising by $8.9 trillion, barely distinguishable from the $8.8 trillion in CBO’s baseline.

The bottom line: The economy will stay stuck at 2% growth, extending the period of slow growth that began early in the 21st century. Even during the first three years of the Trump administration, large spending increases and an enormous tax cut yielded growth averaging 2.5%, well below the 3.5% level of the 1990s….

Getting America back to faster growth will take resources and focus. But if growth remains slow, Mr. Biden’s honorable effort to improve the lives of working- and middle-class families may end up hobbled by the well-known difficulties of zero-sum politics.  

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


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

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


“All architecture is great architecture after sunset; perhaps architecture is really a nocturnal art, like the art of fireworks”.
~Gilbert K. Chesterton

“During my first open ocean dive, I went down to 800 feet and turned out the lights. I knew I would see bioluminescence, but I was totally unprepared for how much. It was incredible! There were explosions of light everywhere, like being in the middle of a silent fireworks display”.
~Edith Widder

“I love movies where the explosions and fireworks are happening inside someone’s heart and mind instead of outside”.
~Marielle Heller


The quote above from Edith Widder got me curious, and I went on a hunt for some video. It wasn’t hard to find! Please enjoy this Ted talk, it’s great 🙂

COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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