BRATTON… gives us the scoop… GREENSITE…Greensite on a crisis of a different sort.. KROHN… on Covid-19. STEINBRUNER… exposure, and Cabrillo College. PATTON… on Facebook and Trump … EAGAN…Sub Cons and Deep Cover JENSEN… on Wendy… UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES…”ISOLATION”
Watch this about how germs spread. This guy puts out terrific videos, you should keep an eye on him.
BRATTON STILL CHILLING.
Home, and still taking it easy, Bruce is wondering if anyone has a lead on a granny unit or a room (preferably Westside to be close to him) for his daughter(s) to stay in while they come out to help look after him while he regains his strength. If you know of anything please just email firstname.lastname@example.org!
With nothing insightful to offer about Covid-19 and political meetings cancelled, a few words on a different crisis: housing. Or more accurately: housing costs. With the virus, it’s tempting to say, when things get back to normal. Is it normal for farm workers in Salinas to be cramped with 13 people in a tiny 2-bedroom- rental, while high-tech buyers snap up pricey new apartments and houses as second homes in Santa Cruz?
The knee jerk response is “we need more housing!” to the delight of many speculators, developers, housing activists and politicians. Mandating the building of high-rise, dense housing has been championed through the CA legislature by Senator Scott Wiener via a number of Bills, including the recently defeated SB 50. Had it passed, local governments would have lost control over such land-use decisions. Senator Wiener has a new Bill pending, SB 902. It’s a softer sell (indicating how draconian was the other Bill) and similarly misses the mark. It eliminates single-family zoning across CA.
For a city our size, under his Bill, one small house on a single-family lot could be bulldozed and replaced with a four-plex plus accessory dwelling units. If our local government votes to rezone a neighborhood to allow 10 homes on a single-family lot, then Wiener’s Bill allows it to by-pass environmental review. Exemptions are allowed for high fire-risk areas, meaning folks who live in single family homes in such areas won’t face being surrounded by dense housing where there used to be single family homes. Which means other people will put pressure on local government to develop open space and forested lands just so they can live in single-family peace and privacy, another bonus for the wealthy. Meanwhile, middle-income and working class locals who have worked and lived here for decades in single-family neighborhoods will just have to get used to the crowding with its noise, cars jostling for parking, dogs barking, lights glaring and increased crime. That’s the research on density. Wiener’s Bill is silent on the issue of subsidized housing, a lack that lost him support last time: a lack that questions either his grasp of the issue or for whom the Bill favors.
The housing crisis is not a supply-issue. There are an estimated 1.2 million vacant houses in CA, which is more than 8%. The statewide rental vacancy rate in 2018 was 8.4%. Both numbers add up to a lot of empty houses: the same number as the unmet housing need. Since taking over such housing is not condoned (although there have been attempts by homeless mothers) a tax on an empty second home seems reasonable.
A Vacancy Tax is not a new idea. It has been implemented in Vancouver, Canada. State Senator Nancy Skinner of Berkeley has introduced SB 1079 on this issue. The challenges are mostly ideological, especially where eminent domain enters the picture. The devil is in the details. Too many exemptions and the cash flow is less than anticipated. People preferring to pay the tax rather than offload the property makes the supply less available. However, it is worth a try since it has the potential to add housing without the expense of building from scratch. It avoids the associated huge use of non-renewable resources and disposal of that which is bulldozed. We keep hearing about the current high cost of building and building materials, which we are told force developers to recoup through high rents. This problem can be avoided by using existing empty houses either through eminent domain if they are corporate-owned or using the proceeds from a Vacancy tax to fund Section 8 housing.
Building high-density, infilling, the “smart” growth model is promoted by Wiener as well as notables such as Newsom, Sanders and Warren This model does not lead to lower rents or lower housing costs. Research shows it forces them upwards as new buyers with big incomes and high end consumption patterns move in and low income workers are forced out.
In the new normal of Covid-19 and what lies beyond, we should not be promoting human crowding as a housing solution when alternatives are available.
|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.|
March 17, 2020
Coronavirus Trumps Political Virus
I found myself in CVS on Front Street this past Sunday. I stopped at the front door realizing there were more than 50 people already in the store. I looked at the checkout line and noticed at least twenty lined up single-file waiting to make their purchases. No one seemed to be heeding the social distancing rule. All were only about 2-feet apart instead of the recommended six feet. I decided to venture into the store only a few feet more and impulsively read aloud from my cell phone the advisory Governor Gavin Newsome’s office had just released that morning. Besides the 50-person space limit and six-feet social distancing, constant washing of hands, not touching one’s face, and each of us just shutting down our own outside-of-home life and self-quarantining, there he was also calling for the closure of all bars, wine bars, breweries, and for restaurants to reduce their occupancy by half and to provide curbside food service and at-home deliveries. Everyone seemed to pay attention to my impromptu reading, but no one spoke. I nervously exited wondering if people would heed a town-crier more than their IPhone. For the city’s part, I am told by our Economic Development Director that city staff has divided the community into five parts and will be doing outreach to all local businesses letting them know what is acceptable, voluntary, or mandatory in terms of carrying out their operations. That was to begin this past Monday morning.
The March 3rd Primary, Still Counting
The votes continue to drip, drip, drip into the County Clerk’s office at 701 Ocean Street. The last count was issued around 4pm on Thursday, March 12th. “Today we added an additional 895 ballots. We are continuing to process and research the same day and provisional ballots. We are also tagging voter records if they voted in this election and auditing each polling place. We will NOT do another update until next week – most likely Friday, March 20.”
According to the website, votecounts.com, there are almost 6000 votes countywide yet to be tallied. We will hear another update this Friday.
When Censure Becomes a Political Tool
By Sheila Carrillo, an activist and astute political observer reflects upon the Recall election that just took place. email@example.com
The question flashing neon bright in my mind when I attended Tuesday night’s City Council meeting was “What is REALLY going on here?” I was astonished that the first agenda item of the evening was as yet another censure of Drew Glover—despite his imminent recall from office— marking a full year and a third since the obsessive scrutiny and harassment of council member Glover had been instigated.
The crucifixion actually began on Next Door before he even took office, corresponding with the November 2018 election resulting in a progressive majority on the council for the first time in two decades. The Next Door recall rants began initially by attacking Drew’s (humane) concern for the homeless community and his strong advocacy for renter protections. But a couple of months later on February 12, 2019, the focus of the recall attacks shifted, when recently-elected Mayor Watkins inappropriately used her pulpit to publicly accuse both Drew and Councilman Chris Krohn of gender based bullying, while citing only hearsay. In reality, the issue at hand was their justified insistence and her unreasonable resistance to promptly agendizing and addressing our community’s homeless crisis. But unfortunately, the facts were never brought to light because Martine maintained tight control of the conversation, refusing to allot time for Chris and Drew to respond to her allegations.
Not only was Martine NOT censured for this misconduct in office and misuse of power, but what was a staff conflict that could have been readily addressed and mediated internally through Human Resources, became an $18,000 investigation of charges (plus $10,000 for the Davis investigation!) that essentially could not be substantiated. The Rose Report in fact found “no substantiated instances of sexual harassment or gender- based discrimination.” Again, no censure of the city manager or H.R. for this wonton waste of time and money. Martine’s pronouncement provided the recall tribe with a more righteous, and thus more appealing, accusation to pin on the two progressive leaders whose presence on our City council was apparently so threatening that they had to be removed from power at all costs. The recall proponents’ accusations deftly switched from the issues of rental protection and homeless advocacy to sexual harassment and bullying— attacks that continued the duration of a year-long, well-funded, smear campaign, with a San Francisco consulting firm employed in the process.
At that point, the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women stepped well-outside their defined mission which is to “prevent sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence.” Instead, they joined the bandwagon and spoke out to censure and condemn Drew Glover regarding issues they cited as gender-based harassment, and soon, recall proponents with fresh fuel had plastered signs all over the University with accusations of sexual harassment and signature gatherers were overheard characterizing Chris and Drew as sexual predators. Once again, at this week’s council meeting, instead of censuring the CPVAW (which at the time of Drew Glover’s alleged offense was under the helm of commission Chair Grossman) for being out of line, the council minority again took aim at Drew. At his next to last council meeting as an elected, Drew found himself again the target of public censure— for speaking truth to power in calling out the misconduct of the commission.
City Council Minority Fiasco
As I sat through two hours of comment, discussion, and ultimately a vote on whether or not to formally censure or merely “disapprove” of Drew’s conduct. I couldn’t help wondering why our City wasn’t attending to more pressing issues, as we face the Coronavirus crisis, lack of accommodations and services for our homeless, and the fact that Santa Cruz is one of the least affordable communities in the entire country. What REALLY fueled this unrelenting harassment and successful political coup? I encourage us as a community to explore who and what was behind the removal from office of a leader newly-elected to represent the disenfranchised in our community— before he’d even had a chance to serve.
Sheila Carrillo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected the the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His current term ends in 2020.
Email Chris at email@example.com
Last Wednesday, the Coastal Commission approved the District’s plan to inject millions of gallons of treated sewage water into the aquifer that provides drinking water for the MidCounty area. They did not seem to care about the massive energy increase this project would bring, or the significant environmental damage caused by construction and operation.
I was shocked that the Coastal Commission showed so little interest in or concern about the issues raised in correspondence submitted last week, or in oral testimonies at the hearing.
Only Commissioner Katie Rice asked if the District had considered the construction impacts and wondered how long the construction would take? (Had she not read anything at all?) Ryan Moroney, the Coastal Commission planner could not answer, so Melanie Mow-Schumacher from the District stated 17-24 months. The EIR states 24-36 months.
Commissioner Rice then asked about lifeline rates for low income rate payers? Melanie answered the District’s rates are set by Prop 218 process and no discounts are allowed.
Commissioner Luce wanted to know if the District has stormwater capture systems? The simple answer from Melanie was “yes”.
Commissioner Howell then gave an adoring statement about what a great project it is, and wondered what the cost/acre foot will be? Melanie said the District does not know yet!!!! However, it is estimated at $3,500/AFY, with better estimates to be presented later this spring.
With one unanimous vote, the Commission approved the Project permit. No questions asked about the ruptured sewage treatment plant outfall pipe that is part of the permit they approved.
None cared that the District violated the State Water Quality Control Board requirements by injecting six million gallons of treated water into the aquifer without a permit to do so.
None asked about recommendations for additional noticing for Live Oak residents, who received NO notice of the impending project before…Capitola City had asked for and received extra noticing for residents within the Capitola City boundaries during construction work.
I am both shocked by and disgusted with the Coastal Commission’s error in failing to even question issues that certainly apply to the environmental and coastal visitor aspects of the Project’s construction and long-term operational aspects.
The addendum that was attached to the District’s response to comments did not seem to have been seen by the Commissioners. One of them asked about where to find them at the conclusion of Ryan Moroney’s staff report, wherein he mentioned the existence of the Addendum. Frankly, I doubt that the Commissioners had read anything at all.
I am considering an appeal.
COASTAL COMMISSION CHAIRMAN PADILLA TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
The Chairman of the Commission, Steve Padilla, announced Saturday that he has tested positive for the corona virus after spending three days in Scotts Valley at the meeting. Commissioner Uranga announced Sunday that he and his family will voluntarily self-isolate for two weeks.
Does that mean that every one who attended the meeting should do so?
I would like to thank Ms. Melanie Mow-Schmacher at Soquel Creek Water District for alerting me to this news. I wonder why the Coastal Commission did not notify me, as a speaker who submitted a speaker card for the afternoon item, and had been present at the meeting all day Wednesday?
GOOD NEWS FOR BUSY APTOS ROAD FULL OF POTHOLES
The slalom course of potholes on Soquel Drive between Freedom Boulevard and Rio del Mar Boulevard is finally going to be repaired. On March 30 – April 10, the work will cause some delays, but is long-overdue and will be a great safety improvement. Look for other Dept. of Public Works projects here: www.sccroadclosure.org
CABRILLO COLLEGE COULD HAVE USED THAT $250,700 FOR BETTER PURPOSES
Cabrillo College’s 32-year bond proposal in Measure R appears to not have failed to get the required 55% approval of voters. Hopefully, the leadership will listen to the people and not waste over one-quarter million dollars again.
I just finished looking through the most recent campaign contribution filings for Friends of Cabrillo College….as of March 4 filing, the grand total of contributions is $250,700. That’s more than a quarter million dollars and could have paid for lots of “needed upgrades”.
The bank they use is in Sacramento, as is the consultant, and it looks like some of the mailers were donated by the California Federation of Teachers in Burbank ($8090.23). No local businesses benefited. Times Publishing in Aptos offers that service, as do several other local independently-owned small printing businesses, but Friends of Cabrillo College paid to have the work done elsewhere.
TBWBH is a San Francisco-based political consultant agency
Friends of Cabrillo College paid them $58,135.
Anedot is Dallas, Texas is a fundraising consultant and got paid $2,500.
It looks like Elaine Johnson was yet another campaign consultant, and got paid $4,000. She also was hired to support the Measure H affordable housing bond measure in 2018 that voters rejected. Elaine Johnson | wlscc
The Friends of Cabrillo College committee assistant treasurer is Shawnda Deane, in Sacramento. She got paid (Deane and Co.) at least $4666 (I sort of lost count). www.deaneandcompany.com
I am not sure where the bill is for the two attorneys who showed up in Santa Cruz Superior Court to fight Kris Kirby’s legal action demanding the ballot language comply with AB 195 requirements to clearly state the duration of the proposed bond (Judge John Gallagher denied her request). One attorney was David Casnocha, who practices in San Francisco and said he had written the ballot language and is a bond attorney. That expense does not seem to be reported anywhere.
Big donors are the Cabrillo College Foundation ($49,999), Patty Quillin, wife of Reed Hastings of Netflix ($49,000), Bud Colligan ($25,000), Deborah Rennels Salkind ($10,000) and the various construction trade labor unions ($4,000 to $6,000 each).
The Associated Students of Cabrillo College (Student Government for Cabrillo College) donated $20,000? Wow. That donation was reported on March 3, election day.
Those wealthy donors could have given their money to Cabrillo College for improved lab space upgrades to support the students training to become medical professionals.
Oddly, no fire or law enforcement names or organizations are listed as financial contributors. How come they did not support Measure R’s claim to build the new $23 million fire and law enforcement training center in Watsonville?
Did the firefighter unions endorse Measure R? No. Only the County Fire Chiefs Association did
Even though Cabrillo replaced the artificial turf in the stadium last year, at a cost of $1.2 million, one of the nearly 100 projects listed in the ballot language that would have been eligible for the use of the money is “turf replacement”. You can read that here. (Note that this is from the San Benito County Election website. That’s because the Cabrillo College District boundaries extend into San Benito and Monterey Counties. I think it’s odd that this is not shown on the College website, other than the general areas of the trustees.)
I hope that Cabrillo College trustees will look more creatively for funding for capital improvement projects and wait until terminating the two other bond measures taxpayers are still paying off. That will be in 20 years. I hope that Cabrillo will finally understand that the tax payers are struggling to make ends meet and, in rejecting Measure R, have clearly said “Enough is enough.”
CABRILLO COLLEGE FACING POSSIBLE TWO-YEAR BAN FOR ILLEGAL HOUSING BENEFITS FOR ATHLETES
After Cabrillo College spent $1.2 million to replace the artificial turf at the football stadium, the team may be banned from playing there for two years because the College provided free housing for 20 out-of-state players in 2018 and 17 out-of-state players this season. It is illegal to provide benefits for some but not all.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that the Cabrillo College football team may be banned from competing for two years due to a violation of the California Community College Athletic Association Constitution for providing illegal housing benefits to football players. In 2018, the College provided housing benefits to 20 out of state football players at the Breakwater Apartments in Live Oak. Those apartments rent for $2550-$3,015/month each.
Ten other players who could not pay rent for living spaces joined the 20 who were receiving housing benefits, and slept on the floor and couches. By the end of the season, all 30 Cabrillo team players were evicted.
This season, Cabrillo provided housing benefits for 17 out of state players to share three places in Soquel Knolls Condos. It is unknown what the rent for these units is. There are 57 players on the College football team roster.
I am glad Cabrillo College staff did the right thing and reported the violation to the Association. Stay tuned to find out if Cabrillo College football team will be taking a time-out from their newly-renovated stadium’s artificial turf. Again, that replacement cost taxpayers $1.2 million. Add to that the cost of providing the free housing for those out-of-state players.
Tell me again why Cabrillo College tried to convince voters there is just no money available to upgrade the science labs needed for training medical professionals???
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. ATTEND A PUBLIC MEETING. JUST DO SOMETHING AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor and finished with almost 30% of the votes.
Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com
#77 / #Winning Isn’t Everything (IRL)
The March 9, 2020, edition of The New Yorker came with a great cover, featured above. That edition of the magazine also included an important article, for those who care about the state of our nation’s political life. In the hard copy version of the magazine, the article was called, “#Winning.”
If you search for the article online, you’ll find that the title has changed, and it is now quite a bit longer: “The Man Behind Trump’s Facebook Juggernaut.” That “Man” has a name, Brad Parscale, who is pictured below:
The article on Parscale, which was written by Andrew Marantz, is worth reading in its entirety. In fact, the next time I teach my UCSC class on “Privacy, Technology And Freedom,” I think I will make this article part of the assigned reading. Parscale is no “genius,” at least according to one of the people quoted in the article, but he did convince the Trump campaign to use Facebook to its fullest. That decision by the campaign probably gave Trump the presidency. The techniques used by the campaign, outlined in the article, tell a cautionary tale about what is ahead for what Alexis de Tocqueville once called “Democracy in America.”
Facebook has amalgamated an incredible dossier of information on virtually everyone in the country – and this appears to include non-Facebook users, too. The platform has been incredibly successful in parlaying this proprietary information into success in the advertising world, and it turns out that political advertising isn’t all that different from the commercial variety. This is one of the insights for which Parscale claims credit. Selling Trump? That’s just another brand of soap!
Right after the Trump victory in 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, downplayed the idea that Facebook played any truly significant role in the Trump victory. According to Zuckerberg, “the idea that fake news on Facebook, of which it’s a very small amount of the content, influcenced the election in any way, I think, is a pretty crazy idea … Voters make decisions based on their lived experience.”
As one Facebook employee put it, quoted in The New Yorker article, that’s just “bullshit.”
“Facebook’s business model is premised on the assumption that there is no solid boundary between social media and ‘lived experience’ … For a decade, our pitch to everyone, especially advertisers, was ‘We can target the exact people you want and make them behave in the exact ways you want.'” That is a “non-bullshit” statement by the Facebook employee who called his boss out for providing a bullshit statement about Facebook’s influence in the last presidential election.
Facebook, and other Internet platforms, will continue to be successful in influencing political behavior, as long as we are all beguiled into the idea that what we encounter on social media is equivalent to our “lived experience.”
The “realities” we find online aren’t, quite often, any kind of “reality” at all, and our experiences on social media aren’t just another variety of our “lived experience.” If we want to preserve a democratic politics, we will have to find ways to shift our significant political conversations from “social media” to an “unmediated” reality in which we rely on conversations, and debates, and discussions with those flesh and blood characters with whom we have personal contact, in real life (IRL).
If we can’t figure that one out, the Brad Parscales of the world will continue to be effective in targeting their messages to “the exact people” that a politician wants to contact, and with every expectation that the messages that the politician sends will then make those people “behave in the exact ways” that the politician wants.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. Classic peeks inside our secret places…maybe?
EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s comic 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.
Lisa writes: “Still daring to venture out to the movies? As of this writing, movie theaters are among the few entertainment venues still open. Find out if Wendy — the new film from the director of Beasts Of The Southern Wild —is worth the risk of going out, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (ljo-express.blogspot.com/). Including bonus content not found in my Good Times review!” ” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.
UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE. Each and every Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. I host Universal Grapevine on KZSC 88.1 fm. or on your computer, (live only and archived for two weeks… (See next paragraph) and go to WWW.KZSC.ORG. Peter Klotz-Chamberlin from the Resource Center for Non Violence guests on February 4. After which Nancy Macy who is Environmental Committee Chair of the Valley Womens Club talks about PG&E and other problems. Jean Brocklebank and Michael Lewis will talk about our Santa Cruz Public library issues on Feb 11. Distinguished Artists Series founder John Orlando and pianist Lembit Beecher guest on March 3. OR…if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go here… https://www.radiofreeamerica.com/schedule/kzsc You have to listen to about 4 minutes of that week’s KPFA news first, then Grapevine happens. Do remember, any and all suggestions for future programs are more than welcome so tune in, and keep listening. Email me always and only at email@example.com
These guys have some unreal stuff on their bucket list, and in this episode they get help from the US Navy. Watch this, it’s very entertaining.
UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE ARCHIVES. In case you missed some of the great people I’ve interviewed in the last 9 years here’s a chronological list of some past broadcasts. Such a wide range of folks such as Nikki Silva, Michael Warren, Tom Noddy, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, Anita Monga, Mark Wainer, Judy Johnson, Wendy Mayer-Lochtefeld, Rachel Goodman, George Newell, Tubten Pende, Gina Marie Hayes, Rebecca Ronay-Hazleton, Miriam Ellis, Deb Mc Arthur, The Great Morgani on Street performing, and Paul Whitworth on Krapps Last Tape. Jodi McGraw on Sandhills, Bruce Daniels on area water problems. Mike Pappas on the Olive Connection, Sandy Lydon on County History. Paul Johnston on political organizing, Rick Longinotti on De-Sal. Dan Haifley on Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Dan Harder on Santa Cruz City Museum. Sara Wilbourne on Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. Brian Spencer on SEE Theatre Co. Paula Kenyon and Karen Massaro on MAH and Big Creek Pottery. Carolyn Burke on Edith Piaf. Peggy Dolgenos on Cruzio. Julie James on Jewel Theatre Company. Then there’s Pat Matejcek on environment, Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack on the Universe plus Nina Simon from MAH, Rob Slawinski, Gary Bascou, Judge Paul Burdick, John Brown Childs, Ellen Kimmel, Don Williams, Kinan Valdez, Ellen Murtha, John Leopold, Karen Kefauver, Chip Lord, Judy Bouley, Rob Sean Wilson, Ann Simonton, Lori Rivera, Sayaka Yabuki, Chris Kinney, Celia and Peter Scott, Chris Krohn, David Swanger, Chelsea Juarez…and that’s just since January 2011.
A person is a person through other persons; you can’t be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships.
No one can live entirely on their own, nor can any country or society exist in isolation.
I think, if you have enough inner resources, then you can live in isolation for long periods of time and not feel diminished by it.
~Aung San Suu Kyi
We do not achieve happiness or salvation in isolation from each other but as members of society
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Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060