Blog Archives

May 12 – 18, 2021

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Supervisor Soup (cont.), Rail Plus Trail, Chuck Hilger’s Tribute, Gentlemanly behavior, film critiques. GREENSITE…on re-zoning single family neighborhoods. KROHN… students, interns, and Harvey West Agreement Camp STEINBRUNER…Supervisor salary changes, Last Chance Road rebuilding permits, SeaBreeze Tavern gone. PATTON…Practical Politics-Mainstream Media. EAGAN…book in progress, Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”DOLPHINS”


CABRILLO COMMUNITY COLLEGE, 1974. This great aerial view shows what could have become the Wingspread Development. Developers Hare, Brewer & Kelly tried to build 630 residences, a performing Arts Center, three theaters, stores and more – right here directly across from Cabrillo Community College. Activist Vickie Powell (along with many of us) fought it. The Coastal Commission eventually sided with the citizens, and the space remains as we see it here.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.
Additional information always welcome: email


SUPERVISOR SOUP, Part 2. Many sources tell me/us that Gail Pellerin is going for State Assembly, with Mark Stone already almost-endorsing her. So is Fred Keeley. Rachel Dann, Ryan Coonerty’s political analysist and Chief of Staff, looks like the most obvious candidate. Folks reminded me that neither Sandy Brown nor Martine Watkins live in the third district, but that Martine could move. Other suspects include Justin Cummings and Donna Meyers, whose terms both end in December 2022. Many more changes to Supervisor Soup before the final filing… so we’ll just wait and watch.

RAIL PLUS/INCLUDING TRAIL ISSUES. The debate continues with anger, deceit, and rumor all running rampant. There’s so much distortion involved that anyone trying to catch up on this hot-fought issue has to really want to get the facts. In addition to all of above and mostly below one reader sent…. “I understand Bud Colligan has donated to Santa Cruz Local. Also, Will Mayall, Greenway co-founder is now employed there”. 

Here’s what returned Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) executive George Dondero wrote in his very clear support of Rail & Trail on   May 3, 2021.

George Dondero
PO Box 99
Murphys, CA 95247

May 3, 2021

Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission
1523 Pacific Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

RE: Comments on Agenda Item 25, May 6, 2021 agenda

Dear Commissioners:

I am writing to encourage you to vote ‘YES’ to accept the Business Plan for Electric Passenger Rail on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line. Accepting the Business Plan will keep future options open for use of the corridor and does not commit the RTC to building the project. 

In 2004 the RTC took Measure J to the voters. It was a sales tax to fund the Highway 1 corridor improvements, and very little else. The voters rejected it strongly. When I was hired in 2006 as the RTC Executive Director, much of the community believed it to be impossible to pass a transportation sales tax in the County, let alone one that would provide funding for Hwy. 1. RTC staff and commissioners worked hard to build a consensus in the community to support a fully multi-modal plan that would gain the required 2/3 voter support. “Impossible!” was the response from many. The state was not supporting investment in capacity-increasing highway projects. The cost increases (due to inflation) for the highway project were daunting. Yet In 2016 the doubters were proved wrong, and Measure D was passed. How did this happen?

During the decade leading up to the 2016 election, the RTC developed a clearer vision for a sustainable future. The Triple Bottom Line concept was introduced into the Regional Transportation Plan, and the community supported that vision. It was driven by planning based on advancing goals and outcomes tied to People, Planet and Prosperity. That vision includes informed use of the rail corridor to best serve the entire county while also improving Highway 1 for all users – including bus riders. It supports extensive trails for cyclists and walkers. Chapter 4 of the Regional Plan outlines the vision for 2040.  It is the vision statement of the RTC.

The RTC was recently awarded a $100+ million dollar grant from the state, to match Measure D funds for improvements on the corridor. Today you are constructing these projects. But remember, not many years ago many said it was IMPOSSIBLE!

Some people today say that constructing commuter rail is IMPOSSIBLE – for some of the same reasons we heard that improving the highway would be IMPOSSIBLE – it was too controversial, too expensive or the voters won’t support it. Indeed, the tide has turned in favor of rail projects. Caltrans is implementing the State Rail Plan to build an integrated rail network across the state. Caltrans is willing to fund the next phase of work on the Santa Cruz rail corridor. There is in fact resonance between the State’s vision embedded in the Rail Plan and the local vision in the SCCRTC Regional Transportation Plan. With this kind of momentum in place, this is not the time to close the door on future options to effectively use the rail corridor. 

If we had listened to the doubters on improving Highway 1 and gave up on the vision, none of the projects you are building today would exist. So the question arises, “what is different between the rail project today and the Highway 1 project in 2006?” The answer: very little. 

In addition to the historical perspective, there is also the matter of recognizing where the voters stand. The city councils of Watsonville and City of Santa Cruz recently unanimously passed resolutions supporting acceptance of the Rail Business Plan.

Please keep the door open to future options. I urge you to strongly consider supporting acceptance of the Rail Business Plan.


George Dondero

RAIL AND TRAIL another view. James Weller is an expert in property rights, and an advisor to law firms on legal land use issues. He’s also a former Deacon, and a congregational leader. He’s followed and led much of the ongoing battle to maintain and develop both rail and trail here in Santa Cruz County. Here’s what James Weller wrote to the San Cruz Regional Transit Commissioners;

“Disappointed is the least I can say, damn it!

I was profoundly saddened and ashamed on behalf of us all, the people of Santa Cruz County, when six of you RTC Commissioners irresponsibly stalemated the due and proper vote to accept your staff’s “business plan” document and to authorize them to obtain a $17 million Caltrans grant for design, engineering, and environmental review.
You had one job on April Fool’s Day. You failed. You voted against the plain and simple public interest, the public good, and the public institution for which you are responsible.

Suddenly you, Commissioners McPherson, Mulhearn, and Petersen flipped the votes you cast just weeks ago to approve and accept the staff’s “preferred alternative” plan for an electric passenger rail transit system.

Why? Tell us the truth. Don’t roll out all the stage dressing and social media propaganda. We’ve heard all your rhetoric and your perfidiously coordinated talking points. We’re not impressed.

Let’s be honest about all the Trail Only vs. Rail+Trail propaganda.

This is no even-handed public policy debate. The Trail Only partisans are setting up a fallacy of false equivalence. The pro and con factions are anything but equivalent. What’s happening is an open assault by wealthy and self-interested private sector agents against the public interest, the public good, and the integrity of our public institutions.

The Greenway partisans are contemptuous of the work of the public sector. Their aim is to sabotage our long-term public transit infrastructure project.

Our RTC purchased our railroad corridor for public transportation. The Greenway privateers want to hijack our public assets for entirely private purposes. Greenway’s imaginary three-lane “linear park” of asphalt for walking and biking would not be for public transportation. It would be for private recreational use only.

Don’t be bamboozled by the Greenway disinformation machine.

The other three anti-transit commissioners were already pretty obviously bought and paid for by the Greenway gang and their accomplices. Now, I’m even more convinced there are hidden agendas and ulterior motives at work.

What did it take for the Greenway Godfather to turn you against the public purpose of planning for future passenger rail transit? Was it promises, or threats? Bribery, or extortion?

Reason is not involved. None of you six nay-sayers have articulated any compelling reason not to proceed in good order with your professional staff’s planning and design work. You just haven’t. The results of that work would answer many of the objections the anti-rail transit partisans have raised. And the State of California would have paid for it, not local taxpayers.

The public rail transit system your staff envisions, and its companion pedestrian/bicycle pathway, and Metro bus connections, will be nothing but good for all of us – except NIMBIES who selfishly want nothing affecting them to change.

This Green New Deal electric passenger rail infrastructure project’s fiscal impact on our local economy will be entirely positive. It will enhance local commerce, and local tax revenues. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will reduce neighborhood street traffic. It will reduce parking demands.

The federal and state funding involved in building the rail transit system will also benefit the Santa Cruz County Metro transit system by funding intermodal infrastructure. No local property taxes or parcel taxes will be needed to support the rail transit system, ever. For the property taxpayers of Santa Cruz County, the effects of the rail transit system will be all benefits, and no cost.

It is patently false to say, “We can’t afford it!”  If a 1/2-cent or less countywide sales tax increase is required to fund the project, say in 2030, then the project will not proceed without a vote to approve it. Until state and federal infrastructure funding is available, the project will not commence construction. When funding is in place, it will be built.

Why not proceed with project planning, design, engineering, and environmental review? The cost of it will be externalized. There will be years yet for scrutiny of every last matter under consideration. Your staff are faithful and diligent public servants. You should be supporting them in their work, not subverting them.

Opposition to this Countywide Green New Deal infrastructure project transforming the Santa Cruz Branch Line is spectacularly selfish, short-sighted, obstinate, and contrary to the public good.

Whatever the actual offer you couldn’t refuse the Greenway Godfather may have made, I sincerely hope that you, the three who flipped your votes, will take into consideration the distinct appearance of political corruption, and stop trying to sabotage your staff’s work furthering the important long-term local and statewide public interest in developing new passenger rail transit systems.

For Goodness’ sake, people, do the right thing!

Won’t at least one of you cease being used as a tool to repurpose major public assets for private purposes, against the greater public good?”

Jim Weller

Chuck Hilger was the most knowledgeable, talented, and competent director the Museum of Art and History ever had. He retired in 2003, and died in 2020. A commemorative plaque in his honor will be placed in June in the Sculpture Garden high atop MAH. This year will also mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of MAH, in 1996. There’s also going to be a showing of Chuck’s large paper works. There won’t be a public reception (due to COVID issues) but there’s a private reception on Saturday, June 12. Check the website for more details.

TIM EAGAN NOTE. Tim has been working on a graphic novel. Or “comics novel” if you listen to his megalomania. Here’s this week’s blog, which is his most recent update on the project.

GENTLEMANLY BEHAVIOR. We (or I) should probably ask Miss Manners, or write to Dear Abby, but how much of formerly gentlemanly manners should we maintain in this age of equal rights? Do we still hold the door open for a female guest? Do we pull out the chair when she’s ready to sit down? Do we make sure to walk on the street side of the sidewalk when we’re with her? How about paying for the coffee or eats on the first date? More importantly, do we give up our seat when it’s crowded? Yes there’s more urgent questions, but think about it !!!  

Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program, hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

ABOUT ENDLESSNESS. (APPLE SINGLE) A truly great movie by noted director Roy Andersson, who also created “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence”. A collection of more than 35 almost-unrelated scenes of people doing things. Sometimes a couple is floating in midair: other scenes show us people simply sitting and watching clouds. Andersson is a rare cinematic genius, and Endless is not a movie for beginners or folks who only like fun movies. It’s a classic, however, and well worth your philosophizing.

PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN. (APPLE SINGLE) Carey Mulligan, dimples and all, makes this a deep, rewarding, and perfectly-acted movie. After the rape of her friend, we watch with surprise, wonder and patience how Mulligan takes revenge on the rapist. It had five nominations for Academy Awards, some Golden Globe nominations too, and there’s many, many twists and turns before an ending that you’ll remember for a long time. 

THE INNOCENT. (NETFLIX SERIES). A nun commits suicide by jumping from a window, and we watch as a police detective develops it into a murder case. The detective has a hairstyle just like Becca Reed of our CCTV Santa Cruz. It’s full of doubts, police corruption, favoritism, and just plain determinism and it is absorbing. Go for it.

AND TOMORROW THE ENTIRE WORLD. (NETFLIX SINGLE). An idealistic, naïve female law student joins the Mannheim, Germany branch of the Antifa to fight the neo-Nazis. It consists of much legal civil rights angles, very much political organizing and street protests that feel so locally relevant that it’s hard to look away. It’s left versus right, only it’s the neo-Nazis that are our equivalent of the January 6th movement. Protestors should love this one.

HER MOTHER’S KILLER. (NETFLIX SERIES). A long, drawn account of a beautiful, intelligent, and very political woman who spends the second phase of her life in revenge mode. There’s great acting, good direction and a slowly development through very many episodes. After working for the mayor of Mexico City, she takes that experience and goes after the president of Colombia, helping to run his campaign. I couldn’t find the exact number of seasons or episodes but latch on to it, it’ll grow on you.

WE CHILDREN FROM BANHOF ZOO. (AMAZON PRIME SERIES) Set in 1970s Berlin. The main character is a beautiful teenage girl who gets involved with sex, drugs and rock and roll (specifically David Bowie). Her friends experiment with LSD, and anything they can find. It’s a seething picture of a time in Berlin when the whole of Germany was trying to find itself, and grow. Stay with it, well worth contemplating.

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, PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.  

THE PAINTED BIRD. (HULU SINGLE) In my many, many years of film classes at UCSC and at UC Berkeley I have rarely if ever seen a film as great as Painted Bird. It ranks right up there with Tarkovsky, Bergman, and some of Kurosawa’s very best. It’s a very grim, serious, deep movie centering on Nazi Germany and the life of a young Jewish boy who creates his own path through the war years. It’s from the book by Jerzy Kozinski written back in 1965, and the book was equally awesome and well done. To sum up, I haven’t seen a movie this perfect in ten years!!!  

PARASITE. (HULU & AMAZON PRIME SINGLE) I’d seen this South Korean film with a 98 RT back in an actual movie theatre in 2019. I fell asleep then and vowed I’d watch it again. It’s billed as a black comedy thriller and I didn’t laugh once. Critics around the world hailed it as an almost perfect movie…I still found it boring and insulting. It’s bloody, cruel, demeaning and very disrespectful of the homeless. It also won best foreign film at the Academy, when it beat The Painted Bird.

WANDER. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE). Aaron Eckhardt carries this crazed intro-spection into the world of conspiracy and does his best work. Tommy Lee Jones appears now and then as Eckhardt’s radio co-host and conspirator. There’s theories and journeys into implanting transmitters into immigrants, more adventures into tunnels under the earth, and some superficial tributes to local American Indian tribes. You wouldn’t miss much if you miss this one.

TOM CLANCY’S WITHOUT REMORSE. (AMAZON PRIME SINGLE) Film fans will know that this is another (#6) in the Tom Clancy series. Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck have played Clancy before. Heavy, heavy action, a lot of blood, and all within and under the U.S. Navy Seals protection. There’s anti-Russian maneuvers, secret Washington, D.C. material, and Guy Pearce deals with a Syria political issue. You can miss this one and no-one would be the wiser.  

THE MOSQUITO COAST. (APPLE TV SERIES). I haven’t watched enough of this series to make any sense of it but it’s about a brilliant inventor who flees to Mexico with his family and runs into much trouble with the Government. Some focus is on his invention to turn oil into energy, which seems logical. (48RT). The FBI keep trailing the family, and let me know if you watch any more of this one.

THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY. (HULU SINGLE) I am more than obliged, I’m delighted to say I had two visits with Billie Holiday herself. One was at The Monterey Jazz Festival in 1958, when she was sitting near a fountain at her hotel. I asked her where she was appearing next, she tiredly replied “I don’t know honey, it’s just wherever they booked me”. The other time was in about 1956 when she was singing at a bar on Hollywood Boulevard across the street from the Pantages theatre. I watched and listened to her through at least two sets. This movie goes into enormous detail about how J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were obsessed with jailing her to stop singing “Strange Fruit” one of her many big hits. (55RT) Andra Day does her own vocals as the lead Billie Holiday and it’s worth watching.

NOMADLAND. (HULU SINGLE) By now everyone knows that Frances McDormand got an Oscar for best actress and Nomadland got “Best Picture”. MC Dormand has a friend David Straithairn as she wanders like a nomad around the country side. Chloe Zhao directed it and she does show genius. It’s a sad, moody movie and makes us think about the homeless, the pioneers and the wanderers and how they view the world. A few minutes shows McDormand working in an Amazon plant, which is surprising and real. It’s nowhere as good as The Painted Bird but certainly great to watch Frances McDormand.

CLINICAL. (NETFLIX SINGLE). This is a deep, twisted, drop into a few folks who have some complex psychological problems. The main character is the psychiatrist herself who only reveals her issues to her analyst. One main character had an accident and wears a skin deep mask which is horrible in every sense. We later find out why and how he got into that truck accident and that’s sick too. I can’t advise or recommend this one.

THE PROMISE. (NETFLIX SINGLE) Recent headlines talked about the anniversary of the slaughtering of  1.5 million Armenians by the Turkish Empire. This is a 2016 huge big budget movie starring Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, Tom Hollander, Jean Reno and James Cromwell. They added a silly, complex, unnecessary love triangle, and it doesn’t help. Given Turkey’s continuing refusal to admit to this genocide it makes for an interesting, involving, educational few hours of a movie. Watch it, if you didn’t a few years ago. 

STOWAWAY. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Three astronauts are on their way to Mars for a two year exploratory mission. It’s not clear how but a technician has stowed away behind an upper panel. Toni Colette and Anna Kendrick are in charge. There’s an extra amount of climbing around outside the capsule, and other thefts from 2001 that do not match up. And It’s better than this year’s Oscar so called ceremony. Metacritic gives it a 62.

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)

May 10


If you have been following housing debates and decisions, locally and at the state level, you are probably aware that there is a strong push from some quarters to re-zone single family neighborhoods to allow for up to 4-plexes on a single family lot. Senate Bill 50, Scott Wiener’s bill would have mandated such re-zoning statewide, but failed to get sufficient votes to move it out of committee. The bill was opposed by groups of homeowners and social justice activists: the former protecting their neighborhoods’ low-density character and the latter recognizing that such rezoning, without strict, enforceable protections for low-income tenants, would lead to gentrification and displacement. Expect new versions of the bill to follow.

Then there is the question of for whom is this extra housing being built? Does additional housing lower the cost and lead to affordability? And just what does “affordable” mean?  Research and data would be helpful, especially locally. We have had a number of larger housing developments built in the last 20 years that were supposedly for our “teachers, firefighters and police” (low-income service workers were then still invisible). 1010 Pacific Avenue and Pacific Shores on the far west side exceeded the inclusionary (below-market) rate of 15% but nobody at the city or among housing activists has done the research to know if they lived up to the hype. Did it just become student housing? Absent data, we get no end of feel-good rhetoric and liberal guilt to fill the void.

The Sentinel recently ran a two part series on housing and prior to that, architect Mark Primack scolded us for being in love with our single family homes which he labels in Santa Cruz as “suburbia” and a prime cause of the housing affordability and climate crises. He touts new state laws as the solution. Tell that to the folks who live in modest single family, single story homes on Water and Branciforte Streets who face a future 6 story twin blocks of housing and retail with bar on top, pictured above and largely a result of new state housing bills. 

It’s important to examine the rhetoric and jargon that surrounds the push for increased housing density and who is doing the pushing. Wiener’s bill had strong support from real estate interests and high tech companies. First off, let’s recognize we have a housing cost crisis that is a separate issue from the availability of housing. If every unit of new housing built from this day on is affordable to someone making $15 an hour as a cook in a local restaurant and with a family, I would find nothing to criticize. If, however, rezoning raises the value of land, which it surely does, then such rezoning aggravates the cost crisis as speculators flood in to snap up properties that are now valued far higher due simply to the rezoning. My piece of land with a 700 square foot house is overvalued enough but rezone it to permit 4 houses and the value of the piece of dirt skyrockets with nary an affordable unit in sight since the inclusionary requirement does not kick in at the new density. How is this helping the housing cost crisis? It isn’t. Neither the Sentinel’s two part series, nor Primack’s op-ed mentioned the role of speculators, the hidden force pulling the strings.

Rather than making the big players visible and accurately framing the cost analysis they use guilt to blunt dissent. The Sentinel ends its editorial with a familiar refrain: “But changes will have to come, if we, as a community, want our own children and our local workforce to live here.”  Really? Exactly how will rezoning and high-density expensive housing allow “our children” to live here? Four new houses on my piece of dirt will each be more expensive than my old small cottage after the land is snapped-up by a developer. As for “our local workforce”…well yes, if they mean single high tech, highly paid workers, most of whom will flock from elsewhere to live and work in Santa Cruz, further displacing the local low income workforce while upping the need for more service workers. 

There’s also a new angle to subdue us into uncritical acceptance and that is the charge that we have benefitted from past redlining. Redlining was a practice used against particularly black prospective homeowners in the 1930’s that denied them loans for the upkeep on their homes and resulted in segregated communities of wealthier white neighborhoods where loans were easy to obtain and failing black and brown communities (class played a big part) where loans were hard if not impossible to obtain. It was based on the premise that homogeneity of ethnicities was an inherent good. Diversity as a positive is a more modern construct. Los Angeles is a poster child for past redlining. 

Redlining pops up in opinion pieces and even city staff presentations. In a recent zoom meeting, a senior planner from the city, discussing the above project had a whole video presentation on redlining with maps showing the sections of Santa Cruz that are currently predominantly white (the more affluent neighborhoods) and the neighborhoods predominantly brown (the lower income neighborhoods). The point is to get us to accept rezoning as a corrective to past racist redlining. However it doesn’t work that way unless all the rezoned new housing units are also affordable to very low and low income tenants or buyers and that is obviously not the case. And, since the city has for the past 30 years accepted in lieu fees from developers rather than requiring the lower income units to be included in the development, it is also just a tad hypocritical since it continued the redlining practice of separating people by ethnicity and income.

Solutions to the housing cost crisis may be available but they are not contained in the slew of current state housing bills that serve only to worsen the crisis.

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    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.


May 12, 2021

Putting Theory into Practice

The Privilege of Working with UCSC Students
Putting theory into practice, that’s what an internship is. An internship allows a student to practice the classroom theories, lectures, and conversations in an outside the classroom opportunity that might yield real life experiences and usually involves problem solving. The more politically conservative voter in Santa Cruz would have you believe the UCSC student body does not deserve to vote because they’re not really local residents and may actually constitute a burden on this community. I disagree. Many of the students I work with, even remotely, are performing valuable service, which bring great benefits to this community and beyond. Let me take a moment here to explain my day job. I have the amazing privilege to surround myself with bright, inquisitive, sensitive, and enthusiastic learners. I do double-takes when folks over 40 talk about the hopeless youth of today who can’t seem to put down their cell phones. Again, I’ve lucked out to be able to work with caring undergrads who roll up their sleeves every day and are on a mission to save the world. While many of us oldsters are trying to grasp the concepts of a warming planet this younger generation has lived their entire life with it. They’ve intuited from a young age that the world they were born into is in trouble of outright collapse, and is in need of fundamental consumer, economic, and social change. The many who land at the Environmental Studies Department doorstep at UC Santa Cruz realize they’ve come home. It’s just where they need to be in their journey across an ailing planet and on a mission to ward off the slings and arrows of an unequal society. I’m moved to highlight here a few of their internship experiences because what they are doing, while delighting and amazing me, is instilling in themselves that learning about Surf City and its micro-climates is opening up a wider lens in which they might help fix that way-off horizon, Mother Earth. And to think, they are learning it here in Santa Cruz.

Burn Recovery
The California Native Plant Society is conducting an inventory on new plant growth within the burn zones of what was called the CZU Lightening Fire. That fire scarred far too much of our county last year. Several students are involved in hiking into these burn zones. What do they do? Survey plants, record locations and percent surface cover, note the topography and stand size including burn severity. One remarked that every tree [he’s seen] that got burned has greenery in its canopy. Another intern reports that she will be doing post-fire monitoring at Wilder Ranch and Henry Cowell in both burned and unburned areas. The terrain is often steep and the trekking rigorous. Something I’ve learned about myself…is that I feel most focused and comfortable outside doing school work, remarked another intern. Though this work can be tedious and sweaty, these students are part of a longer-term project the hopes to restore the charred parts of our county.

Coho and Steelhead Preservation
We are blessed to find an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) right here in Santa Cruz. While NOAA is involved in a range of activities locally, it utilizes student interns in their research. In one project, interns involve themselves in weighing, measuring, and taking DNA samples of Coho and Steelhead salmon in order to expand the population of these threatened aquatic species. While the fish hatchery burned in last year’s fire, the research and monitoring continues. Because of where Santa Cruz is located these undergraduate researchers are using these learning opportunities that only graduate students might have available elsewhere.

Climate Action
Student interns have become integral to the work being done on the city’s Climate Action Plan. Under the mentorship of the city’s Climate Action Coordinator, Tiffany Wise-West, interns are doing calculations around electrifying the city’s fleet of over 800 vehicles. In addition, another intern is investigating public policy issues concerning the pollution emitted by landscape equipment. The students receive first-hand experience and develop the parry and thrust skills-set in order to work within a municipal bureaucracy, while hopefully making a difference.

Sustainable Fish Farming
The Kapuscinski-Sarker Lab at UC Santa Cruz conducts research on developing a micro-algae or insect-based diet for trout and tilapia. Led by professors Ann Kapuscinski and Pallab Sarker, undergraduate interns engage at the edges of this research, which is so important if we are to truly reach a sustainable level of fishing. Interns are able to glimpse firsthand what professional researchers actually do and how they work with their graduate students. Interns report that it is satisfying work to find lasting alternatives in reducing aquaculture’s dependence on fish meal and fish oil. Interns attend graduate lab group meetings, make presentations, learn coding (“R”) and do research on developing an “aquafeed decision support tool.” The lab also works on coastal policy reform.

The UCSC Arboretum is at the forefront of breeding and preserving various local plant species as well as maintaining exotic gardens representing plants from New Zealand and Australia. Student interns perform a variety of duties including watering, mowing, and weeding, but also conduct research and writing about it. One student intern is obtaining “a baseline data-set of what microfungi are found on the Arboretum premises, which they enter into on-line data bases such as BLAST, GenBank, and iNaturalist programs that are open to the public. Others are actively working on seed-saving, writing a history of the Arboretum, and learning fundraising techniques to keep the valuable work going on, which is thus far beyond the reach of corporate America.

Interns on a Mission
This academic quarter alone UCSC Environmental Studies interns are engaged in conservation efforts in Hawaii to preserve the Hawaiian Monk Seal; helping to thwart PG&E’s efforts to charge customers for producing their own solar energy; turning swords into plowshares at the former military base, Fort Ord; building the necessary fences for six sheep to graze a 3-acre winter cover crop at a local farm; writing a field guide about at-risk plant and animal species on the UCSC Natural Reserve; assisting in preparing a law suit against a corporate polluter; harvesting vegetables bound for farmer’s markets locally and in the Bay Area; confronting the moral and ethical questions around caged animals at a Bay Area wildlife center; and also, interns are producing podcasts that highlight the work of climate change scientists.

Interns with a Secret
There is also work being performed by student interns that may never be known directly by the public. Two interns had to sign confidentiality agreements with their agencies because of the sensitive nature of their work. One is involved with building “tiny homes” for impoverished residents using an innovative building material, while the other is working on preserving and restoring an endangered ocean species which lives along the California coast.

I kid you not, there’s also an intern who has video-taped interviews with K-6 students discussing aspects of UCSC’s Long Range Development Plan and how campus development in the upper campus will adversely affect their after-school nature program. This intern is working on distributing the video to local political decision-makers.

“75% of seniors with hearing loss don’t have a hearing aid because of the cost. 65% have no dental insurance and no idea how they’ll afford to see a dentist. Over 70% of Americans 65 & older have untreated gum disease. We cannot tolerate this any longer.” (May 11)

The “Agreement Camp” at Harvey West Park seems to be the biggest little secret in addressing the houseless community crisis…and read the fine print below on what the “agreements” are:

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. Krohn was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. That term ended when the development empire struck back with luxury condo developer money combined with the real estate industry’s largesse. They paid to recall Krohn and Drew Glover from the Santa Cruz city council in 2019.

Email Chris at

May 10, 2021

County Supervisors have historically approved their own pay increases, and have authorized four-year annual increases significantly higher than the Cost of Living basis for the Bay Area.  That will now change, provided the Supervisors approve Consent agenda item #16 this week.

2.02.060 Compensation.

 (A) The biweekly compensation for members of the Board of Supervisors shall be $4,846.58 effective January 7, 2018; $4,955.63 effective September 22, 2018; $5,067.13 effective September 21, 2019; and $5,181.14 effective September 20, 2020. 

Beginning January 1, 2022, any increase to the salary of members of the Board of Supervisors shall be linked to salary increases for Superior Court Judges. Annually, each June, the Board of Supervisors may adopt an ordinance to increase the salaries of Board members. Any increase shall be in an amount designed to maintain an annual salary no greater than 62% of the salary for Superior Court Judges as of the date of ordinance adoption. The application of any salary increases shall be prospective and shall take effect on the 61st day after the date of final adoption of the ordinance establishing the salary increase. 

Adopt ordinance amending Subdivision (A) of Section 2.02.060 of the Santa Cruz County Code, relating to compensation of the Board of Supervisors (approved in concept on April 27, 2021) – Santa Cruz County, CA

The Transparent California website did not seem to have information about, but another source indicated Superior Court Judge John Gallagher’s salary is $178,788.  Sixty-two percent of that would set County Supervisor salary at $110,848.56.  Consider County Supervisors’ salaries are $134,515 – $134,587, this means these elected public servants will accept about $20,000 less annually.

In my opinion, this is good news, and I am grateful to Supervisor Greg Caput, who has always protested the fact that the Supervisors voted on their own pay increases, and has subsequently donated thousands of dollars to charities to compensate for what he felt was an unjustly-high salary for his public service job.   Supervisor Zach Friend helped move this action forward by co-sponsoring this change.

Now, if we can adjust the CAO salary as well, that will be a great economic improvement!  Consider the number of people taxpayers fund who make over $300,000/year….2019 salaries for Santa Cruz County | Transparent California

None has been bothered by the COVID restrictions imposed upon the rest of the work force.

The unfortunate folks in Last Chance Community ( Swanton Road) who lost their homes in the CZU Fire may get some help this week with the Board of Supervisors approval of Consent Agenda Item #17, codifying a special permitting consideration of the unique community.

The general requirements allow owners to rebuild their own homes and remain off the power grid.

Consider this enlightened and encouraging language:

12.32.210 General requirements. 

(A) Each structure shall be maintained in a sound structural condition to be safe, sanitary, and to shelter the occupants from the elements.

12.32.220 Technical codes to be a basis of approval. 

Except as otherwise required by this chapter, dwellings and appurtenant structures constructed pursuant to this chapter need not conform with the construction requirements prescribed by the latest adopted editions of the California Building, Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical Codes, or other applicable technical codes; however, it is not the intent of this section to disregard nationally accepted technical and scientific principles relating to design, materials, methods of construction, and structural requirements for the erection and construction of dwelling and appurtenant structures. Such codes shall be a basis for approval.

In my opinion, this is a real step in the right direction, and will help the people there rebuild in a manner that is in keeping with their independent spirit and that respects their unique Community.

These new rules could severely restrict building and rebuilding in all rural areas of California, but especially areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Try to read over it and submit comment by June 22.

Many locals watched the Sea Breeze Tavern demolition last Tuesday morning and expressed the sadness of losing an icon of a different era.  The building had been altered in recent history, but the Aptos History Museum’s description and photo give one an idea of the original design.  It also shows the light fixtures that were identical to the ones smashed by demolition crews, with the foreman claiming they were “plastic and not historic” when members of the public asked that they be salvaged.

Let’s hope that the new developer will hold town hall meetings to include the community in design input, much as Swenson developers did for the City of Capitola esplanade’s hotel development project.  

The Sea Breeze Tavern of Rio Del Mar





Cheers, Becky

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

Email Becky at


#128 / And Just A Quick Little Follow-Up

In yesterday’s blog posting, I discussed what I thought was a helpful perspective on practical politics from conservative commentator Bret Stephens. Stephens used one of his columns to discuss the fact that it is tempting to try to advance one’s political objectives by portraying opponents, and those with whom you disagree, in the worst light possible, at all times, and with no concessions ever being made, and with the details distorted, as necessary, to make the opponent look as bad as he or she can possibly be made to look.

It was Stephens’ argument that this is how the “mainstream media” operate, in their effort to undermine and depreciate conservative politicians. I, personally, think the conduct objected to comes from both the liberal and the conservative side, but Stephens’ point was that the technique has a tendency to backfire, and to wind up having the opposite effect from that desired. I tend to agree. In fact, I have made the point more generally, highlighting the value of a good “concession” to help one win an argument. 

Today, I am providing a quick little follow-up to Stephens’ attack on the “mainstream media” by talking about another “mainstream media” problem. This is a different problem, but somewhat related. This complaint about the media is coming from a more liberal part of the political spectrum. 

Matt Taibbi (pictured above) and Glenn Greenwald have been making the point, during the last couple of years, that the “mainstream media,” and some other parts of the media world, are now regularly treating figures whom they dislike, and who are accused of wrongdoing, as “guilty” before any actual proof has been adduced. Surely, we must think, this would be wrong! Yet, Taibbi is pretty convincing that it is now happening all the time, and I think his cautionary words are worth taking seriously. 

Here is a link to one of Taibbi’s recent postings in his Substack newsletter, TK News, “Due Process Is Good, He Said Controversially.” He provides a number of examples of what he is talking about:  

One of the first things that caused Greenwald to run afoul of conventional wisdom was the observation with regard to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation that indictments are not proof. He was slammed, but what do you know, the government ended up dropping at least one of the cases Mueller filed against a Russian defendant, once the issue of having to publicly disclose evidence was raised. This was after the defendant called the government’s bluff and showed up in court — demonstrating, prosecutors later said bitterly, the defense’s “intent to reap the benefits of the Court’s jurisdiction.” 

That argument — that the defendant’s intent to actually exercise legal rights shows guilt in itself — is the kind of thing liberals used to decry all the time, coming from “tough on crime” Republicans. Opinions like that occur when you’ve fallen too far into the habit of judging people rather than evidence. Suddenly process becomes a canard, and you even get lawyers saying that hiring a lawyer is evidence of guilt…. 

Whether it was unconcern with attorney-client privilege after the raid of Michael Cohen’s office, disinterest in the implications of the case of despised Julian Assange, or the embrace of concepts like “not exonerated” (the opposite of presumed innocence), people who probably once described themselves as progressives seem to have lost touch with core ideas in recent years.

That doesn’t mean running around proclaiming that O.J. didn’t do it or that such-and-such a politician isn’t an awful person who should probably be voted out of office. It doesn’t mean you can’t say something like, “Matt Gaetz should probably be jailed for his haircut alone.” It does mean distinctions exist and it’s good to know what you’re dealing with before strapping people in the dunking chair. This is particularly true in accusations of sex crime, where the public can quickly lose interest in rights, something organizations like the ACLU used to understand after watching debacles like the Wee Care and McMartin preschool cases.

Taibbi has other examples, and his presentation is worth reading in its entirety. 

I believe that the polarization of our politics has increasingly led to a tendency for all of us to “assume the worst” about those with whom we differ, and that this is true for everyone, from whichever side of the political spectrum they hail. Assuming a political opponent is guilty of a crime because we know that he or she is “bad” can, indeed, undermine due process. Furthermore, to reiterate the point made by Stephens, unfair presumptions about those on the other side of a political division make it virtually impossible to have the kind of political discussions that we need to have, if we are to get out of the dilemma in which we find ourselves. 

What dilemma am I talking about? You might ask that. Pick one!

Whether it is the existential threat of global warming, or the need to enact and implement a fair and just immigration system, or the need to redress our nation’s long history of racial discrimination and inequity, or the need to eliminate the rampant pollution and environmental degradation that is a threat to our civilization and life on this planet, or the requirement that we find a way to eliminate the massive income inequality within our society, or the threat of nuclear war…. Whatever it is: pick one! We have plenty of problems. 

And the truth about every one of these dilemmas and problems is this: we are in this together

What Stephens and Taibbi are really pointing out is that we are ever more frequently celebrating the worst in those with whom we disagree, particularly when we proclaim the “worst” before the facts are truly in, or when we distort and exaggerate the facts to make the “worst” seem as horrible as possible, with no concession ever granted.

Focusing on the “worst” in those with whom we must collaborate, if we hope to have a chance to meet the challenges before us, is to doom ourselves to defeat. 

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

Email Gary at


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 you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog


“No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal”.  
~Jacques Yves Cousteau

“Though pleas’d to see the dolphins play, I mind my compass and my way”. 
~Matthew Green

“I felt such a deep connection with dolphins. I felt like they were the only ones who understood me”.  
~Lykke Li


We have not seen anywhere near as much of Randy Rainbow since 45 lost the election and reluctantly left office. Here’s a new vidoe for your enjoyment! This guy’s a genius, and yes, Randy Rainbow is his real name.

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