BRATTON…more about Carlos Palacios. GREENSITE…will return next week. SCHENDLEDECKER…First quarter City Council report card. STEINBRUNER…Aptos Village & Barry Swenson, pure water Soquel costs, defensible spaces. HAYES…footsteps of spring. PATTON…wanna bet? MATLOCK…questioning ethics in the batter’s box. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover Waiting for refills – watch this space! WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week – actor roundtable. QUOTES…”Frost”
DATELINE March 27
BrattonOnline is a work of passion, with varying contributors around the core of Bruce (obviously) and Gunilla, who have been doing this since 2003. That’s 20 years! We don’t get paid, but there are costs associated with running a website. If you want to pitch in, we are grateful for any and all donations.
MORE ABOUT CARLOS PALACIOS. In last week’s column I outlined some complaints about our County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios making a sum total of $353,832.81 per year and only coming to work 3 days each week. The reactions were as curious as they were amazing. I’ve been trying to find comparative salaries for similar jobs in other counties…it isn’t as easy as we think. The most in depth response was an email from Jason Hoppin (our public information officer for the county)…after all it’s his job. Besides that he used to work for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and The Monterey Herald. He says that Carlos does a lot of his job virtually and my reporting on his hours was an “unwarranted broadside”. Hoppin stated that Palacios takes “remote work days”. Let’s see where this here reply to Hoppin takes us. It still doesn’t answer the question about working three days per week for $353,832.81 per year.
I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.
SUCCESSION. (HBO SERIES). (8.8 IMDB) Good to see Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin Sarah Snook and the rest of the very unfriendly Roy family back in this 4th season. New viewers may have a problem wading through the brittle family connections and the shady big money dealings but stick with it/them…they pay off. You won’t or can’t like any of the characters but its twisty fun watching them squirm.
THE LOST KING. (DEL MAR THEATRE). Sally Hawkins plays a real life woman who singlehandedly discovered the actual grave of King Richard III. Historians and Shakespearean fans will love this semi comedy/drama. Many unknown facts about Richard are uncovered and it’s mostly true.
THE NIGHT AGENT. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). There’s a bomb on a New York Subway and an FBI agent happens to find it in time and save many lives. Then it becomes an odd mismatching of FBI and The President of the USA’s who is a woman, secret service. It rolls along fast but we’ve seen so many take-offs of this plot it’s nearly boring and predictable. Oh yes there’s a couple who are murdered thrown in the plot too.
TRUTH BE TOLD. (APPLE TV) (7.1 IMDB). Octavia Spencer does a great job as a podcaster who becomes a detective and goes after a new murderer each episode. It all happens in Oakland but we don’t see any great scenes from there. Kate Hudson enters the plot later but doesn’t help much.
CLOSE TO HOME: MURDER IN THE CORNFIELD. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.3 IMDB). A German film about a police officer with some hidden issues investigates a murder of a young girl in his old home town. The officer has a police woman partner and he has a past history that comes into play as well. Drug gangs are involved and the pacing is slow but involving. Try it.
THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). A documentary about an elephant rehab center in India where they take great and long lasting care of Asian elephants. It’s surprising and amazing how close and dependent the elephants and handlers become. This elephant center has existed for over 140 years. Watch it, you’ll learn a lot.
SIR. aka “Vaathi”(NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.5 IMDB). A genre movie from India. That means songs and dances in the middle of tense dramatic scenes. It also deals with caste system, teaching problems, private versus government run schools, and many more education issues that aren’t unique to India. Then too be ready for cartoons inserted in strategic instances. Not recommended.
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.
RETURN TO SEOUL. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.1 IMDB). a deep and heart wrenching story of a 25 year old Korean girl who was adopted and raised in Paris by a French foster family and decides to return to Korea and reconnect with her family. It’s an excellent film that will bring out all sorts of your familial memories. Nicely acted, and full of humanity, don’t miss it.
MAESTRO IN BLUE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.5 IMDB). A handsome young guy goes to a small Greek island to set up, even create a new music festival there. He runs into such issues as homophobia, abuse, terrible politics, and just the ennui of the younger generation. It’s slow, seemingly pointless, and almost amateuristic. Not recommended.
MONEY SHOT: THE PORNHUB STORY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.4 IMDB) This is a documentary report on the successes and failures of Pornhub the pornography head of the internet. It centers on the actual sex workers and how they struggle to maintain their professions. There’s little or no glimpses of any porno but the viewing statistics are staggering. How religion and the internet giants fight for their rights is predictable and will remain so. l
MH 370: THE PLANE THAT DISAPPEARED. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.0 IMDB) On March 8, 2014 a Malaysian Airlines plane and 239 passengers disappeared…completely! It appears that the entire world searched for weeks and to this day no one know for sure where it vanished to. This documentary covers all possibilities and digs deep into many possibilities. It’ll keep you totally occupied through all three episodes.
DAISY JONES & THE SIX. (PRIME/AMAZON SERIES) (8.0). This is a half realistic and half sad story of an almost fictional band that started out in Pittsburg and LA back in the 1970’s. It’s from a book and a partial history of Fleetwood Mac. If you are into 70’s music and what’s happened to the aging band members since their breakup don’t miss this one.
THE EMPRESS. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.8 IMDB). A genuine costume drama centering on Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and his target is the princess of in the 1850’s. It’s beautifully filmed and full of the usual court intrigues. Plus it even has Johann Strauss at the piano. It’s the usual story of how strong the woman leader was and how she faced and dealt with such a sexist court and world.
Gillian will return next week
|Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association http://darksky.org Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.|
FIRST QUARTER CITY COUNCIL REPORT CARD: FAILING AT CARING
Under the direction of Mayor Keeley, we’re seeing a selective tightening of parliamentary procedure at council meetings, reduction of opportunities for council members to speak directly to the public, oral communications moved to the end instead of the beginning of the evening session, and the relentless gendering of speakers. It’s certainly (superficially) more efficient than past council facilitation, but it definitely feels less democratic.
Here are some very uncaring highlights from the past three months:
More storms and very cold nights, with less emergency response for unhoused residents (none during last week’s storm or this week’s predicted storm).
In Christopher Neeley’s column, “Tough on Crime” talk from Mayor Keeley, and Sandy Brown’s acceptance of a supposedly “benign” workaround to the failed Oversized Vehicle Ordinance parking limits. Plus a city-led Food not Bombs crackdown, with Second Harvest pulling support due to technicalities.
Right: Friday, March 11, 2023, Robert Norse witnesses and records as police block Food not Bombs lunch at City Hall, threatening to throw away food and arrest volunteers if it is served.
Out-of-Order motion for “Safety” installations at the 10 busiest city intersections to prevent anything but actively crossing the street (um, panhandling) even though we already have a 2013 (unenforceable?) ordinance addressing this supposed hazard. Because the motion was unanimously accepted as part of the Laurel Street bike lane improvements, this item will come back to the council after staff create a plan.
Without citing any actual safety impacts, Mayor Keeley seems to be just “vibing” these safety concerns, or, I suspect, is simply carewashing defensive architecture. To actually improve pedestrian safety we need to reduce speed limits, improve pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and get larger vehicles (like SUVs and big pickups) off the roads.
The SB 481 Military equipment request and report is on this week’s agenda, with LOTS of lethal and less-lethal equipment reported. On February 4th, 2023 there was discharge of weapons (15 bullets shot by two officers within seconds of responding to a call on a residential cul-de-sac). Watch this SCPD video for their timeline of events and body cam footage. Incredibly, no one was killed or injured, and ultimately the suspect was arrested peacefully. I wonder, though, why we have an arsenal of “less-lethal” equipment (chemical and physical) if it’s not even used along with de-escalation techniques when responding to a person in crisis, in possession of a pellet gun.
A request by Vice Mayor Golder, Councilmember Brunner, and Councilmember Kalantari-Johnson for a letter of support from Mayor Keeley of SB 43. SB 43 Conservatorship Reform expands definitions to include people with substance use disorders and to allow an exception for hearsay evidence at court proceedings.
This will increase opportunities for 5150 involuntary holds, but not an expansion of beds, services, or supportive housing. It also gives me chills thinking of all the inconvenient people involuntarily institutionalized and treated, currently and historically: women, queer, and BIPOC folks; people with physical and developmental disabilities, the traumatized, political dissenters…
Seen through an abolitionist lens: here we have an expansion of carceral care along with continued militarization of local policing and a lack of adequate funding for brick and mortar facilities and the staff to run them. Disability Rights California has a list of current legislation to support that is actually caring, and statements against expansion of CARE Courts and other legislation that impacts the civil rights of people with disabilities.
On the same agenda item, SB 343 seems ok to support, but not only do we need to know what beds are available, we need to vastly increase those beds and programs. Let’s make care accessible to people, but not forced it on them.
Again on this week’s council agenda, the David Way parking appeal. The ask is for 20″ parking Ts to be painted on the currently-unmarked street. Vehicles must park fully within the markings, revealing it as a clear workaround to stymied efforts to block parking of larger vehicles throughout the city, especially on the Westside.
In spite of the staff report justifying the move as increasing coastal access, painting may in fact reduce the number of possible parking spaces from around 17 to 14, even for vehicles smaller than 20″. In the plans (pictured below), there are no “oversized vehicles” or trailers, and at least 3 appear to be commercial trades trucks.
Oh, and street paint is absolutely terrible for the environment. Whatever greenwashing the manufacturers deploy, the acrylic in acrylic paint is petroleum-based plastic, my friends. Let’s limit its use to where it’s truly necessary.
For background and city justification for painting parking spaces, I suggest everyone take a look at the May 4, 2016 Zoning Administrator Agenda Report: Coastal and Design Permits to approve an ordinance of the City of Santa Cruz amending section 10.40.220 and adding section 10.40.235 to the Santa Cruz Municipal Code pertaining to regulation of parking vehicles and trailers within marked parking spaces along curbs in accordance with California State Vehicle
Code Section 22508.
Watch out for upcoming action items on the appeal against planned 20″ parking space painting on Delaware, Shaeffer, and Natural Bridges.
For more positive alternatives to all this :
I am one of the creative mediators in the What’s Home: Creative Listening Across Differences project. Please come be wowed, inspired, and connected at the performance evening Saturday, April 15th and the exhibition at the Radius Gallery April 13th-May 7th. My installation will be in the gallery show.
Lastly, I want to share this beautiful op-ed:
I don’t know Food Not Bombs founder Keith McHenry well, but was tremendously grateful when he personally cooked and donated food items in support of the free Ramadan dinners our Santa Cruz Muslim Solidarity group offered during the shameful “Muslim Ban” policies and rhetoric.
I am also grateful that—when Peter Carota’s soup kitchen discontinued their weekday meals because of the Covid outbreak, Food Not Bombs determinedly expanded from providing weekend meals to serving hot nutritious meals to many dozens of hungry people seven days a week! Now, three years later, the soup kitchen’s re-opening, and FNB can return to serving wholesome meals on weekends.
For me, driving by the town clock and witnessing a scene that would have made proud the civic-minded citizens who created that monument, has been heartening: an orderly, respectful cafe-like gathering of the least fortunate in our affluent community, enjoying what might be their only meal of the day.
Food Not Bombs is a world-wide organization of autonomous groups working for social justice and nonviolence, while feeding the hungry. Because Santa Cruz Food Not Bombs believes that the right to feed hungry people shouldn’t require permission, clashes and oustings by City officials have been frequent. Recently, I asked one of our elected leaders why our the City doesn’t express gratitude for the thousands of meals served and seek a way to work with FNB, and the chilly reply I got was, “Do you believe in double standards?”
Seeking solutions, I thought back to the eighties when a friend and I produced a small, heartfelt event called Peace Day at Mission Plaza Park. Curious about what was taking place, then-director of Parks and Recreation Jim Lang rode his bike by and was impressed by what he saw. Jim suggested that Parks and Recreation co-sponsor future PeaceDay events, and they provided permits, portable toilets, trash receptacles and the use of City-owned facilities for related activities like free anti-bias workshops and film showings regarding our County’s multi-ethnic history.
As a result of Jim’s vision, PeaceDay was a win/win: The City gained a free annual event attracting 1000’s, while eliminating paid staff time to produce it. And volunteers putting on the day-long event received much-appreciated support.
I wonder, might our leaders find a creative way to co-sponsor FNB meals, taking care of permits and designating a dry location for inclement weather? Can we build an innovative collaboration for the good of the many who are hungry—as an act of mercy and compassion?? I visualize our mayor writing a proclamation honoring the selfless work of Food Not Bombs volunteers who stepped up to meet a desperate need during challenging times.
But what of double standards? (Hard to address the question when for me our Capitalist system is intrinsically double standard—bolstering corporations and millionaires, on the backs of renters, working class, immigrants, POC.)
I don’t have to look far to find double standards. I compare the lack of a welcoming 24hour emergency shelter for our unhoused during freezing months of rain and gales, with the treatment of those displaced by the CZU fire. Why is it that the Civic auditorium was immediately opened as a 24 hour emergency shelter for fire victims, leashed dogs welcomed? Yet in our current emergency, homeless are offered an inadequate number of shelter beds—open from 8PM to 8AM and pushed into the streets all day in the rain. Those with accumulated “households”—basic supplies—have nowhere to store belongings while in overnight beds and risk losing everything. And those with dog companions are not allowed to bring their dogs into the overnight shelter. Yet we blame them for avoiding shelters.
Until we can provide housing for our unhoused along with services to heal trauma and affliction, we need 24 hour shelters, showering/clothes washing facilities, safe storage, and free meal programs!
May we approach this crisis from a place of mercy.
Sheila Carrillo, Resident of Santa Cruz County since 1972
|Joy Schendledecker is an artist, parent, and community organizer. She lives on the Westside of Santa Cruz with her husband, two teens, mother in law, and cats. She was a city of Santa Cruz mayoral candidate in 2022. You can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.|
SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT BOARD DENIES EXTENDING FAVORS TO BARRY SWENSON BUILDER FOR APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT WATER SERVICE.
Last Tuesday, the Soquel Creek Water District Board firmly denied Barry Swenson Builder’s request for continued favoritism for new water hookups in the Aptos Village Project. “We have to start treating everybody the same.” said multiple Directors throughout the discussion.
Back in December, 2015, the District had made some very lucrative five-year deals favoring Swenson’s Aptos Village Project, and extended them in 2020 for another two years beyond that. However, the deals expired last December, and Swenson staff did not ask for an extension until February 1, 2023.
Swenson Builders asked for favors again, but because the Agreement deals have officially expired, the District would have to either work out a new Agreement or grant a Variance to continue the sweet deals for Swenson Builders.
Well, here was the rub….to grant a Variance, the Board had to establish these Findings:
Any action to grant variances must be supported with findings under Resolution No. 74-55, Section 1.03, Findings:
A – Granting the variance is required by special circumstances applicable to the property and as a result of which the strict application of District resolutions and ordinances would cause the property to be deprived of privileges enjoyed by other similar properties in the District;
B – Granting the variance would be in harmony with the general intent and purpose of the ordinances, resolutions and policies of the District but would not be materially detrimental to public health, safety or general welfare.;
C – Granting of the variance would not constitute a grant of special privilege inconsistent with those placed upon other parcels where payment in full is required prior to executing the subdivision agreement including payment of water capacity fees in effect at the time water service is activated.
I was delighted to hear the Board firmly establish that granting such a Variance for Barry Swenson Builder did not meet the findings necessary, and that Swenson has to be treated like all the other developers.
Swenson staff Mr. Jessie Bristow was held to the public’s 2 minutes of testimony time, but asked that the District continue locking the Aptos Village Project Phase II service meter drop costs in at the much-lower 2015 rates. All other developers have to pay the price in effect at the time the meters are actually installed…the prices have consistently increased dramatically every year. “I am sure we can work something out.” said Mr. Bristow.
Also, the District had allowed Swenson Builders to post a bond for the cost of the Phase II development, not paying 100% up-front for the costs of the meters like all other developers are required to do.
Based on the expired subdivision agreement, $509,600 in Water Capacity Fees (2015 Rate Schedule) and $5,808 in Meter Drop Fees (2015 Rate Schedule) would be due. The District currently holds a bond for these fees; however, nothing for Phase II has been paid. Attachment 3 also indicates the rate comparison from 2015 and 2023 for the remaining fees.
This would cost the project an estimated $502,629, based on 2023 rates.
(Take a look at page 28…you will be shocked.)
Swenson also asked for a continuance of a special deal that allowed them not to have to pay for District staff time to verify the sub-meter deals they were allowed. That also saved them a bundle of money and was actually a gift of District ratepayer revenues for free staff time… other developers get no such favors.
Sub-Metering Agreement and Sub-Meter Drop Fees As part of the current Sub-metering Agreement (Attachment 4) the developer is required to purchase and maintain the sub-meters while the District has access to read meters and directly bill customers for monthly service charges and water usage. The Developer installs the submeters, and District Staff visits the property to verify serial numbers, electronic IDs, turn on the service, and set up the SqCWD account. The District’s set meter drop fees include the cost of the new meter and staff time for the field visit. Since the District did not charge meter drop fees for the sub-meters that are furnished by the developer, the staff time to verify information, turn on the service, and complete paperwork for the new account was not accounted for.
Staff recommends an amendment to the current subdivision agreement to charge labor-only meter drop fee for all proposed sub-meters (MOTION 5). This established rate is currently $90 and Aptos Village Phase II has 41 proposed sub-meters. For Phase II, this would result in an additional $3,690 in meter drop fees as shown in Attachment 3.
I was worried that the Board would allow District staff, such as General Manager Ron Duncan, to “work something out” and not bring the new Agreement back to the Board, likely weaving in the favoritism behind the scenes. However, the Board asked that staff work with Swenson and return to the Board for approval.
Thank goodness…there stands to be a shred of hope for transparency here.
I think it is interesting that four of the five Directors were the same ones who were on the Board in 2015 and approved the Agreement with Barry Swenson Builder for the Aptos Village Project…Bruce Daniels, Tom LaHue, Bruce Jaffee and Carla Christensen. The original Agreement was signed by Director Bruce Daniels, and even granted Swenson monetary reimbursement for installing the water pipes required in the development.
I wonder what woke the Board up now, causing them to no longer grant favors to the Aptos Village Project???
Soquel Creek Water District staff never did verify that Swenson Builders actually replaced all the required toilets and urinals at Cabrillo College that they claimed had been done to meet water demand offset requirements. A Public Records Act request I made with the District showed one or two pieces of undocumented paperwork to verify the fixture replacements. The Cabrillo College Facilities Manager at the time stated he wasn’t sure either, because he had to keep calling Swenson’s contractor back to fix things that were not correctly done.
Look at page 22 of the agenda packet, and see that Swenson paid $0 in Water Demand Offset Fees for the estimated 38 Acre-feet/Year new water demand. Amazing.
PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT COSTS HAVE TRIPLED…
The costs have more than tripled for the Project to inject treated sewage water into the Purisima Aquifer in the Midcounty, originally anticipated in 2018 to cost $60 million. This breathtaking information was all according to a Soquel Creek Water District staff presentation last week. Ms. Leslie Strohm, District Finance Director (being paid $1000/month bonuses for this work) said the Project cost would be $351.6 million if financed today. Instead, her “Pro Forma” cost for “The Miracle Project” showed that “ratepayers will only be on the hook for $15.5 million”.
Director Bruce Jaffe said his earlier-stated concerns about whether or not the Project will work simply meant that it might work in ways different that what had been anticipated, but that he supports the Project. He stressed that he wants a staff report from Mr. Anup Shah regarding the levels of redundancy that are being built into the Project operational design.
According to the timeline provided in the Presentation, the conveyance system should be done by this summer.
The Project should be operational by mid-2024.
What about Ron Duncan’s Declaration in Court that if the Project were not completed by February 29, 2022, the District would have to give all the $50 million in State Grant money back?
Melanie Schumacher said there will be a report to the Board forthcoming about the “Regional Water Optimization” aspect of the Project, for which a kickoff meeting occurred on February 23. That study is costing the District $700,000 (see page 60 of the Agenda documents)
A Report is due in 2024 or 2025.
I wonder why the Master SCADA radio system purchased within the last couple of years and serves as data transmission backbone had to be replaced at a cost of $49,065.24? See page 60 in the financial information
Gee…what could go wrong with using this SCADA system for relaying data for the treated sewage water injection well project??
SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT NEW CUSTOMER DESK COST $27,392 AND LEAVES YOU OUT IN THE COLD WITH THE DOOR WIDE OPEN
The District’s Customer Service Lobby is once again open to the public, Tuesday-Friday 9am-4pm, closed for lunch 12:30pm-1:30pm. Recently while visiting their Office, I was forced to stand in the cold wind while propping the door open and trying to conduct business, because the service desk is basically flush with the door’s interior surface. The second door that would allow the public to enter the lobby is locked.
That very uncomfortable arrangement cost ratepayers $27,392. See Knowlton’s bid on page 145, and General Manager Ron Duncan’s Purchase Order Approval on page 60
If you make it uncomfortable and unwelcoming, maybe they will not come? I really wonder why the District felt the desk’s window barrier has to be 25-caliber bullet-proof glass?
COUNTY PARKS EXPANSION IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNDED BY DEVELOPER FEES
New development in unincorporated County areas must pay a Park Dedication fee to help expand park and open space areas to accommodate the increased population of the development. In many areas, such as Aptos and Live Oak, that is $1000 / bedroom.
It is known as Quimby Act fees. You may find the January 2021 Santa Cruz County Parks Fee Study of interest,
The County waived these fees for Barry Swenson Builder’s Aptos Village Project, which includes 69 new residences. The County also allowed Swenson FREE drainage easement across the existing Aptos Village County Park adjacent to allow the development’s Phase II parking lot storm drainage to get dumped into Aptos Creek.
Supposedly, it was because Swenson paid $500,000 for the 0.74acre hillside below Mattison Court, and at some point, will donate that to the County for a park. Swenson was supposed to have posted a bond for the effort, but it is questionable if that ever happened.
Back in 2016 when I asked County Parks and Swenson staff why the Park Fees and Easement fees were waived, and no additional park space would be required, their answer was that with the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park nearby, no additional park space was necessary. Hmmmm…..
Do single family home permit applicants in the San Lorenzo Valley also get exemption, because Henry Cowell and Big Basin State Parks are nearby?
Take a look at the County Parks and private parks on page 28 of the Fee Study, the price/SF of land in various areas of the County on page 31, and the extensive Parks Capital Improvement Plan that begins on page 40.
How much money is the County Parks Dept. sitting on in Quimby Act money, but spending on new park acquisition or facilities?
Write County Parks & Recreation Director Jeff Gaffney and ask: email@example.com
STATE BOARD OF FORESTRY WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR DEFENSIBLE SPACE COSTS
The California State Board of Forestry just implemented a new law that mandates all structures in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) have no flammable surfaces or items within 5′ of the exterior perimeter, including decks and patios. Now the Board wants to know how this will affect you…
Your input is needed! The Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is developing a new 0-5 foot defensible space zone. We’re asking California residents and business owners to help inform cost estimates for the implementation of these new science-driven defensible space standards. Please complete this 5-10 minute survey, open through April 5.
Please contact Edith Hannigan, Executive Officer, with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
SLOW DOWN NEAR CAPITOLA LIBRARY FOR SAFETY
There have been many near-collisions for Capitola Library patrons exiting the parking lot that is located on a blind curve on Wharf Road. However, I am hopeful that new cautionary lights that flash when a vehicle is exiting the Library parking lot might help…if motorists slow down enough to see them.
The post on the right flashes yellow when someone is exiting the Capitola Library parking lot (on the left). By the way, that’s the wall of the Rispin Mansion next to the warning beacon pole. The historic wall will be demolished as part of the impending landscaping planned to begin soon. People felt the area needs to be more visible from Wharf Road to discourage vagrants. What about the historic character of the wall and the context of the site? Maybe the arched doorway will get to stay?
MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. ATTEND ONE MEETING AND ASK QUESTIONS.
MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING 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
FOOTSTEPS OF SPRING
Another in my monthly series challenging readers to stay in touch with the seasons by locating one of the quintessential plants flowering at this moment in Central California. This month’s flower: footsteps of spring.
Bare Foot Healthy
Botanists have a history of assigning ironic, sometimes deeply ironic, Latin names to plants. This one’s Latin name is Sanicula arctopoides. Some suggest that going barefoot is good for your health, others suggest caution. This plant’s Latin name does nothing to settle that score. The first name comes from the Latin “Sanus” meaning ‘healthy’ (sanitary, for instance) and its second name is a play on words: “arcto” means ‘bear’ and “poides” refers to ‘foot:’ put the two together and you start sensing the wordplay – “bear foot.” In full, the name means bear foot healthy. I’m not suggesting that the Latin name refers to the horrible and unsupported consumption of bear’s feet for health benefits. Rather, I suppose it was meant to be a twist on words. There has long been controversy over whether or not going bare foot makes for better health. I’ve had hippy friends swear to the benefits of going barefoot – I tried it myself for quite a long time with mixed results. I spent a semester of my undergraduate time in a Costa Rican cloud forest, during which I mostly went bare foot as my shoes otherwise never seemed to dry out. This led to a memorable experience where an itchy blister turned out to be full of maggots, an infection of tropical foot-burrowing flea larvae. That experience was kind of the opposite of this plant’s Latin name translation, “healthy bear (bare) foot.” But, I digress…
If there was a magical grassland Sprite calling up the advancing Spring across our meadows, she might dance from one ridge to the next, leaving her first footprints in the form of this gorgeous plant, subsequent waves of other wildflowers and color emanating from her earlier footfalls.
Footsteps of spring plants are the brightest of yellow, but it’s not just the flowers. As the plant starts to make flower clusters, the leaves surrounding the flowers emerge as pale, bright lemon yellow framing the likewise pale yellow flower clusters. The entire plant frames and highlights globe-like clusters of tiny flowers. This species is low-growing – ground-hugging even – and can’t take light competition from surrounding taller plants. And so, patches of footsteps of spring are found on rocky ridge tops or rocky-shelved outcrops especially where the surrounding vegetation consists of grassland species and where soil conditions aren’t conducive to taller, shading, more productive plants.
I don’t want to prejudice your sniffer, but I am hoping to hear from people about what scent they get from the flowers of this plant. Also, the leaves of the close relatives of this plant normally have interesting odors…one species releases an uncannily cilantro-like scent, for instance.
Whatever scents this wildflower emits, the only types of pollinators I’ve seen visiting the flowers are different types of flies. Maybe the presence of flies as pollinators hints at the scent of 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 email@example.com
Commercial-gambling revenue last year broke the previous record of $53 billion set in 2021, increasing about 14% year-over-year, according to an American Gaming Association report. The figures don’t include tens of billions of dollars in revenue generated by tribal-owned casinos.
Previously, I have expressed significant skepticism, here in this blog, about our infatuation with “advertising.” Let me express similar skepticism about “gambling,” and point out that gambling has been one of the major “new frontiers” in the advertising world. Well, in the “economic” world, too, when we admit to ourselves that cryptocurrency “investments” are just a form of placing a bet.
I continue to believe that there is such a thing as “real life” (as differentiated from the life which is advertised as real), and I am distressed that we seem more and more willing to spend our time (and money) trying to avoid a confrontation with what that “real life” is telling us. We are, for example, and without a doubt, facing major, life-threatening challenges, many of these challenges the result of our unwillingness to appreciate that our human world is totally dependent on the World of Nature.
The New York Times reports, for instance, that “When the Horseshoe Crabs Are Gone, We’ll Be in Trouble.” This article somewhat understates the problem, since the article indicates that those horseshoe crabs are already close to extinction. See if you can get by the paywall to learn in detail how the fate of horseshoe crabs is so relevant to our own. The short summary is this: The blue blood of the horseshoe crab is what is used, in modern medicine, to protect us from endotoxins. As it turns out, that blue blood of the horseshoe crab is, currently, pretty much the only thing that can do the job – at least according to that article in The Times. Still, the horseshoe crab extinction threat is what I would call a “minor example” of the social, political, economic and environmental troubles from which we mostly try to escape by spending our time on various diversionary activities, including online gaming.
Gambling is an escape, pure and simple, and the poor people who are disproportionately attracted to gambling have the most to lose. If we could genuinely change our politics, they would have the most to win.
Considering where we are, in “real life,” our best bet is to put our scarce resources – including specifically our time and energy – into political involvement and political action!
Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org
QUESTIONING ETHICS IN THE BATTER’S BOX
As we await the arrival of Godot and the adoption of an ethics code by the US Supreme Court, not to mention absence of results in an investigation by the House Ethics Committee into Representative George Santos‘ indiscretions, the Senate Ethics Committee is finally admonishing Senator Lindsey Graham for his solicitation of campaign contributions for Senate candidate Herschel Walker in November of last year. During a Fox News interview, inside a federal building, the Senator asked for donations to Walker’s campaign five separate times, in violation of the prohibition of campaign activity in federal buildings. It must be noted that Graham turned himself in to the committee following the interview.
Even though this is Graham’s second violation, criminal penalties could result, but likely won’t. He solicited contributions for his own campaign in 2020 when approached in a hallway for an unscheduled interview, and while the committee sent a private letter to him after concluding that it was “inadvertent, technical, or otherwise of a de minimis nature,” the public never learned of it at the time, and the complaint was dismissed. Committee members, Senators Coon and Lankford, wrote Graham that prohibitions on campaign solicitation in federal buildings and the use of federal resources for campaign activity “have been consistent and clear throughout your years of Senate service…and despite the Committee’s specific guidance following your October 2020 violation, your actions failed to uphold that standard, resulting in harm to the public trust and confidence in the United States Senate. You are hereby admonished.” Hardly the shot heard round the world, but in a released statement Graham said, “It was my mistake. I take responsibility. I will try to do better in the future.” Do we have any other suggestions out there in how he might do better? How about a walk across the aisle for a talk with Representative Weasel McCarthy?
Kevin McCarthy in a tweet last week, responded to Master Donny J’s tweet about a possible Tuesday arrest, putting himself in the middle of the indictment excitement. One Twitter responder told The Mac that he was surprised he had cell service from inside Trump’s colon. Anyway, the stupidest man in the country howled, “An outrageous abuse of power…all politically motivated prosecutions!” His tweet suspiciously followed one by Marjorie Traitor Greene who might actually be in command of this bunch of Trumpsters. She probably told Kev, “Relax, you got your job…now leave the rest to me, ‘atta boy!”
The Durango Herald newspaper in Colorado criticized Representative Lauren Boebert after her visit to a local high school last week, where her session with students went beyond “governance and into political territory.” Her speech, followed by a Q&A mentioned “moral decay” as she inveighed against infringement of liberties during the COVID-19 period. Parents of the Dolores High School students had misgivings leading up to the event, but were somewhat reassured when she confirmed that she would not be armed with a weapon, though brimming over with QAnon conspiracies. The editorial board of the Herald wrote, “Like her or otherwise, Boebert is a polarizing politician. Apparently, she also told students they should know about these issues and let it motivate them to stand up for their freedom. Come on! This is Boebert’s brand on stage in front of students without parents present…she didn’t separate herself and her politics from the mechanics of government.” The editorial continues, “She could have inspired students with her personal journey from a manager at McDonald’s to a representative in the hallowed halls of Congress.” Since she has not advanced her ‘personal journey’ for the better, how about we remove her from those hallowed halls with a return to where she surely mastered the phrase, “Want fries with that?”
Meanwhile, in Arizona, gubernatorial election loser, Kari Lake, fights on to have the election overturned in her favor or to re-run the election as she refuses to concede to declared winner, Katie Hobbs. She filed a lawsuit contesting the legitimacy of the results, blaming problems on printers and tabulating machines, which prevented some same-day voters from casting a ballot. Maricopa County Judge Peter Thompson and the Arizona Court of Appeals determined her case lacked evidence of devious intentions by the county to disenfranchise her supporters, so was thrown out. An appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, which declined to hear her case, did send back one of her claims to the county for review, which involves improper signature verification procedures. With six of her seven claims dismissed, Loser Lake’s response was, “They have built a house of cards in Maricopa County. I’m not just going to knock it over. I’m going to burn it to the ground. Signature verification has been the third rail for Maricopa County for the past few years. They have thrown every obstacle at Arizona election integrity activists to prevent them from reaching it. Unfortunately, they messed with the wrong woman.” Kari, Kari, Kari – put down that blowtorch! Don’t you know that Master Trump favors the baseball bat? Don’t jeopardize your standing for possible VP consideration!
Who hasn’t seen the Truth Social post made by Combover Caligula where he placed a photo of himself preparing to swing a baseball bat at a photo of New York D.A. Bragg? It was widely distributed over all social media sites, and notably picked up by the Rupert Murdoch newspaper, The New York Post, with the classic tabloid headline, “Bat Hit Crazy,” taking its place above the previous classic headline, “Headless Body found in Topless Bar.” The lead to the headline, “Deranged Trump threatens violence against Bragg who gets death note,” which refers to a letter enclosed in an envelope with white powder sent to the Manhattan D.A., threatening death with the possible indictment of The Donald. Conclusion was that the powder was harmless; but concern about the message, which followed Trump’s Social Media that his arrest could lead to “potential death and destruction,” would provide impetus for his followers to “stand back and stand by.” Legal experts feel that the former prez theoretically could be charged for such posts, not only for ethically crossing the line, but also legally, facing charges for menacing, of aggravated harassment, or inciting a riot, a charge which he still faces resulting from J6. Because of Trump’s social media comments and the undercurrent of threats circulating because of his impending arrest, security has been especially tight in Manhattan, ranging from deliveries, to placement of barricades, and patrols by bomb-sniffing dogs. Bragg’s office staff of 1600 is constantly fielding threatening phone calls and emails, as they attempt to complete their work.
An attempt by three House GOP chairmen – Jim (Gym) Jordan, James Comer and Bryan Steil – to investigate D.A. Bragg for his Trump investigation as an “unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority,” to cloud, and possibly delay any charges has fallen flat on its face. Their letter to Bragg insisted that congressional scrutiny about how funds appropriated by Congress are implemented is valid and that he must submit to their probe. A spokesperson for Bragg responded by saying, “We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law.” Kevin McCarthy, momentarily emerging from his sheltered perch said, “Republicans are just asking questions…let them ask questions. There’s nothing wrong with asking the question.” So, reporters posed a question – about whether he could support Trump with all his potential indictments pending. “It’s a political play,” he says. Good, solid answer, Kev.
Bragg tossed the letter back to the chairmen with, “We will not be intimidated by this. Many false claims have been lobbed out, so let’s set the record straight. New York remains one of the safest big cities in the U.S,” – in response to their urging him to spend more time on controlling local crime rather than pursuing Trump. When the Proud Boys and their adherents react to the indictment we can bet on continued job security for the D.A.’s office with increased New York criminality. Trump continues to deny any involvement with porn actress Stormy Daniels, aside from having a side by side photo taken at a golf course. His post on Truth Social claims, “I did NOTHING wrong in the ‘Horseface’ case. I see she showed up in New York today trying to drum up some publicity for herself…Never had an affair with her, another false acquisition (sic) by a Sleazebag. Witch Hunt!” Stormy, in a tweet shot back a photo of her horse, replying, “My horse is prettier than me. There is nothing about Tiny that would remind anyone of a horse.”
Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email: email@example.com.
Waiting for refills – watch this space!
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.
“The dark sky beckoned, the stars so dim and small, like speckles of frost.”
~Sarah J. Maas
“Some of the most beautiful moments can never be effaced by the frost or rain or the waves of time, for they cluster as a solitary rose”
“It was like traveling through a stage setting, the air clear and tingling, the moonlight sparkling off bushes laced with frost.”
Interesting roundtable with a bunch of acclaimed actors – I really enjoyed this. Hope you do too! 🙂
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