BRATTON…Sentinel follow up, MediaNews Group and Singleton, Sandy Brown on the Empty Homes Tax, Gail Pellerin odds, Colligan rumor, Miriam Ellis farewell, Streamers, Live Here Now. GREENSITE… Greensite on Growth and its Casualties. KROHN… Follow the money. STEINBRUNER…UC housing laws and CEQA, Fed Money to Watsonville, Soquel Creek and Scotts Valley Water Districts to collaborate. HAYES…Lupine Time. PATTON…Kinzinger: “I made a Mistake”. MATLOCK…”Hey, Bob, the Masters are back and up to no good! Standing over their graves, they only played dead! EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover QUOTES…”Academy Awards”
DATELINE March 21
SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL FOLLOWUP. Many great and probing reactions to last week’s piece on the Santa Cruz Sentinel. One joker said we should call it the Santa Cruz Shmuel because there are more Shmuel photos than news in it. Another reader suggested we “Check out the Wiki on Digital First Media”.
He said, “It is shocking how many papers they own, the list doesn’t include the ones they bought then closed. Also see the CBS news segment on Alden Global Capital, and an article from “The Atlantic”: A secretive hedge fund is gutting newsrooms.
Bratton Online is a work of passion. Bruce and the other writers don’t get paid for all the time they put in. However, there are still costs associated with running a website, and we are in need of some upgrades on the back end of things. We are going into our 20th year, if you can believe it!
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Did we use to have rules in papers that required them to write the truth? I think they got rid of that when Murdock started purchasing media outlets in the early ’80s anyway…Times are getting stranger every day. Like Alice in Wonderland, but weirder”.
Read that Atlantic piece…it says, “Spend some time around the shell-shocked journalists at the Tribune these days, and you’ll hear the same question over and over: How did it come to this? On the surface, the answer might seem obvious. Craigslist killed the Classified section, Google and Facebook swallowed up the ad market, and a procession of hapless newspaper owners failed to adapt to the digital media age, making obsolescence inevitable. This is the story we’ve been telling for decades about the dying local-news industry, and it’s not without truth. But what’s happening in Chicago is different.
In May, the Tribune was acquired by Alden Global Capital, a secretive hedge fund that has quickly, and with remarkable ease, become one of the largest newspaper operators in the country. The new owners did not fly to Chicago to address the staff, nor did they bother with paeans to the vital civic role of journalism. Instead, they gutted the place.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel has been owned by the MediaNews Group since 2007. It’s been controlled by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital since then. There’s a William Dean Singleton who is the founder and executive board chairman of MediaNews group. Is this William Singleton any relation to our local Robert Singleton former head of the Santa Cruz Business Council and co-founder of Civinomics? Something else that could puzzle us is that it states a co-founder of Civinomics is named Paul Koenig and lives in Watsonville. That Paul Koenig I’ll bet changed his name to Manu Koenig and with Bud Greenway Colligan’s help got to be our County Supervisor. Let me know if you have more news, changes, or rumors about all of the above. Working alone I don’t have enough time to finish such exploring.
THE EMPTY HOMES TAX. There’s so much confusion and doubt surrounding the proposed Empty Homes Tax (EHT) that I asked Santa Cruz Council member Sandy Brown to help us get a more clear understanding. She wrote…”I would recommend directing people to the FAQs age on the EHT website.”
Here are the basics:
The Empty Homes Tax requires owners of residential properties that are not occupied for at least 120 days per year to pay an annual parcel tax of $6k for single family homes and $3k for units in large multi-unit complexes. It does NOT apply to ADUs, duplexes, or other small units on a parcel, as long as someone inhabits one of the units on that parcel.
As with the rental inspection program and the short term vacation rental TOT, the city would be responsible for verification and enforcement. The ordinance provides latitude for city staff to develop the specific steps related to verification and it’s likely that this function could be handled through the Finance Department’s existing systems. Property owners will be asked to certify occupancy and may, at some point, be asked to provide additional documentation if they are selected for an audit.
The Oversight Committee has become a red herring for the opposition. Its ONLY function will be to review the financial audits that public agencies are already required to do and to make sure the money is being spent for the appropriate purpose. Because the city already has an Affordable Housing Trust fund, this will be relatively easy to do”.
And there we have it, Sandy has been working hard and diligently to get the EHT out there and passed, we should thank her constantly for the work she does.
GAIL PELLERIN, ODDS ON. With the new districting in place and the announcement of Gail’s three competitors for the Assembly seat, she’s going to have a tough time. All the more reason for all area Democrats to be sure to vote in June and fore sure in November.
COLLIGAN RUMOR. We’ll probably never find out if it’s true because the bare existence of Nonprofits is so shaky that they won’t respond. Word has it on the streets that Bud Colligan has given support to a few nonprofits…. then when they need or ask for his continuing money support he demands that they support Greenway and the devastating plot to remove our rail system. We’ll get spies out looking for proof of this.
MIRIAM ELLIS LEFT THE STAGE. Miriam Ellis was a very significant part of our community’s musical life and she died last week. In addition to her teaching at UCSC, she began and headed the International Playhouse featuring multi-language plays. More than that, she created SCOSI (the Santa Cruz Opera Society Incorporated), and having attended more than 300 operas in my lifetime I happily attended some of those meetings. She was vivacious, funny, incredibly smart, and a wonderful friend. She will continue to be missed by thousands of us.
Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.
BAD VEGAN: FAME.FRAUD.FUGITIVES 🙁 NETFLIX SERIES) (100 RT). Sarma Melngailis is and was the subject of this completely absorbing documentary that beautifully details her rise to fame and fortune as the owner, operator, and main chef in her famous “Pure Food and Wine” restaurant in NYC. She talks about how she stole enormous sums of money from her employees to pay off a swindler she fell for. Bill Clinton, Alec Baldwin, and Howard Stern were among her faithful restaurant followers. Because she is so open and naïve we tend to believe and pity her in her on camera interviews. It’s a totally involving series, go for it!
COMPARTMENT NUMBER. 6. (Del Mar Theatre movie) (96RT). A lonely young woman meets a rugged, rude, and mysterious man while she’s on her way to view petroglyphs in Russia. This is a beautifully told story of the two of them and how they react to their all too human touches while they share a tiny compartment onboard a train. It’s deep, touching, well-acted and expertly produced, do not miss this one
WINDFALL. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.6 IMDB) (NO RT SCORE YET). This mess of an attempt to make a movie simply fails totally. It’s about the break in of a hi tech billionaire’s home played by Hollywood’s worst actor Jesse Plemons by confused and unfunny Jason Segel is an insult to cinema. It’s not serious, not funny, poorly acted, ridiculous script and plainly unbelievable. Only Lily Collins as Plemon’s wife is the only plus as she puts a bizarre ending to the wasted effort.
THE WEEKEND AWAY. (NETFLIX MOVIE). (50 RT) (5.6 IMDB). A gorgeous scenic tour plus a murder mystery all set in Croatia….which has to be a great place to visit. Two flashy longtime girlfriends meet again and one is found floating face down a bit later. Who dunnit? The taxi driver, the girlfriend, the landlord, the cop? Fine mystery and shows how developed Croatia is right down to the shoreline…unlike Santa Cruz so far!
THE THING ABOUT PAM. (NBC SERIES) (50 RT). Renee Zellweger is back and older and chubbier because she wears extra make up and a fat suit for the film. She’s involved in a murder or maybe a suicide of one of her best friends in Troy, Missouri and this one fourth comedy and 90 percent dismal crime search rambles on for too many episodes. Judy Greer is also involved but you have to watch many, many NBC ads to see just how it all works out. I addition to the pseudo seriousness it’s a true story and even has a serious voice over which helps little or none at all.
LIES AND DECEIT. (NETFLIX SERIES) (NO RT YET). Fascinating Spanish film dive into who’s telling the truth…was she drugged and raped or was it consenting? A Literature teacher dates a good Doctor and on their first night out they have sex. She goes to great length to destroy him for the raping, he maintains his innocence and the mysterious questioning makes for close watching. The ending is surprising, and well worth watching.
THE ADAM PROJECT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (70 RT). These times call for more laughs but you won’t get much more than a snicker. Mark Ruffalo is back from his terrible health issue and does his best to make this sci-Fi time travel “comedy” laughable. Ryan Reynolds and Jennifer Garner try to fill in enormous plot holes but can’t do it. There are great special effects and some possible smile times but be aware.
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 TOURIST. (HBO MAX SERIES) (96 RT). Fine film of a guy who wakes up in the Australian outback and has no memory of who he is and how he got there. Good and evil people come into and leave his life and we are still wondering what his past was? It points to an evil deed even a killing but by the first few episodes we aren’t sure. Well done, exciting, great drone views of the outback.
THE LAST DAYS OF PTOLEMY GREY. (PRIME SERIES) (7.4 IMDB) (87 RT). It’s good fun to see Samuel L. Jackson back on the screen and he’s the lead in this half comic half tragic ode to dementia. Yes he gets to say his trademark “motherfucker” a few times. He plays a 91 year old nice but grumpy grandpa to a cute teen age orphan and together they learn that he has a terrible secret that he’s forgotten. Then there’s an evil acting psychiatrist who wants to inject him with a time-acting drug that will bring parts of that memory back to him. It’s hammy but fascinating and curious.
DRIVE MY CAR. (HBO MAX MOVIE) (98 RT). (7.7 IMDB). This great movie is up for a Best Movie Academy Award and it deserves to win. It’s about an actor/director who is leading a theatre company in Hiroshima to produce Uncle Vanya. Marriage, death, infidelity and plenty of stage acting keep this emotional saga right on track. It’s on 89 film critics’ top 10 lists and mine too.
ACADEMY AWARD SHORT FILMS (Animated and Live Action). Del Mar Theatre. As usual both the Animated and Live Action Shorts contain some totally brilliant cinema and ideas and others are just puzzles forcing us to wonder what they trying to convey. The Live action “Please Hold” about the LAPD made me laugh out loud which has been rare. Bestia and The Windshield Wiper are great Animation entries. Go see these shorts, much more creative than the average streamers we watch nowadays.
DOWNFALL: THE CASE AGAINST BOEING. (NETFLIX MOVIE). (7.4 IMDB) (90 RT). An absolutely brilliant documentary about how Boeing went from being a well-respected maker of passenger planes (the Boeing 737 Max jet) to a greedy, lying company whose faulty equipment caused two monumental plane crashes in 2018 killing over 300 lives. Seattle never had it so good with happy dedicated employees who produced some of the finest most efficient planes and then merged with McDonnell Douglas and went after money more than safety. A very direct movie, giving us a simple overview of the entire issue. It’s scary but informative to help us think about corporate structure. Ron Howard was one of the producers.
MIDNIGHT AT THE PERA PALACE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.7 IMDB). An absorbing, well done mystery set in Istanbul in 1919. A young, pretty reporter tracks down Agatha Christie herself in her favorite hotel. It’s got time travel and she gets completely involved in a plot to kill an important political figure. She uses time travel to try to change that outcome and warn the victim but will she make it? Is the question. Romantic, fanciful and it does have Agatha Christie’s real hotel where she wrote Murder on the Orient Express.
JEWEL THEATRE’S NEXT PRODUCTION. Playing from March 30 through April 24 will be “Remains To Be Seen”. Kate Hawley wrote the play and it’s a world premiere. Their program states…Every five years, a group of old drama department friends reunite. This year it’s at Jack and Clare’s and Clare is dreading it. Are these old friends really still friends, or are they just old habits drained over the years of any genuine fondness or rapport? It is certain that everyone will drink too much and Gordon will talk too much and Sissy will bring her damned little dog when she was specifically asked not to. On top of it all, recent widower Stuart is bringing a mysterious new love. What’s happened to their dreams and old ambitions? Good actors as they may have been, they can’t prevent the truth of their lives from making an appearance. It features Paul Whitworth and Mike Ryan. Go here for tickets and info…
SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. Are presenting their concert #5 titled The Hero’s Journey: it has music by Beethoven, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Lili Boulanger, and Ben Dorfan.It happens Saturday, April 2, 7:30 pm, and Sunday, April 3, 3:00 pm. Featuring Ben Dorfan, Concert Director and Piano, Jeff Gallagher, Clarinet and Narration, Shannon Delaney D’Antonio, Violin, and Kristin Garbeff on Cello. Go here for tickets directions and precautions…
CABRILLO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts 60th Anniversary highlights on July 24-August 7. They include the return to in-person concerts with three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie‘s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States.
DISINVESTMENT; GENTRIFICATION; DISPLACEMENT: SANTA CRUZ STYLE
New construction at Laurel, Pacific, and Front streets.
The completed building will be 3 to 4 times this height and the first of many.
Last time I wrote I referenced a book titled, Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State by Samuel Stein, 2019. I highly recommend it if you are interested in better understanding how and why a modest cottage (mine for example) in Santa Cruz cost $70,000 in the late 1970s and is now valued at over $1 million in the early 2020s. The supply and demand model is inadequate to explain such massive increases in the value of dirt. Despite the fact that upping the supply has not been demonstrated to lower the cost and despite the fact that affordability of housing not housing per se is the real crisis, Sacramento and Santa Cruz seem wedded to the “more is better” model. Better for whom is the important question.
The construction pictured above will top 80 feet. Others of similar size will line the San Lorenzo River along Front Street. If the Downtown Extension (DTE) is approved, 80 to 100 feet buildings will be crammed into the area between Laurel Street and the first roundabout despite the current zoning of 30 feet maximum heights. A similar fate awaits much of the eastside along Soquel and Water plus Ocean and Mission. The built environment of Santa Cruz city in a decade will be unrecognizable. While we pay lip service to diversity, long gone will be the low-income Latino residents who comprise 27% of the city and since this is a class shift, low-income residents of all ethnicities who rent will be displaced.
City staff and current council majority seem unaware of the negative impacts of this growth model and disinterested in examining it. They provide no data to evaluate if the small % of below-market-rate housing already existing in the city is occupied by low-income workers and families or is it student housing or does the term “affordable” at today’s rents and increasing Area Medium Income (AMI) have any real meaning?
Take one example, the Shaffer Road project. Many opposed this project in 2002 because it was to be built next to a creek, next to farmland, and on the outskirts of town, which is not public transportation friendly. But since it offered higher than required “affordable” or “inclusionary” units, it was approved. Current rents for one bedroom, one bath are $3,500 a month. The “affordable” units have risen from around $1,200 in 2002 to a current rent close to $3,000. No evaluation, no lessons learned, no concern for the displaced low-income tenants.
City staff, Sacramento politicians, and those pushing for more housing cling to the notion that more housing will solve the affordability problem. Capital City explains the forces behind the scenes, whose interests are being served, how and why this “solution” is worsening the problem it pretends to solve.
Sam Stein in his book explains the process: first is disinvestment, then gentrification and then displacement of low-income residents. While he uses New York City as his example, it fits Santa Cruz like a glove. As a reminder, the engine driving this momentum is real-estate capital. Housing has become a globally traded financial asset. What is new, Stein posits is the outsized power of real estate within the capitalist state. He asks a good question about the role of planners. If the city has become an investment strategy, are city planners just wealth managers?
To share a local example of the disinvestment, gentrification, displacement process, consider Front St. A few decades ago, Front Street was a lovely tree-lined avenue with small-scale shops, eateries and public parking. The sidewalks were clean and the trees well maintained. Then the fine-looking trees were cut down save for three on the Laurel St. side; then the sidewalks were allowed to crumble and weeds sprouted; trash started to collect and owners of the various properties which housed the businesses allowed the storefronts to become shabby, save for Community Credit Union which owns the building. Over time Front Street looked run down. More recently it became the site for tents lining the river levees, trash and needles strewn all over with no action from the city. This is the disinvestment phase. Behind the scenes, investors were lining up plans for a large 75 feet tall hotel at Front and Laurel and an 80 feet tall housing/retail project next to it along the river. A third large project that ends at Soquel is in the works. All upscale, market-rate with boutique bars and high-end businesses with only 11% of the housing units below market rate. This is the gentrification phase. Meanwhile, anticipating new upscale development, lighting is being installed by the city along the levees and nearby low-income housing apartment complexes are raising rents, forcing out most of the current, long-time low-income workers and their families. This is the displacement phase. This is not theoretical for me. It is currently happening to long-time friends and it sucks.
In some other CA cities, their councils, city managers and city planners are trying to push back against the excesses of the Real Estate State. Belying our image as a left-leaning, progressive city, our council majority, city manager and city planners are propping the door open for high finance investment with, it seems, nary a care for who gets displaced.
|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.|
“FOLLOW THE MONEY”
Third District Supervisor Race
There is no, repeat no, incumbent running in the Third District supervisor race in 2022. For 20 years now, there was a Coonerty occupying the 3rd district seat, but since the younger one decided he would rather be the Santa Cruz city manager instead of facing a potentially perilous reelection path, think Manu Koenig’s drubbing of 12-year incumbent John Leopold over in the 1st District. Young Coonerty chose not to run before receiving news that the Santa Cruz city manager job would not go to him, but rather to a seasoned professional, then-Watsonville city manager, Matt Huffaker. This seat does not open up very often. Gary Patton had it for 20 years, which was followed by Mardi Wormhoudt’s 12-year stint. In late February, the field looked like it would be filled with at least six candidates, but it appears now to have narrowed to just three: Ami Chen Mills, Justin Cummings, and Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson. (Full disclosure, I have endorsed Ami Chen Mills.)
Keep an Eye on the flow of Political Money
I’ve written it before, but Deep Throat of Watergate fame, once said famously to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, “follow the money.” It holds true for Santa Cruz politics too as the race for the previous, and present supervisor seats are becoming quite costly. The race between Manu Koenig and John Leopold topped $300,000 combined, with Leopold coming out on top in spending, and Koenig winning the seat. A lot of money flowed in from outside the district for Koenig, but it was Leopold’s decision to spend almost $100k on a Bay Area consultant that might seem most perplexing to grassroots politicking. Manu Koenig filed a 460 form dated through “12/31/2021” and it appears to be his last filing for the 2020 1st District Supervisor campaign. In it he reported, “Total Expenditures Made,” were $152,299.59. Twelve-year incumbent, John Leopold, likely spent more in the 2020 supervisor campaign than any previous candidate for that office. “Total Expenditures Made” by the Leopold campaign, according to his California Form 460 received on Feb.1, 2021, were a whopping $188,337.68.
2022 Spending in Third District Race
Candidate Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson (SKJ) is raising cash fast and furiously. From July of 2021 to Dec. 31, 2021 she raised $39,340 in “Monetary Contributions.” More than 25% of the donors appear to live outside of Santa Cruz. In fact, donors from Folsom are in for $1500, Berkeley kicked down $1000, and Daly City put in $1000. Other contributors from S.F., Sacramento, Hollister, Roseville, Rancho Cordova, Santa Rosa, and Glendale all put in $500 each. Curiously, from the Beach-Boardwalk it’s 175 miles to El Dorado Hills, but there’s Santa Cruz supervisor campaign money flowing from here. The biggest SKJ non-Santa Cruz contribution: $3,000 from El Dorado Hills. I guess there really is dorado verde in El Dorado Hills. Her 460 political contributions statement came in on the last day of January of this year. One can only imagine the campaign-take that’s happened over the past three months, if the first months were so lucrative. SKJ has already raised far more than what was spent in the entire 2018 3rd District Supervisor race (around $30k was raised.) As I understand it, the limit of a single donor to the supervisor campaign is $520. I wonder if those campaign contributors know they are leaving 20 bucks on the table? During this same period, candidate Justin Cummings raised only $14,183.32 according to his 460 statement. Now contrast the SKJ money trail to that of Ami Chen Mills and 5th District supervisor candidates Jimmy Dutra and Felipe Hernandez. Neither Chen Mills, Dutra, nor Hernandez began raising money until this year, so they currently had no donations to report. According to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) web site, the next 460 campaign funding forms are due by April 28th and cover the period of 01/01/22 to 04/23/22 of campaign donations and then will be followed quickly by a May 26th “pre-election” report.
And Then There is “Yes, Greenway” $$$
First of all, the treasurer and vice-treasurer for the Yes Greenway initiative that has qualified for the June 7th ballot both live in San Francisco, speaking of out-of-towners…James Sutton and Jonathan Fisher, respectively. Sutton, of Sutton Law, was schooled at Pomona College (BA) and Stanford Law School (JD) and looks to be a rather high-profile San Francisco attorney skilled in election law. Looks like a firm he worked for was slapped with a hefty fine of $240k in 2006 for failing to report a last-minute $800k PG&E contribution. Former progressive SF Supervisor, Tom Ammiano said of Sutton back in 2004, “He’s an opportunistic lawyer who works against populist issues,” as reported by Savannah Blackwell in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. As of the end of 2021, Yes Greenway reported rather hefty “Monetary Contributions” of $138, 400.07, and that is before the real campaign was started. It appears that the Sutton Law Firm, during those two months, charged the “Yes, Greenway” campaign almost $7,000.
Below the Hwy. 1 bridge once sat a gritty, loud, and sometimes chaotic home for over 100 homeless people. It lasted through the pandemic years. It was known to many as “Hell’s Trail.” This past Monday morning this tent encampment was dispersed by Caltrans and the California Highway patrol. Where will campers go? Some said they would go camp in Pogonip or the San Lorenzo Park, while others simply did not know where to go next.
Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Chris at email@example.com
WE CAN’T LET LEGAL OPINION STAND IN OUR WAY
Will last week’s shocking action by California lawmakers and Governor Gavin Newsom to create and approve a new law with lightning speed that effectively wiped out a California Supreme Court ruling requiring UC Berkeley to reduce enrollment by 2,600 until adequate housing could be provided for them render a legal battle underway in Santa Cruz moot?
Is this the death knell for the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) that has protected the environment and required public participation in development projects?
Last week, critics of AB168/SB 118 actions cried foul, notably the citizen group who paid for the expensive successful Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods v. Regents of the University of California legal battle to limit student enrollment due to insufficient campus housing:
“The Legislature’s move to override the California Supreme Court’s decision drew condemnation from the group whose litigation led to the enrollment cap being put in place. “We hope that Governor Newsom recognizes that SB 118 will hurt students more than help and not sign this bill. UC Berkeley does not have the capacity to handle more students, and more than 10% of current Berkeley students suffer homelessness during their education.
In addition, more than 15% suffer from food insecurity,” said Phil Bokovoy, President of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods, in a statement. “We don’t want new students to have to live in cars, campers and hotel rooms like they are in Santa Barbara.”
And, may I add….in Santa Cruz.
AB 168/SB 118 eliminates the need for UC Berkeley to slash enrollment by 2,600 students this fall, by rendering unenforceable any current court injunction that orders a freeze or a reduction of student enrollment, including the injunction affecting UC Berkeley.
Senator Scott Wiener, has sponsored legislation that would reform CEQA.
“In many ways, CEQA is the law that swallowed California,” he said.
Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, and Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Red Bluff, said that CEQA needs to be reformed or replaced because “it is dated and broken.”
Governor Gavin Newsom submitted an Amicus Curiae brief last month to the California Supreme Court in an attempt to sway the judicial ruling outcome of Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods v. Regents of the University of California, Case #S273160
In it, he dropped this little bombshell…
“The proposed expansion of access to California’s world-class higher education system includes the following:
- For the UC System, beginning in 2023-24 and through 2026-27, increasing California resident undergraduate enrollment by more than 7,000, with a significant portion of the new enrollment growth occurring at the UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, and UC San Diego – tracking demand from prospective students and families.
- For the California State University System, beginning in 2023-24 and through 2026-27, increasing California resident undergraduate enrollment by more than 14,000.”
If State leaders are genuinely dedicated to supporting disadvantaged students’ ability to seek a higher education, why not concurrently require the UC system to provide adequate housing at affordable prices as well?
Instead, the legislation now gives California’s public universities and colleges 18 months to address potential issues that enrollment growth might create under CEQA before a court could cap the student population. Lawmakers made it clear that California’s public, higher education campuses’ long-range development plans still must undergo environmental impact reviews, however.
But do you have any confidence the UC system will be held accountable to that???
Write Senator Nancy Skinner, who represents the Berkeley area, and serves as Chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee and ask about why she feels it is fine to keep packing more students onto UC campuses, but failing to house them.
FEDERAL MONEY WILL PROVIDE $1 MILLION FOR TRAIL CONNECTING PAJARO VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL WITH WATSONVILLE INDUSTRIAL CITY AREAS
Is it safe to send young people walking along a trail that is largely not near any roadway and is out of public sight, connecting to an industrial zone? Our legislators seem to think so…Jimmy Panetta is earmarking $1 million of the Federal Omnibus Bill to fund doing just that.
This project would also disturb known Native American cemetery sites.
What happened to the RTC and CalTrans 20-year-old plan to build a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Highway One that would connect students safely from the dense residential areas where they likely live? Nothing can be found about that on the RTC website. Watsonville – Santa Cruz Multimodal Program
The City of Watsonville got grant money last year to build the overpass, but will lack of adequate funding continue to keep it shelved, endangering the students’ safety?
Last year, Santa Cruz County Land Trust staff began a great campaign with the students and staff of Pajaro Valley High School, for environmental collaboration on a possible trail along the Slough system linking the School with areas of Watsonville quite a distance away from the School. It was posited that students could use the trail to walk and bicycle to school, but would the connection points realistically accommodate those students and staff? The trail will connect to heavy industrial areas, not residential areas: what watsonville businesses are on Llee road? – Google Search
There are many mitigations required, because of sensitive riparian areas (the ZA approved a riparian exception) including breeding habitat for Federally-Threatened California Red-Legged Frog, removal of significant trees that would be potential roosting bat sites, Bald Eagle and songbird nesting locations, and includes a State-recognized Native American Archaeological site that is a Costanoan-Ohlone cemetery:
“A California trained Archaeologist and qualified trained Native American Monitor shall be on site during all ground-disturbing activities in the vicinity of CA-SCR-107 and any other areas where monitoring is determined necessary through Native American Consultation and pre-construction testing.”
See page 42 of the report for a discussion about the significance of the archaeologic sites:
Albion’s Phase I Archaeological Investigation concludes that there is an archaeological site (the Costanoan-Ohlone Cemetery Site) within the APE that qualifies as a historical resource under CEQA and as an historic property under the NHPA. Ground disturbing project activities have the potential to cause adverse effects to this resource. In addition, given the presence of multiple known precontact and historic period sites in and within a half-mile of the APE, there is a possibility that additional subsurface archaeological resources exist that are not visible on the surface or on available historic imagery, and therefore not identified during field studies.
The proposed project would install approximately 0.72-mile of new concrete pedestrian/bicycle path and construct a new 940-foot-long pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Struve Slough. The proposed project also includes installation of new sidewalks along Harkins Slough Road and Lee Road, restriping portions of Harkins Slough Road and Lee Road to add new crosswalks and bicycle lanes, pavement widening of a portion of Lee Road (south of Struve Slough) to accommodate bicycle lanes, replacement of the existing culvert where Lee Road crosses a channelized portion of Watsonville Slough, and installation of Educational/interpretive signage and fencing along the east side of Lee Road (north of Struve Slough) where the new pedestrian/bicycle path is proposed along the edge of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Watsonville Slough Ecological Reserve
Wouldn’t it serve those students and staff better to put the money to funding the long-promised pedestrian/ bicycle overpass at Green Valley Road? This would help the large crowd of students who now spill into the busy Green Valley Road and Harkins Slough Road as they go to and from dense residential areas to the High School, provide the relief they need now to safely connect and not require disturbing Native American cemetery and sensitive environmental sites.
He will represent this Watsonville project area until January 1, 2023, when new representational lines will cause this area to become District 18 and no longer be represented by Jimmy Panetta: California has new congressional districts. Find yours here.
SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT EXPLORES TEAMING UP WITH SCOTTS VALLEY WATER DISTRICT
Last Tuesday (3/15), the Board of Directors for Soquel Creek Water District voted to have two Directors join an Ad Hoc Committee with Scotts Valley Water District to explore collaborative actions and resources.
What do you think an “enhanced strategic partnership”, aka consolidation, of those two agencies would look like?
In a way, it is hinted in the Santa Cruz City Water Rights Project Final EIR (copy available in the Capitola Public Library) but we may get a better idea once the 2022 Santa Cruz County LAFCO comprehensive Sphere and Service Review on all major water providers in the County is completed this fall.
DON’T FORGET COUNTY VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETINGS TO EXPLAIN WHAT IS IN STORE FOR DEVELOPMENT IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Tune in, ask questions and please submit written comments…..
MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. YOU CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK IF YOU JUST DO SOMETHING.
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
In the local prairies, it is an especially prolific lupine blossoming year. Do you have a favorite place to visit lupines? The most prolific, bright, large flowered annual lupine in our area is called sky lupine, because when it is in full bloom in large fields, it looks like someone turned the world upside down. The scent is heady- it smells blue. For those of us who grew up smelling blue in grape Kool Aid or various artificially flavored grape bubble gums, it makes sense that sky lupine smell blue. In good years, I am able to go to my favorite lupine patches at just the right time when acre upon acre are giving off that scent and making extensive mats of blue color.
Lupines are pea family plants. Look carefully, and you’ll recognize that sweet pea shaped flower. Lupines typically have flowers in a spike of tightly packed whorls with older flowers turning to seed pods at the bottom and new flowers opening at the top. Lupine seed pods look like pea pods. Sky lupine pods explode on warm days pitching seeds far from the mother plant.
Sky lupine isn’t the only lupine around, there are many lupine species in Santa Cruz County. It might make a good treasure hunt to try to see them all. According to Dylan Neubauer’s “Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Santa Cruz County, California” (every naturalist in the County should have this), there are sixteen lupine species in our tiny county. Sky lupine is the only one to make a big show in the grasslands.
Who Eats Lupines?
Italians eat lupines! Strains of white lupine, Lupinus albus, have been cultivated for food throughout Europe. But you have to grow the right strain- some strains are very toxic! In fact, most lupines are toxic…
Here’s a challenge: find sky lupine leaves that are being eaten by a butterfly or moth caterpillar! In researching this essay, I explored the possibility that some beautiful butterfly larva fed on sky lupine. Nope! Lupines famously have some potent toxins. Some species of lupines poison cattle, though I’ve not heard that livestock owners are concerned about sky lupine around here. There are some butterflies and moths that feed on perennial lupine bushes locally, but none that we know of that feed on sky lupine.
It isn’t a burden to sit in a sky lupine patch to watch for pollinators. You’ll quickly realize that bumble bees love lupine flowers. And, if you look at those bumblebee legs, you’ll see the distinct yellow orange sky lupine pollen color – they collect big globs of it.
And yet, sky lupine doesn’t need a pollinator, it can self-pollinate. But sky lupine flowers make more seed if they get pollinated by bees. The species has an interesting adaptation- some tiny hairs that prevent self-pollination at first; these hairs wilt with time, allowing self-pollination if all else fails.
You might be tempted to plant sky lupine – certainly expensive wildflower mixes contain this species and display its color on the fancy seed packets. However, it’s not that easy. Sky lupine seeds are tough and unpredictable to germinate. Friends have been sending me pictures from places they’ve never seen sky lupines before- the seeds have been in the soil for decades waiting for the right year to germinate! Check out the seeds, sometimes- they are beautifully marked with a shiny, waxy seed coat. The seeds are hard as rocks, meant to last years in the soil.
There are many different types of sky lupine, each adapted to its own microclimate. So, if you really really want to get some sky lupines growing, get to a patch nearby and get local seed- collect the pods as they start to dry. Place the drying pods in a paper bag in the sun and wait. Soon, you’ll get to hear the pods exploding in the bag and you’ll know that you got some good seed. Make sure that the pods and seeds are nice and dry before storing them until next fall. As the first rainstorm is predicted, cast the seeds around where you want sky lupine…rake them into the soil if you can…and wait- sometimes for years!
Back in the early 1900s, many regular Santa Cruz citizens would enjoy Spring wildflower trips to the North Coast grasslands to collect wildflowers. They would bring bouquets home with them and garland their hair and clothes with colorful displays. Now, with long mismanagement of many of those grasslands, there are few wildflower patches left. Anyway, if you do find wildflowers you’re not supposed to pick them anymore. We ought to leave them for whatever remnant populations of rare pollinators might be around, waiting for us to figure out how to better manage the prairies.
Locally, two places to visit sky lupines come to mind. It used to be that the Glenwood Preserve in Scotts Valley had good sky lupine displays, but I haven’t had a report this year. A little drive to the south, and spring always brings great sky lupine displays in the grasslands and oak savannas of Fort Ord National Monument. There’s something particularly appealing to me about the large patches of sandy grasslands full of lupines surrounded by gnarly short coast live oaks at Ft. Ord. Those sky lupine patches are frequently large enough to get that lupine smell, experience that upside down world with the sky on the ground, and thousands of bumble bees bopping around the flowers.
Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured is Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican Member of Congress who represents the 16th District of Illinois. On March 11, 2022, in a series of Tweets, Kinzinger, who is not seeking reelection, apologized for not voting to impeach President Donald Trump, after Trump withheld $400 million in military aid that Congress had allocated for the defense of Ukraine. Kinzinger said his failure to vote to impeach the president was a “mistake,” and is now his “biggest regret.”
As you may remember, in 2019, Trump called the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, letting him know about the Congressional appropriation, but telling Zelenskyy that before the president actually sent the money the president wanted “a favor,” namely some political dirt that might damage the then-president’s reelection opponent, our current president, Joe Biden. When this fact became known, the House of Representatives voted to impeach the president, for his abuse of his office. Not one, single Republican voted for the impeachment. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in 2022, is what made Kinzinger say he should have voted for impeachment, and he made this confession after Zelenskyy appealed to Congress to send more military help.
Two presidents were impeached before Trump: Andrew Johnson, who violated the Tenure of Office Act, barring him from firing a Cabinet member, and Bill Clinton, who lied about a consensual liaison with an intern. Those crimes are laughably negligible by comparison with Trump using the power of his office for his own gain. And if the seriousness of Trump’s transgression is obvious now, well, it was no less obvious in 2019. The only conceivable reason for Kinzinger’s inability to see it then, as he himself says, is that he forgot country supersedes party (emphasis added).
I have a comment on that last line, and would like to make a point about how we know what our “country” is. Candidly, while it is correct that most people think that an elected representative should always choose “country” over “party,” most people tend to think, at least most of the time, that the “country” is accurately defined by the President and the Congress, and that our elected officials can legitimately speak for, and act for, the “country.” This is not to excuse Kinzinger, or the other Republicans in the House, but to say that the kind of mistake that Kinzinger made (and that all other Republican members of the House of Representatives made) is “explainable,” if not “forgivable.” It was, actually, plausible that the President did represent the “country,” and so it was plausible that Republicans in Congress, in both the House and the Senate, could denounce the impeachment as “partisan.”
Putting “party” above “country” is exactly what the Republicans said that the impeachment was all about. Lots of people, all over the country, bought into this explanation, and they did so because there is some truth to it. It’s plausible. We do elect our representatives to “represent” us, and the president above all, so it is easy to confuse what our duly appointed representatives say and do with the actions of “the country.” That’s a mistake, but it is an easy mistake to make – and both political parties trade on that.
How do we avoid this mistake, going forward? In my view, we need to reengage with the idea that it is the “citizens,” not their elected representatives, who actually represent and who “are” the country.
If we could truly internalize that understanding, that would mean that we, as citizens, would be constantly aware that all of our elected representatives (from both major political parties) are always “suspect,” and that our representatives are likely to claim prerogatives that they don’t legitimately have. Specifically, those representatives claim to be “the country,” and they aren’t.
As I consider our current political scene, it seems to me that most citizens do have this (required) suspicious view of all elected officials of both parties. But the “polarity” of our suspicion, from the president on down, may be rather counterproductive. We suspect, and often dislike, our elected officials (of both parties) because we think they have illegitimately usurped our voice and claimed our “country” for themselves. And the people are right about this – both parties do it. To the degree that the claim is made by our representatives, implicitly or explicitly, that they really “are” the country, then those “representatives” (organized by party, clearly) assume the powers that belong to us, the citizens!
But we do not need to treat this fact about our representatives, of both major parties – as some fact that is unchangeable. We, as citizens, need to realize that it is “we, the people,” who “are” the country, and that we have every right to oppose, discount, and dismiss and replace those who have been elected, and who now are claiming greater deference than they deserve. This applies, again, to representatives of both (and all) parties.
But that is not what’s happening. Most citizens feel more powerless than powerful, and that is the “polarity” that must be changed.
To feel powerful, the citizens must actually be powerful, and that means that we aren’t going to come into the right relationship with our government until many more of us are directly engaged in active political action, and are successfully making those representatives truly represent us.
As I like to put it, “we can’t have democratic self-government in the United States of America until we get engaged in government ourselves.”
We can do that. Really, we can. And when we do that, we will change the world!
Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at email@example.com
“Hey, Bob, the Masters are back and up to no good! Standing over their graves, they only played dead!
Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks
– Bob Dylan
The Ukrainian tragedy still unfolds, with no end in sight as diplomacy fails, and Putin declaring it too early to negotiate directly with Zelensky. The port city of Mariupol has sustained a terrible loss of life and property, with reports of its citizens being deported to Russia. On Friday, Putin held a Trump-like rally in Moscow, with cheering, flag waving people, many of whom were supposedly forced to attend, while Russian troops were praised for their handling of the ‘special operation’ against ‘genocide in the Donbas region of Ukraine’. Russian strikes in Lviv, near the Polish border, are being watched warily, while Swedish air forces chased Russian planes from their skies, sent as Putin’s warning to dissuade Sweden’s NATO membership scrutiny. Only twelve miles from the Polish border, the Ukrainian military training site at Yavoriv was hit, raising eyebrows about the possibility of human error which could lead to a wider war.
The clueless Russian troops are being pounded by the determined Ukraine soldiers, and many are refusing to fight as they destroy or turn over their equipment to Ukrainians, who are repurposing it for their own battles. The sloppiness of the commanders has led to loss of several generals and their staffs, by their using unsecured phones which can be tracked by geolocation. Still, the stakes are high with many in the international community saying that Putin has won, as Lukashenko of Belarus rattles sabers for Ukrainian blood, as well.
But, high-stakes gambler Putin has to win in Ukraine to survive, as he attempts to annex that country. The UK think-tank, Royal United Services Institute, sees his problems only starting, in occupying, controlling and administering a large, hostile population of 40 million, needing major rebuilding, with a trashed economy and a definite humanitarian crisis. Russia’s own economy is being paralyzed, and some foresee Putin retired, dead or deposed within five years, from his unwitting misjudgment. Russia’s ruble is close to rubble, their credit rating is lowered to ‘C,’ making default a looming threat.
Also looming is the shutdown of Russian civil aviation, being banned from the EU and North America, and leased aircraft are being returned as Boeing and Airbus cut off spare parts and maintenance. Even Russian planes will be grounded, as Lufthansa cuts off its maintenance agreement. International companies have black-listed Russia, so their factories are being idled due to parts shortages, and with rocketing interest rates, tight credit, no outside investment, and a reopening stock market – crashing perhaps, how will cash-strapped companies survive as they face bankruptcy?
Further proof of Putin’s short-sightedness, comes from U.S. drugmaker AbbVie, which owns the cosmetic, Botox, the wrinkle treatment which Vlad relies upon. AbbVie announced the halt of its Russian operations after start of the useless invasion, along with several pharmaceutical firms who have bailed or cut back on spending, except for some critical meds for cancer and diabetes. Save your chicken fat for Vlad?
At least one segment of the U.S. population continues to look favorably upon Putin and his conquering ways…the Fox News team, led by Tucker Carlson, with hangers-on from the wacko-wing of the Republican Party and Q-adherents. A leaked Kremlin memo has instructed Russian media outlets to feature Tuck and his Putin-loving broadcasts, an essential element to be shown as much as possible. Sadly, Carlson has the largest audience in cable news, and millions are eating up his misinformation of pro-Putin pabulum, along with his racist and incendiary views. Both Putin and Trump (and their followers) tell, and listen to the same lies over and over, expecting acceptance by the masses, but fall victim to their own abstract subterfuge – their ‘truth’ becomes concrete.
Former Trump White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham believed Trump wanted to kill with impunity, both in admiration and fear of, Vladimir Putin. The Peach Assolini loved dictators who could kill anyone, especially the press, and the authoritarians in the new fascist Republican party are making this a ‘new normal’ in our desensitized society…silence and indifference have become a surreal grotesquery. The directives and signals of the cult of Trump, Fox News, white right-wing evangelicals, and the masses of right-wingers raise Putin up as a true leader, denying that his influence in our domestic politics amount to little, yet, this new Josef Stalin would have us all re-enter the era of the 1950s.
Ruben Bolling’s ‘Tom the Dancing Bug’ cartoon, sarcastically declares, “Wish your leaders were as strong, forceful, and maniacally murderous as Vladimir Putin? Then today’s new RePutincan Party is for you! The RePutincan Party is ‘Russian’ to make America an Autocratic State! Join us! You’ll be Vlad you did!”
Trump’s former national security advisor, John Bolton, has recently been critical of Trump’s extortion attempts against Ukraine and Zelensky, as he attempted to get dirt on Hunter Biden. Vladimir Putin saw Trump as an accomplice in his own plan to destroy Ukraine, which is why he delayed action until recently, not because DJT threatened to ‘hit Moscow’ should Russia move against that country, as the Donald claimed in an interview. “Trump had no idea what the stakes were in Ukraine,” said Bolton. Could’a used your help long ago, John!
Missouri Republican, Josh Hawley, refuses to stop selling mugs with his raised-fist image from Trump’s January 6 Insurrection, because he loves the attention from the riot salute. Politico, who insists it owns the image, has sent a cease-and-desist order, but the Hawley Campaign believes the mug is a protected fair use item and is further protected by the First Amendment, because the original image was highly stylized for use on not only mugs, but shirts and beer koozies. Hawley never apologized for his participation in inciting the attack, and actually believes his role was patriotic. Supreme Court Associate Justice Kavanaugh, however, was elated to discover the koozies to add to his own collection of ‘I Like Beer’, and ‘Supremely Premium’ memorabilia.
Republican Representative Lauren Boebert, in defending her catcalls to Joe Biden during his State of the Union speech a few weeks back, ‘shared’ a message from a mother of a U.S. Marine who died during active duty, claiming it was one of several messages of encouragement from other military parents. Tweeting in a video, “After I spoke up, a few of the parents of our fallen soldiers reached out to me, and one of the moms encouraged me to share her thoughts with you.” She then reads from the ‘mother’s message’ on a piece of paper, “Hello Mrs. Boebert. I am Shana Chappel, the mother of Lieutenant Corporal Kareem Nikou. Chappel has already publicly established herself as no-Biden-adherent, but ‘Lieutenant Corporal’ ? …maybe a rank that DJT tried to establish within the ‘Bonespurs Brigade’?, or, perhaps the ‘Crocs Commandos’? Sadly, Marine Lance Corporal Nikou was a victim in the terror attack in Kabul.
A tragedy in the making…the football that Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady threw for 55 yards to Mike Evans for a touchdown in the 2022 NFC Divisional round against the L.A. Rams, recently sold at auction for $518,628 because it was assumed to be the last touchdown pass of Brady’s career. The Bucs lost the game, and after the touchdown pass was caught Evans heaved the ball into the stands, and the fan who retrieved it consigned it to auction where 23 bids were placed. Shortly thereafter, Brady announced his retirement, with the auction winner seeing dollar signs as his prize was expected to increase in value over time; but, misfortune raised its ugly head when Brady decided a 22-year career was too short, and agreed to a come out of retirement for the Buccaneers, to try for an eighth Super Bowl win. Be very quiet, and you’ll hear another Inflate-Gate begin as the air goes out of that trophy football, when Mr. B throws his first touchdown reception this next season.
“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” – Pope John Paul II.
Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.
EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.
“Things with my dad were pretty good until I won an Academy Award. He was really loving to me until I got more attention than he did. Then he hated me”.
“I was put under contract. A major studio. I got nominated for an Academy Award. Isn’t that ridiculous? I mean, at the age of 18!”
“Our minds are big enough to contemplate the cosmos but small enough to care about who wins an Oscar”
“Nothing can take the sting off the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires present each other golden statues.”
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
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