Blog Archives

May 4 – 10, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Mark Stone and Ryan Coonerty oppose measure D, Stop the Library signatures submitted, Senior Citizens Legal Services, Full Moon Viewing. GREENSITE…on Library Update: What about the Trees?  KROHN…back to 2017 and the library, Front Street development, new police chief, ICE and Beach Flats, wharf development. STEINBRUNER… on water, fire, and housing. HAYES… Our Landscape. PATTON…Ready for a global culture war? MATLOCK…Line up seat selection, sodas, champagne, popcorn and snacks for June’s extravaganza! EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Mother’s Day”

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SANTA CRUZ BEACH AND BOARDWALK PLUS PIER. 1940. It must have been a chilly day there aren’t too many beachgoer’s present. We can see the Pleasure Pier which was a big draw way back then. Speedboat rides started and stopped there. It was built along with much of the Casino and Boardwalk back in 1904. Wind, waves, and people wore it out and it was taken down in 1962.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE May 2

NO ON MEASURE D SAYS ASSEMBLY MEMBER MARK STONE AND COUNTY SUPERVISOR RYAN COONERTY.       

As a press release from No Way Greenway stated last Tuesday (4/26)…

“Assembly member Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) and County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty today strongly condemned Greenway’s deceptive Measure D because it “does not set us up for success” and is “incredibly divisive.”

“Santa Cruz County has a history of coming together to tackle big problems, such as wildfires, earthquakes, health crises and more,” said Assembly member Stone. “We embrace big solutions that encourage cooperation and make the most of resources. Tearing up the rail line does not set us up for success and makes us vulnerable to future disasters. Vote NO on Measure D and then let’s get to work, together.”

“Measure D is incredibly divisive and will do nothing to address traffic congestion in our county,” said Supervisor Coonerty. “We need solutions that bring us together, rather than tear us apart.”

Stone and Coonerty are among an increasingly comprehensive list of elected officials and former elected officials who are opposed to Measure D.  View the complete list here. The list includes every member of the Santa Cruz City Council; a majority of the Watsonville City Council; five of seven Cabrillo College Trustees; various elected school board members across the county; Dr. Faris Sabbah, Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools; the leading candidates for Assembly District 30; Former U.S. Rep. Sam Farr; Bill Monning, State Sen. (ret.) Majority Leader Emeritus; Fred Keeley, Former Speaker pro Tem, CA Assembly; and many more.

To learn more about the NO on Measure D/No Way Greenway campaign (FPPC # 1442272), visit www.nowaygreenway.org or find updates on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

MORE ABOUT THAT MEASURE D. It continually surprises me that we see the big $2000 page ads in the Sentinel showing the supporters of ripping out our rails. We can see how Bud Colligan’s money has influenced Dominican Hospital and some of its Doctors. We read George Ow’s name along with Scott Roseman, Gayle Ortiz and Emily Reilly’s. Then there’s Beverly Grova, Enda Brennan, Lee May and wonder when and how they became persuaded.  In case you’re still wondering about this do check out that link at www.nowaygreenway.org see how much of our community including our city council’s unanimous vote against measure D, it’s our future.

JUSTIN CUMMINGS & AMI CHEN MILLS RESULTS. Two weeks ago I asked for your reactions to the statements/commitments that Justin and Ami returned to BrattonOnline focusing especially on the library and Measure D. It would take pages to include the opinions, votes, and more questions that came in. To summarize reactions the majority of responses believe that Ami Chen Mills lacks experience, would split the progressive votes and that Justin Cummings would be the better Third District Supervisor.

OUR DOWNTOWN, OUR FUTURE SUBMITS SIGNATURES FOR LIBRARY BALLOT MEASURE!
On Tuesday, May 3rd, Our Downtown – Our Future submitted over 5,000 signatures of registered Santa Cruz City voters to the City Clerk.  To qualify the measure for the November ballot, 3,848 qualifying signatures are required.  A 100% volunteer signature gathering team collected over 1,000 more than needed and completed the endeavor in just 150 out of the 180 days allowed.

The measure provides a holistic vision for achieving community goals of a sustainable and vibrant future for Santa Cruz – one in which we prioritize people and community health instead of special interests and profit.

In a nutshell, the measure would achieve:

  • Renovating the Downtown Branch Library in its historic location at the Civic Center
  • Securing permanence for the Farmers’ Market at its current, cherished location – Lot 4
    • Establishing Lot 4 as public open space for community events
    • Saving the heritage trees that give us shade and clean our air
  • Allocating publicly owned parking lots downtown for future locations of affordable housing, instead of commercial uses, like luxury hotels
  • Avoiding a massive bond debt for a parking garage we don’t need and instead – redirecting excess parking revenue toward affordable housing, infrastructure for the Farmers’ Market, library renovation, and better parking management

Our Downtown, Our Future is the work of leaders from 5 community organizations, and over 70 volunteers – coming together with various focuses – to provide an integrated approach to city planning.  We look forward to sharing more details of the measure and this momentous achievement in local placemaking next week!

Lira Filippini
Co-Chair of Our Downtown, Our Future

SERVING SENIOR CITIZENS. Senior Citizens Legal Services, a Non-Profit Organization serving low-income seniors is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Golden Charity GALA with their second annual gala event. It’ll be at the Cocoanut Grove Sunlit Ballroom on Friday May 13 from 6-11pm. There’ll be dancing to the fabulous Rusty Rock and Roll band while supporting the work that Senior Citizens’ Legal Services does for the most vulnerable members of our community. Senior Citizens’ Legal Services provides legal services free of charge to low and fixed income seniors in Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. Our non-profit has been growing mightily to meet the seriously increased needs in our community. 2021 saw a 43% increase in service numbers! Our current fundraising is an important component of helping us grow. Our night of dinner and dancing, also includes a full program of awards, special guests, day of event silent & live auction and full, cash bar. Let us all celebrate 50 strong years of serving our senior community. Tickets are : $100 for an ocean view dinner, dancing, silent & live auction, & full cash bar. More info here,  or Call Tanya Harmony Ridino at 426-8824 for more information.

FULL MOON VIEWING. There’ll be a Full Moon Viewing of Sheila Malone’s inspired moon paintings at the London Nelson Community Center May 2-31. And on May 6th at 5:30 poet Kevin Opstedal will be reading his moon inspired poetry at this multi media event.

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.

SHINING GIRLS. (APPLE TV). The usually great Elisabeth Moss is the victim of an assault early in her life and she spends much of her new life hunting down the guy she thinks did it. The first three episodes are tense, well directed (Moss is one of the directors) and complicated at times. The guilty guy keeps murdering young shining girls and we watch as Moss tracks him down and at the same time deals with her own psychological issues.

THE SURVIVOR. (HBO MAX) MOVIE. (6.8 IMDB). A sad, true story of a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz played expertly and believably by Ben Foster. It brings out and delivers the quandary of what you must do and live with, to survive. Danny De Vito and Peter Sarsgaard add a lot to this story. The survivor becomes a professional boxer and even fights Rocky Marciano. The movie is brutal, sad, and deeply introspective….watch it.

WRATH OF MAN. (66RT).This huge MGM production stars Jason Stratham in a role of a deadly serious security truck driver with a history. It’s a 100% action, chase, shoot em up, fast paced movie. Stratham will keep you firmly attached to watch his every move, and he’s excellent at doing just that. Watch it if/when you need a mindless thrill a minute movie.

WE OWN THIS CITY. (HBO SERIES) (94RT). If you liked the old ‘The Wire” series about the police and issues in Baltimore you’ll like this up dated version. It’s a deep look into the police side of city issues. That means brutality, bribes, personality issues…and it’ll make you/us think again about our views of our own police problems. Especially related to the death of Freddie Gray, an early Black community member who died.

MAI. (NETFLIX SERIES) (80RT). Very much an Indian movie complete with mugging, over acting and involved plot. A daughter is run over in a traffic scene and finding out why it happened and the impact it has on both police and the gangsters involved make it a slow paced but absorbing movie…so far.

THE RENTAL. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB). Alison Brie and Dan Stevens and another couple rent a huge coastal cliff house in Oregon for a getaway weekend. The ending is really bad and shouldn’t be viewed. There are hidden cameras, ecstasy taking, wife swapping, and it’s just plain odd. Avoid this one.

THE BABY. (HBO SERIES). (5.4 IMDB). Nearly a thrill and some shrugs later I was glued to episode 1 of this 8 episode series. An unexpecting woman is suddenly a mother to a new born baby. How she handles these new problems and avoid the law are as puzzling as they are fun to watch. Plus the baby is a spectacle in himself to admire. 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 Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

THE NORTHMAN. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (89RT). Nicole Kidman is in this terrible mess of a movie. So is Anya Taylor-Joy and Ethan Hawke but they shouldn’t have been. This is IMHO the most violent, brutal, senseless movie I’ve seen in decades. It’s the kind of movie Donald Trump would lavish over. Supposedly about Vikings in the early 900’s and a saga about revenge, we see only blood, stabbings, and close up views of terror, fear, and needless cruelty. Do not see this picture and stop everybody you know from seeing it too. You could call it stultifying and you’d be right.

THE TURNING POINT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.0 IMDB). An unusual Italian movie centering on a quiet, unassuming comic artist who is forced to share his room with a hunted mob member crook. It’s tense but human and absorbing and full of plot twists. Well-acted, human discoveries and worth watching.

THE MARKED HEART. (NETFLIX SERIES).(6.5 IMDB). This Spanish thrill seeking, heart breaking movie will keep you glued…no doubt about it. A rich guy’s wife is kidnapped by illegal organ/heart traffickers and is installed in another likable woman. The rich guy then begins a tricky and illegal hunt for her killers who took her heart. But then he falls in love with the woman who received her heart…odd but watchable and even sentimental!

LOVE ME. (HULU SERIES). An Australian series centering on a woman’s accident and her dealing with family pressures and the factoring of generations of family issues. She’s depressed but then meets a new guy and their relationship cause new views and a sad funeral amongst other sad scenes. The first two episodes are more than watchable.

IN GOOD HANDS. (NETFLIX MOVIE). A genuine tear jerking, heart pounding, sad Turkish movie and they call it a comedy. Set in Istanbul it’s the saga of a mother about to die from cancer and trying to protect her six year old son. A guy comes into their lives and causes more problems than he or she can solve. It’s well done but you’ll cry a lot…if that means you.

INSANITY. (HULU SERIES) (4.7 IMDB). This annoyingly dubbed Brazilian movie has a forensic scientist going to a psychiatric hospital seemingly to take care of their patients. She however is treated as a patient and goes crazy herself…or does she? There’s a reason she was sent to the psych ward and it’s intense but worth following.

FURIOZA. (NETFLIX MOVIE). A Polish movie involving nothing but gang warfare. Violent, bloody, savage, and tiring to watch. No redeeming social values here just hooligans which is a word we haven’t heard in a long time. There’s references to family relations and brotherhood but don’t expect much.

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SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. Their flute concert last weekend was fine music, good fun and enlightening. This weekend’s concert should be just as perfect…

GABRIEL FAURE AND HIS CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE, part II.

Music by Bohuslav Martinu, Zoltan Kodaly, Saint-Saens, Bloch, Boulanger & Faure. Played by the Nisene Ensemble. Saturday, May 7, 7:30pm. Sunday May 8, 3:00 pm.

Concerts are at Christ Lutheran Church, 10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA 95003. Go here for tickets and info.

CABRILHO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC. Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season and Returns to In-Person Concerts 60th Anniversary highlights on July 24-August 7. Yes, Cristian Macelaru the music director is returning and will be conducting. The concerts will include the ret`urn to in-person concerts with three world premiere commissions; the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie‘s INTONATIONS: Songs from the Violins of Hope featuring mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and violinist Benjamin Beilman; and works commemorating women’s suffrage in America and exploring the recent impact of drought and wildfires in the Western United States.

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May 2

LIBRARY UPDATE: WHAT ABOUT THE TREES?
There was a lot to absorb from the recent update on the new, proposed downtown library, brought to us via zoom on April 21st from Jayson Architecture and the city’s Economic Development director.

We were treated to images of striated ocean cliffs, many-hued corduroy waves, giant sculpted tree roots, all of which we were told, inspired the materials and treatment for the new library’s ‘look.” Apparently, cost is no object. Warming to his theme, the architect displayed the new, expansive reading room facing Cedar Street and the western afternoon sun with his words, ‘a reading room forming a dialogue with the street.” What on earth is that supposed to mean? Do all architects speak like this? Even the carpets got the saccharine treatment with ‘a more sophisticated palette with greens and blues for the adults” compared with the less sophisticated warm palette for the kids. In case you thought a reading room is for reading, we were told it’s the place ‘to meet someone, pick up a book and have a small chat.” Just add coffee and more people will be attracted without even knowing it’s a library.

The other member of the architectural team wooed us with the advantages of this new building such as being able to drop off books when the library is closed and accessing meeting rooms after hours without the whole library having to be staffed. Both these giant leaps forward are available at the current downtown library.

A slide was shown comparing the current library layout to the renovation of the current library and then with this new building. The comparisons showed the total square footage of public space is little changed. The space for staff and support is far more in the current library, far less in the renovation and about a third less in the new building. One wonders what is being achieved besides more light and a conversation with the street. There’s a lot of ‘green” stuff in the new building however the words of award-winning French architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Phillipe Vassal are instructive:

‘Transformation is the opportunity of doing more and better with what is already existing. The demolishing is a decision of easiness and short term,” Lacaton said in the Prize’s announcement. ‘It is a waste of many things—a waste of energy, a waste of material, and a waste of history. Moreover, it has a very negative social impact. For us, it is an act of violence.”

Then there is the issue of the trees. Under the city’s Heritage Tree Ordinance and Resolution NS-73, 710, the language is clear. With respect to building projects, removal is allowed only if ‘a construction project design cannot be altered to accommodate existing heritage trees or heritage shrubs.”

Starting from design scratch, and with the Lot 4 heritage trees hard to miss, Jayson Architects could have designed a new structure to save some of the trees and carefully incorporate them into the design. Forget sea cliffs and giant tree roots. Use what’s there. For example, the two Liquid Ambers pictured, on the far edge of the site could nicely frame a new building. Not that we want a new building. We want to keep Lot 4 as public space and the library in its historic location. I happen to like the external design of the current downtown library. It embodies what is felt as a sense of place.

Early in this process, some of us wrote to the Economic Development director, quoting the city’s legal obligation to heritage trees and asking that the architect be made aware of this legal requirement prior to starting a design. Either that was not done or done and ignored. Not a word was spoken about the existing heritage trees in the presentation from the architects. What an insult to the trees, to those who care about them and the laws that protect them.

The elephant in the room remained. What if a ballot measure to keep the library in its current location passes? I know many people including myself who would NEVER have voted for Measure S if the city had been upfront instead of sneaky about moving the location of the downtown library.

Despite 64 people on the zoom, the only interaction permitted was on a printed survey that contained annoying questions such as ‘what might bring you to the new library”. That’s not an accurate quote but you get the picture. There was a final box if you still had a question. I ran out of time. We won’t get a further update on design until end of summer. Meanwhile staff will give council an update, including an arborist report on the trees at an upcoming meeting. Not hard to guess a thumbs down for most of the magnolias. The above trees can be saved but only if the architect is directed to save them by adapting the design to accommodate them.

City department heads appear to have failed to deliver this directive. City council majority will likely follow suit. It’s now up to us.

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

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 May 2

(Note—Originally published March 21-27, 2017–from five years ago, see how some issues have changed. I have noted in the Addendum below the column what actual positive changes have occurred since 2017.)

A Week in the Life of This Councilmember

Every week on the Santa Cruz city council is different. As different as one week is from another there must be some ties that bind. Perhaps it is the dissimilarities, distinctions, or varying disagreements that occur, which links the calendar dates into a more cohesive narrative that may reveal a picture of my civic life.

Monday

Early Monday morning I met with City of Santa Cruz Planning Department’s Principle Planner, Ron Powers, to discuss “The Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report” (re: Downtown Recovery Plan). It was an engaging conversation, which revealed that this is a big plan, folks. Similar to the steroidal Wharf Master Plan, and the market rate housing developer dream known as the “Corridors Plan,” this one contemplates BIG changes in the downtown like building heights going to seventy feet along Front Street, for example. It’s a plan that brings together some formidable developer interests too including land-use consultant, Owen Lawlor who teams with Milpitas’ Devcon Construction. And don’t forget Barry Swenson and Doug Ross also have interests in this area too. This plan includes parcels from Soquel to Laurel along Front Street, and from Cathcart to Laurel along Pacific Avenue. The question for city council members might be: What will the public benefit(s) be in these forthcoming projects? Affordable units maybe? It’s up to the community to weigh in and make the developers do the right thing. One elephant in this room also is what will the Metro be doing with their property (1.5 acres)? Play ball with the developers, or go their own way? Stay tuned, the development of our downtown takes a village.

Later in the day I met with city manager (CM), Martin Bernal to discuss the Tuesday city council meeting agenda, but the conversation was mostly agreeing to disagree over one of his pet projects, the so-called “garage-library,” a five-story behemoth planned for the current site of the Farmer’s Market at Lincoln and Cedar streets. I will continue to update this story as information is made available.

Tuesday

Tuesday was an official city council meeting and truth be told, I believe every vote taken by the council was unanimous. The most significant moment during the meeting was perhaps city manager Bernal’s not so cryptic message to the city council that there is a “no interference clause” in the city charter he said, prohibiting the council from telling him who to appoint as the next chief of police in Santa Cruz. It came across as a not so subtle message. The other agenda issue the council voted affirmatively on was the sanctuary city ordinance backing up an already approved city resolution stating clearly that Santa Cruz welcomes immigrants and will seek to protect them when threatened by outside federal powers.

The evening city council meeting was a most remarkable event given Santa Cruz’s history of contentious politics. It was a kumbaya moment that had both councilmembers and water commissioners singing the praises of the city’s water advisory committee (WASC). Everyone present was falling over each other in endorsing the post-desalination reset policy recommendations that will help us move toward even greater conservation with the implementation of a more innovative rate-payer structure that incentivizes using less water. But during public comment that night, Curtis Reliford the made-in-Santa Cruz change-maker and mirth-maker provided a poignant, and almost surreal moment after a night of back slapping, when he repeated the Standing Rock campaign slogan, “Water is Life,” and reminded this group of decision-makers that not everyone’s water is so secure.

Wednesday

Wednesday night I spent at the Resource Center for Non-violence. It was a birthday celebration for Tatanka Bricca (72!) and his partner Carol (68). The evening was filled with music and an informative update on what activists are currently doing at Standing Rock in North Dakota since the pipeline was given a thumbs-up, first by the Trump Administration and then by a judge. Danny Sheehan of the Romero Institute is there aiding several protesters who were arrested according to Sheehan’s son whose band performed at the birthday party. There has been a news blackout since protesters were forced off the site last month. NPR reported last Sunday that oil could be flowing through the pipeline (DAPL) as early as this week.

Thursday

Thursday’s highlight was at the Beach Flats Community Center where I joined fifteen other community members who’d gathered to offer input to CM Bernal as he moves toward reviewing applications of those who’ve applied to be the next police chief. He responded to a variety of questions including, Is the ICE agent still embedded in SCPD? (That agent is in the process of leaving.), Why have rangers displaced downtown hosts and community service officers on Pacific Avenue? (To provide more protection.) And, how can PD be restructured to provide real help to the homeless instead of just issuing more tickets? (We don’t have the funding to fund human services…the money goes to our core services, it’s a balance between protection and enforcement.)
If your group wants to meet with the city manager to offer input on the next police chief, and planning director too, you can email him at: mbernal@cityofsantacruz.com or call 831-420-5020.

Friday

Friday’s big meeting was a ONE-HOUR gathering of the city’s Climate Action Task Force. It’s a wonderful group of environmentalists, alternative energy practitioners, bicycle advocates, educators, a city staff member, and me. We were summarily told by the staff member that we will NOT be making recommendations to the city council, even though the same council set up the group. BUT we are to assist (?) in implementing the city’s climate action goals as contained within the Climate Action Plan. How, you might ask will we will assist if we are not to make any recommendations? Me too. We will have three more “one-hour” meetings (since when is a task force meeting only one hour?) between now and December. We can talk about stuff, but just don’t make any recommendations was the message. I was perplexed by this outcome, especially given that the massive “garage-library” project, originally a part of our agenda was suddenly taken off right before the meeting by the staff member’s boss, deputy city manager, Scott Collins. It was a baffling turn of events.

Saturday

Saturday is usually busy, chaotic and a buffet of meetings to choose from, and it was no different this past week. But this was also the first weekend of March Madness basketball, which I had to follow in the upper small box window of my computer as I meeting-hopped. First up was the “Community Conversation on Homelessness” at the Garfield Park Church. Around forty people came and went during a meeting where the main discussion topics were: what’s being done around homelessness, what can be done, and what should be done? There was ample input and a particularly thoughtful presentation by Santa Cruz County’s Human Services Department’s senior analyst, Adam Spickler. He stressed that collecting data (“evidenced- based”) is crucial in drawing not only funding, but empathy from the greater community towards the plight of our city’s homeless population, of which only around 600 are sheltered on any given night out of over 2000 according to the Santa Cruz County Homeless Census & Survey of 2015. Next, I attended the amazing organizing effort being carried out by a newly formed group called, Santa Cruz Indivisible. The civic auditorium took on a job fair-style atmosphere in which hundreds mingled around tables advocating for dozens of causes that included free speech, universal healthcare, immigrant’s rights, and affordable housing to name a few of my favorites. Organizers say that over 2000 have registered with Indivisible in only a few months’ time. What everybody attending seemed to agree upon was that we must all get much more organized if we are going to resist Trump and his regressive social policies. People are fired up and that is good to see. Finally, I attended the meeting of the “Anti-Trump Reading Group, organized by current and former graduate students from UCSC. It’s an eclectic, thoughtful, and provocative assembly that’s been meeting every Saturday afternoon in the backroom of Lupulos Beer House on Cedar Street. They send out an academic-style reading at the beginning of the week and the conversation flows on Saturday. “The Tyranny of Structurelessness,” by Jo Freeman was only tangentially brought into a conversation that covered organizing; how to enable democratic practice; meeting facilitation; and the importance of having a media presence within activist groups so the overall message is not coopted or misconstrued.

Sunday

Sunday’s meetings included an organizing effort around a Granite Construction boycott, in light of Granite’s bid to build Trump’s wall between the US and Mexico. The other group meeting I attended, Organizing Circle, is a project that grew out of SC4Bernie’s “Brand New Council” campaign to get a new city council elected. Well, the canvassing continues and this group meets once a month to “listen” to neighbors and their concerns about the city. This was the third such walk and between 11 and 25 walkers have made their presence known these past months in the Beach Flats, Lower Ocean, and South of Laurel Street neighborhoods so far. What is unique about the Organizing Circle is that it meets for an hour to discuss tactics, walks for two hours, and then meets at a group member’s house for a potluck-debrief-story-sharing session. It’s actually fun!

  • Addendum UpdatesIt is kind of breath-taking to see all the political stuff that happens during one particular week in Santa Cruz. Sometimes progressive politics does prevail. The changes that have been made in the past five years have been numbers, many bad ones, but in 2017 forward we have seen positive changes too. Below are changes that have happened since 2017…
    • We have been able to thus far hold off on the Wharf Steroidal Plan through the energetic efforts of my colleague Gillian Greensite. No, the city cannot do what it wants with every public entity. Sometimes the public gets to weigh in too.
    • Ron Powers retired and the Corridors Plan was put on ice. Hallelujah.
    • Owen Lawlor maintains even closer ties with the city Economic Dev. Dept., but a reckoning is beginning to happen. An uprising? Stay tuned.
    • Five years later and the public may finally get to vote on whether they want the library to be remodeled on Church Street, keep the Farmers Market where it is, not cut 10 heritage trees, not build a climate-busting garage, and designate at least four other city parking lots as sites for affordable housing. Wow, has it been five years already?
    • To the extent that the city council intervened in the city manager decision-making process around hiring a new chief of police, the council did prevail. We achieved in pressuring Martin Bernal into a public process to evaluate candidates and guess what…that process seems to have worked because we hired the most progressive police chief in Santa Cruz history, Andy Mills. He has since moved on Palm Springs.
    • No desalination plant being built is perhaps one of the most important progressive political victories ever in Surf City.
    • I would like to say the city of Santa Cruz has stood up to ICE, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as we kicked them out of the desk they occupied at the police department. But really, our town remains extremely vulnerable to future ICE attacks, especially if the Orange Menace comes back in 2024.
    • Although the Climate Action Task Force remains toothless and unable to get past the city staff gatekeepers, one of the chief villains, former assistant Scott Collins, has exited and that was welcomed.
    • And as far as Santa Cruz Indivisible is concerned, we resisted Trump all the way, sending him out the door in 2020 and we had to bar the door after Jan. 6th rightwing uprising at the capitol. Good work.
    • Last piece of good news that week was that Granite Construction, as a result of locals raising their voices in protest, decided not to bid on any contracts to build the Trump Fake Wall.
“I am proud to stand in strong solidarity with Starbucks workers in Burlington who are seeking a vote to form a union. They understand that at a time of record profits, Starbucks can afford to pay decent wages and to treat its workers with dignity”. (May 2)
Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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May 2

RHNA NUMBERS TRIPLED…AMBAG’S PLAN OPEN FOR PUBLIC COMMENT THROUGH JUNE 6 BUT WHERE IS IT?

Many thanks to my friend, Al, who let me know about the 45-day Public Comment period just opened by the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) that somehow carries a big stick to require triple the number of housing units be built in our area within the next five years. [FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RHNA
REGIONAL HOUSING NEEDS ALLOCATION (RHNA) OVERVIEW
]

Here is the Draft Regional Housing Number Allocation (RHNA) Plan

According to the website, there are the major changes proposed.

This is the 6th cycle for RHNA. What’s different this time?

Recent legislation resulted in the following key changes for this RHNA cycle:

  • There is a higher total regional housing need. HCD’s identification of the region’s total housing needs has changed to account for unmet existing need, rather than only projected housing need. HCD now must consider overcrowded households, cost burdened households (those paying more than 30% of their income for housing), and a target vacancy rate for a healthy housing market (with a minimum of 5%).
  • RHNA and local Housing Elements must affirmatively further fair housing. According to HCD, achieving this objective includes preventing segregation and poverty concentration as well as increasing access to areas of opportunity. HCD has mapped Opportunity Areas and has developed guidance for jurisdictions about how to address affirmatively furthering fair housing in Housing Elements. As required by Housing Element Law, AMBAG has surveyed local governments to understand fair housing issues, strategies, and actions across the region.
  • There will be greater HCD oversight of RHNA. AMBAG must now submit the draft allocation methodology to HCD for review and comment. HCD can also appeal a jurisdiction’s draft allocation.
  • Identifying Housing Element sites for affordable units will be more challenging. There are new limits on the extent to which jurisdictions can reuse sites included in previous Housing Elements and increased scrutiny of small, large, and non-vacant sites when these sites are proposed to accommodate units for very low- and low-income households.

What gives AMBAG such broad authority, and where do these RHNA number mandates come from? It is a tangled web.

“Under state law and the California Housing and Community Development (HCD) oversight, AMBAG must develop RHNA every eight years. This process begins with HCD providing a Regional Housing Needs Determination (RHND) for the Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. The regional determination includes an overall housing need number, as well as the percentage of units required in different income categories. AMBAG received its 6th Cycle Regional Housing Need Determination from HCD in August 2021. AMBAG released the Draft 6th Cycle RHNA Plan on April 22, 2022 for a 45-day public review period. The public review period closes on June 6, 2022. The Final 6th Cycle RHNA Plan is scheduled for adoption in fall 2022.”

The Draft RHNA Plan frequently cites the 2050 Plan Bay Area Blueprint, but it is not accessible to the public

Somehow, AMBAG created a non-profit, called RAPS, Inc to hire outside expensive consultants to feed them information and develop economic analysis that shapes the housing number mandates among the various jurisdictions.

What is RAPS, Inc.? Regional Analysis and Planning Services, Inc. (RAPS, Inc.) is the 501 c 3. non-profit arm of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments. RAPS, Inc. is governed by a Board of Director comprised of four AMBAG Executive Committee members and three public at large representatives—one from each County.

I wonder who they are? The Board only meets once a year, in June. The link to the 2021 agenda brings up the 2019 agenda, but shows the last names of the Directors (I recognize County Supervisor Bruce McPherson’s name). The 2020 agenda does not provide that information.

The RAPS, Inc. Board is provided information by expensive consultants to help determine potential economic growth projections, and what infrastructure will be needed to support it. How bizarre.

For more information about this program, contact Ana Flores by email at aflores@ambag.org or phone: (831) 883-3750

Regional Housing Planning | Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments

What if we just said NO?

Some California cities paid no attention to what their Regional Government strong-arms said, and created policies that reflected what was best for their community. What happened? Governor Newsom requested the State Attorney General to file a lawsuit against the City of Huntington Beach for not meeting their Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirement. The City lost in court, and chose not to appeal it because it would not be productive to do so.

Huntington Beach loses housing case with state of California

Housing Element Compliance One Pager

What a mess.

SOME CITIES ARE LEGALLY CHALLENGING THE STATE OVER SB 9
Four Southern California cities are fighting back to maintain local land use control for quality of life in their communities, and have filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming the law is unconstitutional, and demanding an injunction.

Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 9 last September, introduced by Senate leader Toni Atkins, despite receiving letters of protest from 240 cities as well as from the League of California Cities. It allows single family residential parcels to be split in two and have a total of four units, and approval is ministerial.

Imagine how water use, parking and traffic would change in your neighborhood if everyone chose to do this.

“By enacting SB 9, the state “eviscerated a city’s local control over land use decisions and a community-tailored zoning process,” the legal complaint states.

Companion legislation includes Senate Bill 7, signed in May, which exempts small housing projects from some environmental reviews, and Senate Bill 10, signed concurrently with Senate Bill 9, that lets a local government rezone single-family parcels to allow as many as 10 units near public transit hubs and within urban areas.

Keep your eye on the legal challenges in Southern California…and write your elected representatives with your thoughts on the matter.

STATE WANTS TO CONTROL HOW LOCAL TRANPORTATION TAX MONEY IS SPENT
As if the “big stick’ legislation around housing is not enough to cause major headaches, the State legislature is now attempting to mandate how local jurisdictions use local revenues for transportation projects.

From the weekly newsletter from the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC)

Bill of the Week: Assembly Bills 2237 and 2438 (Friedman) – Transportation Project Funding Restrictions

RCRC, in partnership with several local government and local transportation agency associations, has expressed strong opposition to Assembly Bills 2237 and 2438, both authored by Assembly Member Laura Friedman (D – Burbank), who is chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. Combined, the bills impose several new requirements on local transportation agencies, and authorize state agencies to restrict funding to local transportation agencies, if those local agencies plan and implement projects that are not deemed to advance state or regional climate goals. Read More

Additionally, AB 2237 would also require each regional transportation planning agency or county transportation commission to submit a report on local transportation tax measures to the California Transportation Commission on or before March 30, 2023. The bill would require the commission, in consultation with the state board, to propose recommendations on alignment of local tax measures with the state’s climate goals.

Both bills passed their respective Assembly policy committees, including the Assembly Transportation Committee, and are before the Assembly Appropriations committee for further consideration.

From the web site: California State Association of Counties. Under laws pertaining to Legislative tracking:

Housing, Land Use and Transportation= one of perhaps 175 laws in this category

Please contact your elected representatives with your thoughts about this.

WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED SANTA CRUZ COUNTY GENERAL PLAN CHANGES?

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the changes to building densities and infrastructure to handle it is now open for public comment. Please attend the virtual public hearing next Monday, May 9, at 6pm to help get an idea of how to address this massive study by Dudek Consultants that has been years in the making.

Public comment period ends May 31.

Please submit any comments to CEQA-NEPA@santacruzcounty.us

Consider also writing Planner Stephanie Hansen (stephanie.hansen@santacruzcounty.us> and Matt Machado <matt.machado@santacruzcounty.us>, who now directs both the County Planning Dept. and the Dept. of Public Works, and ask for a 30-day extension if you think this merits more careful examination by the public. I sure do!

GLOBAL INITIATIVES GOVERN LOCAL LAND USE?
Last week, the State of California and Together Bay Area released a list of projects to fulfill Governor Newsom’s “30 by 30 Plan” to require 30% of California be in a conservation agreement by 2030. It seems that is a global policy, supported by the Biden administration, and new strategies released last week outline how it will be done.

Curious about what projects are identified for Santa Cruz County? Take a look at a few of the 18 projects earmarked for $150 million in funding, using the $700 million in State money to fund 110 projects statewide over the next 3-5 years:

  • Santa Cruz Mountains Redwoods Acquisition…$11million to buy private land…maybe force the CZU Fire Survivors who can’t get permits to sell instead?
  • Protecting the Santa Cruz Sandhills…$2-$10 million to add hundreds of acres in new real estate transactions
  • Santa Cruz Mountains Forest Restoration and Resiliency…$2-$10 million to restore CZU Fire habitats
  • South County Parkland Acquisition and Development…$2-$10 million to purchase 40 acres near the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds by Santa Cruz County Parks Dept.
  • Cotoni-Coast Dairies Trail Development…$2-$10 million to build 19 miles of new trails
  • Moran Lake County Park Restoration and Access Plan…$2-$10 million to improve pollinator, hummingbird and Monarch Butterfly habitat
  • The Farm Park Phase 2…$2-$10 million for further improvements

Watsonville Slough Farm Community Harvest Trails…$2-$10 million to create U-Pick farms and orchards on this 500-acre farm near Pajaro Valley High School, with a community center with food prep area, and Lee Road pedestrian bridge and trail. Plans are in hand, permits in process, and construction will start in 2023.

There are others:

Read about the fact that this is part of a global plan here:

Marin eyes new open space projects to complete by 2030

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO? PROPOSED LAW REDUCES PER CAPITA INDOOR WATER USE STANDARD STATEWIDE

Santa Cruz County residents have been some of the most conservative water users in the State, but will likely soon be required to use even less.

Last week, the State Senate voted 28-9 to lower the current daily indoor water use limit from the current 55 gallons/person to 47 gallons, starting in 2025, and to lower that daily amount to 42 gallons/person in 2030.

This would intensify the amount and timeline of State-mandated per capita daily indoor water use, changing the current 55 gallons/person amount set in 2018 by AB 1668 and SB 606, that would have lowered the limit ot 52.5 gallons/person in 2025 and to 50 gallons/person in 2030.

That legislation also specified penalties on local water suppliers for violations to these standards. Starting in 2027, local water suppliers’ failure to comply with the Board’s adopted long-term standards would have resulted in fines of $1,000 per day during non-drought years, and $10,000 per day during declared drought emergencies and certain dry years.

California AB 1668 – Water Management Planning | Adaptation Clearinghouse

For the first time ever, several large water municipalities in Southern California are imposing mandatory water conservation on a total of 6 million customers whose water supply is dependent on the Atate Water Project Aqueduct. The State will impose penalties of $2,000/Acre-foot for aggregate water use exceeding allotments. Residents are now limited to watering lawns once a week. Keep in mind that during the last drought, Southern California water use increased overall because conservation was not required.

Given that, 13 million residents in Southern California will not be affected by the limit because their water comes from the Colorado River. I wonder if they will conserve water? It is a much harsher climate there than our coastal paradise, and I hope for the best.

Two laws in 2018 required water agencies to develop a water budget by 2020 that would allow each person in the state to use a maximum of 55 gallons daily. But there was no real way for those agencies to gather per-capita data to submit to the State Water Board, other than an aggregate estimate, based on total water use.

SURF PARKS IN PALM SPRINGS?
Do you think it makes sense to build multiple large outdoor surf parks in the California desert? Developers say “YES!”, even though drought and water restrictions for agriculture in the area are significant.

Palm Springs water needs are supplied by the California Aqueduct and the Colorado River, both of which are over-taxed. However, the local water officials claim there is sufficient water for the next 20 years to support the San Jose-based Global Industry Analysts, Inc. market research plan to build multiple large resorts and outdoor wave pools.

(This sounds like someone Swenson Developers would hire, doesn’t it?)

One such development, Coral Mountain, is already under construction in nearby La Quinta, and includes a 400-acre subdivision of 600 new homes, hotel and retail outlets flanking a new half-mile-long artificial outdoor wave resort.

According to the CM Wave Development President, the surf park will not use potable water, and would require 8 to 10 times less water than a golf course. Does that make sense to you?

“With the evaporation and the wind and everything that is going to happen…,” said Alena Callimanis, a member of the group La Quinta Residents for Responsible Development, “the optics of this are just crazy.”

Surge of desert surf parks stirs questions in dry California

I couldn’t agree more.

WORK CONTINUES AT SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT CONSTRUCTION SITE IN AN UNCONTROLLED DUST CLOUD
Last week while passing by the construction site next to the County Sheriff Center on Soquel Avenue near Chanticleer Avenue, I noticed a large dust cloud. This is where Soquel Creek Water District is building the PureWater Soquel Project treatment plant to prepare treated sewage water to inject into the aquifer.

There is potential for asbestos in this soil, due to past construction staging by other projects, and an old house there that was demolished. No dust control? The winds blow straight toward Highway One, and on to Dominican Hospital clinical areas. Hmmm….

Call the Monterey Bay Air Quality District if you ever see this happening: Submit a Complaint

We will all breathe easier if you do.

SPEAKING OF MESSY CONSTRUCTION SITES…APTOS VILLAGE PROJECT CONTINUES

Traffic continued to be snarled by the road construction in Aptos Village.

I wonder if the guy in the trench knew the soils are contaminated?

NATIONAL WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS WEEK

This week is National Wildfire Preparedness Week. Take a moment to find one thing you can do around your home that would help save it in a wildfire ember storm. Here are some simple, clear suggestions that won’t overwhelm you

I would like to give public recognition to the County’s FireWise Communities and Santa Cruz County FireSafe Council for the work they are doing to help reduce wildland fire risk in neighborhoods throughout our County, and to concurrently acknowledge National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (May 7).

The value of the National Fire Prevention Association’s (NFPA) FireWise Community Program in reducing wildfire risk in rural and Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas is well-recognized, even by some insurance providers. Last year’s Santa Cruz County Grand Jury Report encouraged support for more FireWise Communities in the WUI flanking the City of Santa Cruz (R4 on page 14).

There are now 27 FireWise Communities in Santa Cruz County, with more organizing.

Here is a list of the FireWise Communities in Santa Cruz County

Here is information from the NFPA about May 7 National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day

Is there one near your home? If not, consider organizing with your neighbors to get one going.

MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. COMMENT ON WAY-TOO-DENSE HOUSING MANDATES AND THE COUNTY EIR ENCOURAGING IT.
MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING SOMETHING.

Cheers and Happy Mother’s Day,

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 KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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May 2

OUR LANDSCAPE

It gets personal real fast when we start talking about yards, gardens, or even the trees along the street. These are sensitive subjects because we extend our sense of place, of home, outside our doors. People call themselves gardeners, others pride themselves in a tidy landscape, and then there are those who regularly or sporadically (and often minimally) maintain whatever seems necessary to fit in with the neighborhood norm. More and more people, renters or owners alike, have little or no outdoor space, even if they wanted to try gardening. For all of these types of people, I am extending an invitation to become more generous to Nature by interacting differently with the planted spaces around us.

Life – All Around Us

All of the places we live, where we walk or drive, were all natural plant communities a short while ago. In most places around the County, if you took away the pavement or the house, there would still be living seeds waiting to sprout from the soil beneath. Out of the built environment, this is a biodiversity hot spot of national and global significance. Inside the built landscape, all seems lost. Does this need to be so?

Mow and Blow, Hack and Squirt

We humans pour resources into controlling the plants around us. The hum of lawn mowers, weedeaters, and gas-powered blowers is common around our built areas. What passes for pruning is often gross and ham fisted. People still use herbicides for landscaping. After the fires, we are landscaping deeper into the wild areas: mowing and cutting, converting chaparral to weedy grass and forest into parkland.

Weeds and Mafia Plants

I once counted 17 species of plants in the cracks in the tennis court at a community park in Corralitos. Everywhere I go I see unintended plants sprouting up here and there. Wherever we disturb nature, weeds erupt…we even spread them with our landscaping equipment. When I look around at the landscapes in Santa Cruz County, the range of plants we landscape with mostly look overly simplified and out of place. It is almost as if there is a mob with 15 plant species: plant them, or face the consequences! Why does this matter?

What is Home?

People value a sense of place. There is a local food movement. We like supporting local businesses. When we visit a place, we are especially fond of places that have ‘character.’ Monterey has its iconic pines and cypresses, both endemic species to that peninsula. The San Lorenzo Valley is lined by redwood trees with redwood parks prized by many. Santa Cruz has famous beaches and incredible surf but once onshore and in the built areas, there is no character, nothing indicating what is this place. We can grow so many different types of plants around here. We can garden year-round. And, there are ancient plant communities waiting to be restored. I suggest that integrating local native plants into our landscapes will create a better sense of place, making a kinder, more generous, and closer human community.

Home is Where the Wildflowers Grew

Most everyone in the towns close to the ocean are living on ancient prairie. Others in the hills might be living where there were once many types of forests. What if more of the landscaping in those areas reflected the original habitats?

A rule of thumb is that 10 native animals, mostly insects, are borne of each native plant. Those insects feed the wealth of diverse native birds. There are also native mushrooms that rely on native plants. Planting a native oak instead of an exotic tree species is restoration, promising an unfolding web of life. As the oak grows bigger, there’s a wide array of oak understory wildflowers to look forward to introducing.

In prior prairie areas, planting local stock of native wildflowers and grasses instead of exotic turfgrass is similarly participating in restoration of Home for so many creatures. One native butterfly, the California ringlet, is waiting for Westside Santa Cruz to have enough prairie restoration to raise its future generations. Imagine- streets lined by prairie, porches with containers of local prairie wildflowers, urban parks with restoration projects, the rail-trail lined by waving prairie grasses. With enough of this, quail might move back into neighborhoods, browsing on lupine and tarplant seeds.

Start Small

I am a gardener with over 200 species in my small yard. They aren’t all native plants, but the majority of the plant cover is local native species. I have restored a mix of coastal scrub and coastal prairie, both habitats that were once where I live. This is a project I will be at as long as I live here and it is so much fun to see evolve.

Over the years, I pinched a few seeds here and there and threw them around my yard. Sometimes, I bought locally collected native plants from nurseries and planted them- some of these have reproduced prolifically. Restorationists come to my yard for local seed for their projects. Among the native grasses and wildflowers are scattered vegetable garden beds or accent plants with showy colors. I have a penchant for agaves, so have sprinkled those around the prairie and coastal scrub plantings. I also have a local native iris collection and a state-wide Horkelia collection. And, there are plenty of weeds.

The Plants Bring Butterflies, Birds, and More

Most days, I can look out from my home’s windows and observe a startling array of wildlife attracted to my tiny restoration patch. These days, there are a dozen or more variable checkerspot butterflies visiting the many wildflowers; this species grew up eating the weedy but locally native bee plant. Native leaf roller bees are harvesting my fresh pear leaves- telltale neat scallops carved out. All day, a few western bluebirds are diving off my lawn furniture to catch caterpillars grazing on the prairie herbs. Mourning doves and quail will soon be pecking up the thousands of wildflower seeds. Hummingbirds are sucking up nectar from monkeyflowers. Nocturnal larvae of swallowtail butterflies are feasting on my coffeeberry bushes. A 5′ very thick gopher snake slithered out of one gopher hole and into the next right where I stood weeding today. I have seen yellow bellied racers, arboreal salamanders, rubber boa, alligator lizards, and fence lizards on my doorstep. The gophers are making a mess, but the yarrow, lupines, and red maids will seed into the fresh soil piles and the foxes, coyotes, hawks, and owls appreciate my patience raising their food. These same things could be happening deeper into town: it is a matter of people deciding that they like this place, as it wants to be.

Start Now

I challenge you readers: give back to nature by planting a native species this spring. If you have a yard, dedicate one spot for a native plant, collected locally, especially a native plant that might have once occurred there. If you don’t have a yard, get some local native plant seeds and spread them where they are needed. I suggest we all spread locally collected California brome grass and blue wild rye: these two grasses are tough and fast to establish and could be your first guerilla restoration success. Join up with or support Groundswell Coastal Ecology to restore more things around you. Help the weed warriors with the California Native Plant Society: they make room for native plants to thrive.

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net

Email Grey at coastalprairie@aol.com

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April 29

#119 / Ready For A Global Culture War?

The pundits are predicting a global contest. Or maybe “predicating” is a better word. The stakes are high, the pundits say, and which way the contest will be decided is not yet clear.

We – the United States – are “the West,” representing “democracy.” That’s the “good guy” side, of course. The other side, the side of “the East,” dedicated to “autocracy,” is either Russia, or China, or all of the non-democratic nations around the world. Which side will win? That’s the question that the pundits are pondering. Here’s the answer that the pundits provide: Not yet clear!

This hypothesized “global competition” was the topic discussed in my “What If?” blog posting on April 3rd. Three different pundits got their points in. You can click the link to review the arguments.

On April 19th, my blog posting was titled, “How The West Can Win.” In that blog posting, I outlined a rather rosy prediction by Greg Ip, a pundit who was playing point guard for The Wall Street Journal. Ip advanced the thesis that the United States would win the hypothesized global competition because of our ability to dominate in the sphere of “commercially useful technology.” Again, click the link to that blog posting if you’d like to consider whether or not Ip has truly made his case.

I addressed the “global competition” issue again in a blog posting published on April 27th. That one was titled, “One World?” My blog posting on that date discussed a warning published by The Manhattan Institute, claiming that the current conflict in Ukraine is actually an ultimate “showdown between East and West.” The Manhattan Institute advises that we are actually battling someone whom The Jewish Chronicle has identified as a “sinister ideologue.” Alexander Dugin, the person in question, is identified by The Manhattan Institute as “Putin’s Philosopher.”  We are told that we had better “know our enemy,” or we might just lose the global struggle now underway.

Another popular pundit, The New York Times’ David Brooks, has turned his attention to the pundit-friendly topic of the global competition between “the West” and “the East.” Brooks’ column lamented the fact that “globalization” now appears to be on the wane, and postulates that the East-West competition is now a global “culture war.” One of Brooks’ statements struck me as exactly right. There is, said Brooks, “a lot of complexity here.”

This whole question of a global “culture war,” or a global competition between “East” and “West,” and democratic versus autocratic governments, does seem to raise complex questions.

Can’t we simplify?

I would like to make the same point, here, that I made in my earlier blog postings. My reaction to the claims made by the pundits (specifically to the claims made by David Brooks) is that the postulated “global conflict” is a conceptual construct, not an actual and inevitable “reality.” Are there conflicts between nations? Yes. Of course there are. Are there conflicts between “the West” and “the East?” Of course there are. Are there conflicts between “democratic” and “autocratic” governments? Yes. Yes. Yes. Of course there are.

But are all these enumerated “conflicts” the most important thing?

Not in my opinion.

Just as there are conflicts, so, too, are there common bonds. “Globalization,” properly understood, is not going to disappear, because we all populate the same round Earth, whatever the political or economic system under which we most directly live. We are all, ever more clearly, living in a common world – the World of Nature – a world now at risk, with the risks affecting every human being on the planet.

The Global Warming / Climate Crisis is a crisis that imperils us all, and we cannot succeed in confronting and overcoming this crisis unless we maximize cooperation and collaboration, instead of making conflict and competition as the basis for our relationships.

We have an opportunity, today, truly to “save the world,” but we will succeed in doing so, and make it possible for human civilization to survive, only as we succeed in setting aside our postulated “global conflicts.”

Think about it! That is actually true. So, let’s get the pundits to start focusing on that fact, and not on their predicated conflicts, which, to the degree we honor those conflicts as the realities that must guide our actions, will ensure that we will fail.

Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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May 2

LINE UP SEAT SELECTION, SODAS, CHAMPAGNE, POPCORN AND SNACKS FOR JUNE’S EXTRAVAGANZA!

Last week it was announced by the select House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riotous onset, and the continuing attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, that it will be holding at least eight public hearings in June. Upon finishing up the depositions scheduled in May, the story of what occurred will be offered to the public with a combination of witnesses, exhibits, as well as evidence obtained from participants and others who had knowledge of the planning and execution of the mob attack. The first hearing is scheduled for June 9, with both daytime and primetime presentations by the committee, which has divided the report into chapters to better understand the progression of the attempt to overthrow our government. It is reported that the group has conducted over 900 depositions and interviews, with close to 104,000 documents in hand. You can be sure that many are trembling in their boots as we approach what is hoped to be a reckoning for the Benedict Arnolds.

Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin suggested that former VP Pence will likely not be called to testify, and had kind words for his remaining in the Capitol, despite the threat of being hanged, to ensure that his ceremonial duties to affirm the election could be carried out. Raskin tells a story about Pence being escorted to the parking garage as the Congress was evacuated in the face of the window-smashing invasion. A car was waiting to whisk him away to safety (or captivity?), and though the Secret Service agents were known to him, he refused to get in the car. He reportedly said, “I trust you, Tim, but you’re not driving the car. If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I’m not getting in the car.” Was Pence, who was certainly knowledgeable about the coup attempt, afraid to be driven away by Trump’s agents, or was he determined to stay and carry out his duties to certify the election results? Pence’s flop sweat must have produced its own flop sweat in this situation. Tune in for the revealing chapter on this incident, which may be better suited for recounting around a Halloween campfire.

Since that January of 2021, marking the end of the four-year crime spree of the Trump Family Syndicate, we have continued to witness ongoing, increasingly dangerous attempts to fragment our democracy. The same right-wing, Banana Republican insurrectionists who attacked our country have spared no time in restricting freedom to vote, attacking fair voting districts, and preparing future attempts to incapacitate free and fair elections. The supposed Trumpian bridge between democracies never ended in reality, as they attempt to pave the way into authoritarianism. Online strategies of domestic extremists are adapting to efforts to crack down by social media platforms, using more coded language in mainstream content, with alternative platforms rising in popularity. The high-risks presented by these extremists as we head into the midterm elections will need to be countered by experts who are able to adapt to this rising threat.

House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, continues his Kiss-the-Ring-of-a-Psychopath Apology Campaign with Blitzkrieg Bozo of Orange, after having audio recordings released by unknown persons, revealing some unkind criticisms of the former president following the J-6 insurrection, supposedly with the Orangeman admitting partial responsibility for inciting the riot. At this stage, to observers, all appears to be settled, with Trump essentially forgiving all those who bad-mouthed him post-riot…well, maybe Mitch McConnell has to show a bit more remorse for his utterances. Then again, Mac voted not to convict Trump in either of his impeachments proceedings, so who knows? While stumping for J.D. Vance in Ohio, Trump acknowledged that the candidate had said “some bad things” earlier, but so had others who had “realized they were wrong and came to support” him, so now he wears it as a badge of honor – “I think it’s all a big compliment, frankly.” And, the reality is that you’re up to your neck in a world of trouble, Lord Frankly Voldemort!

One of Kevin (Charley) McCarthy’s audio sins after J-6, was claiming that he planned to ask President Bergentrop to resign…fat chance of that happening! This is the same Minority Poodle that failed to hold accountable Rep. Madison Cawthorn for making accusations against other members of Congress for holding cocaine-fueled orgies; for speaking to Paul Gosar’s posting a cartoon of beheading Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez; for cautioning Marjorie Taylor Greene’s calling for Nancy Pelosi’s execution; or, for Lauren Boebert‘s accusing Ilhan Omar of terrorism. That’s correct, the same Poodle who will reappoint the aforementioned to committees they have been booted from should the Republicans achieve dominance after the mid-terms. Maybe his spinelessness will allow him to speak to them AFTER November. You think?

As for Madison Cawthorn, a challenge has been filed before the North Carolina Board of Elections, alleging that he is constitutionally disqualified from public office for his part in the J-6 insurrection. This is akin to the challenge filed in Georgia against Marjorie Taylor Greene, the basis being Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. In Cawthorn’s case he publicly urged his followers to threaten and intimidate members of Congress into blocking certification of the 2020 presidential election in speeches, tweets and other statements which indicate, and validate, a suspicion that he was a planner, and had prior information regarding the deadly riot. And, he continues to foster political violence as a tool for intimidation to accomplish his goals. One wag suggested that politics is like a helicopter, and Cawthorn doesn’t know how to operate a helicopter either.

In the wake of last week’s Disney/Governor DeSantis brouhaha, the elimination of math books by Florida’s board of education, and the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill signed by DeSantis, a citizen has filed a complaint. Florida law allows the public to challenge any educational material they find objectionable, originating after parents complained about sexually explicit material found in Florida schools. Activist Chaz Stevens instructed eight districts in the state to “immediately remove the Bible from the classroom, library, and any instructional material. Additionally, I also seek the banishment of any book that references the Bible.” His argument of age appropriateness used by conservatives, highlights the casual references to murder, adultery, sexual immorality, bestiality, and fornication as he attempts to expose their hypocrisy. Responses by school districts only acknowledge his letter and promise to ‘respond accordingly,’ as they seek guidance from the state government. Supporters of Stevens point out Psalm 137:9 and Ezekiel 23:20, among others, to bolster their argument. Assuredly, DeSantis is paying attention, and will try to make hay with this demand – perhaps seeking a bit of advice from the Mar-A-Lago Assaulter-in-Chief to defend the Good Book!

A third-generation Turkish dairy farmer, in his attempt to keep up with modern technology has come up with a plan that might work for our Congress and the politicians in D.C. He fitted two of his cows with virtual reality goggles that make the cows think they are standing in a field of green year-round, which he claims increased not only quality of the product, but an increase in milk production. This prompted him to order ten more goggles, and if results are similar, he will order goggles for all 180 cows in the herd. Now, if we could fit our elected officials with VR goggles that showed them how progress is made, without the infighting, backbiting, and power trips, perhaps their production quotient would improve for the benefit of all. Yet, suspiciously, we might conclude that some of those denizens are already wearing their personal goggles, depicting a field of green – as in greenback$!

Look for another appeal to hit your email inbox any second now, to send bucks to Trump, while qualifying for your chance to meet the grifter and join him for dinner, all expenses paid! Even though he hasn’t declared his candidacy, the cash keeps rolling into the coffers à la Disney’s Scrooge McDuck. Trump responded in dramatic fashion when former attorney general Bill Barr opined that the Republicans should move beyond the former prez and select any other nominee – a ‘big opportunity’ for the party to move forward and avoid a big mistake. The Donald’s charge that Barr “crumbled under pressure, and bowed to the Radical Left,” in not accepting voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election, and is now groveling before the media for acceptance. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has to be enjoying this drama!

Everyone will be pleased to learn that the American taxpayers hold an interest in a Pokémon ‘Charizard’ card, confiscated from a Georgia man who used $57,789 of his $85,000 SBA COVID-19 grant to buy the item. His application deceptively claimed he needed the funds to keep his ten employees on the payroll of his ‘entertainment services’ business during the pandemic, which in the end netted him a $10,000 fine, three years in federal prison and three years of supervision after release, and a debt of $85K green to repay his loan. Check it out on your next trip to the Capitol – it will be next to the unsigned pardons left behind by the previous administration in your favorite Smithsonian museum.

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: cornerspot14@yahoo.com
 

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s ‘Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.

‘Mother’s Day”

‘Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life”.
~Sophocles

‘My mother is a walking miracle”.
~Leonardo DiCaprio

‘My dear Mama, you are definitely the hen who hatched a famous duck”.
~Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

‘Everybody wants to save the Earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes.”
~P.J. O’Rourke

‘A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.”
~Princess Diana

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I have to say it is nice to have a president who has the guts to actually show up at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner…


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