Blog Archives

March 23 – 29, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Cabrio naming, confidential opinions, rail plus trail names and ideas, Ralph Abraham’s new book, Grey Hayes and fire safety. GREENSITE…on Extending Downtown to the Beach and What That Implies.  KROHN…Look What They are Doing to our Song. STEINBRUNER…Soquel Creek Water District allows no comments on major project, Capitola now a disadvantaged Community? PATTON…Problems of Contemporary Censorship. EAGAN…Deep Cover and Subconscious Comics. QUOTES… “Just good quotes”

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CABRIO CONSTRUCTION 1959. Watsonville’s Register Pajaronian printed this photo, taken by Sam Vestal, their staff photographer. It directed the trucks and construction workers to the present day site of the college. Those folks interested in using the original local Indian tribal names could choose from this Wikipedia list… Achilla, Aestaca, Agtisrn, Apil, Aulintac, Chalumü, Chanech, Chicutae, Choromi, Coot, Hauzaurni, Hottrochtac, Huachi, Hualquilme, Huocom, Locobo, Luchasmi, Mallin, Nohioalli, Ochoyos, Onbi, Osacalis (Souquel), Payanmin, Sachuen, Sagin, Shiuguermi, Shoremee, Sio Cotchmin, Tejey, Tomoy, Turami, Utalliam, Wallanmi, Yeunaba, Yeunata, Yeunator.[3] And of course there’s Awaswas, Ohlone, Amah Mutsun, even Sokel!

The online college Name Exploration Subcommittee continues its zoom online meetings on April 8, April 15 and April 22. 

photo by Sam Vestal, courtesy of Carolyn Swift

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE March 22

CONFIDENTIALITY, SECRETS, OPINIONS. Every so often I like to remind folks that BrattonOnline is an opinion column. There’s plenty of news here too, but it’s founded and exists on opinions. That means whenever you send me anything, I guarantee anonymity. Unless you want attribution, that is. In the 46 – yes, forty six – years that I’ve been writing this weekly opinion collection, I’ve kept more secrets than J. Edgar Hoover (remember him?) This is in response to the many, many notes, phone calls, emails, and hints I’m receiving in response to the Rail Trail debate now underway.

COLLIGAN, KOENIG, OW & RAILS REMAINING. Very many of the readers/writers clearly suggested that the big money behind the push to remove the rails is Bud Colligan, the George Ow, family and other nearby land owners who will profit from the trail-only future. Relating to the phone survey call I reported on last week, I got this response…

“So, you got hit up with the survey from Greenway/TrailNow/Manu? If you want to know who is behind it besides Bud Colligan, Ow Family, Miles Reiter (CEO Driscoll’s), Gayle’s, etc. go to the Greenway website, which has been seriously misleading folks. Those people who early on signed the “10,000” petition did so at “informational” presentations to business groups and at Dominican events (recipients of big bucks from guess who?) They were bamboozled.

There is a lot more to that story. 

Those early signers were “sold” on the healthy idea of a trail, “Wow! Yes, that sounds great!”, neglecting to mention that a trail had long been in the works by the Regional Transportation Commission. Understandably, they were too busy to keep up with what RTC staff and the Friends of the Rail Trail were advocating, which was to plan for clean light rail for our County (with connections to the rest of the State).  

Anyway, FORT/Coast Connect recently commissioned their own survey by the same firm that did the one for Measure D, which turned out to be very accurate.

Here are the results

The recent RTC vote (9 to 3) to designate the rail line for passenger light rail is a major achievement! Besides excluding a trail-only option, it means that staff can start applying for federal and state funding. If we have the plans shovel ready, we could be first in line.  

FYI in case you haven’t already seen it, here’s a press release from FORT about their recent poll (not the Greenway/Trail Only one you were called about) showing 74% support for clean energy light rail on the coast rail corridor ‘.

STILL MORE ABOUT TRAIL ONLY BACKERS. Grateful readers continued to write…
“Who are they & why is there a lucky-in-life rich white (mostly) guy cabal against this? Bud Colligan. William Ow. Miles Reiter. Robert Stephens. Rowland Rebele. Sibley Simon. and others. Colligan is the ringleader: I’ve heard it’s because he’s heavily invested in futuristic personal mobility devices (google future personal mobility devices images) but I don’t know that for sure. Because of their demographic, he & the others tend, in my experience, to believe that they know what’s best for all the rest. Also, it’s always interesting to me that rich folk are so concerned about how the government spends its paltry share of the world’s wealth. 

An article in the recent Atlantic about private schools includes this quote: “Money is how rich people express their deepest feelings.” That sure feels true to me…even if it’s not their money to spend. & it sort of explains how a very nice person like Rebele can be roped into this nasty group. Colligan moved into SC when he retired from being lucky in Silicon Valley & immediately started throwing his angry, moneyed-wrench around: large donations in trade for support for the anti-rail position. Dominican, SC Community Health Centers, Housing advocates, etc. It’s sickening. & of course you know that they were behind Manu Koenig’s win & are now threatening both Ryan Coonerty & Bruce McPherson with running anti-rail candidates against them.

Thank you for challenging the Greenway myths, perpetrated by liars such as Colligan who are not all that dissimilar from our thankfully-former president”.

An early responder writes…”What I don’t get… and I realize this is coming from me, someone with a deep appreciation for cities and people… is why the Santa Cruz Business Council isn’t in favor of rail. Local shops could do with more foot traffic. It makes no sense to me. Sprawl is pro big-box retailer and pro-Amazon. We’ve got to build better cities that are more inclusive and equitable. Then again, maybe the key issue is that some bigger companies do not want their nearby labor force to have more options (Santa Cruz has a higher minimum wage than Watsonville and commuting by rail costs less than a car over the long haul). Where’s the business coalition in favor of the rail? We’re currently trapped in car culture when we could be embracing walkable & bikeable cities with transit options for everyone. What do you think is the deal there?

MORE ABOUT THE MONEY BEHIND TRAIL ONLY. The intensity and research behind the letters is as amazing as it is useful. Read this one too:

“You don’t know me but I’m a reader of your newsletter. I saw your question about why would local big-money interests want the tracks removed and I can offer a little insight. I did a bunch of research on this topic a few years ago when I first started learning about the Rail Trail project. I called the Surface Transportation Board public info line and spoke with them for about an hour, and also read a bunch of legal articles. After doing this research I ended up becoming a volunteer with the Friends of the Rail & Trail. 

What I found was that because of the way that the federal regulations are written, if the RTC were to ‘Railbank’ the rail corridor, whether or not they remove the tracks, that officially makes it not a freight rail easement any more. Railbanking preserves the option that freight rail might someday return, and preserves the corridor as an intact property, including any easements, but it is no longer a current active freight rail facility. Once that happens, anyone who owns land within the corridor easement can participate in a class action lawsuit against the federal government saying it is a new ‘taking’ (because the easement land isn’t being returned to the original owners, even though the corridor is no longer a freight rail facility.)

These Railbanking class action lawsuits have happened all over the country and resulted in 100% win rates for the landowners: the federal government has had to pay the landowners the full current market value of the easement land.

This doesn’t impact the ownership or integrity of the rail corridor. The RTC still would own it and it would stay intact, including easements, and there would be no cost to the RTC. It would basically be a gift to these local landowners from the fed. 

I think there is a lot of noise from these local landowners (the Rieter family and the Ow family specifically) about wanting Trail Only or a ‘Greenway’ in the rail corridor because that would justify track removal which would in turn justify railbanking. It’s interesting to notice that the RTC has officially decided on passenger rail for the corridor but is now considering Railbanking (while keeping the tracks). Possibly this is intended just as a gift to the local landowners to get them to stop pushing so hard for track removal. The problem is, if they do Railbank they are more vulnerable to political pressure to abandon the passenger rail plan and remove the tracks. So it may be a poison pill.

As for why Bud Colligan is so invested in tearing out the tracks, I have no idea other than he’s a libertarian type who dislikes public transportation and wants a playground for personal electric vehicle toys, like the electric skateboards in which his Central Coast Angels venture capital group is invested. He thinks only people who own self-driving electric cars deserve to be in the road, and wants to give Watsonville residents electric bicycles they can ride to their jobs in Santa Cruz instead of investing in public transportation. I’m not even kidding, this was his real proposal. He bankrolled Koenig’s run and successfully bought himself a supervisor. As for Koenig he’s a straight-up libertarian, same as Bud. Doesn’t support the minimum wage increase, thinks we should give tax breaks to businesses instead, etc”.

SUMMING UP. Concluding our reader/writers reactions we have… 

“If we are concerned about Climate Change, we must reduce fossil fuel use.

Transportation is the biggest user of fossil fuels.

Highway 1 is already congested many hours of the day.

Highway widening is very expensive and eventually doesn’t work.

Santa Cruz County continues to grow, especially in South County.

We need to move people across our County.

Think 20 years down the road. 

To those against a train, tell me – WHAT IS YOUR PLAN?

The RTC had been working on a plan long before Trail Now/Greenway/Manu came on the scene (with their own interests in mind).

Service and restaurant workers, students and others who need to go from Watsonville to Santa Cruz waste hours and gas every day. 

The RTC plan is the Coastal Rail Trail for 32 miles with zero emission “streetcars” for 20 miles with hubs with busses or jitneys circulating to inland places like Soquel, Cabrilho, UCSC, etc.  

The Westside rail trail is finished and open and a segment in Watsonville is almost done. Other sections are in design and planning stages and will be built as funding comes in from Measure D and other sources.  

This survey was just released a couple of days ago  

For more info, ask at: info@railandtrail.org  

or see the websites: www.railandtrail.org and coastconnect.org“. 

IN ALMOST CONCLUSION. This is one of the rare issues I’ve been aware of that really divides some environmentalists. I got notes from some readers supporting rail removal on an environmental basis, but I fail to see their point. This topic will be continued, even though the majority of residents support Rail & Trail.

RALPH ABRAHAM’S NEW BOOK. Ralph Abraham – formerly of UCSC and longtime area resident – has another book now in print titled “Vibrations and Forms”. The book features many articles describing the meaning of what’s been seen, felt and deciphered from types of trips. That means LSD, and various psychedelic excursions. If you’ve never tripped or experienced other-worldliness you’ll learn a lot. Rupert Sheldrake, Ken Kesey, Soquel, Ram Dass , Tabory, are all names we know in the book. If you are a veteran, you’ll recognize spaces and eternities you’ve seen before and will be happy to share. The book is available at Bookshop Santa Cruz and online at Amazon.

GREY HAYES ON CZU FIRE SAFETY. As we sit and stare at the clouds and read the rain predictions, and wonder just how dry our yards will get before the next big CZU season, there’s lots more planning we can do. Naturist Grey Hayes – an authority and veteran of our local blazes – describes in detail what, and how, we can prepare for the next danger period. Whether you’re sitting on a dozen acre ranch or little more than your rented porch, we all should be memorizing Grey’s words of wisdom. Go here to read it…

STOP THEM SCAMMERS. If you have ever wondered how people can fall for scammers on the internet, going so far as to send them money, be sure to scroll down for the “Webmistress video pick” this week. It’s humorous, but also very informational about internet scammers. Do watch!

Be sure to tune in to my very newest and latest 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 GIFT. (NETFLIX SERIES) This takes place mostly at Gobekli Tepe, a real archaeological site in Anatolia, Turkey that’s actually 7000 years older than Stonehenge! The heroine is a beautiful woman artist from Istanbul, who is drawn to the site for mysterious reasons – including the fact that as an artist she has been painting a design that was found in the ancient site, and totally unknown to contemporary eyes. I liked it and watched all of season one.

DEADWIND (NETFLIX SERIES) Another story featuring a female detective/police officer with many personal issues. This woman has two children, and a dead husband. The issues are very much Santa Cruz issues: a huge construction company from out of town wants to build high priced housing that isn’t environmental. The city council has odd ties to the developers, and there’s two violent murders to contend with and solve. I’d recommend it just a little bit.

CALLS. (APPLE TV+) SERIES. Unique, demanding, captivating and 88RT. Each story is told completely with online lines. No actors or places physically seen, just graphics!! You’ll sit and watch voice squibbles, symbols; all graphic effects tell these tense short dramas. See if you’ll like it… I’m still making up my mind.

BEARTOWN. (HBO SERIES). Beartown is the English translation of the Swedish town name Bjornstad, where this hockey drama takes place. It centers on a hockey league player, who returns to Beartown to coach a losing kids’ team. His troubles – plus all the infighting – keep this really fascinating, and good escapist viewing. Go for it with just a little hesitancy.

PAPER LIVES. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Istanbul is the setting for this upside down saga of a Fagin type paper/garbage collector ,who has a huge team of homeless guys collecting and selling. Mehmet the leader meets a little boy, who leads him into crazed adventures. The ending will shock and maybe disappoint you, but you’ll stay glued to figure it all out.

INVISIBLE CITY. (NETFLIX SERIES) I couldn’t watch this, for three reasons. It’s dubbed, which means their lips are speaking one language, the movies subtitles translate with different words, and the Comcast supertitles give us a third translation…and the acting is bad too.

COVEN. (NETFLIX SINGLE) A very dated, poorly directed, terribly acted story about Argentina’s witch problem in 1609. Six sisters fight and compete to worship the devil. Much chasing in the woods, scratching, bleeding… and there’s a guy at the ending that looks like Lawrence Ferlinghetti. There’s no reason to watch this mess. But it has 67RT. 

CHERRY. (APPLE + SINGLE) Tom Holland not just walks but struts away with acting honors in the deep, beautifully structured movie. Too many critics only see the plot and not the creative, fresh, nicely photographed movie. A young Ohio boy nearly of age has severe doubts about his future and joins the Army. He goes to war in Iraq comes back with PTSD and a drug addition that he ends up sharing with his dutiful wife. The Russo Brothers directed it, if that helps convince you it’s very much worth your time and love of the musical score which includes Verdi and Puccini.

DOGWASHERS. (NETFLIX SINGLE) Set in Columbia it’s a murder and mayhem flick centered on the thugs and toughies that guard the drug lords. One of them has a low sperm count and it goes downhill from there. Dogwashers is slang for lowly thug employee/slave. Avoid it and don’t talk about it either. 

THE ONE. (NETFLIX SERIES). I must state that this is the first series that I nearly binge watched completely. Partly in the future some tricky researchers find a way to match all of us to our identical DNA partner for life. Sort of 23 and Me part two. There’s a murder, much lying, very good acting, nice plot and twists and turns to make you wonder if you’d ever sign up for such a pairing and who it would be. 8 episodes and don’t miss it.

MOXIE. (NETFLIX SINGLE) Amy Poehler directed and appears in this unfunny mess. A high school teenager decides to secretly publish a booklet that gets her in plenty of trouble. The school admin and her friends all start to condemn the zine but change their minds. Boring, pointless, poorly acted and no reason to watch this by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. However you shouldn’t care but Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver’s son Patrick is in it.

HERSELF. (AMAZON PRIME) Single. Heart breaking and emotional story (saga) of a mother of two who has a battering husband. They split and she decides to build a house herself. The neighbors help while she also works at a hotel as a maid. It is an emotional supportive movie and gives great points to this brave woman. It’ll also make you realize just how much prejudice there is everywhere in this world. Well worth your time and tears. 93 onRT.

THE CHOSEN ONE. (NETFLIX SERIES) Not worth watching this poorly dubbed trip into a Chosen One Cult in Brazil. Oddly enough it’s about three doctors who are sent by WHO into the jungle to vaccinate the locals against some other pandemic (filmed in 2019). The locals worship a handsome dude who fools the WHO staff and leads the tribes straight into hell. Watch it at your own risk.

THE TRIAL. (NETFLIX SERIES). This is an Italian series in every way. A 17 year old girl is murdered and a woman investigator is assigned to the case. Complex and well done this will keep you glued to your screen. Suspicions run every which way and high dealing politicos are seriously involved. Go for it.

NEVANKA (NETFLIX SERIES). This is a very timely documentary of a woman explaining and revealing all the reasons she outted the mayor of her small town who pursued her beyond all reasonable doubt. It happened in 2001 in Spain and we get to see and understand the pain and the point of view of women sex victims. Watch it with friends, you’ll have great discussions.

SUPERMAN AND LOIS. Beware of (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO) It sends you to a ad packed streaming source named “CW”. Nearly the same old Superman lore…Smallville, Metropolis, The Daily Planet and the ever evil Lothar. Clark Kent is now a bedraggled father of young sons and he maintains a three day facial hair growth. Nothing new or worthwhile here, avoid it. 

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March 22

WHOSE INTERESTS ARE BEING SERVED?
I spent two hours Sunday completing a Public Service Ethics course, which is a bi-annual requirement for all elected and appointed public officials. (I am a city Parks and Recreation commissioner.) This was serious stuff. No cute characters and happy sounds letting me know I got it right as I’m used to with my daily Spanish Duolingo course. This Ethics course is based on the Fair Political Practices Act of the Government Code. It is well written, clear and makes no bones about whose interest you are serving as a public official. Not your own, not your campaign contributors, not the staff…you are serving the public. The consequences for forgetting that legal obligation can be severe, including jail time and dismissal from office. The real-life examples were helpful. Apart from obvious transgressions such as bribes, many examples were subtle such as a vote being overturned due to a council member’s rolling their eyes during public testimony. Or votes being discounted due to elected officials checking their emails or otherwise not paying attention as the public spoke. Having one’s mind made up prior to public testimony is disallowed. How might one know that? Public conversations, emails or opinion pieces all counted. Public perception rather than strict legality is the standard. It was with this refreshed sense of public obligation that I turned to review the city council agenda for 3/23/21. 

Item 23 on the agenda is perhaps the most significant city Land Use change since the Corridors Plan. This current Plan, pushed by staff, is to extend the Downtown with its new height limits of 80 feet, towards the beach area, specifically to the first roundabout. What does this mean? Not only the bulldozing of familiar small businesses and loss of sense of place but also a change from the current height restrictions of 3 stories to a new zoning of 6 and 7 stories. This affects the south of Laurel streets of Pacific, Front and the east portion of Center. The last is instructive. If you read my last week’s piece you know that Barry Swenson Builders has submitted two models for his proposed mixed-use development for 130 Center St: one at 6 stories and one at 3 stories. He is no doubt looking to see which way the wind blows at Tuesday’s council meeting. And here I was thinking he was giving the community and council a real choice! The troubling part is that none of this extending Downtown Plan has been made available for public input. In fact, staff recommends council accept their boundary alternative because: “By selecting a geographic boundary by motion, rather than developing a community process to select a boundary, the City Council will shave approximately three months off the beginning phases of the project.” Agenda Report. Item 23.

Staff is paid to make sure private investors and developers adhere to the city’s Ordinances and Zoning Codes. To initiate a re-writing of the Zoning Code to favor developers surely steps over a line. If council votes to adopt the staff recommended motion to by-pass public input, they have according to the Public Service Ethics Code violated the public trust. A serious breach of Ethics.

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.

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March 22

Years from now, when Santa Cruz history is closely examined, historians will note the economic mayhem of this era as possibly mirroring a larger nationwide wealth gap trend. They may even analyze this period as a kind of (20)20’s Covid Gilded Age. This widening gap between rich and poor is surely a train wreck, or a series of train wrecks. The station it occupies now is Obscene Rift, in which twenty-first century capitalism is delivering for the rich and shafting the poor. They will see it was a time when the US experienced its highest unemployment rate ever and likely is largest homeless population. “[E]stimates of homelessness in the United States range from fewer than 600,000 to more than 1.5 million people…” The higher numbers may include homeless students and people living with friends and family, while the lower number is derived from Housing and Urban Development’s flawed “point in time” (PIT) yearly counts, not at all scientific which even “HUD itself cautions against drawing conclusions or trends…” (Population Research Bureau) If the larger number is to be believed, we now have the largest homeless population in history pushing shopping carts filled with meagre belongings from one sidewalk destination to another. The war on the homeless is nothing like LBJ‘s “war on poverty” in the 1960’s.That “war” had a goal: put an end to poverty. The war on the homeless people who now dot the cityscape of Santa Cruz, is called “TOLO,” or The Outdoor Living Ordinance. It is a war directed by some well-off people looking for a way to escape the omen of the miner’s canary, The houseless have become such a disquieting tone among those searching this beach enclave for the perfect second or third home. Homeless people are the human sentinels of the outrageous upsurge in capitalist accumulation for the few.

TOLO—A Too Obvious Loser Operation
The enactment of TOLO by the Santa Cruz city council will be a legal ban on houseless people, a discarding of human life, a dismissal of the many who are experiencing a Dickensian existence as they exist among untold wealth. That untold wealth seeks to abandon, discard, dissect, and dismantle the many houseless pods, and abandon these scraggy denizens forever. Move on! There is no room for you in Santa Cruz. You are the product of another kind of urban species unlike us or you would have a nice house, a fast car, and a reasonable latte budget. This is the constant rhetoric flying out of the mouth of an increasingly smug, imperious, and frankly deluded Santa Cruz Planning Director-cum-Homeless Czar, Lee Butler. Butler assists greed-driven developer’s wettest dreams, directing them through the Byzantine Santa Cruz permitting process while at the same time spending the bulk of his time eliminating the homeless who constitute that last obstacle to developer uber-success in effectively marketing their seaside condos to the non-local well-off. It’s Butler’s perfect gig. The homeless, many of whom grew up here, will be displaced by Butler-ian logic, by moneyed interests who found Santa Cruz on some Forbes list of Best Places to live, but only if the homeless would go away. And poof! Team Butler-Bernal, Martin Bernal is the current city manager but not for long, is leading the charge to oust the houseless from Serf City as fast as Charlemagne’s ouster of the German-Saxons at the Massacre of Verden. I use the Charlemagne analogy here because he was exceptionally ruthless and it went on over a 30-year-long war. That Massacre of Verden in 782 slaughtered some 4.500 Saxons, which is likely the same number of people now living houseless in Santa Cruz County. 

Go Team Butler-Bernal, go!
But don’t forget, we still have a functioning court system. Team Butler-Bernal was again confronted by the law on March 16th, most notably in Federal Court in San José, and the law won. The homeless can still stay within the confines of their insufficient encampment in San Lorenzo Park. Big win? It was neither a win for the houseless, nor for the dozens of activists who agitate for better and more humane public policy, but it was a brief moral victory that thrusts a potent right hook onto the jaw of the city bureaucrats’ many wrongs. It was a classic televised face-off, if anything can be “classic” on Zoom, between the city attorney, Tony Condotti and his minion assistant, Cassie Bronson, vs. Homeless Union defense counselor, Anthony Prince. The event was presided over by Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen whose Wikipedia page states, “[S]he has also regularly represented pro bono clients in cases involving immigration law, landlord-tenant disputes and remedies for victims of domestic violence.” Aha! We potentially have a good “cutman” in our corner, someone who just might care about the problems faced by homeless people, especially within our unfolding and persistent pandemic. And yes, Prince scored again.

The Case
The Santa Cruz city attorneys entered the Zoomzone this time on bended knee and with heads bowed. It was nothing like their January 6th bombastic and rather aloof performance, which Judge van Keulan would have none of and stated, “…the CDC Guidelines before this Court are clear and specific: if there is no alternative housing available, leave the encampments to remain where they are because clearing encampments may increase the potential for infectious disease spread.” The results of this Judge-just-checking-how-the-camp-is-doing court appearance were somewhat similar. She directed the two parties–houseless and houseful–to get together and work out both a vaccination plan and a place where campers could go to shelter in place and sleep when necessary. The current TOLO plan identifies few habitable spaces where people could, or would, want to reside. While the judge cited the coming rains posing perhaps a flooding danger, city attorneys threw up verbal blockades against any kind of homeless storage and access program and seemed to contend that only around 100 people resided at the San Lorenzo camp. Prince countered with a left. He pointed out that the current 200-person San Lorenzo Park camp was perhaps even much larger when you consider that tents dot the river landscape from the Benchlands up and down the San Lorenzo River.

The Decision
The judge left it up to the parties to get together. It was likely a TKO (technical knock-out) for now. She also wanted to know about a vaccination plan–more J&J supplies to arrive on March 19th according to Assistant City Attorney Bronson–and about past “data points” on the flood status of the area. The judge was concerned how moving campers to a flood prone area might change any city plan and the city needed buy-in from campers. Supposedly the city plan is to prepare 122 camping spots on the Benchlands, which Prince immediately disputed would be far too few given the actual numbers of homeless people needing a spot. Prince also made the point that if the camp were to be moved before all campers had access to vaccines, many campers might likely forgo a vaccination before choosing to relocate elsewhere. The judge’s order was that parties must “meet and confer” by March 24th or 25th and “by noon on the 26th submit materials to court.” Judge van Keulen scheduled a new court date for March 30th to try and work out an initial final plan. Assistant City Attorney Bronson would like the court to allow the city to also enforce a “park stay-away order” from San Lorenzo Park against campers if and when they are moved to the Benchlands, a short distance away. The Judge said the court might take up that submission later, but for now Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulan held firm that the park encampment was not to be moved. Again, not a victory for the environment or for neighbors of the park, and especially not for the sad-sack city manager’s office, but it was a victory for those of us who love justice and would still like to love our democracy. The courts, as the third branch of government, are still serving the American people post-Trump, including Santa Cruz.

Ps. I found an informative, and brief, history of homelessness on a National Institute of Health website

“Every benefit, from the minimum wage to the 5-day work week, was earned when people organized. It’s never easy. But workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama are standing together right now and if they win, it will send a shockwave throughout this country.” (March 20)

“CEO pay growth from 1979-2019: 1,167% Worker pay growth from 1979-2019: 13.7%” (March 21)

(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 to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His term ended in April of 2020.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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March 22

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT REFUSES TO OPEN PUBLIC COMMENT ON MAJOR PROJECT CHANGES CAUSING POTENTIAL NEW AND SIGNIFICANT ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS
Last Tuesday, Soquel Creek Water District’s Board, claiming to be environmentally-concerned, approved a $34.5 Million element of the PureWater Soquel Project’s pipeline that, if there are ever effluent leaks at any of the multiple San Lorenzo River or creek crossings, all aquatic life would likely perish. Mitigations specific to this potential problem? None. Public hearing or formal comment period? NONE…denied by the “environmental” Board.

Here is why you need to contact the Coastal Commission and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board ASAP and demand the District produce mitigations acceptable to the State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife: the effluent will contain high levels of chloramine, a chemical known to be toxic to all aquatic life. You also need to contact parents, staff and administrators affiliated with Spring Hill Elementary School, Bayview Elementary School, and Santa Cruz High School to warn them of the new large above-ground hazardous chemical storage tanks that the MODIFIED PureWater Soquel Project would add to their sphere 0.25 mile away. Chemical transport trucks on Mission Street???  Hmmmm…….  

Soquel Creek Water District Board merely held a regular meeting with consideration of this item near the end of their meeting…no public hearing that would have required any special level of notice…and rubber-stamped an Addendum to the Project. No public comment period as would be required under CEQA had they done the responsible action of issuing a Subsequent EIR.

And they call themselves “environmentally concerned scientists”?

The chloramine pollutant in the pressurized effluent to be pumped over four miles from Bay and California Street in Santa Cruz to Chanticleer and Soquel Avenue in Live Oak would be added, under the MODIFIED PROJECT, due to the newly-added nitrifying Biological Aeration Filtration (nBAF) treatment plant. It would be required because the treated sewage water the PureWater Soquel Project would use is much higher in contaminants ammonia, nitrite and total organic carbon that was expected or analyzed in the Project’s original EIR.  

The Soquel Creek Water District did not conduct a Subsequent EIR to analyze the potentially significant and adverse environmental impacts of this new nBAF treatment plant, which also add numerous very large above-ground hazardous chemical storage tanks 

Mitigations to protect aquatic environments could include sleeved double pipe in riparian areas, and sensors in the immediate areas of riparian crossings that would quickly detect any changes in hydrostatic effluent pressure within the 8 MILES OF EFFLUENT PIPE LINES.

Contact:

Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board c/o Mr. Matt Keeling matt.keeling@waterboards.ca.gov   

California Coastal Commission c/o Ms. Susan Craig susan.craig@coastal.ca.gov  

Santa Cruz City School District

I am disappointed that the Santa Cruz Sentinel report gave this MODIFIED PureWater Soquel Project glowing reviews, without addressing any of the new elements that add multiple significant and adverse environmental impacts.

Next phase of Pure Water Soquel project gets green light

DID YOU KNOW THAT CAPITOLA IS NOW CONSIDERED A DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITY?
The California Regional Water Quality Control announced the City of Capitola has been added in the determination of several Disadvantaged Communities in Santa Cruz County at the January 29, 2021 Central Coast meeting.  

I was curious…and wrote the Board:

“Dear Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board,

I am puzzled by the list of Santa Cruz Disadvantaged Communities listed in Item 7, Attachment #1.

Santa Cruz County Specific Census Tract or Block Group Areas: 

  • Amesti 
  • Capitola 
  • Davenport 
  • Santa Cruz 
  • Soquel 
  • Twin Lakes 
  • Watsonville 

How can the City of Capitola be included as a Disadvantaged Community? The criteria for establishing this determination is not clear. I would appreciate an explanation of this matter.”

Here is the explanation from the Director, Mr. Matt Keeling:

Hello Ms. Steinbruner,  

DACs are identified based on median household income thresholds as compared to US Census data for Block Groups, Tracts and Places. The following website provides a good synopsis and DAC area mapping tools based on these data. California Disadvantaged Communities Mapping Tool | Adaptation Clearinghouse

There are a number of mapping tools, of which this is just one. We typically use the Department of Water Resources or Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) mapping tools and GIS data.

Regards. MK

************

Maybe that will help Soquel Creek Water District get more public grants for the disgusting plan to inject treated sewage water into the clean aquifer water the entire MidCounty area depends upon. Do they really have to do that? Why not just use it for irrigation at golf courses and athletic fields, like the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency does? 

WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Cheers and Happy Spring,

Becky

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

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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#80 / Problems Of Contemporary Censorship 

March 21

Spiked is a British Internet magazine focusing on politics, culture and society. The magazine has been funded in part by donations from the Charles Koch Foundation, and Wikipedia says that Spiked is generally considered to be “libertarian” in its editorial approach. 

On February 19, 2021, Spiked published an article by Editor Brendan O’Neill, who is pictured above. O’Neill’s article is titled, “It’s time to get real about freedom of speech.” Wikipedia reports that O’Neill was once a Trotskyist, and was formerly a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party writing for the party’s journal, Living Marxism. O’Neill apparently now self-identifies as a “Libertarian Marxist,” though I must confess that the “Libertarian Marxist” category is not one that is exactly crystal clear in my mind. 

At any rate, I thought that O’Neill’s recent column raised some important issues related to censorship and free speech. I think it’s well worth reading. Here’s how O’Neill starts out:

It’s hilarious when activists piss on the door of a feminist academic’s office because they don’t like her criticisms of gender self-ID. It’s hilarious when a disabled working-class grandfather is sacked from his job at Asda because he posted a Billy Connolly skit on social media that made fun of Islam. It’s hilarious when a Labour shadow minister loses her job because she dared to raise concerns about the grooming and rape of working-class girls in various parts of England. It’s hilarious when JK Rowling is bombarded with messages saying ‘fuck you bitch,’ ‘bitch I’ll kill you’ and ‘choke on my cock’ because she wrote an entirely non-prejudiced essay on trans issues. It’s all so funny. ‘FREEZE PEACH’ lol.

Make no mistake: when the cultural and media elites mock the idea of a free-speech crisis, when they insist cancel culture doesn’t exist, this is the reality they are denying. This is the abuse, demonisation and, yes, censorship that they claim is not real. Actually, it’s worse than that. These censorship deniers do not merely question the reality of these grim assaults on people’s free expression – after all, we can all see the tweets calling JK Rowling a ‘cunt’ and a ‘whore’, and we all know what urine splashed on someone’s door looks and smells like, so we know this stuff is real. No, they also implicitly justify these chilling crusades against open discussion. By refusing to describe these attacks as attacks on freedom of speech, they normalise them, they green-light them.

Most obviously, the censorship deniers, those nominally leftish people who claim there is no free-speech crisis on campus or anywhere else, just cannot be taken seriously. Such is their ideological blindness to the problem of contemporary censorship that they have become impervious even to facts and information. I know from personal experience that you can provide these people with loads of examples of ‘controversial’ individuals being No Platformed, arrested and even physically assaulted for their political or moral points of view, and it makes no difference. ‘Nope, there’s no free-speech crisis’, they’ll say.

Glenn Greenwald, who once wrote for another British publication, The Guardian, has also been thinking about issues related to censorship and free speech. Greenwald’s article, which appeared in his Substack newsletter on February 20, 2021, was titled, “Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment.” Greenwald pays less attention than O’Neill to individual attacks intended to shut down someone’s ability to comment on contemporary issues. Greenwald is specifically concerned about how elected officials are trying to compel various social media corporations to suppress opinions with which the politicians disagree:

House Democrats have made no secret of their ultimate goal … to exert control over the content on these online platforms. “Industry self-regulation has failed,” they said, and therefore “we must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.” In other words, they intend to use state power to influence and coerce these companies to change which content they do and do not allow to be published.

I’ve written and spoken at length over the past several years about the dangers of vesting the power in the state, or in tech monopolies, to determine what is true and false, or what constitutes permissible opinion and what does not. I will not repeat those points here.

Instead, the key point raised by these last threats from House Democrats is an often-overlooked one: while the First Amendment does not apply to voluntary choices made by a private company about what speech to allow or prohibit, it does bar the U.S. Government from coercing or threatening such companies to censor. In other words, Congress violates the First Amendment when it attempts to require private companies to impose viewpoint-based speech restrictions which the government itself would be constitutionally barred from imposing.

Both O’Neill’s article, and Greenwald’s, address problems of contemporary censorship that I think need to be taken seriously. Lots of things that people say are things with which I disagree, and some of them I consider to be truly horrible and obnoxious. 

Still, while no “Libertarian,” I am uncomfortable with the idea that obnoxious and horrible ideas should be suppressed – however that is accomplished. I particularly think that Greenwald’s point, that when government officials try to use the power of our government to eliminate opinions which disagree with their own, we are treading into extremely dangerous territory.  

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 gapatton@mac.com

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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

    Just good Quotes

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
~Dr. Seuss 

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
~Mark Twain 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~Maya Angelou 

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
~Oscar Wilde 

Mark Rober is famous for making glitterbombs to irritate porch pirates, but this video is a little more involved, and a little more important. Internet scams are a $20 BILLION dollar industry, and while we often laugh it off with “why would anybody be so stupid?”, Mark explains here why that is simply not the case. Please watch, so you can maybe help someone else (or yourself!) not fall for this.


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

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

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com

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