BRATTON…Sentinel price increase, Pellerin for 28th Assembly District, Cotoni-Davenport National Monument, Santa Cruz Chamber Players Concert, film critiques, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…will be back next week. KROHN… Tragedy of Council – only ballot measures. STEINBRUNER…2838 Park Avenue, flagging and staking sites, Gail Pellerin running, Aptos Village connector, County Planning and Public Works, Greenway and Koenig recuse? County Taxes, Kaiser Med and secret deals. HAYES… Recreation vs. Conservation in Natural Areas. PATTON…Face up to Nartsuk. MATLOCK…Ain’t no use jiving, Ain’t no use joking, Everything is broken! EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Spring”
DATELINE March 14
SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL PRICE INCREASE. I’ve been a subscriber for just about 52 years now which makes the Sentinel an important part of my daily life. Last week we received a notice stating that the weekly price has risen to $19.25 per week. That makes it $2.74 per issue or a whopping $1,001 per year! Let’s see… Comcast runs me $2,233.44 per year and what else can we compare it to? I get most of my news from CNN, BBC, etc, etc. And what is there for the Sentinel’s future? Run by out of town ownership, news is hit or miss from temporary reporters, and yet we need local print news. Hang in there I guess.
GAIL PELLERIN FOR ASSEMBLY. We’ve seldom seen a candidate as near perfect as Gail Pellerin! Nobody could compete with her for friends and supporters and of course with Mark Stone’s endorsement. Mark, aside from swimming the English Channel in 13 hours in July 2009, and being our County Supervisor for two terms has been an excellent Assembly rep. I don’t know where Gail stands on Rail Trail or Greenway, and I haven’t heard her opinions on the BLM’s Cotoni National Monument in Davenport but she’s been great…let’s all vote for her in the June primary.
CALIFORNIA COTONI COASTAL NATIONAL MONUMENT. Grey Hayes writes about the causes for concern regarding the onslaught of tourists to the Cotoni Coastal Monument that’s taking place very soon. I haven’t seen or hear any opinions or commitments from our local 3rd District Board of Supervisors yet. Cummings, Chen-Mills or Shebreh. We know they are planning a 500 car parking lot somewhere near the Davenport entrance and we have only a guess on how the tourist cars will line up on the narrow Highway One. Davenport has a long lasting water supply problem what will the Monument do for that? This tourist, motorcycle, and mountain bike attraction will draw thousands and no-one is addressing it.
SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS CONCERT. I was more than happy to attend last Sunday’s (March12) matinee of the Santa Cruz chamber Players concert. I’ve been attending them since 1981 and this was the first one in a few covid years. The packed audience and musicians were 100% masked which made it friendly but confusing to recognize our old friends. The music was excellent even the Edvard Grieg was enjoyable, but the Schumann was more enjoyable and familiar. Watch for and get in touch with their next concerts on April 2 & 3.
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.
THE TOURIST. (HBO MAX SERIES) (96 RT). Fine film of a guy who wakes up in the Australian outback and has no memory of who he is and how he got there. Good and evil people come into and leave his life and we are still wondering what his past was? It points to an evil deed even a killing but by the first few episodes we aren’t sure. Well done, exciting, great drone views of the outback.
THE LAST DAYS OF PTOLEMY GREY. (PRIME SERIES) (7.4 IMDB) (87 RT). It’s good fun to see Samuel L. Jackson back on the screen and he’s the lead in this half comic half tragic ode to dementia. Yes he gets to say his trademark “motherfucker” a few times. He plays a 91 year old nice but grumpy grandpa to a cute teen age orphan and together they learn that he has a terrible secret that he’s forgotten. Then there’s an evil acting psychiatrist who wants to inject him with a time-acting drug that will bring parts of that memory back to him. It’s hammy but fascinating and curious.
DRIVE MY CAR. (HBO MAX MOVIE) (98 RT). (7.7 IMDB). This great movie is up for a Best Movie Academy Award and it deserves to win. It’s about an actor/director who is leading a theatre company in Hiroshima to produce Uncle Vanya. Marriage, death, infidelity and plenty of stage acting keep this emotional saga right on track. It’s on 89 film critics’ top 10 lists and mine too.
ACADEMY AWARD SHORT FILMS (Animated and Live Action). Del Mar Theatre. As usual both the Animated and Live Action Shorts contain some totally brilliant cinema and ideas and others are just puzzles forcing us to wonder what they trying to convey. The Live action “Please Hold” about the LAPD made me laugh out loud which has been rare. Bestia and The Windshield Wiper are great Animation entries. Go see these shorts, much more creative than the average streamers we watch nowadays.
DOWNFALL: THE CASE AGAINST BOEING. (NETFLIX MOVIE). (7.4 IMDB) (90 RT). An absolutely brilliant documentary about how Boeing went from being a well-respected maker of passenger planes (the Boeing 737 Max jet) to a greedy, lying company whose faulty equipment caused two monumental plane crashes in 2018 killing over 300 lives. Seattle never had it so good with happy dedicated employees who produced some of the finest most efficient planes and then merged with McDonnell Douglas and went after money more than safety. A very direct movie, giving us a simple overview of the entire issue. It’s scary but informative to help us think about corporate structure. Ron Howard was one of the producers.
MIDNIGHT AT THE PERA PALACE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.7 IMDB). An absorbing, well done mystery set in Istanbul in 1919. A young, pretty reporter tracks down Agatha Christie herself in her favorite hotel. It’s got time travel and she gets completely involved in a plot to kill an important political figure. She uses time travel to try to change that outcome and warn the victim but will she make it? Is the question. Romantic, fanciful and it does have Agatha Christie’s real hotel where she wrote Murder on the Orient Express.
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.
THE BATMAN. (Del Mar theatre and every other theatre) (8.6 IMDB) A shocking surprise happened when the “world” reacted and returned to their theatres, breaking box office records. Trade papers say that the future of real movie houses was re-ignited last weekend when over $134 million dollars poured through the box offices. That makes it the second biggest covid era hit since Spider-Man. Yes, the Riddler is back so is the penguin and a version of the joker too , and the story starts with Bruce Wayne’s parents (Thomas and Martha) and why they were ordered.. It’s one of the darkest films I’ve ever seen, literally. Robert Pattinson is a very serious Batman even in today’s world. Zoe Kravitz does a fine job as the Catwoman and there’s Colin Farrell, Paul Dano, and John Turturro too but I’m still not sure if I liked this movie. Go see it and let me know your reaction. It’s about three hours long.
LUCY AND DESI. (PRIME VIDEO MOVIE) (7.9 IMDB). This documentary features Bette Midler, Carol Burnett and Desi’s daughter Lucie Arnaz telling the story behind the most famous couple ever in Hollywood history. It covers their business sense in Desilu Productions, their dependence on each other and all done in the very early years of television. If you enjoyed the award winning “Being The Ricardos” this is required viewing.
PIECES OF HER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.7 IMDB). Toni Collette leads the cast of this saga hat starts off with a mass shooting in a restaurant that forces Toni to take her daughter to someplace safe. But her daughter notices Mom’s hidden secrets and struggles to find what is motivating her. It’s long, drawn out and not nearly as interesting as it should be. We end up not caring THAT much about Mom’s secrets.
FRESH. (HULU MOVIE) (6.7 IMDB). This is billed as a Comedy Horror Thriller but I never laughed once but was genuinely horrified and thrilled. It’s no spoiler to tell you it’s about cannibalism!!! A smart, sweet Doctor lures pretty girls to his home where he and his wife enchain girls in cells, fatten them up and sells their flesh to rich men around the world. Yes, we watch the eating, slicing and garnishing of this flesh and I’m still trying to figure where the laughs were supposed to be. The problem is that I’m still trying to decide if the well done directing and photography makes this worth watching.
THE DROP OUT. (HULU SERIES) (7.4 IMDB) Amanda Seyfried plays Elizabeth Holmes the would be CEO of the Theranos blood sampler tech start-up. Its origins and centering is around Stanford and Sand Hill Road so it’s good to see more of that start-up era. Holmes incredible drive to make millions by copying the techniques of high tech startups is shocking, amazing, cruel, and envy-causing. Seyfried does an excellent job with an almost superhuman role to play. I remember when Dominican Hospital sent my blood to be typed by Theranos only to have it returned unfinished. Whew!
AGAINST THE ICE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). This is one thrilling, exciting and tense movie. It’s a true story about the exploration of Greenland in 1909. It’s mostly done with dog sleds and just plain grit by a seasoned explorer and a new young kid who face all the elements. Charles Dance is in it briefly as the British authority who has to decide whether or not the explorers can be saved. The photography is superior, the acting including the polar bears works perfectly, and it’s an excellent movie.
THE SURROGATE. (PRIME VIDEO) (6.1 IMDB). Filmed and mostly taking place in California a couple decide to hire a surrogate to have the baby. The husband is a successful writer and the would be surrogate is a psycho who is secretly in love with him. She murders another possible surrogate and it gets way more complex than that. Some moments of tension might remind you of Hitchcock but only for a minute or two. There are better ways to spend your time.
MY WONDERFUL LIFE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.8 IMDB) This Polish film centers on a woman who works hard at being a wife, mother, teacher, and being a daughter. Mostly it’s her teaching life that we watch the most. In addition to those challenges she has a secret life with a fellow teacher. But someone knows about her secrets and begins blackmailing her. That’s the plot, who is the blackmailer? A lot of weed smoking but it doesn’t seem to help anyone in the film. The acting seems stagy, and forced and we never see her ultimate decision.
JEWEL THEATRE’S NEXT PRODUCTION. Playing from March 30 through April 24 will be “Remains To Be Seen”. Kate Hawley wrote the play and it’s a world premiere. Their program states…Every five years a group of old drama department friends reunite. This year it’s at Jack and Clare’s and Clare is dreading it. Are these old friends really still friends, or are they just old habits drained over the years of any genuine fondness or rapport? It is certain that everyone will drink too much and Gordon will talk too much and Sissy will bring her damned little dog when she was specifically asked not to. On top of it all, recent widower Stuart is bringing a mysterious new love. What’s happened to their dreams and old ambitions? Good actors as they may have been, they can’t prevent the truth of their lives from making an appearance. It features Paul Whitworth and Mike Ryan. Go here for tickets and info…
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 http://darksky.org Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.|
TRAGEDY OF COUNCIL-ONLY BALLOT MEASURES
District Elections and Mayor vs. District Elections
Who Asked for This?
The Santa Cruz City Council five-person majority disingenuously voted on February 22 to place an initiative on the June ballot that would completely change the way people in Santa Cruz vote. If the district election and at-large mayor scheme is approved by voters, each voter would trade-in their seven-city council electoral votes for just two. Residents would go from being able to elect the entire 7-member council to only being able to cast two votes, one for their own district representative and the other for an at-large mayor, if the initiative passes. The mayor position will still function as but one council vote with no real direct powers added but that of setting each meeting’s agenda, which does afford that position definite advantages in putting items before the council, or keeping them off any given agenda. This initiative calls for “ordering an election for a proposed city charter amendment providing for an at-large directly elected mayor and six council districts.”
To Vote or Not to Vote, is that the Real Question?
This ballot measure is not necessarily well-intentioned either, not even close, for several reasons. Its’ major flaw is the lack of a public process. We are coming out of an unprecedented global pandemic and it has been a time when practically all city council meetings have been on Zoom. Access to council chambers, city staff, and city councilmembers themselves was quite limited, and for good reason, we did not want to see the Covid-19 virus spread. It became easier to have the discussions around this ballot issue behind closed doors and most notably, members of the public were of course left out. It wasn’t until quite recently that the city council finally offered the any community members a voice into this significant and historic matter that is, changing the Santa Cruz City Charter and the way we vote in elections. This is simply too big of a change to afford the limited perspectives of five city councilmembers in a closed room to have the shameless ability of placing a limited half-baked measure on the ballot.
How Did We Get Here?
But, really, back to the beginning. First of all, the initial purpose of this effort was to be in line with the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), which was passed in 2001 and states: Existing law, the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA), prohibits the use of an at-large election in a political subdivision if it would impair the ability of a protected class, as defined, to elect candidates of its choice or otherwise influence the outcome of an election. The case in Santa Cruz seemed to be predicated upon supporting a protected class, LatinX voters, but the resulting districts appear to not at all create the kind of district which might elect a LatinX candidate. Secondly, the people of Santa Cruz, lawyers or no lawyers, have never decided to give up at-large elections. We first must vote on that issue before the issue of districts and an at-large mayor can be considered. Why isn’t that on the ballot as well? Another huge question is why the city council is not waiting at least until the Santa Monica voting rights lawsuit, Pico Neighborhood Ass. vs. the City of Santa Monica, is decided. The city of Santa Monica has spent an enormous amount of money, more than $8 million dollars and counting, to decide this issue. In July of 2020, a California appeals court ruled in Santa Monica’s favor and the Plaintiffs asked the state supreme court for a decision. The case has been playing out for the past two years. It is a case similar to ours and the state Supreme Court has yet to issue its ruling. The city of Santa Cruz would not have to spend a dime in waiting for this case to be resolved? This is a mystery.
The Case for Ranked Choice Voting
What ever happened to the wider discussion of ranked choice voting (RCV) as a way to remedy representation for underrepresented voters? Two states, Alaska and Maine use RCV for state, congressional, and presidential elections, and more than 20 cities now use it to decide municipal elections including municipalities politically similar to us – Berkeley, Santa Fe, NM, Cambridge, Mass, and Takoma Park, Md. – for example. In fact, in 2020 Boulder, Colorado another politically similar city to Santa Cruz, voted to make the mayor an elected position and to employ RCV.
Transparency and the Public’s Right to Know
Process is everything. Whether it is the trail-only initiative now set to be on the June ballot, or the Empty Homes Tax and the Our Downtown, Our Future ballot petitions, which are both vying for the November ballot, the public has a right to know and have input, not only in the final vote, but in the language and ideas of the measure itself before it ever arrives to the ballot. The three initiatives just mentioned have all been out for months and have had dozens of public meetings to discuss and debate their contents; numerous newspaper and on-line opinion pieces were written, there is a clear record of vigorous public discussion. That’s not happened in the weak and misinformed case for district elections. What you have here is a city council barreling ahead of the community in its quest, not to assist a protected class’s ability to be represented, but to consolidate majority control, which they already command. This initiative is no more than a power grab that will quash minority dissent and steam roll the community in favor of the interests of not only the status quo, but of a creeping predatory brand of capitalism favoring corporate real estate interests and their developer cronies. This is not how a healthy democracy functions. The current City Charter, by the way, affirmatively requires at-large elections, so any change would have to be approved by the voters and that has not happened. ?
What’s the Big Deal?!?
The key words in the city council majority’s come hell or high water rushed decision, are “charter amendment.” This is a big deal and I write about it here because so little public scrutiny, discussion, or debate has taken place in the crafting of one of the most significant questions being asked of voters since the city’s charter came into being in 1948. The current charter states: The elective officers of this City shall be seven councilmembers who shall constitute the Council. They shall be elected from the City at large…for a term of four years and until their successors have been elected and qualified. The Council shall be the legislative body of this City, each of the members of which, including the Mayor, shall have the right to vote upon all questions before it. No member of the Council shall be eligible for re-election for two years (i.e. one general election cycle) after the expiration of the second consecutive full term for which such person was elected. I participated in a presentation before the SC Democratic Central Committee (SCCDCC) last week to speak against the lack of public participation around this city council-inspired charter amendment and I learned that outgoing county supervisor, Ryan Coonerty, essentially crafted the measure and handed it to this five-person council majority–Golder, Watkins, Meyers, Brunner, Kalantari-Johnson–before the February 22nd city council meeting. Yes, that was my first question too, dear Reader, why did Ryan get to write it? And my second question is likely similar to yours too: Is he going to run for mayor if voters approve what he wrote? Well, in his opening remarks to the DCC, he disavowed any intention of running for the new position of directly-elected mayor. Of course, my third question is why wasn’t changing the way Santa Cruzans vote for their local government representatives not debated more fully, but left in the hands of an outgoing Supe? There wasn’t even a second reading of this resolution as is the tradition of all city ordinances. Why the lack of transparency? Something smells pretty bad here, so I respectfully and strongly urge all voters to reject this council majority ballot initiative tomfoolery, and demand that this same city council place an up-or-down vote on at-large elections first, and then have a community-wide discussion on remedies that would get more people of color into elected office as the CVRA was written to do, particularly those that have the status of a protected class.
Pictured here are collectively, one hundred years of Santa Cruz history of political intrigue and skullduggery…local heavyweights Bruce Bratton and Fred Keeley talking it up at the recent “Ami Chen Mills for Supervisor” party.
Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Chris at email@example.com
PEOPLE JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS PLANNED FOR THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD
The problems continue regarding the fast-moving 2838 Park Avenue affordable housing project as people learn it is happening. The people living nearby were not informed, and not involved as soon as the Project became known. We will sadly see more of this as SB 35 and the likes shove things through as ministerial (aka no public hearings) approvals.
I think what ends up really making a difference in how the neighborhood is affected or not is how the projects are ultimately managed and maintained in the long-term.
WOULD A FLAGGING AND STAKING ORDINANCE HELP?
Monterey County has long had a Staking and Flagging Ordinance, requiring any new or significant remodel development to put up physical flagging to show the approximate roofline and footprint of the proposed building. This would really help people know what is proposed for their neighborhoods and be able to get involved early in the process (if there is one at all).
Doesn’t that just make too much sense?
The Monterey County Flagging and Staking Ordinance is attached below. Supervisor Manu Koenig’s webpage features a “Propose a County Ordinance” form…what a great idea! Send in your idea that Santa Cruz County also should have such practical and effective means of public noticing that “something is about to happen here.”
FORMER COUNTY ELECTIONS MANAGER GAIL PELLERIN IS RUNNING FOR STATE ASSEMBLY
As predicted earlier, Gail Pellerin tossed her hat into the June 7, 2022 election ring last Friday, the deadline for declaring her candidacy for current Assemblyman Mark Stone’s job: VotesCount June 2022 Candidate Watch
According to an interview in the “Good Times”, Assemblyman Mark Stone asked her to run for his office, because he does not intend to seek re-election for his final possible term. Ms. Pellerin would not confirm when he actually asked her to run, and Assemblyman Stone could not be reached for comment.
The new 28th Assembly line boundaries include areas of Santa Clara County while excluding former areas of mid and south Santa Cruz County. Take a look at the map on Ms. Pellerin’s website: www.GailPellerinForAssembly.com/
She says she want to involve communities in decision-making. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? Only if it were more than merely checking off a required box while ignoring the people.
COUNTY ANNOUNCES WORK TO BEGIN ON NEW APTOS VILLAGE CONNECTOR
Maybe you happened to see this County notice while searching the Dept. of Public Works website? The County released the notice of this impending traffic congestion only last Friday, March 11 and the work begins March 14. How considerate.
My goodness….I wonder if anyone knows about this?
COUNTY PLANNING DEPT. WILL COMBINE WITH PUBLIC WORKS
Last Wednesday, current Dept. of Public Works Director Matt Machado informed the Planning Commission that his Department is merging with the Planning Department. The new combined service will be named the “Community Development and Infrastructure Dept.”, with current Public Works Director Matt Machado serving as Director of Planning and Director of Public Works. Current Planning Director Paia Levine will retire on June 1, 2022.
The Director of the Housing Policy and Code Compliance will be Stephanie Hansen firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Director of Environmental Planning and Drainage will be Carolyn Burkecarolyn.email@example.com
This sort of merger experiment did not go well in Monterey County because it was found to be “just too broad”. Let’s hope Santa Cruz County residents see improved service with this experiment.
Matt Machado also serves as the Deputy County Administrative Officer (CAO). I wonder how many powerful hats he can effectively juggle?
GREENWAY INITIATIVE ON THE BALLOT…WITH SUPPORTIVE VOTE OF FORMER GREENWAY CEO AND CURRENT BOARD CHAIRMAN KOENIG
Many who testified before the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday (3/8) regarding the Greenway Initiative placement on the June, 2022 ballot asked the Board to approve the Initiative but reject or require amendment of the County Staff Report analysis of impacts should the measure pass. Others asked Chairman of the Board, Supervisor Manu Koenig to either recuse himself or abstain from voting on the matter because until recently, he was the Executive Director of Greenway. Neither happened.
The Board accepted the Staff Report, and Chairman Koenig stated he was merely following through on a campaign promise to bring the matter to public vote. With Supervisor Zach Friend recusing himself early-on, the four remaining Board members voted to place the initiative on the ballot, and to accept a staff report that many leaders of local environmental organizations felt did not provide adequate or accurate information.
Strangely, this will be Measure D on the June 7, 2022 ballot. In 2016, the County voters approved a different measure D that added a half-cent sales tax for 30 years to support various transportation improvements, including the rail-trail corridor.
Here is the language for the 2022 Measure D:
Measure D – Santa Cruz County Greenway Initiative
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY GREENWAY INITIATIVE MEASURE: Shall voters adopt the measure to amend the Circulation Element of the County’s General Plan related to use of the Santa Cruz Branch Line Rail Corridor as set forth in the Santa Cruz County Greenway Initiative Petition?
COUNTY USES FAMILIAR TRICKERY TO SELL MEASURE B FOR HIGHER TAXES
Folks, please don’t let the County fool you again into thinking the money from this proposed new tax increase will ever go to actually funding what the CAO Carlos Palacios and Board of Supervisors claim it would in the Measure B ballot language:
Measure B – County Transient Occupancy Tax
SANTA CRUZ COUNTY UNINCORPORATED AREA VACATION RENTAL/OVERNIGHT LODGING TAX – To fund Santa Cruz County essential public services including wildfire prevention, emergency response/recovery, street repair, public/mental health services, homelessness programs, and affordable housing, shall Santa Cruz County increase its existing Transient Occupancy Tax, paid by tourists and others staying overnight at lodging facilities in unincorporated areas, from 11% to 12% for hotels/motels/inns, and to 14% for vacation rental properties, providing approximately $2,300,000 annually, until ended by voters?
Now, take a look at what the County said would happen in 2018 when Measure G was on the November 6 ballot:
The ballot question was as follows:
“To continue funding 9-1-1 emergency response, paramedic, sheriff, fire, emergency preparedness, local street repairs, mental health services, homelessness programs, parks, economic development and other general county services, shall the County of Santa Cruz be authorized to increase by ordinance the sales tax on retail transactions in the unincorporated area of the County by one-half cent for twelve years, providing approximately $5,750,000 annually, subject to annual audits and independent citizens oversight?”
To date, ZERO DOLLARS from this revenue has been allocated to support fire, paramedic, emergency preparedness, 9-1-1 emergency response, or local street repairs, and there has been no independent citizen’s oversight (other than public questions posed at Board of Supervisor meetings that never get any answers).
Don’t be fooled again at the June 7, 2022 ballot box.
AFTER THE LOMA PRIETA EARTHQUAKE, CAL TRAIN EXTENDED PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE TO PAJARO STATION AND SALINAS
After the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, CalTrain service extended to Salinas, with a stop at the Pajaro Train Station. That 7.1 Richter temblor caused tremendous damage to local roadways, requiring Highway 17 to be subject to carpool restriction escorted by CHP.
Emergency Transit Services and Other Transportation Options
In addition to the reopening of Route 17 under restricted operation, CalTrain commuter rail service between San Francisco and San Jose was temporarily extended along the existing Southern Pacific Railroad (SPRR) line from San Jose to Salinas, with a stop in south Santa Cruz County. New public bus transit service was also instituted over Route 17 by Santa Clara County Transit, in cooperation with the local Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District, and new park-and-ride lots were designated.
Wouldn’t it make good sense to keep a rail option open for future commuter public transit to connect with CalTrain?
KAISER’S SECRET DEALS WITH THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE
Well, here is a bit of bedtime reading for your enjoyment. Just keep this in mind as the massive Kaiser Medical Facility project at 5940 Soquel Avenue keeps bubbling….it’s from Cal Matters.
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. SUGGEST A NEW COUNTY ORDINANCE. YOU CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE IF YOU JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK.
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
RECREATION VS. CONSERVATION IN NATURAL AREAS
We face a quandary for which there are many solutions: the northern region of Santa Cruz County is one of the nation’s top biodiversity hotspots which is increasingly facing one of the largest threats to biodiversity – recreation within conservation areas. Globally, the coast of California is recognized as one of the most important crisis areas where natural areas tourism impact overlaps with critical conservation areas called biodiversity hotspots.
Biodiversity hotspots have been scientifically catalogued in precise ways to direct conservation funding and activities. These areas have particularly high numbers of species limited to small geographic areas, correlating with large numbers of endangered species. Areas with numerous endangered species in different groups receive higher hotspot scores: Santa Cruz County has many endangered species in three groups: ‘herptiles, arthropods, and plants,’ and so is one of only two counties in the nation to receive the highest hotspot score. Similarly, with a larger lens than county boundaries, the San Francisco Bay Area, including northern Santa Cruz County, is recognized as one of the top three biodiversity hotspots in the country. The rationale for using biodiversity hotspot indices for conservation prioritization is so widely accepted that this measure has become the focus of the most funding of any other conservation initiative, a total of $750 million up to 2010. Our region has long benefited from such largesse, including the generous funding to set aside areas like the BLM’s Cotoni Coast Dairies and POST/Sempervirens Fund’s San Vicente Redwoods conservation areas. And yet, purchasing of land for conservation purposes only begins the process of conservation, which will last many lifetimes. Fortunately, there are many strong protections in place for these areas that help to guarantee that they will long be managed primarily for biodiversity protection.
Wildlife Protected at Cotoni Coast Dairies
There are a host of guarantees for biodiversity protection at the Cotoni Coast Dairies property. In 2017, Obama’s presidential proclamation making the property a part of the California Coastal Monument there are protections for such a breadth of ‘Objects of the Monument.’ Monument designation carries with it mandates for very careful planning, inventory, and adaptive management to assure natural resource protection. In addition, the property has been designated as part of the most protected lands in the Country: National Conservation Lands. In addition, BLM maintains and regularly updates lists of ‘special status’ plants and animals to guide protections on their lands. For those interested in mandates for BLM management for biodiversity on National Monuments, I encourage perusal of their Manual 6220. Using one ‘Object of the Monument’ as an example, the 6220 Manual requires that BLM inventory the dusky footed woodrat on the property and, in collaboration with experts at its National Conservation Lands Office, include in its property-wide science plan specifics about how managers will monitor and adaptively manage the property to assure the species’ protection. Regulations protecting biodiversity on the nation’s highest value conservation lands well reflect the majority of citizen’s interests in protecting wildlife, even if it means personal sacrifice. This is good news for conservation in natural areas because of the natural conflict between recreation and conservation.
Recreational Use is Contrary to Wildlife Protection
There has been much published about the negative impacts to wildlife of recreational use in natural areas, but here are a few illustrations of types of negative impacts. The following species are listed as “Objects of the Monument:” gray fox, bobcat, and mountain lion. Predators such as these three species are well recognized as extremely sensitive to recreational use in natural areas, leading to decreased density and abundance of these types of animals. Researchers working in the Santa Cruz area have noted that mountain lions are substantially sensitive to noises from humans, which reduce their use of recreational areas and lead to changes rippling through the rest of the wildlife community, including increased numbers of mice and potential increased frequency of Lyme disease. But, mammalian predators aren’t the only types of wildlife to be disturbed by recreational use.
The Monument Proclamation also calls out protection for Wilson’s and orange-crowned warblers, downy woodpecker, tree swallow, Cooper’s hawk, and American kestrel. Burrowing owl, golden eagle, tricolored blackbird, and white-tailed kite are also listed as protected on BLM’s special status animals list for California. Some bird species have been shown to be especially ‘flighty’ in the face of recreational use, requiring study and specific trail design to adequately buffer distances to avoid impacts. While the effects on specific species varies, some species can be negatively affected by the mere presence of humans, so, unless specific studies can ascertain effects, scientists suggest that avoiding new trails in natural areas is the best measure for conserving sensitive birds. Grassland birds, such as the burrowing owl, are particularly sensitive to recreational disturbance, perhaps because it is so difficult for these species to hide. There are also studies that would suggest care must be taken to avoid recreational disturbance to species like the California red-legged frog, deer, and native plants.
BLM managers of Cotoni Coast Dairies face the many dilemmas of managing land for conflicting visitor uses alongside the conflict between recreational access and nature conservation in an especially sensitive ecological area. The varying types of recreational users run the gamut from mountain bikers who use trails for the physical thrill of staying upright with speed and obstacles…to more scenery- and/or exercise-oriented mountain bikers and hikers…to more passive recreational users such as wildlife viewers…to photographers and painters…to restorationists…and scientists of natural history. Each user group conflicts with the next and the ones further apart with their expectations conflict even worse. I have not seen a plan by BLM to accommodate or monitor such conflicting uses, which will lead to what is called displacement, mainly of families with children and more passive natural areas users. Instead, BLM managers have shown a personal and strong affinity with the mountain biking community, which is also the agency’s closest ally in advocating for and developing recreational trails designed for their use on the property. On the other hand, BLM managers have turned away from engagement with passive users such as wildlife viewers, restorationists and scientists of natural history. Without welcoming this engagement which would have made up for their professed lack of such capacity, BLM managers are now moving forward with little understanding of the distribution and abundance of species, including those protected by statute. The evident BLM managerial-mountain biking community conflict of interest should be a great concern of those of the public who are concerned with biological conservation.
The Collaborative Management Solution
We should be advocating for an alternate way forward where BLM public engagement staff serve as facilitators of solutions-based approaches to the conflicts between users and between recreational use and natural resource conservation. The first step would be for BLM to adhere to its policy requiring a science plan informed by a baseline inventory of the Objects of the Monument and other special status species; this plan would include a carrying capacity analysis and an adaptive management framework to assure protection of the resources. All of those steps could be done collaboratively with scientists and volunteers as is outlined in BLM’s policy guidance. There have been offers for substantive financial resources to assist with this planning. Instead of hiding its scientific studies as it does now, BLM would proudly share what science it has gathered on a public interactive website. Once completed, the science plan could then be the focus of collaborative management of the property including all interested parties working together with the common goal of conservation of biological diversity while providing recreational access to the maximum extent possible. We are lucky to have a coalition of many groups working to make this vision real, including: Rural Bonny Doon Association, Friends of the North Coast, Sempervirens Fund, and Davenport North Coast Association. Your support of those organizations will help greatly.
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
In my blog posting #59, this year, I pledged to read The Ministry For The Future, Kim Stanley Robinson’s most recent book. As I am writing this current blog post, I am, in fact, diligently progressing through the book’s 563 pages. I feel certain that I will have more to say when I am finished. So far, I am finding this book to be of exceptional interest, less a “fictional” account of the future than a fact-based “Manual For The Future.”
On pages 367 – 368 (you can see how far I have gotten), Robinson writes about the Inuit religion. One of the main characters in the novel, Frank, is in prison, and Frank finds a book in the prison library “written by an African man who had traveled up the coast of Greenland in the early twentieth century, staying in Inuit villages. Eskimaux, he called them.”
The unnamed African author of this book (possibly a fictional book, or a fictional author, I was not able to tell) said that:
They had a saying in their cold little villages, to deal with the times when fishermen went out and never came back, or when children died. Hunger, disease, drowning, freezing, death by polar bear and so on: they had a lot of traumas. Nevertheless the Eskimaux were cheerful, the man wrote. Their storm god was called Nartsuk. So their saying was, You have to face up to Nartsuk. This meant staying cheerful despite all. No matter how bad things got, the Inuit felt it was inappropriate to be sad or express grief. They laughed at misfortunes, made jokes about things that went wrong. They were facing up to Nartsuk.
This approach to life may, or may not, have some similarities to the Western tradition’s philosophical reminder about the inevitability of death, “Memento Mori,” which translates as, “remember you have to die.”
In an earlier blog posting, I noted that a reminder of the fact that we all must die can, if properly considered, make us joyously aware of the liberating fact that “we aren’t dead yet.” When I wrote that earlier blog posting, I had not yet encountered the Inuit idea that we must “face up to Nartsuk.” Robinson is doing the right thing, it seems to me, to introduce his readers to the idea that we should, like the Inuit, “stay cheerful despite all.”
The global warming/climate crisis, which is the subject addressed in The Ministry For The Future, is at least as daunting as the challenges faced by the Inuit in the early twentieth century. We are all with the Inuit now, and they are with us, and so is all the world. Robinson’s prescription must be our own:
Face Up To Nartsuk
Face up to it cheerfully! Can we do that? I think Robinson’s book is suggesting that this is, exactly, what we need to do.
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
Ain’t no use jiving, Ain’t no use joking, Everything is broken!
And still Russia’s war on Ukraine drags on with its daily news reports of atrocities on the citizenry, including destruction of schools, hospitals, evacuation centers, governmental buildings, while talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials founder in Turkey. The nightmare vision of China reinforcing Russia was heightened by the Asian giant’s announcement of their support for Russia’s denunciation of NATO and its flirting with Ukraine. Yet, China let it be known that the country would not be supplying aircraft parts to the Bear’s war effort. This was then followed by a Russian plea for war materiel, so who knows what is really transpiring? The Russian military has called for combat volunteers from other countries with their forces in Ukraine bogged down, and as they attempt to keep enough personnel in their own country to guard their borders.
It’s quite obvious that Putin’s prediction of a quick turnover in his execution of the battle didn’t materialize – so much for his reputation as a shrewd and calculating genius. Could it be that Donald J. Bonespurs was incorrect? However, his reputation as a heartless, brutal tactician stands firm, and that will be his legacy. The Russian military has lost three generals and three colonels on the front lines, along with its ‘Z’ marked tanks, personnel carriers and fighter jets – so much for intelligence and military planning, as well.
In the meantime, Putin is facing a small, but growing protest against his venture, not only from the people in the street, but news commentators, and Russian oligarchs, and other Russian notables, adding to his jitteriness. His exaggeratedly long conference tables may not serve to keep his doubters away from his throat as time progresses; and, as Ukrainian leader Zelensky taunts Putin, “I’m willing to negotiate face-to-face…just not at 30 meters.”
In his trepidation, Putin has placed two FSB (the Federalist Security Service, successor to the KGB) heads under house arrest, who earned his distrust by misjudging the Ukrainians and their political landscape. To further carry out his revenge, arrests and purges are being made against military generals, replacing at least eight for their military failures, and, against intelligence personnel for their faulty gathering of intel. There has been little coordination between ground and air forces, resulting in loss of personnel, equipment, and inability to dominate the skies over Ukraine, not to mention a deflation of fighting spirit for poorly-trained troops who barely knew what was ahead for them. Yet, the killing and destruction continue to dominate this ordeal.
Continuing to muddy the domestic scene is Benedict Donald and his allies, who praise Putin, along with other international autocrats for their ‘strengths’ and reputations for violence. Conservative zealot and broadcast host, Charlie Kirk, shrugged off the Ukraine invasion as a “family dispute between two countries…who cares?” But FoxNews embarrassment, Tucker Carlson, claims Joe Biden is the aggressor, placing the blame completely on our president “to make a play against fossil fuels”. ‘Drill, drill, baby, drill!’ eh, T.C.?
Regarding Tucker Carlson’s rude commentary of Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, actor, political commentator, and viral social media personality Bryan Tyler Cohen remarks, “Tucker Carlson is the son of a Swanson heiress and a U.S. ambassador. He has never had to work for ANYTHING a day in his life. And he’s lecturing the former Harvard Law Review editor, who has MORE judicial experience than 4 sitting justices had COMBINED, about her LSAT score.” Carlson’s father, Richard Warner Carlson, had an illustrious career as a journalist, diplomat (ambassador to the Seychelles), and lobbyist, worked as a director of the Voice of America during the Cold War, was a director of the USIA, and oversaw Radio Martí broadcasts to Cuba. It’s hard to imagine Thanksgiving dinners with his turncoat, unpatriotic, Putin-worshipping son.
Texas and Florida dominated the news this week, as well, with their anti-LGBTQ+ actions, just two of the fifteen bills pending across the U.S.A. Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t say gay’ legislation passed both its Senate and House and will go into effect July 1 once signed by Governor DeSantis. Sponsors claim it gives parents the right to educate their children on sexuality and gender, while banning classroom instruction or discussion of these topics, and allowing parents the right to press charges if not observed by educators.
The state of Tennessee will not allow ‘normalization of LGBTQ+ lifestyles’, Kansas makes it a Class B misdemeanor to use materials depicting homosexuality, while Indiana bars educators from discussing any context ‘sexual orientation, transgenderism or gender identity’ without parental consent. One of several Oklahoma bills bans employing anyone who ‘promotes these provisions in the classroom or at any function of the public school that it is in opposition to closely held religious beliefs of students.’ Haters gonna hate!
Governor Gregg Abbott of Texas, and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, announced a program to investigate any reported instances of children undergoing ‘abusive’ gender-transitioning steps. This pronouncement came within days after the Texas Attorney General declared that state law distinguishes any such procedure as child abuse. Following Abbott’s order to investigate families, a district court ruled that the scrutiny was beyond the governor’s scope of authority, and unconstitutional. Abbott and Attorney General Paxton appealed the order, only to have the appeal dismissed by the Third Court of Appeals. With certainty, we can expect to see this wend its way upward through the court system.
A questioner asked, “What do you make of Trump saying that he has been awarded three or four Nobel Peace prizes? The response being, “No, no, no. You misheard! He keeps getting the Novel Putz Prize. To accept it, he goes to a ceremony in Oslo (Minnesota), where he is handed a box of Cracker Jacks, from which upon opening he extracts a plastic trophy, painted to match his golden toilet. He then gets to make his usual speech about the stolen election, voter fraud, January 6 Patriots, and how the fake news continues to attack him by reporting verbatim what he actually utters. Oh, and please send money…or else!
Broken bottles, broken plates,
Broken switches, broken gates,
Broken dishes, broken parts,
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken,
Everything is broken. – Bob Dylan
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.
“There will one day spring from the brain of science a machine or force so fearful in its potentialities, so absolutely terrifying, that even man, the fighter, who will dare torture and death in order to inflict torture and death, will be appalled, and so abandon war forever”.
~Thomas A. Edison
“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring”.
“Revolution is as unpredictable as an earthquake and as beautiful as spring. Its coming is always a surprise, but its nature should not be”.
Iggy Pop on David Letterman. Some clips just speak for themselves 🙂
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