BRATTON…Medea Benjamin’s projects and aims. GREENSITE… Gillian is on a break and will be back soon. SCHENDLEDECKER… Oversized parking and history. STEINBRUNER…County supes illegal meetings, Andy Schiffrin’s rejection, Dense infill housing, Zach Friend and county budget, more Santa Cruz judges? HAYES…our local, endangered pine species. PATTON…Special Edition: Plantation Politics. MATLOCK…Charitable ruts on the cliff road. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week: Temple Grandin at Google QUOTES…”SNOW”
DATELINE March 6
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WORLD WARS AND MEDEA BENJAMIN. Thanks to a well-informed neighbor I’ve been alerted to some of the logical, profound and meaningful statements Medea Benjamin, organizer of Codepink, has been making public that aim our sights and attention to the war in Ukraine. Go here peaceinukraine.org to read just some of the sensible tasks they are driving for. Plus they are staging a March in Washington Saturday & Sunday March 18, 19 at 1p.m.
Here’s the gist of their first pages… Join us as we build a massive, unified response with peace-loving people around the world to say No to War in Ukraine; Yes to Negotiations and Peace. Sign up HERE to join our coalition. Join CODEPINK, ANSWER Coalition and the People’s Forum to protest on the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The demonstrations will make connections between the human and financial toll of U.S. militarism at home and abroad. Key demands include:
- End the $100 Billion in arms shipments to Ukraine
- End NATO
- Stop the permanent war economy that funnels trillions of dollars away from jobs, education and health care
- Negotiations now! The people of the U.S. are not interested in the possibility of nuclear war nor the Pentagon’s policy of “weakening Russia.”
- No to war with China!
Medea will be in San Francisco March 18. She tweeted this yesterday… Trump knows how unpopular the Ukraine war is. He got huge applause at CPAC saying: “I am the only candidate who can prevent WWIII. Before I arrive in the Oval Office, I will end the disastrous war between Russia and Ukraine.” Biden: We need peace talks now!
Medea stated elsewhere… In provocations reminiscent of US meddling in Ukraine, a hawkish Congress last year approved $10 billion in weapons and military training for Taiwan, while House leader Nancy Pelosi flew to Taipei – over protests from her constituents–to whip up tension in a move that brought US-China climate cooperation to a halt”.
Medea again…”A US willingness to work with China on a peace plan for Ukraine might not only help stop the daily loss of lives in Ukraine and prevent a nuclear confrontation, but also pave the way for cooperation with China on all kinds of other issues–from medicine to education to climate–that would benefit the entire globe”.
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.
A JAZZMAN’S BLUES (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.7 IMDB). First of all the sound track is out of sync with the visual scene so their lips don’t look or sound realistic. It’s a hokey story of blacks in Georgia and the Jim Crow laws and lives they are forced into. There’s a romance dealing with passing for white, there’s a murder and there’s some very mediocre jazz and singing that won’t thrill anyone…forget this one.
10 DAYS OF A GOOD MAN. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). A Turkish movie that has a team searching for a missing son. Prostitutes, drugs, and a lawyer/detective who deal with crooked police and a missing iPhone means this is barely watchable.
MONIQUE OLIVIER-ACCESSORY TO EVIL. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.1 IMDB). Be very careful when you watch this grueling, detailed account of a serial killer and her husband! Yes, she’s the guilty one and it’s based on a true story that happened in France 1987-2003. It’s billed as a documentary but it’s so dramatic and harrowing you’ll be glued to all 5 episodes.
CALL ME CHICHIRO. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.8 IMDB). This cute and very engaging young girl was a sex worker in Japan and she quit. She took a job in a bento shop (bentos being quick food dishes) and becomes everyone’s friend. It’s subtle, sensitive, and revolves around loneliness plus lots of eating. Worth watching.
THE HEAD OF JOAQUIN MURRIETA. (AMAZON + SERIES) (6.7 IMDB). This film from Mexico along with many other books and movies attempts to give us the whole picture of this near legendary Robin Hood-Patriot-Thug. He lived and stole from both California and Mexican governments during and after the California gold rush. Parts of his history have him in San Juan Bautista, Benicia and San Francisco. It’s a rousing, fast paced western, and fun to watch.
THE CONSULTANT. (AMAZON + SERIES) (6.7 IMDB). It’s described as a comedy plus drama but with Christoph Waltz as the lead there aren’t many laughs…he’s not a funny or happy guy. He appears all of a sudden as the new director of a very successful iPhone tech games developer in Los Angeles and is cruel beyond belief to the entire staff. No fun here.
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.
UNLOCKED. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). A crime film from South Korea starts off with everyone wearing masks and dealing with covid, but it’s forgotten about half way through. It’s about a lost iPhone that takes on a terrifying spy mission on its own power…or so we’re led to believe. Lives are ruined, jealousy, hate, and even a bit of sex is involved. You’ll rue the day or night or even the half hour you wasted wondering how this will turn out.
YOUR PLACE OR MINE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.6 IMDB). You need to be a dyed in the wool Reese Witherspoon fan to watch this unfunny comedy. Steve Zahn and Tig Notaro don’t add much to the plot about a couple who have split and each lives on opposite USA coasts…like LA and NYC. They actually attempt raising a kid and maintaining some bizarre friendship but I repeat if you’re not a Witherspoon fan and I’m not …don’t tune in.
MURDAUGH MURDERS. (NETFLIX SERIES) 7.2 (IMDB). A genuine up to date documentary about Alex Murdaugh (“Murdock”) who is facing many, many trial days right now! He’s accused with 99 financial charges, about three deaths he was involved in, and it’s all really about the legal influence his family has had in South Carolina and his drug addictions. It is three episodes long and I hung onto every scene…then went on all the news networks to see where the trial is leading and am trying to guess where it could lead. It’s a carefully and completely legal Netflix documentary and we now know that he was judged guilty and sentenced to two life term sentences. Don’t miss it.
RRR (RISE ROAR REVOLT) (NETFLIX MOVIE) 7.9 (IMDB) As previously mentioned, India produces over 2000 movies each year. Some are totally serious and brilliant like Satayjit Ray’s films then there’s the Bollywood, and Tollywood and there’s also movies like RRR which combine a kidnapping of a child, the developing friendship of two buddies who are looking for him AND then there’s the mugging goofing and even singing which doesn’t go anywhere. Then again it’s one of the most financially successful films in India’s history.
HELLO TOMORROW. (APPLE + TV SERIES)(6.5 IMDB). Billy Crudup and Allison Pill take the leads in this so called comedy about our possible future lives living on the moon. Crudup is the moon real estate salesman and it’s all focused on selling Unreal estate. They watch new high tech images on ancient tv sets and the rest doesn’t make sense either.
Gillian is on a break and will be back soon.
|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.|
REPARATIONS NEEDED FOR DECADES OF “OVERSIZED PARKING” EXTORTION
In last week’s Bonline column about emergency response, I shared a draft of Reggie Meisler’s op-ed for Lookout Santa Cruz (also published last week) on the city’s continued ticketing and towing of vehicles that people live in, especially on the Westside.
Shortly after, Jessica York’s story on the city’s illegal Westside no parking signs broke in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
In a nutshell, the no parking midnight-5am signs were installed as early as 2004, without going through all the necessary permit approvals and opportunities for public review and appeal. That’s profoundly undemocratic and unethical.
In the past five years alone, on just three streets, 3,100 tickets amounting to almost $150,000 were issued. How many tickets were issued in the 13 years prior? How many people were driven further into poverty and precarity because they had to choose between paying off tickets and other expenses? How many vehicles were then illegally towed based on accrued unpaid tickets (or knock-on effects like inability to pay for registration or repairs)? How many people became unsheltered, lost possessions and documents, experienced even more hardship and ill-health, or ultimately died prematurely because of these illegal acts?
Recently a group of neighbors requested street striping for parking spaces (less than 20 feet long, targeting larger vehicles) on David Way, just off West Cliff Drive. Another neighbor appealed to the Planning Commission. That appeal was upheld but will likely come before city council soon; if they overrule the Planning Commission an appeal to the Coastal Commission could be the next step.
It seems likely that a street-by-street, complaints-driven parking battle is here. Organize with your neighbors; and keep tabs on City Council, Zoning Commission, and Planning Commission meetings.
In his presentation in support of the proposed Oversized Vehicle Ordinance to City Council September 21, 2021, former Police Chief Andy Mills (1:52:57 timestamp), setting up the perceived problem, relayed an anecdote: “One of our lieutenants just, uh, retired early. Arnold Vazquez, that’s his picture on the screen there. Arnold is an interesting guy, he was a fabulous leader in our department. But something he said to me his last day of employment struck me pretty profoundly. Arnold joined the department in the ‘90s, the late ‘90s, and his very first call on his very first day in his very first hour of policing in our city was to handle oversized parking on Delaware and Natural Bridges. And he, you know, told how literally nothing has changed in twenty years. And uh that is why I think this makes a lot of sense to me. That we shouldn’t have a generation of police officers retire from the city and not have a substantial impact on the problem. In fact there are probably those who would say it’s gotten worse.”
(Instagram screenshots taken 3/6/2023 of a Santa Cruz Police Department post from the week of 2/27/2023)
Here’s some of what’s been happening for at least 20 years:
- Allocate 25-35% of our city budget to SCPD while defunding staff pay, Parks and Rec, contributions to social welfare programs (like daycare), and the Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women (See Council Special Meeting 6/7/22 with attached CORE funding recommendations)
- Put up no parking midnight-5am signs without going through the proper democratic, legal, and administrative processes
- Skirt democratic processes to decide who to appoint to the Coastal Commission (and surely every other appointed body there is)
- Support local tech companies to increase surveillance on poor and BIPOC communities
- Actively encourage complaints-driven policing and governance (see photos above)
- Maintain an arsenal of military-grade equipment while arguing against an independent citizen oversight body (see 4/25/22 Council meeting for more)
- Resist community efforts to establish a non-police emergency response program
- Actively encourage and collaborate with “neighborhood groups” and volunteers engaged in harassment, ticketing, “clean-ups”, and surveillance of unhoused residents
- Use language and images that perpetuate harmful stereotypes and myths about people without housing
- Use data to exaggerate the negative impacts of unhoused residents on the community at large
- Spend incredible amounts of time, money, and public political energy on 2 Oversized Vehicle Ordinances that don’t stand up to ethical, legal, or Coastal Commission standards, as well as pass a Camping Standards and Services ordinance as a work-around to Martin vs Boise
- Argue over city-county responsibility for caring for residents without housing, commonly referred to as playing hot potato
And what hasn’t been done:
- Enact rent control, just-cause evictions, and similar housing protections
- Re-fund social programs that build true community safety and address economic and social inequality
- Build or buy housing that actually reflects the income levels of residents and workers
- Rein in exploitative corporate ownership and management of large apartment complexes that lead the way in extortionate rent increases that affect the entire market
- Actively encourage and support safe parking programs at local businesses and nonprofits
- Institute parking and ticket amnesties, and make direct aid to people living in unregistered or inoperable vehicles
- Establish greywater collection site(s) or mobile collection services in city limits
- Consistently lead the way in setting standards for ethical and accurate community conversations about houselessness
So why is our current council (Sandy Brown excepted), staff, and police chief doubling-down on policies, budgets, and practices that have not worked for at least a generation?
And why is another generation of residents being subjected to out of date and proven-ineffective methods of policing and governance?
Groups like Santa Cruz Together, Santa Cruz/Westside Neighbors, and Take Back Santa Cruz argue for a carrot and stick approach. Community member Carol Polhamus has said many times in the Facebook group “The Cruzible” (and elsewhere) that she believes that the Santa Cruz Cares appeal of OVO has stopped all forward momentum on providing services because the threat of consequences isn’t there. This sentiment is inaccurate, particularly given expansion of Free Guide programs this year, and may actually harm our funding applications.
There are still a multitude of state and local laws regulating all of us, including people parking and living in their vehicles. State laws limiting parking to 72 hours in one location remain. And there is ample evidence that the criminalization of people based on housing status continues, even when the Camping Standards and Services and Oversized Vehicle Ordinances are not in effect or enforced.
We also know that there is political will to continue to provide services to people. The city is actively engaged in several tiers of managed camps and safe parking programs, and has applied for a grant to establish a greywater site in the city. I hear that Mayor Fred Keeley and Vice-Mayor Renee Golder may finally be softening to a CAHOOTS-style alternative emergency response program (although a model like Justice Teams Network may be better, and in spite of the dinosaur-thinking that must lead them to oppose the Harm Reduction Coalition). Is it enough, fast enough? No, but perhaps it is incremental progress.
But the temptation to default to old-fashioned thinking about what contributes to our social crises and motivates people is strong. We have to keep pushing for newer, more effective, consent-based ways of relating.
In relationship counseling, the Gottman Institute points out that people need 5 affirmations for every negative encounter (or better, 20:1). Our schools offer Positive Parenting classes. Puppy training is based on treats, not smacks with newspapers.
Most importantly, reparations are in order. Seems to me that an entire group of people has been targeted, and suffered serious economic and life-threatening impacts. A class action lawsuit is likely the only way to (partially) remedy the tremendous harm done, unless the city decides to make a radical U-turn, as well as set up a reparations committee with a large budget.
Stay engaged, organize, and fight the good fights!
|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.|
Many thanks to the kind readers who contacted me with concern about my health. I have been humbled to know that people cared about my welfare. Thanks to many acupuncture treatments and herbal medicine, I am feeling better now, but still have to limit computer screen time or I feel dizzy. It has been quite an experience!
Sadly, when I asked Soquel Creek Water District for an extension of time for some legal document deadlines, the attorney said NO. I had to go to Court and show my doctor’s note to Judge Volkmann, who then ordered the extension. What a waste of money for their $350/hour attorney to craft a 21-page and 6-page document opposing any extension of time to accommodate my medical problem. It was an unnecessary waste of Court time, too. It added a lot of extra stress to me as well, and the florescent lights in the Court made me nauseated.
For the benefit for anyone who has suffered a concussion, here is information about computer screen light adverse effect on people suffering from a concussion
Who would know?
COUNTY HAS VIOLATED BROWN ACT FOR DECADES…”IT’S A MESS”
County Supervisors and City Mayors have violated the Brown Act for decades, holding significant decision-making meetings in restaurants and failing to provide any public notice of meetings at all.
This came to light in a recent report by investigative journalist Chris Neely in Santa Cruz Lookout
In January, the City Selection Committee, which is required to exist by State law in all Counties having two or more incorporated cities, met to select nominees for a vacant seat on the California Coastal Commission. They selected County Supervisor Zach Friend, Capitola City Councilwoman Yvette Brooks, and Santa Cruz City Mayor Fred Keeley.
When Reporter Neely’s investigation became public, Mayor Keeley backed out, claiming he did not know of the Committee’s Brown Act violation. Is he used to meeting in restaurants for decision-making?
The City Selection Committee met again on February 21, supposedly to correct the Brown Act violation, but again failed to provide any public noticing of the meeting to the public.
Last Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors meeting Consent Agenda Item #25 featured Third District County Supervisor Justin Cummings seeking approval for his own nomination to be considered by Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon for appointment to the vacant Coastal Commission seat. Supervisor Cummings included a copy of the letter soliciting nominees as an attachment to the item, for transparency.
Although the item was not pulled by any Supervisor, members of the public brought the problem of the County violating the Brown Act for decades regarding the City Selection Committee meetings, which brought forth discussion among the Supervisors.
Chairman Zach Friend, who was running the meeting remotely from Sacramento, stated that the Board had received a letter from Capitola City Councilwoman Yvette Brooks, stating that she wanted the Board to add her name to the list of nominees. At that point, Supervisor Manu Koenig said he also wanted to be considered as a nominee, citing concerns of private property rights and coastal access that he feels will arise more in the future.
At the motion of Supervisor Bruce McPherson, the Board voted to add the two additional nominees to the list along with Supervisor Cummings’ name. Hmmm….
No one answered my question about who the City Selection Committee had chosen on February 21, but maybe it didn’t matter, because likely, the illegal meeting candidates would have to be disregarded. Maybe that was why Councilwoman Yvette Brook wrote the Board to ask for her name to be added…her letter was never presented for government transparency on this issue.
Was it proper Parliamentary procedure to have the Board expand discussion and take unscheduled action on Consent Agenda Item #25 without even pulling it? Shouldn’t the public also get to see the letter from Ms. Brooks?
You may be interested to know that the Rules for the City Selection Committee were changed just last month, supposedly at the February 21 un-noticed meeting
Since when does a Committee have this power, rather than the Board of Supervisors?
This Committee also selects members of the Santa Cruz County LAFCO and the Central Coast Community Energy utility, and likely many other powerful governmental appointment jobs.
COUNTY COMMISSIONS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FOR THE PEOPLE
Last Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors rejected Third District Supervisor Cummings’ nomination of his Analyst Andy Schiffrin to serve on the County Planning Commission, Consent Item #24. However, they did not reject his nomination by Chairman Zach Friend to the Housing Authority Commission, Consent Item #27.
This all came about following an excellent public testimony by local architect Mr. Cove Britton, who cited Government Code 1099 that could be legally interpreted to apply and states that
I felt that Chairman Zach Friend’s vote against Supervisor Cumming’s nomination to put his Analyst on the Planning Commission was hypocritical because he in fact appointed (and the Board approved) the appointment of his Analyst, Allyson Violante, to the Planning Commission for District 2 last year. Hmmm…
For many years, former Third District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty’s Analyst, Rachel Danns, served on the Planning Commission.
In my opinion, no Analyst for any Supervisor should serve on any Commission. It not only seemingly violates California Government Code 1099, but also defeats the purpose of citizen Commissions as advisory bodies to the Board of Supervisors.
I did write to Supervisor Friend and ask him to replace his appointment to the Planning Commission with A qualified individual representing the building industry with knowledge of the Santa Cruz County Codes. So far, he has not responded. He never does.
FEVERISH TIMELINE FOR COUNTY COMPLIANCE WITH RHNA: WHERE WILL THE DENSE HOUSING BE BUILT AND WHO WILL DECIDE?
Last week, I attended the in-person meeting of the Santa Cruz County Housing Advisory Commission because I wanted to hear the Planners discuss the Housing Element update and Plan to meet the State building mandates under the Regional Housing Number Allocation (RHNA).
This Commission’s recommendations are gaining more importance with the County Board of Supervisors as the push for more and denser housing is demanded by the State. It counts as “public input”.
The new Senior Planner, Mr. Matthew Sundt, delivered the news of the breakneck timeline for the County’s compliance with the State mandate that will force triple the number of housing units in the unincorporated area to be built, 4,634 to be exact, over the next eight years.
The County will try using a creative approach to having public involvement and solving the problem of “WHERE WILL THE DENSE INFILL HOUSING BE BUILT?” The Board of Supervisors voted to try using a panel of 20-25 random citizens from the unincorporated area of the County who usually do not participate in government affairs, and pay them each $25/meeting to attend about 10 meetings. These people will represent the demographics of the County, including homeless, renters, those with disabilities, and a mix of ages and genders. Their goal will be to determine where to build dense infill housing, much of which has to be affordable to very-low, low and moderately-low income renters.
To help with this, the County has hired a consultant, Civic Makers, to create the Community Panel described above and help them to eventually draft their recommendations.
There will be a second panel of 20-25 people, known as the Stakeholder Group, will have the same goal but be composed of developers, real estate professionals, non-profit representatives, neighborhood groups, and major employers of the County as well as school districts and hospitals. This Group will be vetted by County staff and the consultants, and selected by invitation or from those who volunteer and will be developed and led by a different consultant.
Members need not live in the unincorporated area. Of note, the Group will NOT include representatives from UCSC. Both the Community Panel and the Stakeholder Group will meet in parallel, but will not combine their meetings.
However, both will use the same interactive mapping tool that is being developed by a consultant groups named “Balancing Act” whose video game-like tool will divide the areas of the County into nine polygons, predominantly in the Urban Services Line and provide the “players” with information about infrastructure, schools, demographics, etc. of each area of a polygon when clicked online.
FIGHT FOR LOCAL CONTROL OF OUR COMMUNITY
After the Housing Advisory Commission had adjourned, one Commissioner brought a breath of fresh air to the room by exclaiming: “Why do we have to do this?!” He mentioned a grassroots group called “Catalysts for Local Control” that is pushing back on the State takeover of our Community land use policy and quickly erasing local control.
Are you also wondering why the County is simply cowering to the whip of the State and not even trying to preserve local control over what our Communities will look and feel like, and what the quality of life here will be?
Join the Catalyst for Local Control every Monday 5pm-6pm for virtual meetings and plan to join the trip to Sacramento on March 14 to meet with our legislators about this.
We must present solutions to how housing can be created in our County, while preserving local discretionary control and private property rights. Infrastructure? Is anyone from HCD even considering that?
“WE’RE TOO BUSY TO BE TRANSPARENT ABOUT THE BUDGET”
That is essentially what Chairman Zach Friend told Supervisor Cummings at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor meeting, following the Mid-year County Budget Report, when the later asked for County Budget Hearings to be returned to their expanded time of four days, rather than two, and require each Dept. Head to discuss how they will cut spending in the next few years to accommodate the large deficits expected. “We have all made commitments for our time in June, and we can’t reschedule them for a calendar change now,” said Chairman Friend.
He suggested that if Supervisor Cummings and Supervisor Hernandez want to better understand the status of the County’s Department finances, they should schedule their personal meetings with the Departments and not take up the time of the entire Board.
That was very disrespectful and self-serving, if you ask me. Supervisor Cummings was attempting to help gain transparency and information for not only the two new Supervisors, but, as he said, also for members of the public. It seems that Chairman Friend prefers keeping the County’s business vague and, as he has shown with his casual “so-what” attitude toward his recent participation in the City Selection Committee backroom deals and Brown Act violations, he feels he is above the law and has no time to be accountable to the public.
What other commitments could a County Supervisor have made that are more important than the County’s Budget hearings before the taxpayers? Maybe something more self-serving in Sacramento…from where he ran last Tuesday’s meeting?
I recommend you listen to the proceedings of last Tuesday’s Item #8..click on that item of the agenda and the relevant section of the video begins (about minute 1:11:00).
The report predicts a $6.4 million deficit for 2023/2024, huddling there until 2026/2027 when it will climb to $6.7 million, and jump to $8.2 million in 2027/2028. The reason, said Mr. Marcus Pimental (whose rate of speaking was extremely fast) has to do with decrease in sales tax revenue due to a proliferation of online purchases. He hinted a a recession.
Supervisor Bruce McPherson let it slip that there will be another tax increase coming in the County next year. I wonder if the Board will deceptively claim it is for increased fire protection or emergency relief again, just like they did in 2018 for Measure G. Read the recent County Grand Jury Investigation Report of that trickery; “Words Matter: Did Measure G Mislead the Voters?” Their conclusion was “Yes”.
Don’t be tricked again.
TOO MANY JUDGES IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY?
The Rural Counties Representing California (RCRC) newsletter applauds a legislative bill, SB 75 by Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside), proposed to create 26 new Superior Court Judgeships in the State. Most are in Southern California. None are here.
If you look on page 6, you will see the Counties who were identified as needing more judges. If you look on page 8, you can see that the Commission determined Santa Cruz County has 14 approved and funded judgeships, but seemingly only needs 11.9.
Will the Governor appoint replacements for the three Superior Court Judge seats currently vacant?
(Judges Gallagher and Salazar retired, and Judge Marigonda recently passed away.) Stay tuned.
APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT TRAFFIC MITIGATION SEEMS STALLED
The Parade Street connection to Soquel Drive in the Aptos Village is supposed to be the traffic mitigation for the Aptos Village Project increasing the volume of vehicle traffic in that area. That connection has been stalled on opening for months…without any real explanation.
Often, people have simply tossed the lightweight sandwich board barricades aside and drove through anyway, or the wind has often done that job.
However, now Swenson Builders have added a more sturdy barrier on Parade Street, refusing to return the white wooden fence that was there before.
Also, crews last week excavated the track area adjacent to the Parade Street intersection and added a signal house box.
This was never included in the aesthetic analysis of the Aptos Village Project environmental impacts long ago, even though the County felt allowing Parade Street to be the main connection for Soquel Drive was an acceptable traffic mitigation. By the way, the County graciously granted a Negative Declaration for the Aptos Village Project, stating that there would be no significant impacts caused by the massive development.
The graffiti artists will welcome this new canvass at Parade Street, but will their art be historically in keeping with the Bayview Hotel, which is listed on the National Historic Registry? Hmmm…..
NAME OUR COUNTY FAIR THEME AND HELP THE COMMUNITY HEAL
What would be a good theme for the 2023 Santa Cruz County Fair?
Last week the Department Heads met and approved sending out the call to the public to submit suggestions for the theme this year.
Despite some recent inflammatory Opinion Letters in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and Pajaronian, the Fair Board members are doing their best to keep things on track for another wonderful Community event in September. They have a lot of work to do, cleaning up the numerous problems left behind in the wake of firing former Fair Manager David Kegebein, such as replacement of a roof that has been leaking for years, installing a heater that works for the health and comfort of the Office workers, and wrangling with the Fairgrounds Foundation over their questionable reporting of profits from the alcohol sales they stole from the Ocean Speedway operator.
Help our Community heal from this unfortunate but necessary dismissal. Mr. David Kegebein continues to fan flames Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org The Department Heads will meet the first of next month to select the winning theme.
MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. 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
OUR LOCAL, ENDANGERED PINE SPECIES
Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) is an extraordinarily valuable endangered species that has received insufficient conservation recognition. The stand of pines around Año Nuevo have been heavily impacted by wildfire but are regenerating well (for now). Meanwhile, much of the Monterey pine stand on the Monterey Peninsula is effectively gone. Cambria’s Monterey pine forest has likewise been compromised. In both cases, while there is what appears to be Monterey pine forest in and among homes, those trees are what are termed ‘relictual’ – without fire, they will not regenerate and no one is suggesting that prescribed fire be used in neighborhoods to manage those forests to perpetuate them as they would naturally need to be. In an ideal world, homeowners in Cambria and on the Monterey Peninsula would be so interested in conservation that they would participate in an expensive program to replant older pines with enough genetically appropriate seedlings as to maintain those populations, but we have too little leadership, interest, and funding to support that kind of initiative. My hope is this becomes a reality. The first step is to build awareness and interest. Your job is to help tell this story to increase support for the protection of this pine. The next step is to gain State legal protection of this endangered species.
Monterey pine is an enormously important tree for producing timber around the globe. Some of my advisors suggest I start any argument for conservation in the economic realm, and so I start here. If you are going to discuss this tree in this context, the first thing you need to do is to use the correct terminology, starting with the right name for the tree. Call the timber tree ‘radiata pine.’ That’s because it has been so intensively bred as to be easily distinguished from its wild counterpart.
10 million acres of radiata pine occur in timber plantations, mostly in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and Chile.
As the effects of climate change intensify, it will become increasingly important to maintain and adapt the genetics of radiata pine. While there is some genetic diversity already embedded in plantation radiata pines, there will inevitably be a need for wild genes to augment the plantation trees. And so, conservation of the wild populations becomes important even to the timber industry. Because the wild populations are distant enough from each other, each population has unique attributes that would be important for the health of radiata pine for future timber production.
The Four Pine Populations
There are five wild Monterey Pine stands, three in California and two in Baja, Mexico: Año Nuevo, Monterey, Cambria, Cedros Island, and Guadalupe Island. The Año Nuevo stand is the largest, growing from southern San Mateo County in the north to near Bonny Doon Road in the south. The Monterey stand is bounded to the north by Highway 68 and then into the northern Big Sur to the south. The Monterey stand occupies a series of ancient marine terraces, each with very different soils, an ‘ecological staircase’ with each terrace supporting very different biotic communities. As you move up the staircase, the pines become increasingly short-statured due to age of the soils increasing and, therefore, the soil fertility decreasing.
The population in and around the town of Cambria. There are also two very odd populations on islands to the west of Baja California. Cedros Island is 14 miles offshore of central Baja and Guadalupe Island is 130 miles offshore of northern Baja Mexico. The Guadalupe Island population has historically been highly threatened by goat grazing, but goats have been recently controlled and now there is hope. The Cedros Island population fares better. The two Baja populations of Monterey Pine stand out in having only 2 needles per bundle as opposed to the 3-needle bundles from the other populations.
Local Importance, Local Threats
Superficial consideration might suggest that Santa Cruz County’s Año Nuevo stand of Monterey pine is well protected, but there are important issues to consider which might lead to different conclusions. This stand of endangered pines is the largest and much of it is located on property where the owners are amenable to good stewardship. And, this stand is also likely the origin of the plantation ‘radiata pine,’ and so contains the historical suite of genes that have been so important to forestry. This location is the only one where Monterey pine hybridizes with another species – knobcone pine. Sometimes, people refer to ‘hybrid vigor,’ and breeders once saw that expressed from trees grown from Año Nuevo stock in their trials as they selected the best trees for plantations.
Although the Año Nuevo stand has strong potential for conservation, there is no plan to guide that conservation and no leadership in convening and focusing that stewardship. An invasive pathogen, pine pitch canker, has the potential to continue spreading, killing up to 80% of the trees. Other pathogens will no doubt be introduced due to carelessness in regulating global trade; those pathogens will likely be spread along recreational trails and roads through the population. There is also the issue of fire…
The 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire raged through most of that population spurring (in patches) a whole new generation of trees. How frequently will the stand burn is an important question – too frequently and the pine may be unable to persist for many more generations.
For millions of years, the distribution and health of Monterey pine has been shaped in a dance between fire and fog. Not too long ago, Monterey pine circled the Monterey Bay, but it has persisted only in the foggiest and most fire-free areas. With climate change, wildfire is expected to increase in frequency and intensity. The 2020 fire left large numbers of dead pines and other trees standing; those present a massive fuel load for subsequent fire(s). With so much fuel loading and anticipated increased fire frequency, I am concerned that fires will become too frequent and intense for adequate regeneration of Monterey pines. For those of you who want to view a now very rare healthy and diverse Monterey pine forest, I strongly recommend that you visit the very few remaining areas very soon.
Where to Go
While it will be instructive to see how Monterey pines are regenerating from fire at the Año Nuevo stand, it is perhaps more enjoyable to see mature stands near Monterey. Within the Año Nuevo stand, you can see post fire regeneration by gazing into the forest along Highway 1 at Waddell Creek beach. If/when BLM opens its northern trails at the Cotoni Coast Dairies, visitors will be able to glance one of the southernmost patches of Año Nuevo Monterey stand of pines on a hillock above those trails. Near Monterey, the Huckleberry Hill nature preserve is worth seeing as is Point Lobos State Park and Jack’s Peak Park.
What You Can Do
In 1999, the California Native Plant Society petitioned the State of California to list the species as Threatened; the State however refused to consider the petition due to lack of staff resources/time/money to adequately process the petition. This example joins a plethora of other similar situations: the State of California needs citizen support to allocate the necessary funding to list deserving species as Threatened or Endangered so that they will be adequately protected at the local level. We should all be writing to the California governor and our local state assembly and senator members to ask for increased budget and attention to promulgating and analyzing listing petitions for species including the Monterey pine. Here are the contact emails: Governor Newsom, Senator Laird, and North County Assemblymember Gail Pellerin or South County Assemblymember Robert Rivas.
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
March 1, special edition!!
I was pretty shocked when I read this morning’s (3/1) edition of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. One of the front-page stories reported on how a majority of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted to deny Third District County Supervisor Justin Cummings the right to make an appointment to the County Planning Commission. Click right here (paywall permitting), to read The Sentinel article for yourself.
Those voting to deny Supervisor Cummings (pictured above) the right to appoint the person whom Supervisor Cummings believed would best represent the Third Supervisorial District have all been serving on the Board for some time. Cummings, and Fourth District Supervisor Felipe Hernandez, who voted in favor of Supervisor Cummings’ nomination (and who is also a person of color), are both newly-elected, and have only recently taken office.
Cummings’ statement, as reported in The Sentinel, is worth quoting:
Cummings said he was shocked by the vote and told the Sentinel: “This is unprecedented, what’s happened, and a direct attack on my office and my election.”
“It’s really troubling to see that rather than supporting a supervisor who wants to put someone on a commission who is going to fight for affordable housing in this community, that we have board members who are opposing that and opposing my opportunity and ability to put someone on who is of my choosing,” Cummings continued.
Cummings defended Schiffrin’s credentials, saying he has deep institutional planning knowledge and experience and was a key component of Cummings’ intention to push for more affordable housing in the county.
Schiffrin has worked for the 3rd District Santa Cruz County supervisor’s office for decades and recently completed a term at the Planning Commission for the city of Santa Cruz.
“Deep institutional planning knowledge and experience” might be an understatement. Andy Schiffrin worked for me, when I served as the Third District County Supervisor, from 1975 to 1995, and has continued to work for the Third District Supervisors who followed my twenty years on the Board. He has been, during all that time, absolutely dedicated to effective efforts to provide affordable housing in this community. He also has a degree in urban planning from M.I.T.
Supervisor Koenig’s statement that “we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” seems to indicate that Mr. Schiffrin’s lifelong commitment to affordable housing should be considered a detriment, not a qualification. Supervisor Friend advanced the same justification for his vote to deny Cummings the right to make his own appointment to what is, probably, the most important of all the County Commissions and Committees:
“What we’re facing in Santa Cruz County is a crisis in housing and transportation and future planning that is of crisis proportions,” Friend said. “I think it’s very important to have voices on the Planning Commission that will lead us forward in that effort and not move us in the past.”
Supervisor Cummings is absolutely correct that what the Board majority did was “unprecedented.” Every Supervisor is elected by the voters in that Supervisor’s district, to represent district residents. When I was elected, in 1974, I was known as a strong environmentalist, and there was an initial effort by more development-oriented Board Members to deny me the right to appoint the Planning Commissioner I thought would best represent the concerns of those who had voted to elect me.
Dan Forbus, the First District Supervisor, who differed with me on land use and planning issues, led the effort to deny appointment to the person I had nominated. Ultimately, Supervisor Forbus and the rest of the Board agreed that it is important that each Board Member be given the ability to make appointments, to represent that Supervisor’s District, that the District Supervisor believes will best accomplish what the voters wanted, in electing the Supervisor.
SINCE 1975, that precedent has never been broken. Until now.
Now, when the first Black Supervisor ever elected to the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors wants to make an appointment (and the appointment of a very qualified person, by the way), three already-serving Board Members decide they know better than the elected representative of the Third District who will best represent the Third District on the Planning Commission.
The arguments advanced are clearly bogus. If those who denied Supervisor Cummings the right to make his own appointment wanted to try to justify their unprecedented action, couldn’t they come up with something better than saying that they cared about affordable housing? If they truly cared, they’d have been outspoken in their support for Mr. Schiffrin.
This was, as I suggest in the title of this blog posting, “Plantation Politics,” and let’s just call it what it is. These already-serving Board Members think that they know better than the elected supervisor of the district who would best serve the district? Really? Why is that?
I would like to hope that Supervisors McPherson, Friend, and Koenig will reconsider their votes, and recognize what Supervisor Dan Forbus realized almost fifty years ago, when he initially sought to deny me my ability to appoint the person whom I wanted to appoint to the Planning Commission: The elected representatives to the Board of Supervisors should be allowed to appoint the persons whom they best believe would represent their district. Period.
That’s an almost-fifty year old precedent, and it just “rings wrong” when that precedent is shattered by way of denying the first-ever Black supervisor the right to make the appointment he thinks is best.
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
CHARIOTABLE RUTS ON THE CLIFF ROAD
Twenty percent of the seats were empty, and The Trumpster failed to get enthusiastic responses to his calculated applause lines at times, but the ballroom crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gathering outside D.C. in Oxon Hill, Md., managed to give him a 62% showing in the straw poll against other possible GOP presidential nominees. He declared, “In 2016, I declared I am your voice. Today I add: I am your warrior, I am your justice – and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution. I will totally obliterate the deep state.”
It was lauded by many as ‘Woodstock for Conservatives’, and even dubbed as ‘TPAC’ – “It’s Trumpism – it’s Trump’s party!” GOP activists, lawmakers, donors and other known right-wing movers and shakers attended the event, but it was ignored by several prominent GOP hopefuls, such as Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence who are hedging their bets on declaring their intentions so far. But VP hopeful Marjorie Taylor Greene was there…and Ted Cruz…and Matt Gaetz…and Lauren Boebert…and Ron Johnson…and Jim Jordan…and DJT Jr. – not a ‘woke‘ bunch by any means, just a bunch of whiners! Fewer college Republicans attended the conference this year, and Fox News was a no-show. Thursday night found DeSantis at a fund raiser in Florida organized by the Club for Growth, after which he departed for a GOP rally in Texas on Friday, and then on to California’s Reagan Library for a Sunday speech.
CPAC was graced by aspirants Nikki Haley, an announced candidate, and Mike Pompeo who is still putting out feelers for a possible run. Following Haley’s speech, she was heckled by Trump supporters shouting, “We love Trump!” as they waved their signs, banners and red caps in support of the beloved, but disgraced former president. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released last week has Trump being favored 45% to 41% over DeSantis, a reasonably commanding path forward for the Retributionator. Such news is a disturbing factor to most Senate Republicans who doubt that their Agent Orange can upend Biden in another contest, and besides, what happened to predictions that his star would fade in time? It seems that his base is the unyielding white, uneducated, working-class conservative evangelicals, and rural voters, leaving DeSantis’ moderates and Never-Trump voters hard-pressed to make any inroads into that lead. GOP strategist, and former Senate aide, Brian Darling, says, “It’s clear that Trump is the front-runner and Republicans in Washington need to get used to that idea,” even though it gives them “a case of heartburn.”
Ron DeSantis is working feverishly to stay in the news cycle, and his method seems to be proclaiming his state of Florida as the last bastion of human freedom in the country, all while banning books, attacking the Disney Corporation, and passing the ‘Stop W.O.K.E.’ Act, the Parental Rights in Education Law, and House Bill 1467. Classrooms in Duval County had 176 titles removed last year, and 1.6 million book titles are under review by a ‘certified media specialist,’ prompting some teachers to cover book collections or remove them for safekeeping. The vague ‘Parental Rights’ law, which critics named the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ statute, reads, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” Perfectly tailored to have people on the ground err on the side of not talking about the subject at all!
The State College Board has been forced to change the curriculum for AP African American Studies, echoing DeSantis‘ claim that the course lacked ‘educational value’ for covering subjects such as queer theory or the prison abolition movement, and that it is historically inaccurate, violating state law on teaching of race issue. The ‘Stop W.O.K.E.’ act asserts that “schools are teaching Whites that they are evil racists and Blacks that they are morally superior to White counterparts,” resulting in this legislation calling for strict penalties. The never-ending social force of race is now forced out of the classroom, and according to PEN America is likely unconstitutional since it applies to public colleges and universities.
This DeSantis attack also pushes for tenured professors to come under ‘review’ every five years, even as he pushes for more frequent reviews by a board appointed by himself. Since the point of tenure is to protect teachers from retribution (that word again!), this move will affect what educators can teach and how they conduct research. That’s hardly tenure, Mr. D!”
Conclusion: Horse’s asses control everything. To wit: The US standard railroad gauge, distance between rails, is 4′ 8.5″, used by the English engineers who designed our first railroads. This measurement was adopted because the same people built the wagon tramways, using the jigs and tools for their vehicles’ wheel spacing. The old rutted roads of England tended to break any other spacing, so that gauge worked well inside the ruts. Those rutted roads were built by Imperial Rome for their legions, with war chariots forming the initial ruts, so the Romans and the English had to follow the ruts to preserve the integrity of their conveyances. The widths of the chariots were determined by the haunches’ width of two horses – bureaucracies never end!
The above was posted on Quora by Dasha Taran, who adds: The two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the fuel tank of the Space Shuttle were made by Thiokol in Utah. The designing engineers preferred that they be made a bit wider, but shipping by train through the mountain tunnels to the launch site wouldn’t allow a wider load, accommodations roomy enough only for a Roman war chariot pulled by two horses. A Greek solution with a Pegasus or two might have solved this dilemma!
And speaking of horses haunches, Chairman Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. and its ASSet Fox News, acknowledged in a deposition as part of the lawsuit against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems, that hosts on the network promoted the false narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Cadet Bonespurs and the Tin Foil Hat Brigade by a secret algorithm in their machines. Hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo were pinpointed as endorsers of this fake news, about which Murdoch “would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing in hindsight.” With a $1.6 billion defamation suit staring you in the face, we have to believe you, Rupe! Dominion has built a trove of evidence to drill home its central allegation: Those running the popular network knew The Don’s claims of voter fraud were wrong but chose to broadcast them anyway. Murdoch could have kept the Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani interviews from airing, but chose not to do so. A Delaware judge has scheduled an April trial start, which should be a real drama as Fox tries to justify its ratings and profit motive over being truthful to its viewers.
The backlash by viewers in response to Fox being the first news source declaring Biden the winner in Arizona, with a projection that he would win overall, saw a shift to other conservative news outlets, causing Fox’s move to overcome the exodus with its lies. That the show hosts offered no pushback and little discussion to the lies of their guests makes the cry for First Amendment rights seem a bit outside the ruts. Many observers are predicting that either Hannity or Dobbs, or both, will be offered up as sacrificial lambs in this fiasco, but let’s hold out for adding Tucker Carlson, who is not on the ‘list’ and is the ratings king, to this lineup! No reason we can’t have a troika pulling this broken chariot over the cliff!
Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email: email@example.com.
EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.
EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.
“The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.”
“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
“Thunderstorms are as much our friends as the sunshine.”
“…there’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special, even though you know you’re not.”
~Carol Rifka Brunt
I have a gift for you this week: Temple Grandin. If you are not familiar with her, do look her up. She is probably one of the most, if not the most, famous autistic people. This is a talk she had at Google some years ago.
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
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Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
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