BRATTON…Carlos Palacios days off??, search for book writer, East Meadow Update and sad news. GREENSITE…the city ignores its own heritage tree laws. SCHENDLEDECKER…will be back next week. STEINBRUNER…CZU fire rebuilds, county fair and David Kegebein, County planning commission and analysts, blockchains, 60′ radio tower. HAYES… What Went Wrong at Cotoni Coast Dairies? PATTON…Meme of the Day. MATLOCK… preparations for reparations, separations from reality. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week, very satisfying… QUOTES…”WHALES”.
DATELINE March 20
WHO’S RUNNING WHAT…AND HOW? Most informed residents and even some voters must know that Carlos Palacios our County Administrative Officer makes a lot of money on his job. They may not realize that he makes $278,185.00 per year in regular pay. He makes $14,980 in “other pay” and he makes $60,000 more in benefits. That’s a total of $353,832.81 per year. He’s responsible for our county budget, emergency operations, and strategic management plus more. What hardly anyone is aware of is that Palacios only comes in to work three times a week!! Somebody has to have the common sense to follow up and find out where, what, and why this surprising schedule is allowed especially when our county is under so much pressure. Yes he’s been here since 2017 and yes Susan Mauriello plus a team found Palacios as the City Manager in Watsonville…but working three days per week!!! Somebody do something.
SEARCH FOR BOOK WRITER CONTINUES. I’m still looking to hire someone to write my book. I’ve got a lot to write about and just happened to find this old article from Coast News by Andrea Perkins it dates back a decade or three but it gives some idea of my wild and creative life…and should be a fine book. Do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
EAST MEADOW UPDATE and sad news…
I was going to re-write this latest newsletter from the East Meadow committee but it says it all and succinctly …
On March 15 and 16, 2023 the UC Regents took up UCSC’s latest proposal for Student Housing West. With almost no deliberation they approved the proposal unanimously.
More specifically, they approved a proposal to finance and proceed with the East Meadow portion of the larger Student Housing West, and to support initial planning for the rest of the project. While it is often assumed that this project will provide a large amount of housing (over 3000 beds), the portion just approved will provide very little housing (140 beds) but will tear up seventeen acres of the East Meadow.
How soon will we see bulldozers in the Meadow? The administration’s stated plan is to begin construction in January 2024, give or take a month.
The proposal just approved by the Regents was one of many capital projects advanced by various UC campuses. In most instances, if a project claimed to provide housing, there was no discussion or deliberation. It went immediately to a unanimous yes vote. There was none of the normal briefing, discussion, and debate on any of the housing items. On the UCSC proposal none of the issues we raised were discussed or even noted.
The housing shortage in California has become so acute that no politician wants to be seen as standing in the way of its solution. We are not opposed to new housing. On the contrary, we have advocated for housing that would be better for the campus and fairer to the students. That did not matter: the call for more housing seems to have overwhelmed every other consideration.
We want to thank again all of you who have contributed so generously and in so many ways to defending the meadow.
The East Meadow Action Committee
I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.
RETURN TO SEOUL. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.1 IMDB). a deep and heart wrenching story of a 25 year old Korean girl who was adopted and raised in Paris by a French foster family and decides to return to Korea and reconnect with her family. It’s an excellent film that will bring out all sorts of your familial memories. Nicely acted, and full of humanity, don’t miss it.
MAESTRO IN BLUE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.5 IMDB). A handsome young guy goes to a small Greek island to set up, even create a new music festival there. He runs into such issues as homophobia, abuse, terrible politics, and just the ennui of the younger generation. It’s slow, seemingly pointless, and almost amateuristic. Not recommended.
MONEY SHOT: THE PORNHUB STORY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.4 IMDB) This is a documentary report on the successes and failures of Pornhub the pornography head of the internet. It centers on the actual sex workers and how they struggle to maintain their professions. There’s little or no glimpses of any porno but the viewing statistics are staggering. How religion and the internet giants fight for their rights is predictable and will remain so. l
MH 370: THE PLANE THAT DISAPPEARED. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.0 IMDB) On March 8, 2014 a Malaysian Airlines plane and 239 passengers disappeared…completely! It appears that the entire world searched for weeks and to this day no one know for sure where it vanished to. This documentary covers all possibilities and digs deep into many possibilities. It’ll keep you totally occupied through all three episodes.
DAISY JONES & THE SIX. (PRIME/AMAZON SERIES) (8.0). This is a half realistic and half sad story of an almost fictional band that started out in Pittsburg and LA back in the 1970’s. It’s from a book and a partial history of Fleetwood Mac. If you are into 70’s music and what’s happened to the aging band members since their breakup don’t miss this one.
THE EMPRESS. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.8 IMDB). A genuine costume drama centering on Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and his target is the princess of in the 1850’s. It’s beautifully filmed and full of the usual court intrigues. Plus it even has Johann Strauss at the piano. It’s the usual story of how strong the woman leader was and how she faced and dealt with such a sexist court and world.
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 QUIET GIRL. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (7.7 IMDB). It didn’t win an Oscar for best foreign film…but it should have. It’s a very tender, touching, near gut wrenching story of a young neglected Irish girl in about 1981 who is sent to live with her family’s foster parents. Her shyness, her pain, her observations of the world around her make this one of the finest movies I’ve seen in years. Don’t miss it.
LUTHER: THE FALLEN SON. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). The latest edition of the Luther series stars Idris Elba as the troubled and complex London detective. (Just between us there’s a character who looks so much like Leon Panetta it’s distracting!) Andy Serkis plays the sick and murderous evil doer and the entire movie is hammy, over acted and centered on an evil cult. There are better things you could and should be doing.
THE WOMAN KING. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.8 IMDB). Viola Davis has won more acting awards than anyone and she does a great job in this historical, but over dramatic action film set in West Africa in the 1820’s. It centers on slavery and how she as Nanisca the leader organized and captained an army of women to fight back against both white slavers and the Black men who actually supported and profited from sending slaves to both England and the United States. Mostly gutsy action with little plot but it’s very exciting.
CHRIS ROCK: SELECTIVE OUTRAGE (NETFLIX PERFORMANCE). Chris Rock made this live streamed performance in Baltimore on March 4 to a largely black audience and to millions of Netflix watchers. You can almost guess that he hit on such topics as the Kardashian family, why and who wears Yoga Pants and of course about the slap that Will Smith gave him at last year’s Oscars ceremony. Chris Rock is fast, brilliant and certainly worth watching. He is an acquired taste.
CITY IGNORES ITS OWN HERITAGE TREE LAWS
Despite an outpouring of support for saving a few of the heritage trees on Lot 4, site of the new library, garage, housing project, the city council majority voted on March 14th to move ahead with the project, including granting the heritage tree removal permit and in so doing, demonstrated the city is above the law, in this case, its own heritage tree law.
It’s quite simple although the city’s effort to hide the truth has made it appear complex. The regulations that govern when a heritage tree can be removed are few, straightforward and are contained in Resolution NS-23, 710. The one that was cited by the city for the permit to remove all heritage trees on Lot 4 states that a heritage tree can be removed “if a project design cannot be altered to accommodate the tree or trees.” A reasonable assumption to make in this case is that since the city is the developer and since there was no initial design, that a design to accommodate some heritage trees would be developed. Or that there would be detailed documentation and evidence to show why this goal was impossible as in “a project design cannot be altered.”
You may have read this Resolution citation before now. In 2021 and early 2022 groups such as Save Our Big Trees and the Sierra Club wrote to the project manager, Bonnie Lipscomb, reminding her of the requirement to make good faith efforts to design the project around at least some of the onsite heritage trees, especially those on the periphery of the site. Assurances were received that the city was aware of this requirement and the trees were indeed an asset.
Fast forward to November 2022. In a surprise move the city posts removal permits onsite for all the trees on Lot 4, even before the vote on Measure 0. These trees are sacred to many in the community and the posting to remove, with no explanation, caused much pain.
This permit to remove all trees is subsequently appealed by a broad coalition of community groups and the appeal hearing is scheduled by the city for the Parks and Recreation commission’s December meeting. At that time, I was still a P&R commissioner. Knowing that it was unlikely that council would vote me in for a second term (they didn’t) staff went to great lengths to justify postponing the hearing until February when they knew I’d be off the commission. They were unsuccessful in that move but successful in the 4-3 vote against the appeal.
A further appeal of that decision was made by the same coalition and the city’s decision was to lump it in with the council hearing on the full project on March 14th.
The outcome you have probably read about in the local press. With the sole no vote from city council member Sandy Brown, the project is approved, and the permit granted to remove all heritage trees from the site. When interviewed, the director of development of For the Future Housing for the project, Jim Rendler is quoted as saying,
“This isn’t something that we have not tried to incorporate into the design,” said Rendler. “We have gone about that in several iterations, trying to figure out how it could work.” This statement is manipulation on his part. No attempts were made to develop a design from the outset to save some trees. A curb- to- curb design was developed and only then, and only after they got their permit to cut down all trees did the parties involved declare…oh look, no trees will fit! That’s what Rendler is referencing.
A Public Records (PR) request for all documents related to the above issues revealed nothing related to design or heritage trees except the two letters cited above and the project manager’s brief response. That plus an email from the city arborist who wrote “Have any design changes been asserted that would save any trees per the reso (Resolution) requirement?” The PR shows no response to her question.
At the one council hearing last year involving the project architects, council member Cummings asked about the heritage trees following public comments made about the lack of attention to the law regarding heritage trees. The architect, Abe Jayson looked blank and referenced the grass and the patio trees that would be on the library deck.
If you saw through these games, staff made sure to also highlight structural and health problems of the trees. Even though the consulting arborist had written extensively on each tree and noted the shortcomings of each (to be expected with trees that have long been neglected in a parking lot and or badly pruned) he recommended that 5 of the trees, including 4 heritage trees were “worthy of preservation.” This was before someone in the city remembered to tell him that the project design was covering the entirety of Lot 4 and asked him to write an addendum to state that fact with the conclusion that “all the trees need to be removed.” Which he did.
With a willingness to ignore their own laws, the city management staff, their consultants, and city council majority have achieved their goal. What they have lost is public trust. Mine has worn thin over the years as I’ve watched and experienced their maneuverings over various issues.
This time they have stepped over a line. To ignore their own laws which they require others to follow and when caught in the act, to double talk their way out, playing the public for fools is a new low for our city.
|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.
Will be back next week…
|Joy Schendledecker is an artist, parent, and community organizer. She lives on the Westside of Santa Cruz with her husband, two teens, mother in law, and cats. She was a city of Santa Cruz mayoral candidate in 2022. You can email her at: email@example.com.
“NOW OUR LAND IS UNBUILDABLE AND THE COUNTY PLANS TO BUY IT”
That is what four public speakers told the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday (3/14) during public comment, with a Study Session related to the problems facing CZU Fire rebuild applicants that followed. Staff Carolyn Burke announced that the former estimate of 911 homes lost was based on guesses, but she changed the number to 697, claiming that it was based on better Assessor data.
Listen to the four people who are CZU Fire Survivors, hoping to rebuild, or who have rebuilt homes that have just been deemed “unbuildable” by County Geologists reacting to a massive local water system pipe failure that caused erosion, and now refuse to grant Final Inspections and allow the people to move in.
Listen to the four CZU Fire Survivors talk during Public Comment here at minutes 7:00, 9:00 10:50, and 16:02 and the attorney representing some at minute 30:35 declaring that this is in fact constructive condemnation of private property: Video Outline – Santa Cruz County, CA
Multiple residents said the County notified them that their family land is not buildable, and the County will buy it back. Changing guidelines. Unsubstantiated claims of geology reports now being invalid.
Why would the County of Santa Cruz buy this land???
Applicants spent thousands of dollars and have nothing showing they are getting closer to getting their home back, closer to a rebuild. Their insurance money has run out.
It is disgusting and unacceptable.
Read written correspondence sent for Item #12:
“Santa Cruz County has failed the CZU fire survivors with red tape and roadblocks. The county’s fire recovery website says the county is committed to “an expedited and streamlined permit process, to ensure that our community can rebuild as quickly as possible.” That, however, has not been my experience.”
Listen to Supervisor Bruce McPherson stating “I want to make it clear that I am not satisfied with the pace of rebuilding.” minute 1:48:42. It has been exceedingly difficult and must change because “what has happened is not good enough.” (Minute 1:50:00).
Thank you Supervisor Bruce McPherson and Supervisor Justin Cummings for insisting on changes to the septic system reviews. and appeals.
The Planning Dept. and Supervisors approved a Class K Pilot Program to allow the folks in Last Chance to rebuild their homes that had been habitable but non-conforming (aka, off the electrical grid and built themselves). However, that Pilot Program has now expired, because the permitting process has been so messed up.
Maybe this helped the Planning Dept. reduce the reported number of homes burned by 214, allowing them to claim 697 homes burned, not 911?
Write the Board of Supervisors firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts. Call up your Supervisor and ask for a meeting to look him in the eye and ask:
“Shouldn’t the CZU Fire Rebuild Applicants be waived of paying permit fees, as was done in El Dorado County CA after the Caldor Fire?”
No County staff responded to the multiple claims of residents who the County has contacted about buying their land, deemed “unbuildable”. What is behind such a condemnation buy-out?
LET’S RIGHT THE FAIRGROUNDS SHIP WITH CRITICAL THINKING AND RESPECT FOR THE FAIR BOARD
A recent Opinion Letter in Santa Cruz LookOut viciously attacked me and another involved member of the public, accusing us of “speaking whatever mistruths popped into their heads” at the last Fair Board meeting. Those who were there at the behest of fired-CEO Dave Kegebein were incredibly rude and were seemingly reacting to whatever information Dave Kegebein had filtered to them.
Below is my rebuttal. I urge you to read the State Performance Audit, and examine the Fairgrounds Foundation tax returns and make up your own mind about what has happened.
Please support the current Fair Board…they are working hard to clean up many messes Dave Kegebein left behind, and to right the Fairgrounds ship for a great 2023 Fair this September.
You can help, by getting involved.
BOARD OF SUPS APPROVE APPOINTING MORE SUPERVISORIAL ANALYSTS TO COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSON
Last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor Consent Agenda once again included appointment of Third District Supervisor’s Analyst Andy Schiffrin to the County Planning Commission, a very powerful housing and land use analytical review Commission, however this time, the matter included with a very strange twist. (See Consent Agenda Item #23): DOC-2023-195 Approve appointment of Andy Schiffrin as the Third District Regular Member of the Planning Commission, and approve appointment of Trina Barton as the Third District Alternate Member of the Planning Commission, as recommended by Supervisors Cummings and Friend)
The Board approved allowing him to serve for only for six months, then be replaced by a new Analyst, Ms. Trina Barton, who just came on board from Santa Barbara, and needs to get up to speed while serving as the Alternate on the Planning Commission.
These two Analysts will join Supervisor Zach Friend’s Analyst Allyson Violante on the County Planning Commission.
The Board refused to address the excellent testimony of Mr. Cove Britton about the questionable Conflict of Incompatible Interest these appointments pose, under Government Code 1099:
Dear Supervisors: Regarding Item 23 for the March 14, 2023 hearing. As I noted at the last hearing, regarding the appointment of Andy Schiffrin as a Planning Commissioner, that the appointment appeared to be a violation of Government Code 1099 Government Code (attached). As defined under Government Code 82048 (attached) Mr. Schiffrin is a “Public Official”. It appears that as a “Public Official” Mr. Schiffrin may not simultaneously be a member of Supervisor Cummings office and be a Planning Commissioner. Per Government Code the position is incompatible: “(1) Either of the offices may audit, overrule, remove members of, dismiss employees, or exercise supervisory power over the other office.” As the Board is no doubt aware, Supervisor Cummings office has the ability to overrule and remove members of the Planning Commission. Thus an apparent violation of Government Code 1099 to appoint Mr. Schiffrin as a Planning Commissioner. I would also note that #2 and #3 of Government Code 1099 also appear to apply. Mr. Heath has expressed an opinion regarding the matter but has not substantiated that opinion. Regardless, I suggest that the Board direct County staff to request a formal opinion from the California Attorney General regarding the matter. Ultimately, even if it were technically legal to allow Mr. Schiffrin to be a Planning Commissioner (as said, I do not believe it be legal) be a part of Supervisor Cummings offices, it is certainly not best practice. Respectfully- Cove Britton Matson Britton Architects O. (831) 425-0544
And consider further comment by Ms. Jean Brocklebank:
At the same time, I also wonder about this business of having county staff (i.e., supervisors’ analysts) sit as members of advisory commissions. Has the Planning Commission’s Powers and Duties grown to be so all encompassing of all development in the county that ordinary residents are no longer considered competent enough to do the work of the Commission? Or, has the Commission become a 40 hour a week job?
Andy Schiffrin will now also serve on Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (Consent Item #22:
DOC-2023-194 Approve final appointment of Andy Schiffrin for reappointment to the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners as an at-large representative, in accordance with Resolution No. 389-69, for a term to expire March 17, 2027 (nomination accept
Gine Johnson, Analyst for Supervisor Bruce McPherson, was just appointed to the County Commission on the Environment (see Consent Agenda Item #25)
What are your thoughts on this matter? What IS the purpose of County Commissions, anyway?
WHY NOT HAVE QUARTERLY LOCAL JURISDICTIONAL SUMMIT MEETINGS?
Some Bratton Online readers contacted me about last week’s question regarding whether Santa Cruz City Councilmember Sandy Brown should be employed as Third District County Supervisor Justin Cummings’ Analyst. Thanks so much. These readers felt it necessary that the County and Cities work together…and this could be one way of accomplishing that needed collaboration.
While I agree that the County and cities need better, more regular collaboration, hiring each other to serve in each other’s office seems a bit too chummy, and opens up the question of even more Brown Act violations.
Why not have quarterly local jurisdictional summits or workshops? It seems the 6th Cycle Regional Housing Allocation Numbers (RHNA) mandates, tripling building permits within the next eight years, could be a great first topic.
What do you think?
SUPERVISOR FRIEND WANTS YOUR DATA STORED IN A DIGITAL WALLET OF IRREVERSIBLE DATA ENTRY
The Board of Supervisors keeps prodding forward on a Digital Wallet for data relating to all County residents, at the behest of Supervisor Zach Friend. HUMBL is a company that specializes in building this blockchain technology, and offered to donate the set-up of a digital wallet for our County. Supervisor Friend eagerly convinced the Board to go along with this. Is anything really ever free for a County government service?
What is HUMBL going to do with the information to which it now has been given unlimited access in County data files???
There have been undescribed glitches, but County IT staff continues to be beckoned by the likes of Supervisor Friend to keep moving forward on this questionable endeavor. A report is next due on or before April 25, but it will likely be buried in the Consent Agenda, just as has been happening all along since inception last year.
“Decentralized blockchains are immutable, which means that the data entered is irreversible. For Bitcoin, this means that transactions are permanently recorded and viewable to anyone.”
What is Blockchain technology? Blockchain Facts: What Is It, How It Works, and How It Can Be Used
What will HUMBL do with all the information now in their files, obtained by offering “free” work?
Write your Supervisors about this, if you care about public privacy.
MEASURE D OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE MEETING THIS THURSDAY EVENING IN HYBRID FORMAT AT RTC OFFICE
If you can, please plan to attend the in-person Measure D Citizen Oversight Committee meeting this Thursday, March 23 and ask some questions.
Why didn’t the 2019 work on Venetian Drive get done? Why did slurry seal on Soquel Drive at Parade Street get added at the very last minute, just to do work to accommodate Barry Swenson and the Aptos Village Project’s Parade Street? (Which remains closed for some bizarre reason).
DEJA VU FOR FLOODING LAWSUITS?
Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo was behind many of the lawsuits filed after the 1995 flooding in the Pajaro Valley.
I think we can expect to see that happen again.
Photo from Santa Cruz Local
CITY OF SANTA CRUZ NOTICE OF CARCINOGENIC PFAS CONTAMINATION IN LIVE OAK PRODUCTION WELL
Take a look at the letter sent to the County Board of Supervisors (#aa in Written Correspondence on last Tuesday’s Board Agenda:
This is notification required by law to alert the County to the levels of PFAS, a carcinogen, in the Beltz 8 Production Well in Live Oak. Similar notification was provided in 2022, but the PFAS level has increased slightly, so requires continued notification. Questions? Contact Linsey Neun at 831-420-5486.
SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT NEVER GAVE THIS 60′ RADIO TOWER ADEQUATE PUBLIC OR ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
Last week, I noticed a new 60′ tower had been installed at the Soquel Creek Water District’s Advanced Water Treatment Facility, next to the County Sheriff Center and the County’s Emergency Management Headquarters. You can see it from Highway One.
Will these radio signals interfere with County Emergency Communications at the Sheriff Office across the street? Will any future radio signals from the County’s radio communications in disasters interfere with what Soquel Creek Water District’s operational information that will be radio-transmitted and hopefully, serve as a real-time indicator of system malfunctions?
We do not know because Soquel Creek Water District failed to provide any analysis related to this significant and potentially adverse PureWater Soquel Project modification.
The 60′ tower shown at the left of the large structure that will house the energy and chemical-demanding equipment to treat the sewage water piped from the City of Santa Cruz Wastewater (Sewage) Treatment Facility.
This tower, and many other elements of this PureWater Soquel Project, were significantly modified as new information became known or as the Project design was completed.
None of those was included in the original Project EIR the District’s Board certified in December, 2018.
The District also never allowed for public hearings to consider any of the major changes to the Project, simply placing it as the final item on regular Board agendas, and never opening a formal Public Comment Period that received formal public noticing.
The radio tower will include equipment connecting to the Sewage Treatment Plant and also to the pressure injection wells in Aptos. There are three of them, but documents show there will be direct radio links from the 60′ tower only with the injection well next to Willowbrook Park.
Will there be radio towers there, too? That remains unknown, at least to the public.
If you have thoughts about any of this, please participate in the District’s Board meetings, typically held on the first and third Tuesdays monthly. Beginning this week, the meetings were going to be hybrid, with the in-person opportunity happening again, however, the website states that recent storm emergency declarations will allow the Board to still meet remotely only.
MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. ATTEND A PUBLIC MEETING.
MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK AND JUST DO SOMETHING.
Happy Spring Equinox,
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
WHAT WENT WRONG AT COTONI COAST DAIRIES?
Someone new on the scene recently asked me to explain the history of what went wrong at Cotoni Coast Dairies. After many, many years, the property still isn’t being managed for wildlife or public safety, and it still isn’t open to the public. As a prelude to this, I urge readers to read my essay on how the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) came to manage the property in the first place…a curious story, indeed. This essay compliments that prior essay with more details, especially since BLM took over. Soon, I’ll soon be writing the third in this series with suggestions about what is needed to improve this unfortunate situation.
Years of On the Ground Nothing, or Worse
Since purchase for conservation, Cotoni Coast Dairies has a history of very little action. Trust for Public Land purchased the property in 1998 and held it until 2014. During that time, managers working for the Trust for Public Land did almost nothing to maintain the property. Occasionally, someone would show up to clear some anticipated future trail. For instance, TPL contractors extensively cleared riparian vegetation along Liddell Creek, destroying decades-old vegetation that shaded endangered fish habitat and provided cover for the endangered California red-legged frog. They argued that it was an ‘existing road,’ which also appeared on early maps as a favored future trail by TPL. (It later appeared on BLM maps, but federal wildlife protection agency personnel advised otherwise, and the trail disappeared from plans). Otherwise, TPL let fences, gates, and culverts rust away, roads and trails erode, weeds spread, and fuels for future wildfires build up.
Eight years ago, BLM took over management of Cotoni Coast Dairies, and those same patterns largely continued. Early on, BLM staff constructed a new trail, carving through nests of state-listed sensitive wildlife without required State consultation. Like TPL, BLM staff have either overlooked erosion issues along roads or graded long abandoned ‘existing roads’ (aka ‘future trails’) with uncannily similar detrimental impacts to rare fish and amphibians. Meanwhile, terrible weeds and immense wildfire risks continued to spread across the property. The reason BLM staff have given for such inaction: ‘we don’t have a plan.’ That changed, but management hasn’t…except for one new stretch of cattle fence and subset of future trails being created mainly by volunteers. The trails and fence came before any work on invasive species or wildfire mitigation, so we sadly see BLM staff priorities.
Decades of Funky Planning and Community Engagement
Staff from both TPL and BLM have sporadically spent a bit of time working on poor planning processes or participating in largely perfunctory public meetings about property management. For a while, TPL convened and facilitated a Community Advisory Group (CAG) to advise on guidelines meant to be used by future managers. A few of us on the CAG were asked to provide feedback about the biological portion of those guidelines, but we were unable to improve the largely cursory and incomplete biological assessments used to guide future property management. It is unclear if those guidelines have ever been used by BLM, or if TPL even cares.
BLM has done little to inventory the property, so it has very poor information with which to plan its management. Like TPL, BLM staff have shunned offers to improve biological survey data and so, as with the TPL plans, BLM’s plans have overlooked species and ecosystems that are easily identified and/or previously catalogued by reputable sources. This alienates the conservation community including a wealth of well-trained scientists in the community.
Instead of the long series of TPL’s CAG meetings, BLM staff showed up for a single community-engagement-style meeting convened and facilitated by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. That meeting surprisingly and very oddly focused on weighing pros and cons of parking lot locations, but it was never clear why public input was sought or what became of it afterwards. In the midst of this, an outside funder parachuted in hundreds of thousands of dollars so that several local organizations could mount the Monument Campaign.
In 2015, The Sempervirens Fund led the “Monument Campaign,” a fast-paced, highly scripted, well-funded effort to organize rallies and letter writing to show public support for National Monument designation of the property. In what is increasingly common “fake news,” the bulk of the Monument Campaign messaging was about opening the property for public use, while in fact Monument designation is more about improving conservation of the property…which would typically increase limitations on public access. This nonsense was compounded by campaign organizers’ refusal to address how designation would increase deed restriction protections already in place from TPL. Furthermore, organizers dismissed concerns about managing the anticipated influx of visitors drawn to something called a National Monument. How important the Monument Campaign was in Obama’s designation is unclear, but the divisions in the community were deep and lasting. Organizers were successful in coalescing well-meaning but very poorly informed people whose nonsensical byline was “Monument designation means my family will be able to visit!.” On the other hand, there was a surprisingly politically diverse coalition equipped with well-informed questions and concerns that were never addressed. After that local experience, it is difficult for me to believe that any political faction is immune from using scripted ‘truthiness,’ hype, or even lies when they feel those tools necessary in attracting popular support for secret agendas. Unsurprisingly, leaders of the ephemeral Monument Campaign movement have since disappeared from involvement, leaving the aftermath for the real, long-term grassroots organizations to deal with…we have yet to experience any conservation benefit of Monument designation.
As the first federal land manager in the County, BLM introduced our community to the federal government’s environmental planning process in some astounding ways. We had been accustomed to public lands managers paying careful attention to protecting “environmentally sensitive habitat areas” (ESHA) according to Coastal Commission rules. Not so with this property – BLM staff didn’t even provide a map of those regulated habitat areas! With the promise of National Monument protections, we were hopeful that BLM staff would follow the required and highly regimented process outlined in its policy “Manual 6220,” which provides BLM staff with guidelines on how to manage national monuments. Again, not so! In fact, BLM staff have not used the 6220 manual, avoiding any public acknowledgement of the manual as if they do not intend to use it, at all. Moreover, BLM staff have never specifically acknowledged the many species and ecosystems protected through the monument designation process. Monument management protocol seems irrelevant to BLM staff, who are apparently bent on expediting the public access so vocally anticipated by the Monument Campaign (coincidence?).
Expediting Public Access
BLM staff has chosen expediency over thoroughness in each of their property planning exercises. Instead of data-based predictions of visitor use, BLM staff chose a largely arbitrary low-ball figure of 250,000 anticipated visitors/year for the property. Instead of the logical in-depth alternatives analysis of a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), BLM staff chose the expedited Environmental Analysis (EA) process, complete with the incredible conclusion of ‘Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI),’ despite significant contrary expert testimony that went unaddressed/unacknowledged. As we learned for the first time about its ‘federal consistency process,’ the Coastal Commission mandated a phased approach to opening the property to public use. The Coastal Commission required that only if/when the BLM proved it could adequately manage public use could it open the full range of parking lots and trails; that proof requires monitoring and such monitoring would normally require a baseline inventory of sensitive natural resources, but we have yet to see that happen…we don’t even know what BLM and the Coastal Commission agreed to.
Who is Responsible?
Those of you who know me well know I don’t like the passive tense: I like clearly stating the subjects of verbs…who (specifically) is responsible for doing what (specifically). And yet, agencies like BLM are opaque…BLM staff even refuse to specify who is specifically responsible for anything you might witness happening. But, putting the entire blame on the tragedy of Cotoni Coast Dairies on current local, state or even federal BLM staff is unfair. Local, state and federal elected officials also bear some responsibility; good intel is that some of them have even winked behind closed doors in Washington DC, saying that local concerns needn’t be heeded. Again, placing a large amount of blame on elected officials also doesn’t seem fair: after all, they should be swayed by popular opinion (or at least election).
We saw how enough funding swayed popular opinion with the Monument Campaign, right? Apparently, no funders have been inspired to sway popular opinion in favor of wildlife protection on conservation lands in this particularly biodiverse region. Even if they did, there is a dearth of organizations who would lead that campaign. And so, we must bear the brunt of blame within our community, which has long lacked leadership, energy, and focus on environmental conservation. For more on that, read my essay “Democracy and the Environment.”
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 email@example.com
#71 MEME OF THE DAY
According to Wikipedia, a “meme” is a “unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme.”
A “meme,” in other words, is something like a “gene” for “ideas.” To continue to quote Wikipedia, memes are “cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures. In popular language, a meme may refer to an Internet meme, typically an image that is remixed, copied, and circulated in a shared cultural experience online.”
The image above, I think, is a perfect example of an “Internet meme.” It was transmitted to me on Facebook, by way of a posting by a Facebook Friend. Now, I am, passing it along to you! Consider this picture and quote, featuring Alice Walker, as a beneficent virus. Don’t you think it would be good if everyone could “catch” it? If they could “catch on” to what Alice Walker is saying?
The Truth (I am talking about “Capital T”-type Truth here) is usually a little more “complex” than your typical meme. Or so we tend to think. However, as I have been thinking about what I “know,” what I have “learned” in my many years of life, I am more and more coming to appreciate the importance of very simple statements.
Such simple statements – we can call them “memes,” or can call them “truths” – seem successfully to distill my life experience into short summaries, worthy of transmission to others. The words of Alice Walker, reproduced above, are a perfect example of what I am talking about. As far as I am concerned, that Alice Walker “meme,” featured today, is definitely an example of a “Capital T”- type Truth.
As I do those Memento Mori exercises I have mentioned before, I know what I’d like to achieve before departing the scene. Not that I haven’t already had some success in this, but my definition of accomplishment is actually to “do” something worthwhile, something that changes the world for the better, as opposed to demonstrating that I “know” something worthwhile that “might” change the world. In other words, I continue to urge that we need to be “actors,” not just “observers,” as we live our lives.
So, as I consider Alice Walker’s “Meme Of The Day,” I am asking myself what I might do that would go beyond just passing along what I think of as an obvious, and very powerful, “Capital T”-type Truth.
Passing on the “meme” is a good “Step One.” But once we convince people that they actually “have” the power they haven’t believed in, we all then need to move on up to “Step Two.”
In other words, once we all realize that we’ve got the power, our next step is to USE it!
Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org
PREPARATIONS FOR REPARATIONS, SEPARATIONS FROM REALITY
Most of us can remember a past where Senators Ted Kennedy, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham respectfully associated with each other, sharing their differing views without heated rancor. Aldous J. Pennyfarthing in a Daily Kos essay lays into Senator Lindsey Graham after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed five members of the grand jury looking into Donald Trump’s election tampering. A.J. says, “Graham presumably once had a soul before Trump covered it in a pony keg of Magic Shell and a soupçon of snackin’ lard and inhaled it like a stoned pelican running loose in a Long John Silver’s.” Early in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Graham had criticized The Donald with intensity, but once the die was cast he succumbed along with the rest of the GOP into the void. However, hearing one juror’s statement regarding Lin’s grand jury testimony has led Pennyfarthing to say, “We now have confirmation that Lindsey still has a brain,” as he testified that Trump would have believed that aliens came down and stole the 2020 election had he been told so!” Whoops…no more golf games with Ex-Prezi Pampers!
Of course, DJT was listening to earth-aliens Rudy Giuliani and Mike Lindell, who still can’t seem to come up with any evidence about election rigging. The grand jury also was presented with a previously unpublicized phone call made by Donald to the late Georgia House Speaker, David Ralston, who recorded Trump’s request for him to convene a special session of the Legislature to overturn Joe Biden’s Georgia victory. As jurors reported, “Ralston basically cut the President off, saying he would do everything in his power that was appropriate.” A stumbling, mumbling Trump could only say, “Well, thank you.” Pennyfarthing maintains that if Ralston “actually got Trump to eat his dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and go down for a nap,” he was an amazing person. He ends with, “Trump can fool some of the people some of the time, but apparently he can’t fool a grand jury – or the legal system. And in the end, that’s all that really matters, now isn’t it?”
At this writing, we are anxiously awaiting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s dropping of the indictment hammer on Trump – fingers crossed that it occurred! Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, has testified for countless hours regarding the Orangeman’s escapade with Stormy Daniels and possible campaign finance fraud as it relates to the hush money paid to the porn star, and other women as well. No public announcement was made regarding the possible indictment, but Horatio Combover claims to have obtained confidential information that Tuesday, March 21 is/was the fateful day and that his army should “PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST!” Taking a clue from the January 6 Insurrection in D.C., law enforcement officials are taking necessary precautions to deal with any possible violence – which the former prez seems to encourage.
Violence would seem to be the watchword within Representative Matt Gaetz’s office, having just hired a new staffer who wasted no time in showing his misogynistic, pathetic, and sick hatefulness. Andrew Kloster described himself as a “raging misogynist,” who once tweeted, “I need a woman who looks like she just got punched.” With Gaetz’ history, Andy should fit right in, especially since he is facing a Class A misdemeanor in Texas for causing bodily injury toward a woman. To this he answers, “I’m a 100% women respecter precisely because I’m a raging misogynist. I’m so kind you’ll want to kill yourself and die, which is the goal.” Candidates for jail seem to be prime candidates for political office in the GOP nowadays.
Prisoner-in-waiting Trump, on the third front of his many defenses, courtesy of DOJ Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, continues to play victim, going ballistic all over his Social Media network, and accusing Smith of “intimidating” his defense lawyers. Smith remains silent and keeps on truckin,’ comfortable in his role while ignoring or removing the claimed attorney-client privilege from the equation, while turning the Prima Don’s defense team into star witnesses against him. Smith’s experience and résumé gives him the expertise to avoid the political blowback that Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors floundered within while investigating the Trump-Russia connection. Handling high-profile cases has given him the breadth of experience to weather the scrutiny and make tough judgement calls quickly and bravely, which led to his appointment as Chief Prosecutor at Kosovo Specialist Chambers where he served prior to his DOJ appointment. The International Criminal Court located in The Hague in the Netherlands had him, since 2018, investigating and prosecuting war crimes during the Kosovo War.
It is said of Smith that if he doesn’t see a valid case, there will be no prosecution, and if it moves to the next level it’s because the evidence and facts exist, and he will see it to the end. Two prominent cases in his past involve Representative Tom Delay of Texas, where the evidence was slim, and so the case was dropped; the other was against Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards for alleged campaign violations to hide an extramarital affair – is there an echo in the room? Anyway, a deadlocked jury resulted in the DOJ dropping that case. Success hit its mark against a former president, however, who still languishes in jail in The Hague – the case of Kosovo’s Hashim Thaçi, accused of countenancing atrocities including mass rape, murder, ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity. Had Smith not injured his leg in a cycling accident, afterwards spending time in recovery, he might have been devoting efforts toward laying out the criminal case against Vladimir Putin, which came to light last week, but the call to take on the DOJ case against Trump in November was one for which he is highly qualified.
Prosecutor Smith would definitely be classified by Republicans as a ‘woke’ individual who is taking things too far, a progressive who wants to tear down their golden orange idol for the crimes they refuse to recognize. The conservatives have stolen a term originating in African American vernacular which meant ‘awake to injustice and racial prejudice’ but has now evolved in some progressive circles to have a broader meaning – with the word ‘enlightened.’ Unable to come up with their own original term to heap division and hate upon the libs, the GOP purloined a peaceful word and made it into a dog whistle for bigotry and a term of ridicule for a person who is too sensitive. The efforts by Republicans to stop progress and change to ‘make America great again’ seems to be the perfect impetus for us to reclaim the term and become ‘woke‘ to the nth degree!
We can rest assured that San Francisco’s city-appointed 15-member reparations committee will be thrown into the ‘woke’ pile after proposing that every qualifying Black adult should receive payments of five million dollars, accompanied by the elimination of debt and taxes, with a guaranteed annual income of at least $97,000 for 250 years and homes for the family priced at one dollar. The draft reparations proposal with over one hundred recommendations was released in December, but unsurprisingly, has encountered pushback from a wide spectrum of critics. The plan seeks to atone for centuries of slavery and systemic racism, and recently upon reviewing the outline for the first time, the S.F. Board of Supervisors gave their support, many believing that cost should not be a hindrance to doing the right thing. No cost analysis has been done so far, but critics say it is financially and politically impossible, with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution estimating a cost of around $600,000 for each non-Black citizen of San Francisco. Some analysts say that reparations should not subject the taxpayers in municipalities which never enslaved Blacks with payouts to those who were not enslaved. A final committee report will be released in June, in which the body can approve, reject or change the various specifics of the plan as they also keep an eye on the stratagems being developed by other cities and states across the country. Evanston, Illinois was the first city in the country to fund reparations, with Boston’s City Council forming a task force to do a study.
The delusional GOP Representative George Santos of New York, under the grinding weight of investigations by the House Ethics Committee, a county prosecutor in New York, and with the country of Brazil reviewing charges made from his short residency there, continues to show up for short speeches on the House floor and has filed paperwork for a possible run for reelection. Among the many lies about his background fed to the electorate during his campaign was his claim of being from a Jewish family of Holocaust survivors – a falsehood he later admitted to spreading. But keeping all his irons in the fire in the event he has to give up his House seat, either through resignation or being unseated by his colleagues, rumor has it that he will move to San Francisco, identify as Black and get in line for the reparations when they become available. Luckily for Santos, somehow Ancestors-‘R-Us.com found that he comes from slaves who became sharecroppers after their forced servitude in Mississippi, never receiving their ‘forty acres and a mule.’ So, let’s all agree we that at the least he deserves a donkey as he fights the windmills of his delusions?
“Government is the Entertainment division of the military-industrial complex.” – Frank Zappa
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: email@example.com.
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.
“Whales are killed today to supply the limited demand for whale meat or to be used in pet foods or as fodder for fur-bearing animals used in the fur trade”.
“Ten percent of the big fish still remain. There are still some blue whales. There are still some krill in Antarctica. There are a few oysters in Chesapeake Bay. Half the coral reefs are still in pretty good shape, a jeweled belt around the middle of the planet. There’s still time, but not a lot, to turn things around”.
“If you swim with sharks, make sure you have the appetite of a whale.”
Have you seen any of these ridiculously satisfying rug cleaning videos? No? Is it just me then? Yeah? Ok.
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
Cell phone: 831 212-3273
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ firstname.lastname@example.org