Blog Archives

May 6 – 12, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Ignore Trump, Library news. GREENSITE… on the need to speak up to save the Municipal Wharf KROHN… Santa Cruz Report. STEINBRUNER…bike lanes repaired, bike lanes erased PATTON… Exhaustion & Politics. EAGAN… Deep Cover + Subconscious Comics. JENSEN… takes a deep breath. QUOTES… “COMMUNICATION”  

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SANTA CRUZ’S REAL LIBRARY. Andrew Carnegie funded 2509, libraries and more than 800 are still in use. This photo is from our Santa Cruz library. It opened April 1904, was 9000 square feet in size, and demolished in September 1966. The library in use now opened in 1968.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

AWKWARD SPORTS MOMENTS.

OLD CIRCUS PHOTOS.

DATELINE May 4 

LATTE BREAKING NEWS

IGNORING TRUMP…A CHOICE. There’s a small chance that by working together we (the editorial “we”) could change the way our world works. IGNORE TRUMP. If we (now meaning the media) stopped watching the Trump portion of the virus updates, the three biggest TV networks FOX, CNN, and MSNBC would stop broadcasting him. Trump has created the biggest ratings ever and it’s our fault for us waiting and watching his latest lies, claims and globe changing mistakes. A digression…did you know that Rachel Maddow — who is 47 years old — was born in Castro Valley, and went to Stanford? I didn’t. Today Trump makes his headlines by taking attention away from Corona data, and we foolishly debate his every word, and he does it all over again, day after day, again grabbing all the headlines and still keeping his supporting voters. We need to stop him before elections get more scary and closer. Do remember that 22,438 Santa Cruz voters voted FOR him the last time…

LIBRARY NEWS FOR This just in from Jean Brocklebank, from Don’t Bury The Library — one of the many groups and multitudes opposed to the plans from Cynthia Mathews and her co-horts to demolish our present library, and build that new parking sky rise with cars and  collectibles combined. “Community Presentation of an update from Group 4 architects on their progress with the Downtown Library Mixed Use Project Cost Assessment. This will be a virtual meeting. There will also be a future community meeting once the final report is ready. The final report will be available to the public prior to the meeting. The place is to de determined and Doors Open: 4:30 PM…Program Starts: 4:30 PM…End Time: 6:00 PM“. 

JOKE. Shelley Hatch reports in to tell us that the Rio theatre marquee is displaying a funny. She added…I don’t know if it’s funny on paper, but it was in those big, colorful letters announcing it as a coming attraction, and a double bill as well. Serendipitously, our webmistress happened to have taken a photo of it, seeing as she also found it hysterical.

May 4th 2020

Save the Municipal Wharf!

I read the Wharf Master Plan draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) over the weekend.  It was not a pleasant experience. It is however a necessary one since the deadline to respond to this sham of a CEQA document is May 27th.  The city has been sitting on it since 2017. That they chose to release it in the middle of a stay at home viral pandemic is frustrating enough but the document itself is infuriating. I suggest you take a look. Your silence does not equal consent but it sure will be interpreted that way.  You can find it here

Ignore everything else and scroll down to the heading WHARF MASTER PLAN DRAFT EIR DOCUMENTS. Each section is a different link with the Appendices containing the various consultants’ reports. 

You may recall that the city was shamed into conducting an EIR after thousands of people who love the current wharf signed a petition protesting the proposed make-over and demanding that a full Environmental Report be done to assess the impacts of such changes. That, plus a letter from an attorney who documented the legal need for such environmental review forced the city to go back to the drawing board.  After 3 years of waiting, some hoped the whole project was on the back burner and others felt it was a non-starter due to the $25 million price tag. Both are wishful thinking. 

The language in the DEIR is Orwellian. Everything proposed is an “improvement.” Whether it’s the 3 new buildings up to 45 feet in height; a 30% increase in retail and commercial; a 50% increase in daily automobile trips with only 45 new parking spots achieved by re-striping the current spots (read narrower); the paving over of the sea lion viewing holes plus a boat landing dock capable of handling tenders from cruise ships although the document doesn’t admit that, you gonna love it! is the general theme.  

The impact on the marine and bird species (the wharf is a listed sensitive habitat site and birding hot spot) is swept into the “no significant impact” category with a sleight of hand. Sure the protected migratory birds which currently nest under the wharf might be impacted by the lowered walkway on the west side and the hundreds of people who will be able to access their current nesting area but hey, the wharf will be bigger so actually the habitat area is increased! No mention that such birds, who make the long trip from Puget Sound to the wharf each year are sensitive to disturbance, usually abandoning their nesting areas if disturbed. Nor any mention that after losing access to under the wharf from the west, entrance from the south and east will be difficult if not impossible for the birds due to the obstructions that are planned: a lowered viewing platform to the south plus a boat dock and outriggers to the east.  

The consulting historian found no issues of significance perhaps because she failed to include the lowered walkway when she wrote: “The improvements proposed for the West side of the Wharf are mostly structural (new piles) and cosmetic (improvements to the facades of the existing buildings). These alterations would not change the overall character of the Wharf and would not impair the ability of the Wharf to convey its historic significance.”

I hope by this time you are angry enough to put pen to paper and send in your comments. If you are still hesitant, consider that the Wharf Master Plan was funded by a grant from the US Department of Commerce with the claim by the city that the wharf was seriously damaged in the tsunami of 2014, which it wasn’t. Besides this fraudulent claim, consider also that the city has just thrown Gilda’s Restaurant under the bus, shoving 50 employees out of work, many of them having worked at Gilda’s for decades. Despite a number of potential buyers for the restaurant, willing to keep it as Gilda’s, the city would not grant a lease reasonable enough for a viable business venture. Four council members backed that affront. I can hazard a guess who they are. Compare that abandonment of an iconic landmark wharf business with the strategy statement #3 in the DEIR:  ” The third strategy calls for expanding the number, mix and attractiveness of commercial uses on the wharf within the existing footprint devoted to these purposes with preparation of a marketing plan to guide city efforts for outreach to potential tenants.”  Apparently not the current tenants. Remember the author of the Wharf Master Plan said, looking at Gilda’s: “We can do better.”

The Wharf is a Municipal Wharf, meaning it belongs to the people of Santa Cruz most of whom oppose this morphing into A Pier 39. That the word “municipal” has been erased in these documents is not without significance.  If this DEIR is un- opposed and sails through city council then it’s only a matter of time and grant applications before the wharf as we know and love it is forever lost to the community.

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 5, 2020

Passing the Time in Lock-Down

Watching, Listening, Reading
The first thing you will see is that the “Majority Report” has retired. Now, this is The Santa Cruz Report. Why? Because having a seat off the city council and looking in, instead of looking out, puts me in a whole different place. The current council majority acts along the lines of that old CIA-ish jaundiced view of reality, paraphrased this way: If you knew what I know you would do it this way too, but I can’t tell you what I know. It’s for your own safety. I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of this person, that event, or any reality you may be experiencing. It’s why so many councilmembers, past and present, love “Closed Session.” They get to know something no one else in town is privy to, and certain councilmembers thrive on it. And why begrudge them this stealthy fringe benefit because the job really offers few perks, a parking pass, free food during council meetings, and a smallish pay check, $1500 per month. Why shouldn’t councilmembers at least be able to carry with them the secrets of the castle? No? I don’t believe so either. The public’s business ought to be done in public, not behind the doors of the Courtyard Conference Room, a place the public cannot enter. Open and transparent government ought to be foundation of our local government, with or without Covid-19. 

Rx Advice
I can safely report out to all good residents of Santa Cruz that after having spent over seven years on the Santa Cruz City Council, the council has much to learn from the public. In fact, local government depends on “The Public” insisting on exercising its First Amendment speech rights. It is up to you to ask questions, put forward creative solutions, follow the money trail wherever it leads, and push for open and participatory governance. The community must be present to help disinfect the whole process because it’s the only cure that will save our community from those developer-real estate lugubrious souls who sell snake oil wrapped in the guise of “affordable” housing. Their scams have been working for a long time and they were willing to spend over $200k to remove two councilmembers who got in their way. (What will this November look like?) But folks, we all know it isn’t over ’til it’s over. Stay safe and stay tuned. 

Watching
What have I been watching during this lockdown? Thought you’d never ask… 

Executive producer, Michael Moore and Director Jeff Gibbs offered up an Earth Day present on April 22nd that on first look may appear to be a leftist circular firing squad. Planet of the Humans, besides being an absolutely FREE movie, offers a sober and cynical glimpse into “green capitalism.” Specifically, it presents a grim picture of industrialized and monetized wind, solar, and biomass business. Bill McKibben, Al Gore, and the Sierra Club come off, if not looking somewhat villainous then as just pragmatic capitalists. Say it ain’t so?!? Yes, inaccuracies abound in this documentary, but real substance is also there too. Part of the message is that 1) we live on a planet with finite resources, 2) there’s no free lunch and 3) fuel efficient airplanes and electric cars traversing around the planet will not save the planet in the long run. An “executive producer” is usually that person in the film hierarchy who secures the funding. So how much Moore had to do with the writing, interviewing, and post-production of Planet of the Humans is not immediately obvious. Furthermore, the film is overly serious and cynical, and lacks Moore’s tremendously famous humor from Roger and Me, Sicko, and Capitalism:  a Love Story, not to mention the show that really hooked me, the hilariously inventive TV Nation. Little of this documentary is funny.  Of course, Covid-19 has given us all an opportunity to take a step away from the climate abyss and see the positive changes already registered in air and water quality around us. The question becomes, what will we do when the “shelter in place” order is lifted and so many seek to go back to “normal,” which perhaps a majority never fully shared in before the virus? BTW, a Rachel Carson quote gets in near the very end of the movie and possibly summarizes the movie-makers message: 

Humankind is challenged, as it has never been challenged before to prove its maturity and its mastery–not of nature, but of itself.

There’s More Beyond Moore
During these Coronavirus days, there’s a lot to watch. We get to shelter-in-place during the “golden age of television.” It would take a couple of life-times to watch all the great material that’s now being produced. For any of you political junkies I recommend a Danish series, Borgen. Bruce Bratton put me onto it last year. I also suggest checking out a new Norwegian political drama series, Occupied. Quality-wise, Borgen kills it with a fantastic story-line– first Danish progressive woman prime minister dealing with a multi-party government–and the acting is first-rate. I saw most of House of Cards and Borgen beats it for realistic storyline and shear drama. It is more like an on the edge of your seat West Wing. Occupied is interesting in seeing how a Green loses his way after being chosen as head of state. For sheer pleasure, and minor dollops of politics and head-turning moments, check out the Coen Brothers western, the Ballad of Buster Scruggs. But during these sometimes bleak Covid days I have found by far the most intriguing, engrossing, and at times surreal series is La Casa de Papel from Spain. It’s called Money Heist in English. I can hardly wait for season 5! A diverse group of bank robbers, headed by a college professor, breaks into the mint in Madrid and begins printing money, but how will they get it out? I also recommend Unorthodox. It’s about a woman exiting the Orthodox community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a freer life in Berlin. If the comedic weirdness of the Coen Bros is not enough, try Look Who’s Back. Adolf Hitler returns to present-day Germany trying to do it all over again, but this time with different results. If you are a Bob Dylan fan, No Direction Home is excellent, not to mention a YouTube find of all 55 minutes of his 1965 press conference in San Francisco (Can spot the question from Alan Ginsberg?). All these offerings can be found on Netflix, except Borgen, which you will have to use your search engine to hunt down. (P.S. For your sports viewing fix try The Last Dance on ESPN, pay close attention to the hip-hop sound track. Absolutely for FREE on YouTube are the Celtics-Lakers 1984 Game 7 (with or without the original commercials); Game 7 of the 1987 Lakers-Rockets finals; the Mets-Orioles 1969 final game 5; and the 1970 Knicks-Lakers’ game 7. They are all there, enjoy!)

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“Now is the time to create millions of good jobs building out the infrastructure and clean energy necessary to save our planet for future generations.

For our economy, our planet, and our future, we need a #GreenNewDeal.” (April 20)

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

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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SANTA CRUZ CITY COUNCIL UNABLE TO ACCEPT PUBLIC COMMENT
I could not participate in the April 28 Santa Cruz City Council meeting, but did later listen to the proceedings via Community TV Government on Demand.  It seems no one from the public was able to get through to the Council for the first half of the meeting.  The Council eventually figured this out, but some members of the public most likely had given up trying.

The question the City Council needs to answer for the public is: If the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors is able to continue holding in-person public meetings that allow the people to speak freely, why can’t the City Council do the same?

COUNTY SUPERVISOR CHAIRMAN CAPUT TO ASK FOR SUPERVISORS AND DEPT. HEADS TO FOREGO PAY FOR 2 WEEKS IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE UNEMPLOYED MASSES
Chairman of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors announced at the April 28 Board meeting that he will ask members of the Board on  May 12 to forego their pay for two weeks, ans ask all department heads to join in as well.  “All these shelter-in-place orders have caused people to lose their paychecks for five or six weeks. We need to be leaders here,” he said.  Alot of people are really hurting, but government workers are okay, albeit working from home.

While County Administrative Officer has assured the public that there will be no government reductions for now, there might be in 2021.

HEY, DON’T BURY THE LIBRARY!
What are those people thinking?  Tune in May 7 at 4:30 to the Library Advisory Committee meeting for a Community Presentation of an update from Group 4 architects on their progress with the Downtown Library Mixed Use Project Cost Assessment. This will be a virtual meeting. There will also be a future community meeting once the final report is ready. The final report will be available to the public.

Plan to be ready at least 5 minutes before the virtual meeting begins at 4:30 pm. However, as with any public meeting, one may join at anytime after 4:30 pm.

SELLING ART TO STAY AFLOAT?
Until last week, any art museum who sold off art treasures for purposes other than to axquire additional pieces would suffer censuring, sanctioning and public shaming by the powerful Association of Art Museum Directors.  However, last week that group relaxed their rules to now allow art museums to sell off artwork in order to economically survive the COVID-19 problem.  Known as “deaccessioning”, art museums may now sell valuable pieces of art, just to survive.

This does not set a good precedent, and I wonder how safe the nation’s treasured art pieces are?  Who would decide when the need is great enough to sell things, rather than cut back in other areas? How would the museum directors decide what to sell and what to keep?  What guarantee to benefactors have that their donations will not be auctioned off rather than shared with the public and future generations?
Hmmm…..

MCGREGOR DRIVE NOW SAFER FOR BICYCLISTS….BIKE LANE RESTORED
Last week, the hard-working County Public Works crews repaired the huge road failure in the bike lane  on McGregor Drive in Aptos that caused some real safety hazards for cyclists.  Many thanks!!

You can write the crews a thank you note, and report other road problems that still need attention,  by filing a report here.

APTOS VILLAGE TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENT….BIKE LANE ERASED
Soon, bicyclists will have to veer out into traffic as they approach Aptos Creek Bridge in order to accommodate a traffic mitigation measure for the Aptos Village Project developers’ Phase 2 subdivision.

The County plans to begin construction soon on a new traffic light in Aptos Village at Aptos Creek Road and Soquel Drive that will be a mitigation for the Phase 2 Aptos Village Project.  In order to make room for a dedicated turn lane on eastbound Soquel Drive for left turns onto to Aptos Creek Road, the westbound bike lane in that busy area will be erased.  So will about 7 parking spaces for the Publik House and other area businesses.

The County’s project, known as “Aptos Village Traffic Improvement Project” Phase 2B is fully funded, thanks to the Board of Supervisors approving “unanticipated revenue” of $3.4+ million for the Project on March 24, 2020.  The grand total for the Phase 1 and 2 work is $6.9 million, according to Santa Cruz County Capital Improvement Report 2019/2020 (see page 58)

Look at page 60 of that Report.  It shows the drainage improvement project for Rio Del Mar esplanade area still needing $4.8 million to happen.  Why has the County consistently rated the Aptos Village Traffic Improvement Projects as the top priority for funding in various grant applications?  Hmmmmmmm…..

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WRITE ONE LETTER.  .   MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A TELECONFERENCED MEETING AND SPEAK OUT!  TAKE A WALK IN THE SUNSHINE AND FRESH AIRE AND STAY STRONG.

Cheers,
Becky Steinbruner

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

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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May 2


#123 / Exhaustion

As an environmental attorney, I am sometimes approached by persons concerned about proposed development projects of various kinds. When I am so approached, I am often asked to provide free legal and political advice, and I almost always tell inquirers that free advice is “worth every penny you pay for it.” Usually, I don’t have a lot to say in response to requests for free advice, for two different reasons. 

First, of course, as Abraham Lincoln may or may not have said, “an attorney’s time and advice are his stock in trade.” Attorneys are in the business of giving advice, and if they hope to be paid for that advice, it is not, generally, a good idea to give the advice away for free. 

Second, and much more important, as far as I am concerned, I worry a great deal that general comments I might make, giving free legal or political advice, will actually be bad advice, and steer people in the wrong direction if they rely on it. Almost always, to use that familiar phrase, the “devil is in the details,” and general statements about the law, or what might be a wise thing to do, can be significantly in error, if an attorney gives advice without really knowing what the attorney is talking about, in terms of the details.

So, I tell people who inquire, and ask for free advice, to hire an attorney to provide assistance, and to do it sooner rather than later. That is a piece of “free advice” I am willing to provide to everyone, as this blog posting makes clear. No charge to the reader! 

Here is another piece of free legal advice that I am providing to anyone who might be able to make use of it: you need to exhaust your administrative remedies before filing a lawsuit, if you want to be successful. 

“Exhaustion” is what attorneys call participating in the decision-making process at the administrative level. The courts require that the plaintiff or petitioner must have “exhausted his or her administrative remedies” before challenging a decision in court. Relevant arguments must be raised at the administrative level. Relevant facts must be introduced into evidence at the administrative level, too. One reason you need to get that attorney on board “sooner rather than later” is to make sure that you do, in fact, fully exhaust your administrative remedies.

If anyone thinks that the courts are going to reverse bad policy decisions by local officials, and thus conclude that the right time to consider hiring an attorney is immediately following a bad decision by a City Council, or a Board of Supervisors, or some state or federal agency, such person will likely be very much disappointed by the results of any lawsuit filed. 

If we hope for positive results from our institutions of democratic self-government, we need to get involved ourselves. I am fond of saying that, in these daily blog postings I write, and otherwise. 

In the context of legal proceedings to challenge governmental decisions, that kind of personal involvement is an actual requirement, before a court will take action to reverse what may have been an illegal or otherwise challengeable governmental decision. We must, in other words, give our elected officials all our arguments, evidence, and advice before those officials take their action. If we do, and the officials do what we consider to be the wrong thing, then the courts will hear from us, and examine our objections, and the courts may rule in our favor. 

If we just show up in court, however, with arguments and objections we never made during the approval process, and tell the court that the elected officials did the wrong thing, it is almost always true that the court will not even review our objections.  Why not? Because we did not “exhaust our administrative remedies.”  

Unless citizens participate before the decisions are made to which they object, the courts are simply not going to consider their arguments. 

Participation in government can be exhausting. It takes a lot of energy, time, and often money. But if you don’t exhaust your remedies in the administrative proceedings leading up to what you think is a bad governmental decision, you won’t get much satisfaction in court. 

Exhaustion? You’re saying that’s a good thing? 

You bet I am, and that’s a piece of free legal advice that is worth a lot more than what you paid for it!   

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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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. A classic comic if there ever was one. These are from Tim’s private collection!

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Covers” 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

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “Sorry, folks, I have nothing to declare this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (http://ljo-express.blogspot.com ). Any minute now, I’m going to get a grip and start posting again, so please do keep checking back. You never know when I;m going to get inspired!” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975. 

    COMMUNICATION

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind”.
~Rudyard Kipling 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. 
~George Bernard Shaw

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.”
~Henry Winkler 

Thought this might be appreciated…


COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!

Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com

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