Blog Archives

May 17 – 23, 2023

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…latest rail & trail news, the Santa Cruz sign. GREENSITE…will be back next week. SCHENDLEDECKER…still on vacation. STEINBRUNER…county budget gloomy, soquel bike lane, military weapons, charging for research, housing element, Nisene marks, Aptos Village closures, live oak library. HAYES…May’s flowers. PATTON…a look out lesson MATLOCK…we’re having some fun now with a Foxified CNN. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week. QUOTES…”Snakes”


PACIFIC AVENUE 1960.  Years before the Pacific Garden Mall happened we had this view of the St. George Hotel. The whole building site once contained 15 buildings with 27 businesses.

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

                                                                                                               DATELINE May 15

LATEST RAIL TRAIL NEWS. Keeping abreast of the breaking down and building up of changes in our rail trail development is an almost full time job. I asked Barry Scott leading activist with Friends of the Trail to bring us up to date. On May 15 he wrote…

“Three consistently anti-rail Commissioners on the RTC revealed their hand during a discussion related to a simple matter: acceptance as valid the Environmental Impact Report for Segments 8 and 9 of the Rail Trail.

When the City Council took up the matter, they approved the Environmentally Superior Alternative, aka the Ultimate Trail, and rejected the anti-transit “Optional First Phase: Interim Trail” alternative.

Led by former Greenway Executive Director RTC Chair Manu Koenig, Commission Alternate Rob Quinn (Greenway Board member until just weeks before his appointment by Supervisor Friend was made public), and Scotts Valley Commissioner Randy Johnson made the argument that the EIR is defective because it tells the truth about the impacts of the Interim Alternative: that it creates more harm and costs more money and takes longer than the Proposed Project- the Ultimate Trail (trail built next to the tracks).

What’s their plan?  They would like to see the Interim Trail treated as an Alternative that never needs to restore rail service.  They might just get away with it, or they might not and continue to just slow things down and make the trail and rail progress more painful for all of us.

This flies in the face of logic, several past studies, explicit guidance from Caltrans and past RTC and Council Resolutions, four Chambers of Commerce statements, and the 74% of voters who rejected Greenway last June in a clear and historic supermajority NO vote on Measure D.   We’re also getting record-setting grants specifically for the “Rail with Trail” multimodal approach to using the rail corridor.  Our RTC has great grant writers.

A simple action item on the May 5 agenda, to accept as valid the Segment 8-9 EIR, was approved 9-3 but the comments made reveal that Greenway won’t go away, and we should be concerned because with only two out of five Supervisors on the side of public transit on our rail line, we may be in trouble down the road.  Supervisor McPherson expressed doubts about rail transit and has voted against further work in the past.

Fortunately, nine of the Commissioners are looking after our interests and listening to voters.  Three Supervisors’ seats are expiring so be looking for qualified candidates for Districts 1, 2, and 5.

We can expect to see obstruction at every step of the way, with EIR reviews of Segments 10 through 12 and beyond.  Public comment for Segment 12 is open through June 2.  Supporters of rail and trail are encouraged to review the materials and submit public comments.  Here’s a link with the information needed for Segment 12 of the rail trail, just one part of the larger Watsonville to Santa Cruz Multimodal Corridors effort  “.

THE UNWELCOME TO SANTA CRUZ SIGN. Last week in this space I wrote about that ugly, garish, yellow and blue “neon” sign that once graced our entryway I said it was located at Ocean Street and Highway 17. Nuts…another mistake!! Jean Brocklebank corrected me and stated that it was on River Street not Ocean.

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.


Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candace Bergen and Mary Steenburgen are back again from their 2018 version of the Book Club and it and they all flop miserably. These gawking, hammy, gaping old women in their 70’s go to Italy and try desperately try to get laughs. Not a one of them compares with Lucille Ball‘s comic ability. There’s no plot, no logic, no interest in where they posing…or positioning. Don’t go.

CITY ON FIRE. (APPLE TV SERIES) (7.5 IMDB).   It’s the Fourth of July 2003 at Central Park in New York City and there’s been a murder. It’s well-paced and deals with many, many issues such as drugs, family structure, cocaine, mushrooms and the differences between the rich and poor classes…whether we like it or not.

MANIFEST. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.1 IMDB).   A very curious plot that has a commercial airliner in 2013 vanish from the sky (and earth) for five years. What’s curious and nearly believable, is that it’s exciting and involving to watch. What happens to families and relationships and just everyday occurrences become quite possible and even probable! Watch it and wonder.

DEAD RINGERS. (AMAZON SERIES) (6.4 IMDB). Rachel Weisz plays both lead roles of twin sisters and the camera and makeup crews will leave you spell bound watching how they both appear together so often on camera. They are gynecologists who want to open a birthing center and as you could expect they have a very hidden and illegal motive and plan behind their plotting. Go for it.

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 and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

THE DIPLOMAT. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.2 IMDB)   Rufus Sewell is enough of a reason to watch this series. Oddly enough it’s all about diplomats and diplomacy. Rufus was a diplomat and now he’s married to a new ambassador. She’s leading the international discussions about how to deal with some countries killing attack on a warship that killed 41 troops. Keri Russell is Rufus’ wife and the focal point and the diplomacy wears thin after the first three episodes. Don’t expect much excitement or relevance.

SILO. (APPLE TV) (8.4 IMDB).   David Oyelowo is one lead in this neatly structured science fiction puzzle. More than 10, 000 people are living in a giant underground silo. The silo has been there for over 140 years. They can see out one specific window…or can they?  Tim Robbins has a mysterious governing role to play here. It’s well done, puzzling and many episodes yet to be released.

TICKET TO PARADISE. (AMAZON PRIME MOVIE). (6.1 IMDB). This gazillion dollar star flick has been out and around for over a year and even with George Clooney and Julia Roberts starring in it…it didn’t do well. The two of them were married once had a daughter and became bitter enemies. Now the daughter is living in Bali and wants to marry a handsome young local seaweed farmer. George and Julia try to stop the marriage and we get a fine view of Balinese culture and scenery. It’s diverting at best and gets more and more cheesy as the almost two hours drag on.

EXTRAPOLATIONS. (APPLE TV) (5.9 IMDB) This is eight separate stories, very separate movies, centering on the earth and how the universe will change our lives as a result of the nearly infinite changes to the earth. Actors including Meryl Streep, Tobey Maguire, Forest Whitaker, and Heather Graham all have small roles portraying humans whose lives are changed in the thirty three years that’s highlighted. Serious and well done, but few laughs.

May 15

Gillian will be back next week.

Gillian Greensite is a long time local activist, a member of Save Our Big Trees and the Santa Cruz chapter of IDA, International Dark Sky Association    Plus she’s an avid ocean swimmer, hiker and lover of all things wild.


May 15

Joy is taking a short break…will return soon.

Joy Schendledecker is an artist, parent, and community organizer. She lives on the Westside of Santa Cruz with her husband, two teens, mother in law, and cats. She was a city of Santa Cruz mayoral candidate in 2022. You can email her at:

May 15


The updated County Budget report at last week’s Board of Supervisor meeting was not pretty, and it bothers me that even less time than usual will be publicly devoted to explaining and discussing the issue in the near term.

Budget Manager Marcus Pimental stated the County’s budget is now $1.1 billion.  However, expenditures exceed revenues by $12 million annually.  “It is unfortunate that the County will have to borrow $50 million this fall to cover operational expenses until property tax payments fill the gap.”  he said at Minute 50 in the video recording

The Budget will be $8 million to $10 million in the red every year between now and 2027.  Sales tax revenue is decreasing due to more people shopping online, causing the County to lose about $5 million annually.  The new disposable cup tax approved by voters last year is not bringing in the $700,000 projected but instead may only net $75,000- $100,000 annually.  Staff hopes to find out from the County Treasurer’s office why there is such a discrepancy.

Where DOES the County’s discretionary money go?  Listen in at about minute 54 of the meeting video recording to see that law enforcement and the Office of Response, Recovery & Resilience (OR3) gets the biggest piece of that pie.  The Sheriff’s Taj Mahal complex in Live Oak does not come cheaply, and now that the County owns the entire business complex at 5200 and 5400 Soquel Avenue Frontage Road, there is no property tax collected for any of it (that was all built by Barry Swenson Builder, and has had many structural problems requiring expensive repairs.)  Don’t forget that the OR3 was born immediately after CAO Carlos Palacios eliminated the one full time Office of Emergency Response Manager, Rosemary Anderson, as a cost-cutting measure in 2020.  Oh, well, it gave David Reid, the former analyst of Supervisor John Leopold, a nice job after he lost the election to Supervisor Manu Koenig.

The CAO emphasized the County has accomplished many significant projects, but pointed to large expenses such as new County radio systems that will cost roughly $30 million.  (Never mind the County sold the communications tower it owned to the City of Watsonville and now pays thousands of dollars for month rent to Etherics network on the mountain near Mt. Madonna.) He pointed to a report that Santa Clara County is expecting a $100 million budget deficit, and that Santa Cruz County will simply need to continue deferred capital improvement projects (roads, bridges, culverts, etc.) so we don’t end up like them.

Supervisor Bruce McPherson asked County staff to “Cool your jets” on establishing new programs that are state mandates but unfunded. The State Budget (released last Friday) is worse than we thought, with a $30 billion deficit.  He stressed that there are unrealistic challenges with State mandates before us.  “This is the most uncertain time I have ever seen in my years of State and local government.” and he urged all Departments to review projects that are “Nice to have but may not have money to pay for them.”

Supervisor Justin Cummings wanted to make sure the stipends for Commissioners that the Board recently requested is funded. (Budget manager Marcus Pimental assured him it is).

Zach Friend blamed it on Prop 13 for low property taxes and also slow reimbursements by FEMA for recent disasters and Covid.  He sees County worker furloughs likely.  Only 13cents/dollar in property tax money comes back to the County, he explained, and pretty soon the pressure will be too great for County funding.

He is glad the hearings are short, and feels having everything online will help the public better understand the Budget.  Hmmm……

Supervisor Felipe Hernandez emphasized that he wants the new park at 181 Whiting Road in Watsonville funded, and we need to let the State know Santa Cruz County needs help.

Supervisor Manu Koenig was nowhere to be seen during the entire meeting.

Watch the presentation and discussion of this by clicking on Item #7 on the County Board of Supervisor May 9 meeting agenda

The Budget hearings will be May 30 and 31, with a Supplementary hearing June 28, and Final approvals in September.  Pay attention, listen in and ask questions.

Where is that “Online Budget”?  Here you go!


The much-talked-about Soquel Drive Bike Lane Project, stretching from La Fonda Avenue in Live Oak to State Park Drive in Aptos may soon get off the ground.  What will it mean for you?  If you are a student at Cabrillo College, your free on-street parking will completely vanish.  If you travel through Soquel Village, you will get squeezed by lane width reductions to 10’wide in the eastbound lanes, and 11′ wide in the westbound lanes.  Staff insists this will calm traffic speeds, but I wonder what fire engines and construction trucks going to the quarry nearby will do?

Take a look at these recorded public meetings from last year:

Soquel Drive Buffered Bike Lane and Congestion Mitigation Project – Community Workshop 2 – 1.20.22

The questions at this session were different and brought forth new and different information: Soquel Drive Buffered Bike Lane & Congestion Mitigation Workshop #1 on January 12th, 2022.

Public Works Dept. staff has let me know similar improvements are scheduled for Soquel Drive at State Park to Freedom Blvd. in Aptos in the near future.  How can Soquel Drive in the Aptos Village area possibly get squeezed any more than has already been done to accommodate the new Parade Street intersection for Swenson?

Parking for those businesses will already be taking a big hit with the new 14′-wide pedestrian / bike trail right-of-way that the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is planning to confiscate next year.


You need to be weighing in on this Housing Element update, because it will affect the quality of life for us all and for generations to come..

Santa Cruz County Planning Dept. staff are feverishly working to complete the updated Housing element of the County General Plan in order to submit it for approval to the State Housing & Community Development (HSD) Dept. for approval by the end of this year.  This is being brought about by the 6th Cycle Regional Housing Allocation Number (RHNA) produced behind the veil of Associated Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), mandating unreasonable levels of growth with required percentages of affordable units for the County and cities.

There are a number of virtual and in-person hearings on this, so attend as many as you can:

Get Involved

The online Public Survey provided here is quite worthless, in my opinion, so do your best to interact with staff and send written comments.


Mark your calendar for this opportunity to sit in on the Sheriff’s Annual Report of how and why local deputies used military weapons in responding to public incidents.

May 23, at 6:30pm in Community Room at Sheriff Center

The problem is that the County Board of Supervisors already signed off on this Annual Report last Tuesday, after much discussion about the merit of doing so.     Sheriff Hart asked the Board of Supervisors to approve the Annual Report required by AB 481 before the public hearing, claiming that it would be too confusing to have the public review a Draft, and bring that to the Board afterwards.

Members of the local ACLU raised objection, and also provided interesting information that questioned the credibility of “independent auditor” Michael Jenico, instead asking for an audit by local citizens.  People also disagreed with Sheriff Hart’s claim that M4 automatic rifles are “standard issue”, and thereby were not included in the Annual Report, and also that the Department has 24 drones, but claims there is no maintenance cost.

The Board ultimately voted unanimously (with Supervisor Koenig absent) to approve the Annual Report, but Supervisor Hernandez asked Sheriff Hart to consider doing things differently next year.  “I’ll consider it” said Sheriff Hart, “but I can’t make any promises.”

Click on Item #14 on May 9 Board of Supervisor meeting agenda


The First Amendment Coalition (FAC) sent out some shocking news and some great news last week.

Mendocino County tried to charge one local journalist $84,001.22 to respond to a Public Records Act request.  That County’s staff claimed it would take 2,139 hours, costing $67,145 to locate records revealing details of government workers use of the disappearing messaging app Signal and another estimated 534 hours, costing $16,900 to assemble the responsive records.  The County wanted the full amount paid up front.

Lawyers for the FAC and ACLU told the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors that No law authorizes counties to impose fees for locating, reviewing or redacting public records.” and informed them legal action was likely. Journalists and community members also pushed back, claiming the charges were illegal, effectively rendering the California Public Records Act ineffective.

“The Board of Supervisors in Mendocino County voted to repeal its local law, less than a year after adopting it as a purported cost-savings measure.” reported the FAC.


But hang on! The FAC reported “While Mendocino County’s ordinance has fallen amid community outcry, fees like these remain a problem elsewhere.  Research by FAC and ACLU identified seven other counties—Los Angeles, Shasta, Siskiyou, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Santa Cruz, and Ventura—that passed local ordinances purporting to give them the authority to impose fees on the public for staff time spent on responding to requests.”

Here is the link to making such requests, and for seeing some responsive documents of other requests

I often have trouble opening the responsive files, but staff is helpful when I let them know of the problems.

A few years ago, the Board of Supervisors approved charging $27 for a USB stick when used for responsive Public Records Act request files.   Soquel Creek Water District charges a minimum of $120.00 for requests including correspondence, and further hourly charges at that $120 rate for anything over one hour.  They claim that is what their contractor requires.  Hmmmm….  I have notified the First Amendment Colition (FAC), and hope you will, too, if you have had problems with trying to obtain public information from local government and quasi-governmental agencies or told you have to pay large amounts of money to do so.

[FAC website]

Remember, it was via a Public Records Act request that Lookout Santa Cruz journalist Mr. Chris Neely brought to light the County’s decades-long violations of the Brown Act by holding secret City Selection Committee meetings at restaurants,  nominating various people for important positions on powerful commissions, such as the Coastal Commission.


Visitors to Nisene Marks State Park in Aptos can once again drive further into the Park on Aptos Creek Road, but the winter storm toll on the road is evident.  Let’s hope State Parks can repair the shoulders to accommodate fire engines and ambulances quickly and safely responding while other traffic (foot and bicycle, included) has room to get out of the way.  By the way, Aptos Creek Road is about the same width in many areas as the new Rail Trail the RTC is planning for the area.

This area of Aptos Creek Road should be barricaded to keep people from going over the edge, just as State Parks did nearby with the orange pylons and sandbags you see in the background, and below.

This area approaching the hairpin curve crossing Mangels Creek is where the road narrows to single lane traffic.  Below, you can see that the guard rail at the Mangels Creek crossing is damaged, and would do nothing to prevent a night-time bicyclist from crashing into the Creek at this hairpin turn.

Please contact State Parks if you feel this busy entrance into and out of Nisene Marks State Park needs more attention for public safety and emergency responders.

Public Safety Superintendent Mr. Gabe Mckenna


Attend the free outdoor public educational event on June 4 at the Temple Beth El (3055 Porter Gulch Rd., Aptos) 1:30pm-4:30pm to learn from many fire and professional agencies about preparing for responders, home hardening concepts, fuel reduction resources, and fire insurance.  For more information, contact Nancy Yellin <>, who has organized this great event with help from FireWise Neighborhoods of Viewpoint, Cathedral-Redwood, North Trout Gulch-Fern Flat, and Porter Gulch.


The Aptos Village Project Phase I is what you see in Aptos now.  Many of the retail areas are empty, but Mentone’s restaurant seems to always have a good crowd.  While the New Leaf Market, owned by a large off-shore conglomerate, is busy, and the historic Apple Barn is safe for now, the paint is peeling and nearly all of the pervious asphalt areas have been cordoned off and dug up, for “Cleaning”, thereby reducing parking significantly.

In one case, a retail wine business and tasting room has been allowed to build outdoor seating over an area that removes two parking spaces that were ordered by Judge Paul Burdick to be provided when the We Are Aptos group sued Swenson and the County in 2016 for many losses of common area (aka, parking).

The County of Santa Cruz has thrown Barry Swenson Builder a financial life raft by leasing one of two prime retail areas for the MidCounty Safety Center and County Supervisor Zach Friend’s office.  Supposedly, it is now staffed again, but who would know it is even there, when there are no signs at the street level to publicly identify its existence?

So, Barry Swenson Builder may be building steam to begin the Phase 2 and Phase 3 in the area shown below.  The monstrous faded yellow earthmover equipment that has sat idle and rusting among the weeds and decrepit storage containers and mobile construction office is now gone, and most of the waist-high weeds have been cut.  What remains to be seen is whether the excavation necessary for foundations and drainage of the multiple three-story development will reek of diesel, remnant of the contamination that occurred there in 2016 when Swenson crews ripped out an Underground Storage Tank and flooded the area with some nasty petrochemical stuff, likely Bunker Oil from the Lam Mattison Apple Dryer facility there.

Wouldn’t it be ever-so-much better to cap this area with soil and bring back the world-famous Post Office Bike Jumps and Pump Track for the youth in our Community?  I do.  Please let me know if you have someone in mind that might be willing to finance a buy-out from Swenson and rebuild the Bike Jumps in Aptos Village.


I spend a lot of time at public libraries, and really appreciate them.  The Live Oak branch is my favorite for many reasons, one of which is the Corcoran Lagoon adjacent.  Last week, a pair of Canadian Geese brought their hatchlings up to wander about.  It was beautiful.



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



May 15


Each month of 2023, I’ve been describing a flower that does a good job of representing that month. I have purposefully been picking plants that are predictably in peak flower during the month I assign them. And, I’ve been choosing flowers that you’ll have to search for, a kind of treasure hunt. You’ll probably need to work to see Jonny-tuck, a kind of owl’s clover which has a lot of interesting things about it.

Odd Names, As Usual

Both of the common names of this species make little sense. I can find nothing about the shape of the flower that is reminiscent of a Jonny-tuck, friar tuck, or any such tuck at all. I guess it’s just my bad tuck. Also, this species isn’t a clover at all – it is not in the same plant family and doesn’t have anything resembling the lucky four, but mostly 3, leaflets. By the way, I think that there are far too many ‘inside jokes’ and confusing back stories in the realm of plant enthusiasts…I fear that these trends tend to more alienate than attract others to learning more about plants. Maybe one day I’ll create a common name registry for plants much as there is for birds…that might help.

Jonny-tuck (Triphysaria eriantha ssp. rosea) has a sister named ‘butter and eggs,’ (Triphysaria eriantha ssp. eriantha) which grows a bit inland. The butter and eggs name makes more sense: it has yellow and white flowers as opposed to the white fading to rose flowers of Jonny-tuck.


Many people are familiar with the showy perennial wildflower called Indian paintbrush. Jonny-tuck, along with other owl’s clovers, are relatives of Indian paintbrush. The ‘paintbrush’ name makes good sense: the narrow flower stalks look like they’ve been dipped in paint with colorful bristles sticking out. If I was in charge of plant names, I’d confer the name “paintbrush” on Jonny-tuck: perhaps it would best be called “white and rose annual paintbrush.”

Old Growth Prairie

We don’t know of a single plant species that is found only in old growth redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is easier for most people to recognize old growth redwood forest; recognizing old growth coastal prairie is another matter. There are probably dozens of plants found only in old growth coastal prairie, which is one of the top ten most endangered ecosystems in the United States. If we can recognize those species, then perhaps we can better protect the remaining old growth prairies.

Secondary Grasslands

After grassland has been converted to cropland and then abandoned to return to grassland, the original plant species composition never recovers. Something changes in those situations and some species can never return to their native homeland. Those types of previously tilled prairies are called ‘secondary grasslands’ in contrast to ‘primary grasslands’ better known as old growth prairie.

The French Connection

My grassland ecologist colleagues working in the super-plant-diverse prairies of Southern France have well documented the species impacts tilling for crops causes in old growth grasslands. Some of their study plots were last tilled hundreds of years ago. Those secondary grasslands have recovered many species, but still don’t support handfuls of other species. Those French ecologists classify the species that can live in previously tilled grasslands as ‘ex-arable’ species. They have a long list of old growth prairie dependent plants, as well.

An Indicator Species for Very Rare Prairie

As far as I know, this is the first proposal in print to classify Jonny-tuck, or any other California wildflower, as an old growth dependent grassland species. If I am correct, it will make it much easier to classify and then provide protection for the few remaining, very endangered old growth coastal prairies.

A high percentage of coastal prairies have been converted to cement: more than any other major ecosystem in the United States – 24%! The majority of the remaining coastal prairies are secondary grasslands, having been previously tilled. So, old growth coastal prairie may be the most critically endangered major (widespread) ecosystem in the United States.

Without indicator species like Jonny-tuck, we must rely on limited historical data, mostly difficult to interpret maps as well as aerial photos and topographical evidence of previous plowing. Maps and aerial photos can make places that were cut for hay look like crop land, but hayfields aren’t necessarily the same as the intensive tilling that turns old growth coastal prairie into secondary grassland.

Friend to Flowers

Besides being an indicator for old growth prairie, Jonny-tuck plays a very important role in protecting patches of prairie. This species, like all paintbrushes are parasites on their neighboring plants. A local scientist demonstrated a very closely related species parasitizing both the grasses and the wildflowers surrounding it, but only the grasses suffered a reduction in growth. So, Jonny-tuck probably helps to create the conditions that foster patches of wildflowers, protecting them from the non-native invasive grasses that threaten so many coastal prairie species.

What Next?

My normal monthly flower challenge for you: go out and find Jonny-tuck and document it on your iNaturalist account. This will help us start to map old growth coastal prairie, or at least provide the data to test my hypothesis.

If you find a patch, look carefully and note other co-occurring species that may also serve as old growth grassland indicators.

I was recently surveying for two very rare and endangered plant species. Both occurred in the vicinity of patches of Jonny-tuck: San Francisco popcornflower and Santa Cruz clover. You might find some really rare species near Jonny-tuck, too! If you do…let me know!

By the Way

Just because some coastal prairies are secondary grasslands does not mean that those areas should not be conserved. Those secondary grasslands are still coastal prairies and so still quite rare. Secondary coastal prairies support many prairie species, especially prairie-dependent wildlife including raptors, grasshopper sparrows, savannah sparrows, badgers, ground squirrels, and many more. We don’t yet know how many species we might be able to restore to secondary coastal prairie, but it is worth it to give many a try.

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:

Email Grey at


May 13

#133 / A Look Out Lesson

The Mayor of Santa Cruz, Fred Keeley, is pictured above. The picture comes from a story in Lookout Santa Cruz, an online magazine that covers Santa Cruz County news. The Lookout article from which the picture was obtained is headlined, “Santa Cruz Mayor Fred Keeley will leave it to residents to figure out 2024 affordable housing bond.” Be aware that a ferocious paywall may well prevent non-subscribers from reading the article in full, though please give that link a click and see what you find!

For those who have been paying attention, it is no surprise that Mayor Keeley is deeply engaged in discussions about whether or not the city should place an affordable housing bond measure on the ballot next year. Keeley has long been a proponent of just such a bond measure, and in fact campaigned for Mayor on that basis.

A “bond measure,” as most of those reading this blog posting probably know, is a measure that, if passed by the voters, would authorize the city to borrow money (which means to incur debt) to be used for the purposes specified in the bond measure. The question for the voters would be whether or not the city should extend its fiscal borrowing power to raise money to be used for future affordable housing developments (and how, specifically, the borrowed money would be used).

What might seem surprising in the Lookout headline (for those who know Mayor Keeley and know about his commitment to an affordable housing bond), is the idea that the Mayor thinks it should be up to “residents” whether or not such a bond issue should be placed on the ballot next year – and what such a bond issue should contain. Mayor Keeley specifically campaigned for Mayor as someone who wanted to see such a bond measure placed on the ballot. Has Mayor Keeley become less committed? What’s going on?

If you can penetrate the Lookout paywall, and read the entire article, the mystery of the headline is solved. The Mayor has learned that if he and the City Council vote to put a bond measure on the ballot themselves, such a measure will only pass if there is a two-thirds affirmative vote by the voters. On the other hand, if “residents” place the measure on the ballot, by collecting enough signatures to qualify an initiative measure, then only fifty percent of the voters, plus one, will have to vote “yes” in order to put city taxpayers on the hook for whatever borrowing is specified.

Because borrowing money with a bond issue pledges that future city revenues will be spent to pay back those who loaned the city money for the activities specified in the bond measure, passing a bond issue potentially deprives the city of its ability to meet other needs in the future. In other words, there is a serious tradeoff involved. That is the reason that state law requires a greater than simple majority vote to make such a commitment – a 2/3 vote, in fact. State law is intended to make sure that city voters really want to make the commitment, since borrowing money for specific purposes, as defined in the bond measure, can lead to real fiscal problems down the road. If tax revenues fall, or if there are new and unanticipated challenges, the city may not have the fiscal flexibility that it otherwise would have had.

Using an initiative measure to place a bond issue on the ballot makes it much easier to pass. That is what leaving it to “residents” does, and I am betting that this, not a reduced commitment to the bond measure, is what has motivated the Mayor’s recent statement to Lookout. The Santa Cruz Sentinel, by the way, has also covered this story, in its Thursday, May 11th issue. The Sentinel also makes clear that having “residents” sponsor an initiative measure can eliminate the need for a two-thirds vote.

There are few issues that have a higher priority for city voters than producing more affordable housing. Still, it is important for voters to know what is really going on. If the Mayor and City Council don’t take official action, themselves, to place an affordable housing bond measure on the ballot, but seek to facilitate a ballot measure by “residents” (which will certainly include those developers and builders who will get a good share of the bond money if the bond measure is approved), the main motivation for handling the bond measure in that way will not be a desire to “let the residents decide.” The main reason will be to make it easier to get an authorization for city borrowing with a lesser affirmative vote than would otherwise be required under state law.

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

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May 15


The residue from CNN’s Trump Town Hall is still raining down on us from his volcanic spewing of b.s. For those who were unfortunate enough to have watched this remake of a Jerry Springer Show it was simply a replay of the Orange Menace’s vulgar jokes, repetitive lies, and ego-spouting malevolent demagoguery…what did CNN expect to be informative or monumental about this irrelevant disservice to the journalism of political integrity? The Wednesday town hall featured our twice-impeached, once indicted, coup-promoting former president and a studio mob of 250 hand-picked hooting and hollering MAGATs who enjoyed every insult and disparaging remark against victim and “whack-job” E. Jean Carroll, and even calling host Kaitlan Collins “nasty” when she tried to control his now well-rehearsed runaway blathering. He has now repeated his complaint about the ‘stolen election of 2020’ so many times he believes the lie to be true, saying, “I think that, when you look at that result and when you look at what happened during that election, unless you’re a very stupid person, you see what happens.” Got that, all you stupids? A questioner in the audience asked, “Will you suspend polarizing talk of the election fraud during your run for president?” Trump answered with a “yes” as he continued with most of his time whining on the same tired subject of victimhood. The Lincoln Project reminds us that, “Trump is no victim. The justice system isn’t targeting a political opponent. They’re targeting a criminal.”

Tom Nichols, in the Atlantic, writes that Americans need to see more of Trump, believing he is an existential menace to American democracy, and that those independent voters who will decide the next election will develop “Trump exhaustion”…the more the better. The MAGA base can’t get enough of him and Tom feels that group has met its saturation point so what does it matter to keep throwing them more red meat. Unfortunately, their kind will outlast The Don and his immediate band of crooks. Calling Trump a “quivering bag of weird verbal and physical tics,” once he gets rolling it’s like standing near a box of cheap bottle rockets as he tosses a lighted match inside. After the salvo of noise, misfires, duds, and smoke passes, all that’s left is stinky air. And that is what interviewer Collins was left with as she tried to interact with the shouting, finger-pointing, out of control, irrational provocateur, even though she was chosen because she knew Trump and has a history of right-wing media history – hardly objective journalism. After the critical furor began, Trump commented that Collins “wasn’t exactly Barbara Walters.” It only took a bit over an hour for CNN’s reputation to take a major hit as it cheapened journalism, undermined our political process and bashed one of their rising stars into her next gig as the weather-girl on local tv in Boondocks, Mississippi.

Aldous J. Pennyfarthing writes on Daily Kos, “I’m not much of an interviewer, and I don’t really like being confrontational in face-to-face situations, but my first follow-up to Trump would have been, ‘Ah, so I see you wore your Pol Pot Underoos today, Donny.’ Because the only way to deal with a ridiculous, scornful person is with ridicule and scorn. Of course, CNN’s Licht has gone on record as saying that Trump’s odiousness needs to be put on full display, though it goes without saying we’d have gotten the gist if they’d just wheeled him around the studio for seventy minutes in a Hannibal Lecter mask.”

Intended or not, the town hall was catered to Trump and his campaign, seventy minutes of prime time – that we’ll never get back – devoted to lies, debunked conspiracy theories, a history re-write, accompanied by the standing ovations and cheering attendees egging him on to sling even more slime, with Kaitlin Collins unable to ward off his onslaught…no conversation, inadequate questioning as he steamrolled her. Indeed, Nichols calls it a “foreordained train wreck,” and CNN’s producers had to know what would result. So is CNN trying to corral the MAGA community now that Tucker Carlson has been fired by Fox News, now with a more relaxed approach toward Trump? The new weather-girl may have an assistant in the person of Anderson Cooper, who attempted to justify his employer’s fiasco by chastising critics about “staying in their silo” and not paying attention to Dorito Mussolini’s lies, insults, defamations, and incitements to violence. Cooper was immediately assailed from all fronts for asking voters to exit the silo and climb into Trump’s bunker. CNN is probably still cataloging all the tweets, texts and emails condemning Coop, and CBS is getting a heavy dose of the same asking ’60 Minutes’ to drop his occasional segments. We are adults, Anderson, and have no need to be scolded for not watching, or being critical, of such trash on CNN!

Other notables have made comments, such as a tweet by Speaker of the House Pro-tem and GOP-VP-candidate-hopeful, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who called Trump to praise him for his performance, calling it “outstanding,” while claiming that they “laughed and laughed” on the phone as they discussed his town hall outing. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that CNN “should be ashamed of themselves” in part because they had facilitated “a public attack on a sexual abuse victim.” Trump’s misogyny was transparent and jaw-dropping, while the approval of the crowd was spine-chilling. Steve Bannon called the event “the humiliation of the mainstream media.” The Onion reported “With critics calling the former president’s highly anticipated town hall a ‘disgrace for all involved,’ Donald Trump was widely condemned Thursday for giving a platform to CNN.” Even conservative columnist, Marc Thiessen, says if this was a preview of the coming campaign, then get ready for four more years of Joe Biden. He terms it as a “three-alarm dumpster fire for the GOP which needs this wake-up call.” Jon Stewart concluded that he “learned nothing about Trump and his most ardent supporters I haven’t known since 2016” but learned “a lot” about CNN.

Learning a lot about CNN, originates with CNN’s corporate overseer Warner Brothers Discovery, Inc., whose CEO is David Zaslav, who wants to reposition the network to be preferred by “everybody…Republicans…Democrats.” Zaslav’s motivation is John Malone, a multibillionaire cable magnate who orchestrated the merger of Discovery and CNN, who identifies as a ‘libertarian,’ though he moves in rightwing Republican elements. Noteworthy is the fact that in 2005 he held 32% of the shares of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, is a board member of the libertarian think-tank, Cato Institute, and in 2017 donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration. Chris Licht, CNN’s chairman and CEO began his tenure by cancelling Brian Stelter’s commercially successful Sunday show, ‘Reliable Sources,’ a fountainhead of intelligent criticism of Fox News and right-wing sources, and the rightward plunge of the GOP. Licht told the CNN staff to stop referring to Donald Trump’s “big lie” which he felt was a Democratic party argument, while favoring “straight news reporting” along with more conservative guests. Stelter, on his last show, said, “It’s not partisan to stand up for decency and democracy and dialogue. It’s not partisan to stand up to demagogues. It’s required. It’s patriotic. We must make sure we don’t give platforms to those who are lying to our faces.” Right on, Brian! After Wednesday’s Foxified town hall debacle featuring the basket of deplorables, we can dismiss CNN’s having the public’s trust as an unbiased news source after its attempt to normalize candidate Trump’s behavior and feeding this cancer on our democracy.

Chris Licht reportedly told Trump, “Have fun!” as he took the town hall stage, and Donny promised a boost in CNN’s ratings. Licht called it “making news,” believing America was “well served” because we got “answers” – toxic throughout. Bocha Blue on Palmer Report says, “The Washington Post has a masthead problem, proclaiming that ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness,’ but we should agree that it is being choked to death in the plain light of day. The stranglers are America’s political and media elites – one group lies for power, the other lies for money. Together, they are ‘having fun’.” Licht laid into media reporter Oliver Darcy for a critical assessment of the Trump disaster, writing, “It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening.” Darcy was immediately summoned to a meeting with CNN’s suits, who told him he needed to be more “dispassionate in his coverage,” and that he was too emotional. But, he stood by his output and will likely see Licht escorted out the door for his involvement in this firestorm. Blue says Licht has to go or there is no CNN – just a cold, bloodless, robotic echo chamber for ratings. Aldous J. says Licht appears to be trying to woo MAGA conservatives away from Fox News, ‘Bonanza’ reruns, and the clammy stack of Reader’s Digests piled next to their basement toilets.

Karma may have entered the scene in Iowa over the weekend, where both Trump and Ron DeSantis had scheduled events for pressing the flesh of the electorate, and heralded as a clash of the titans. A Des Moines outdoor rally for Trump had to be cancelled as tornado threats were announced, likely not so much for crowd safety, but because the Grifter Bunch was afraid valuable cash and checks contributed would be lost to the winds. DeSantis on the other hand, having less support at this juncture had smaller venues to attend, so was able to sneak around weasel-like without encountering The Orange Menace. One Twitter critic posts that DeSantis always looks guilty, as if he had just stolen PeeWee Herman’s bike.

Der Orange Gropenfuhrer, being upset at the brouhaha over his town hall and unable to stir the base in Iowa, joylessly celebrated Mother’s Day on his Truth Social media site by posting, “Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers of the complete lunatics and maniacs who are part of the radical left…in particular the mothers, wives, and lovers of the radical left fascists who are doing everything within their power to destroy and obliterate our once great country.” No mention of his own mother, or Ivana, Ivanka, Marla or Melania – just his admonition to “please make these complete lunatics and maniacs kinder, gentler, softer, and most importantly smarter.” We have to admit he has given us a more complete education for the past eight years, no?

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:


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.


“If you see a snake, just kill it – don’t appoint a committee on snakes”.
~Ross Perot

“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake”.
~W. C. Fields

“I’m one of those people who snake through the crowd, keep my head low. I’m not looking for attention”.
~Julian Lennon


I saw that the quotes were on snakes, so I thought I’d follow suit this week…

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