Blog Archives

May 13 – 19, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Oganookie revived, KZSC’s Bushwhackers Movie critiques, Trump’s local votes, GREENSITE…on the Riverfront Project. KROHN…will return next week. STEINBRUNER…Santa Cruz raising water rates?, County using Facebook to communicate? Homeless to Adventist Camp?PATTON…The Top, Middle and Bottom of voting. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics  plus Deep Cover. JENSEN…Watchables.  QUOTES…”Viruses”


DOWNTOWN APTOS. 1910. Do note the original placement of the train depot, the hotel, the train tracks.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email


Horse scared by fart!



Reviewing — or better yet critiquing — movies on KZSC’s Bushwhackers Breakfast Club has been a weekly delight for 17 years. Then came the pause for virus issues. Starting again this very Friday May 15 right after the news at 8:10am, I’ll (phone in) my slings, arrows, bouquets and warnings related to what’s available to watch on any size screen. Theatres, cinerama, superscope, 70mm, appear to be doomed, so it’ll focus on what’s worth our time to view at home, or workplace (if any), Tune in, it won’t hurt. KZSC is at 88.1 FM on your dial or keyboard. 

OGANOOKIE FANS FOREVER! Jack Bowers, one of the Oganookie original band members, was kind and thoughtful enough to send this clip. Oganookie was just about the first Santa Cruz band to achieve any resemblence of fame or especially fortune. Bowers says, “Staying home for my esteemed former colleagues Bob Stern and George Stavis has meant delving into the long shelved Oganookie oeuvre. First one of the shelf is “Little Maggie”   regards,   Jack Bowers

TRUMP VOTE QUESTIONED/UPDATED? Reader Martin Peaden emails to tell us/me… 

“In reference to the May 4 column, 11,276 people voted for Trump in March! That was limited to only Republican Party members. And very recently. New Canadian and former Santa Cruzan Dan Dickmayer wants us to know…” Closer to home, though not born and raised in Santa Cruz, is Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winner and researcher on epidemics, who graduated from Merrill College when I knew her in the early 70s. Now 69 years old, she was on CNN last night with Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper, with whom she is friends. She was amazing, far outdistancing most of the other experts I have seen. I hope she gets more exposure for her views, not least her anti-Trump perspective.

May 11

The Future of Santa Cruz

The rendition above is what is planned for lining the river levee on Front Street between Laurel and Soquel bridges opposite the Metro. The city released its Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for this project today.  I had hoped for a breather after the DEIR for the Wharf Master Plan but no such luck. Not that luck has anything to do with it. You don’t have to be a bloodhound to smell something fishy in the city’s timing of the release of environmental documents for three major projects (Parks, the Municipal Wharf and now this Riverfront Project). Can the controversial library issue be far behind?

The project is taller, denser and boxier than what was approved a few years ago by the Planning Commission and the then city council (pre-Glover and Cummings elections). I and a few other die-hards attended those meetings and voiced what we felt was a shared community perspective: that this scale of development was out of scale: that its size, feel and look spelled the end of our small town’s character: that despite a token required 20 “affordable” units, 80% of the market-rate condos would not ease our housing cost crisis but would exacerbate it by attracting high-tech workers from Silicon Valley or second homers, a demographic fact verified by the real estate industry.

As bad as it was then, this version is worse. Thanks to the CA state government’s imposing a “density bonus” on local governments, developers can get all sorts of waivers if they cram more units into their project. So this one went from 133 to 175 units with the trade-off that the 20 affordable units now include 15 for very-low income levels and 5 for low-income levels. For this they get waivers for height and step-backs. It went from 70 to 81 feet in height and is now 7 stories with 6 stories of housing above street level commercial (previously 5).  Gone are the step backs of the top story, previously required to be 60% smaller than the floor below. The demolishing of two historic small buildings, currently leased by long-time well-known local businesses has not changed. 

I’m wondering if this love affair with housing density will take a hit after the corona virus is a memory? We now know that density by itself does nothing for affordability or for getting people out of their cars despite all the happy talk. Santa Cruz is a relatively small town and will never have the level of robust affordable public transportation system, which is a pre-requisite. We know that low-income workers are pushed further to the margins when new market-rate dense developments bulldoze small rental units. We know that the lifestyle of wealthier newcomers increases not decreases the overall carbon footprint. Does dense living also increase susceptibility to viral spread? If New York and Italy are examples, it might be a relevant variable. 

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider density as the greener alternative. I am familiar with the ostensible environmental arguments for density and find them un-compelling. Those who espouse them strike me as lacking any affection for a small town feel. They lack awareness of the class impact of such developments. Santa Cruz for them is a blank slate for designing a new urban elite consumerism. The alternative is not a nightmare of suburban sprawl. It is to plan carefully and go slowly. That small is beautiful and moderation key. Keep a human scale. This is not nostalgia. It is a love of place. Perhaps if those promoting these projects lived in the city rather than on properties far from the madding crowd or had more than a few years residency under their belts they too might look at the above project and really see how it obliterates the character of Santa Cruz. And this is just one of many coming down the pike.

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.


CHRIS KROHN’S SANTA CRUZ REPORT. Will return next week.

(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected to the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His term ended in April of 2020.

Email Chris at


May 11

Every Thursday at 10am, Santa Cruz County Health Officer, Dr. Gail Newel, holds a press conference to update the County with her newest ideas for keeping the public safe.  The only way citizens can find out what she has in mind each week is to listen to the County’s FaceBook live stream.  What about those who do not subscribe to FaceBook?  Too bad.  No local radio stations broadcast it reliably. 

Why won’t the County use the 454-2222 tele-conference system that is free, and allow anyone with a telephone to be able to listen to these press conferences?  Write the Supervisors and ask the County make these critical meetings available to the general public.

I am grateful to be able to hear Governor Newsom’s the daily press conferences held at noon by tuning in to KAZU radio 90.3FM.

And do try the County Public Information Officer Jason Hoppin <>

Congratulations to the local merchants and bankers who convinced the County that Gail Newel needs to work with them to chart a path to opening local business again and begin to climb out of the economic abyss she has created for the County.

The Sentinel “Coastlines” announced the handful of bankers, non-profit leaders, and a couple of small business owners who will be guiding this effort to talk some sense into Gail Newel.  I wonder who chose the committee?  The list does not include either Casey Byers or Robert Singleton, who commented strongly in the Sentinel report. 

Soquel residents near the Seventh Day Adventist Camp on Soquel San Jose Road are not pleased that Supervisor John Leopold kept them in the dark for nearly a month as he worked with attorneys and the Church Camp to place 35 trailers for homeless there.  He knows this neighborhood is adverse to such a thing, based on the fierce push-back he received when the County tried to allow a homeless RV park there a couple of years ago.  This time, the homeless, aged 18-25,  would be allowed 24/7 full use of the large acreage owned by the Church.  Understandably the locals are worried about fire danger from smokers wandering about night and day.

So why did Supervisor Leopold wait until the Sentinel announced the project to send a letter to his constituents in the area?  

Why would the County think it makes better sense to put these homeless youth miles from town and provide free shuttle bus service instead of locating the trailers on the County-owned lot in Watsonville at Freedom Boulevard and Crestview?  That was used for FEMA trailers after the 1989 earthquake, was plumbed and may still have utilities,  is on a major bus route, is just behind the County medical clinic and is next to a large community garden operated by the Master Gardeners? 

I think these are all good questions, but Supervisor Leopold refuses to answer them or the myriad of others his constituents are asking about this proposal.  The most significant one by far is: Why didn’t he come talk with his constituents sooner?    They will remember this in the November elections. 

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

My friend, Shirley Coleman, was in hospice, having battled cancer for years.  She always loved and admired Celtic music, and loved local bagpiper David Brewer as “the son she never had”.  

David Brewer showed up one lovely day recently and played Shirley’s favorite tunes.  She sat on her porch with a big smile under her mask, exhausted.   She told us all afterward it was the best day she had had in weeks.  

The Aptos Times was kind enough to send reporter Jondi Gumz, and published this gem: A Bagpipe Full of Cheer

Shirley passed away last week, but her sister said they watched the video a friend had made and sent them over and over because it made Shirley so happy. Rest in Peace, Shirley, and thank you to David Brewer for bringing a bagpipe full of cheer.


Enjoy the fresh air and gentle sunshine, and be well,

Becky Steinbruner 831-685-2915  

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.

Email Becky at


May 5
#126 / The Country Club Set (And The Rest Of Us)

Having just polished off my blog posting made yesterday, extolling the virtues of The New Yorker, I was amused to find a message in my email inbox that promoted a New Yorker article titled, “How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump.” It was as if I had received this email simply to prove my point! Read The New Yorker to find out what is really going on!

I do commend the article to your attention. As I say, I found out about it from an email bulletin from Axios, which gave me the following advice: “If you read only 1 thing: ‘The Greenwich Rebellion.'”

Evan Osnos, the author of the advertised article, is The New Yorker’s resident expert on China. Here, however, Osnos has turned his attention to the Country Club Republicans of Greenwich, Connecticut. There is a reason for that, of course. It turns out that Osnos grew up there.

As Osnos paints the picture, Greenwich was, for generations, a place that might have been thought of as the private political plantation of the Bush family. Generations of the Bushes dominated Greenwich politics, and particularly the polite and proper “style” in which politics was carried out, and its “service oriented” approach to government. 

Consistent with this style was the call by President George H. W. Bush for a “kinder, gentler nation.” Apparently, this was truly the spirit of the Greenwich Republicans – right up until Jeb Bush ran for president, and tried to tell Republicans “how ‘immigration is love.” Osnos outlines how this very “starched collar” Republican stronghold decided to cast its lot with Donald J. Trump, despite Trump’s failure to conform to the typical Republican Party archetype that had been admired in Greenwich up until that time. 

One particular sentence in Osnos’ article attracted my attention: 

As early as May, 2016, exit polls and other data showed that Trump supporters earned an average of seventy-two thousand dollars a year, while supporters of Hillary Clinton earned eleven thousand dollars less.

As I understand it, Osnos is reporting on national statistics here, and to me, the point is not that Trump supporters represented the well-to-do, and  that the supporters of Hillary Clinton were those who earned less. There is nothing too remarkable in that observation. 

What struck me (not being much of a “math guy”) was how that “average” income figure must have been derived, for both the Trump and the Clinton supporters. We all know that Trump’s supporters include a huge fraction of the ultra-wealthy, that 1% of the population that controls over 90% of the entire wealth of the nation. Considering how much income each member of the “billionaire class” might command, there simply must be huge numbers of Trump supporters who are extremely low-income, if the average income of all Trump supporters ends up being only $11, 000 more than the average income of Clinton supporters. 

In other words, when we consider the incomes of Clinton supporters, most of them earn something like $60,000 per year – certainly with some lower income persons and some higher income persons making up the average, but with the “deviation” from that average not being all that much. But there must be a huge deviation from the average when we consider the incomes of Trump supporters. He has, if Osnos’ numbers are correct, a coalition that spans the ultra-wealthy (those from Greenwich, Connecticut being one component) to the very significantly below-average income workers that we see at Trump rallies. 

For me, this is not a happy thought. 

Osnos is concerned that the reputation of his home town has now changed, and that the place where he grew up has moved away from a kind of genteel, noblesse oblige politics to a politics that “forgives cruelty as the price of profit.”

As Osnos sums it up, in the last line in his article, “In the long battle between the self and service, we have, for the moment, settled firmly on the self. To borrow a phrase from a neighbor in disgrace, we stopped worrying about ‘the moral issue here.'”

My concern is somewhat different. If Trump and his Republican Party confederates can maintain a hold not only on the formerly “service oriented” rich people who have now accepted Trump’s cruelty as “the price of profit,” but can also attract huge numbers of those on the edge of poverty, a decent politics may be difficult to achieve. Where can a decent politics, that founds it appeal on the idea that we are  all “together in this,” build a majority that can take back power from the ultra-wealthy, so that the immense productivity of this nation can be made to benefit the nation as a whole?

As I say, Osnos’ article does not suggest that a solution is close at hand. Unlike Osnos, I don’t have any special concern for Greenwich, Connecticut and the elites who live there. But I do care, deeply, about the United States of America, and what Osnos’ article tells me is that we have a significant political problem. If large numbers of those at the “bottom” continue to identify with those few at “the top,” we are left with an isolated “middle” that doesn’t have the electoral strength to demand that the government respond to the needs of everyone.

Of course, that is not news. You don’t have to read The New Yorker to understand that!

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. Mixes penetrating laughs with introspective thinking. Scroll down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s ever present even current…”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

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “Wondering what to watch while you shelter in place? This week at Lisa Jensen Online Express ( , let me steer you toward some noteworthy new entries and some four-star favorites that have recently popped up on a streaming platform near you!” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975. 


“There is nothing so patient, in this world or any other, as a virus searching for a host.”
~Mira Grant. 

“Disregard the coronavirus as you would a cannibal kissing your face.”
~Kevin Ansbro 

“Our brains are like computers; it’s our responsibility to programme them well, daily, and remove the viruses.” 
~Sam Owen, 500 Relationships 

This guy is really funny

Best Impression of a Kid You've Ever Seen. Eric O'Shea – Full Special

Best Impression of a Kid You've Ever Seen. Eric O'Shea – Full Special

Posted by Dry Bar Comedy on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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