Blog Archives

November 15 – 21, 2023

Highlights this week:

Bratton…district vs. at large voting districts, Munching with Mozart concert. Greensite…why the city needs to drop the ill-conceived plan for a lowered walkway on the weather side of the Wharf. Steinbruner…Soquel Water rates hiked, Aptos WW1 monument. Hayes…good roach stewards: shifting baselines. Patton…why we’re so mean. Matlock…banking on a fast car to be someone-maybe we make a deal. Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…literacy test… Quotes…”Thanksgiving”


COMMERCIAL FISHING ON THE SANTA CRUZ WHARF 1906. That’s Steve Ghio with the cap holding a 50 pound deep sea bass. And that is Steve Canepa holding the fish basket. The structures on the right are davits or hoists that were used to haul the boats up out of the water

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

DATELINE November 13

ELECTION TIME JUST AHEAD!!! It seems like election time is always just around the corner and we’re getting so much election campaigning even now it makes many of us shiver. Having replaced at large voting with district voting is causing enormous changes in our representation.  It’s going to change even more as a short time flies by. Will our elected reps really represent us with such a diminished neighborhood to draw from? Will we see and hear what our neighbors that are just out of political reach district wise really are caring and concerned about? Watch closely and count wisely. Check online (I just did) and see what affects that district voting vs. at large voting has caused.

TECHNICAL ISSUES AND THEN SOME. Many, many BrattonOnline readers noted last week that I wrote about The Santa Cruz Sentinel not giving attention/tribute to Glen Schaller’s passing. But there it was, a nice spread on Glen in The Sentinel!!! Please note that BrattonOnline is, was, and hopefully always will be, completely assembled every Monday (all day long). I then post the assembled date as the DATELINE in the upper right hand corner of the opening page. Then I send it to Gunilla Leavitt (“Webwoman”) Monday nights and she does whatever she does to it from Monday night to usually around Fridays or Saturdays to put it online. That gap in days is what causes those occasional goofs.

MUNCHING WITH MOZART. On the third Friday of every month at noon there’s a free concert upstairs in the main Santa Cruz Library. Carol Panofsky the lead and organizer told me that this Friday (Nov.17) they’ll be playing some Mozart and some Bach. There’ll be twin pianos.  I had some inquiries from readers and no, there’s no lunch noises or even munching sounds just a very appreciative audience and fine music.

I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

WINGWOMEN. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB) This French movie flips and mostly flops between telling us about the relationship between two women art thieves and their plots and plans to steal a painting. It sidetracks into pregnancies, gay sex, snipers and gorgeous scenes of Paris. The ending is infuriating…forget it.

THE BURIAL. (PRIME MOVIE) (7.5 IMDB).*** Jamie Foxx is over the top as an attorney and Black preacher. This covers the huge and almost secret funeral business in the USA and the financial dealings that control it. There’s much courtroom stuff, juries, attorneys, plus Tommy Lee Jones. Some laughs but it will make you think about your own arrangements!!.

FOR ALL MANKIND. (APPLE MOVIE) (8.1 IMDB). A clever, well thought out pseudo-documentary about our landing on the moon AFTER Russia beat us to it in 1969. SIDE NOTE: our 95 year old Santa Cruzan Tom Lehrer is in it and sings “Werner von Braun”. It’s a clever movie and will keep you attached.

THE KILLER. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.4 IMDB). **** Michael Fassbender does a fine job as a paid assassin. We get to watch him plot, plan and carry out numerous killings…strictly for hire. One killing goes wrong and he becomes a target himself. Tilda Swinton has a small but meaningful role. It’s not easy to like, but I did.

ESCAPING TWIN FLAMES. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.5 IMDB). *- I thought this would be a slam against awareness groups like EST but it’s about cults, sex and sex traffic and finding and keeping your current sex target. Twin Flames exists and has a membership of 67,000 members.

HURRICANE SEASON. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.6 IMDB). ** It starts with a girl’s corpse being found in a river by a bunch of teen age boys. The movie is from Mexico and switches scenes from witches to straight and gay sex. There’s too many plot holes and dream sequences to describe here…Think twice before renting it.

THE BILLIONAIRE, THE BUTLER AND THE BOYFRIEND. (NETFLIX SERIES) (5.1 IMDB). **** This is an excellent French documentary covering Liliane Bettencourt the wealthiest woman in the world. She was the owner/heiress of L’Oréal cosmetics and you’ll see the conflicts she has with her daughter all through their lives together and her semi-secret long time affair/relationship with a celebrity photographer. Many of the actual friends and enemies in her life are very much part of this documentary.

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

NYAD. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). **** A must watch movie. No critique here, I loved it and became a total supporter of Diana Nyad (played by Annette Bening) the 64 year old who made four attempts at swimming from Cuba to Florida (110 miles!) She co-stars with Jodie Foster in this near documentary. The swim took her four tries over the decades before she succeeded and you’ll hang on to each attempt. Don’t miss this one. Try to get a copy of the New Yorker online from their piece in 2012 on Nyad herself.

FINGERNAILS. (APPLE TV MOVIE) (6.2 IMDB). ** This bizarre and foolish movie is based on some research saying that if you rip off a fingernail from a couple who wonder about their love being true and strong and fry the nails on a machine, a percentage flashes up showing if the couple is good to go. It takes place in a large group of offices called The Love Training Institute.   

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.9 IMDB). ***• Mark Ruffalo is back onscreen this time with a French accent. It takes place in 1944 with Nazi Germany occupying a small French town full of resisters and a blind girl using a hidden radio to broadcast pro-France encouragements. The relationship between the girl and a German soldier holds our interest…to a point. Go warned.

THE AFTER. (NETFLIX SHORT) (6.4 IMDB). *** This short film seems to be a new idea on the movie internet…it’s only 18 minutes long. David Oyelow shows us the inside reactions to a tragic accident and how it affects his life. It’s touching, disturbing, and very deep into tragedy. It’s almost a silent film and we go so heartfelt into dealing with life’s surprises.

SISTER DEATH. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.8 IMDB). *** Almost entirely filmed and centered in a nunnery this movie from Spain covers it all. Ghosts, visions, dreams, memories, nightmares and even a rape by the nunnery gardener. It’s set during the Spanish Civil war and keeps us all guessing and hoping that the new nun comes to her senses. Watch it.

COLD PURSUIT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.2 IMDB). * 71 year old Liam Neeson drives a snow plow for a living and some drug dealers kill his son by planting drugs on him. It’s just one more Hollywood take and lacks any and all believability. Laura Dern is back onscreen too, and plays her usual mugging self. Not recommended.

KAALA PAANI. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.1 IMDB). *** This movie from India takes us right through the covid epidemic and what it did and does to the citizens who live on two islands. Many authorities look for a cure as death hits on several islanders. What’s unusual is that it takes place not now but in December 2027. Go for it.


November 13


The photo above, taken by a friend who worked at Gilda’s restaurant, clearly shows that the city’s proposal to construct a lowered walkway, eight feet below deck level, extending for over eight hundred feet below the restaurants, is not well-thought out. The wave in the photo flowed easily beneath the Wharf without incident, as have hundreds of thousands of other waves since 1914, by design.

There is a reason the Wharf pilings are at this height. Master Engineer Brunnier‘s year-long study of the wave and wind conditions prior to designing and constructing the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf in 1914 has gifted us with a historic Wharf that has withstood the test of time. Whether it can withstand the test of a city bureaucracy intent on morphing it into a Pier 39 is another question.

Sometimes a design on paper, in this case, the Wharf Master Plan, designed by the SF design firm ROMA needs to be changed when real world conditions are better understood and considered. For example, the Wharf Master Plan includes an entrance gate, 500 feet into the Wharf, topped by a sign announcing you are on the Wharf. However, when the tall crane was recently needed to replace pilings under the demolished Miramar, it was noted that such an entrance gate would not allow a crane to enter the Wharf. So that entrance gate plan will be scrapped, fortunately before not after its construction.

Similarly, the so-called Westside Walkway on paper does not stand up to real world conditions.  The pilings for the walkway will be at least eight feet lower than the current pilings. I can imagine Mr. Brunnier’s angst at such ignorant departure from his design. Rather than flowing under the current pilings, a wave such as in the photo will crash into the walkway. I’ll leave it to your imagination to ponder the impact, on the walkway, on the restaurant windows and on anyone who happens to be on the walkway, including people in wheelchairs.

The planners claim they will close the walkway in stormy weather or when conditions require such closure. That reveals an unfortunate ignorance of wave conditions. A friend and I on a calm sunny summer’s day decided to Stand Up Paddle from Natural Bridges to Cowell Beach. The ocean was calm with no waves. As we approached Seal Rock, we heard a whooping and a hollering from people on the cliffs at Steamer Lane. To our surprise and fear, we saw huge breaking waves approaching Cowell’s, stretching the full width from Steamer Lane to the Wharf. There were three of them; rogue waves and by sheer luck they dissipated by the time we ventured beyond Seal Rock. There is no way such waves could have been anticipated. Anyone on a lowered walkway on the west side would likely have been injured. It seems the city has not considered such liability.

When first proposed, the lowered west walkway was touted as a fun recreation aspect of the Wharf Master Plan: the impact on migratory nesting birds’ access to nests under the Wharf was ignored. As people pushed back, the story changed, and the walkway became “needed” for the lateral stability of the Wharf. However, during the 2020 hearings for the Wharf Master Plan and its EIR, at the Planning Commission meeting, a commissioner asked the project manager about this apparent need. The manager deferred the question to the then Wharf Supervisor who said, “it’s not there particularly to protect the wharf, it’s just often to bring a walkway down closer to the water, but generally we like to look for the twofers and threefers when it comes to do a structure, and this accomplishes several things.”

The Court determined that the city failed to provide compelling evidence that the westside walkway was the only choice for Wharf structural stability and cited alternatives from the Engineering Report. Now the planners say the lowered walkway pilings are needed to take the brunt of debris damage and protect the pilings under the restaurants. Fair enough, but there are alternatives for that protection too and they don’t involve low pilings and vulnerable public walkways.

Removing the westside walkway means the adoption of EIR Alternative 2 which is the environmentally superior alternative, meeting all project objectives. The Historic Preservation Commission last month voted to recommend to council the removal of the westside walkway “as degrading the visual character of the Wharf…and incompatible with its historic design.” One suspects that Master Engineer Brunnier would agree and would add a bit about why he chose 4,450 pilings at their current height. Councilmembers and commissioners who have asked the Wharf crew their thoughts on a lowered westside walkway on the weather side of the Wharf have received a loud and clear message that it should be scrapped.

Besides dropping the unpopular plan for three forty- foot-tall buildings on the Wharf, there are compelling reasons to drop the ill-conceived westside walkway from the Wharf Master Plan. If you agree, you need to let city council know prior to its November 28th meeting when final decisions will be made determining our Municipal’ Wharf’s future.

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


November 13


If you or someone you know have to buy water from Soquel Creek Water District, please take action now to let the Board know you want to see what the District is doing to cut out-of-control spending habits and expensive consultants doing work that should be done in-house.

This Sunday, November 19, ratepayers will gather at 1pm at the Capitola Library Ow Community Meeting Room to organize resistance to the impending 10%-12.5% compounded annual rate increase for the next four years that the District Board has indicated it will approve at their Special Meeting the next evening, Monday, November 20.  That’s when the Board will hear the Raftelis Consultant explain the justification for yet another series of steep rate increases but likely will not examine what costs the District could reduce in order to be more fiscally-accountable to the rate payers.

Ratepayers are footing the $161,410 bill for this Raftelis Consultant study.

It might be helpful to look back on what the last five years in 9% annual rate increases did. Here is the Prop 218 mailer people received, showing the increases and tier adjustments

The Board began actions on the current rate increase with Item 7.5 on January 17, 2023 (page 178-183)

Some District customers have wondered how much the Raftelis Consultant is charging for the Rate Study and 10-year Financial Plan. The Board approved the Raftelis contract on May 2, 2023, with a price tag of $161,410,  then Staff recommended Raftelis, even though a second consultant, Bartle Wells, submitted a lower bid of $95,150 and has worked well with the District before.

(See item 7.5, pages 100-287)

Here is the link for what Raftelis is supposed to do, which includes a four-year annual rate increase scenario

Here is the link to what Raftelis was supposed to accomplish in 2018 with a multi-year finance plan and rate study:

Isn’t it interesting that the District cancelled the October 23 Finance Standing Committee meeting and has not rescheduled it?


On Veteran’s Day, local leaders of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Scouts, and Cabrillo Host Lions Club were joined by Second District County Supervisor Zach Friend and Second District Historic Resources Commissioner Kevin Newhouse to commemorate the installation of the WWI Monument 100 years ago.

The Monument was originally located further west on what is now Soquel Drive, but was known as the main Santa Cruz -Watsonville Road at the time, to recognize the 60 Santa Cruz County residents who perished in The War.  When the modern Highway One was built in the 1950’s, the Monument was partially buried and destined to be covered in brush and forgotten.

However, in 2002, a young Scott Evans decided that should not be allowed to happen, and made it his Eagle Scout project to work with local residents and businesses, which included Granite Construction Co., to move the Monument to its present-day location to be more visible and ensure that the significance of the Christmas, 1923 Daughters of the American Revolution action was not forgotten.

Scott received many awards for his initiative and citizenship before going off to college.  Another young fellow by the name of Matt Marani noticed in about 2010 that the Monument was pretty overgrown, and took it upon himself to work with his family and friends to clean the area and keep the Monument visible.

Matt went off to college in 2016, and this time, it was the Cabrillo Host Lions Club leadership that noticed the Monument was getting overgrown.  Since 2018, the Club members  have maintained the site, thanks to Lion Aumao Toalepaialii instituting the last Saturday morning of every month a workday at the site.

Many hands make important work possible and preserves the original purpose of the Monument and all those who perished in the “War to End All Wars”.

DAR Chapter President Ann Lauten Fay, DAR Past President Priscilla Partridge and Past District Governor Cabrillo Host Lion Barbara Chamberlain discuss the transition of care for the Monument over the 100 years it has existed.

Rob Marani (an Eagle Scout) and Lion Charlie Ukestad (former member of Scout Troop 599) raise the flag and new flag pole donated by Matt Marani.

Second District Historic Resources Commissioner Kevin Newhouse discussed the historic significance of the location, and the former Santa Cruz – Watsonville Road at Rob Roy Junction.

Second District County Supervisor Zach Friend welcomed those who were gathered, and remarked upon the significance of the DAR to install the Monument 100 years ago,  honoring those who perished in The War.  (Behind him on the Monument is a WWI militiaman’s service cap, brought for the occasion by Lion Tui Aiono.)

It was a somber closing with “Taps”.

Thank a Veteran and light a candle for peace in the world.




Cheers,   Becky

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

Email Becky at


November 13


Good Roach Stewards: Shifting Baselines

“Shifting baselines” is a term used to illustrate how humans acculturate to reduced wildlife, thinking that what they experience is normal and good. “Good enough” is perhaps a better term. Too many people measure success by saying ‘good enough!’ With species diversity in general and wildlife population health specifically, ‘good enough’ for some people is probably not what most people deserve and ‘shifting baselines’ is the problem at hand for large areas of Santa Cruz County.

Current Baseline: Shift Happened

Fifteen thousand years ago, a combination of poor human stewardship and climate change created a mass extinction event in California. Dire wolf, mastodon, mammoth, lion and other big cats, camel and horse relatives, the California turkey, a flightless duck in the lagoon at Laguna Creek, ground sloth, short-faced bear, and a host of other critters disappeared in a very short period of time. We don’t miss those species – they aren’t part of our cultural memory. But, we do seem to reminisce about beaver, gray wolf, tule elk, the California grizzly, badger and pronghorn…species that disappeared from the Central Coast more recently. Well, I’m not sure how many people really think about those species and ‘miss’ them. I do. The miracle recovery of some whale species seems to excite people, but those same people generally don’t consider the vastly reduced numbers of those species. In sum, our current wildlife situation is what is known as ‘depauperate’ – much reduced from historical numbers. And yet, most people think that what occurs today is ‘normal’ and they don’t much think about the opportunities to recover wildlife to more healthy populations on at least public lands in the Central Coast. Our experience of our “biological baseline” is greatly different than humans 15,000 years ago.

What will future generations of humans come to think of as normal? Will they one day realize that California is down to three species of wildlife, all cockroaches, and form some sort of cultural pride to recover the last remaining wild species? This is the trajectory we are moving towards because no one seems to care about the situation with the Central Coast’s wildlife, right now. If they did, local parks managers would hear about it and politicians would hold them accountable.

Parks Manager Responsibility

Whether we are thinking about State Parks or land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the officials in charge of more than 20% of Santa Cruz County have a responsibility to monitor the impact of their management choices and to maintain wildlife populations for future generations. Specifically, all State Parks are required to have a General Plan and, in those plans, to outline how they will manage responsibly to maintain healthy wildlife populations. Similarly, the BLM is required to manage Cotoni Coast Dairies first and foremost for conservation, which requires wildlife surveys be conducted that can inform the agency’s management of livestock, ecosystems, and recreation.

Cotoni Coast Dairies: A Singularly Special Opportunity

What makes BLM’s management of Cotoni Coast Dairies a grandly special opportunity is that the property has not yet been opened to the public, so BLM can collect wildlife data before recreational activities begin to impact species. The wildlife of all other parks has already been negatively impacted by recreational use and so we can’t as easily understand how to improve the management of recreation in those places. Perhaps trail use on the trails BLM has already built will have no impact on wildlife – that would be extremely unusual! Chances are good that recreational use will negatively affect wildlife even hundreds of feet away from the trails. We won’t know how significant those effects will be unless data are collected before recreational use of the trails. And, we won’t learn which species are impacted by what numbers, timing and types of recreational use: those things would be very relevant to BLM and other regional parks managers in order to accomplish their mandates.

On the Other Hand: ‘Good Enough!’

Here’s some of the things I’ve heard about biological baselines to inform land management in Santa Cruz County. Mostly, land managers say that they have enough information to make good decisions. This is important for them to say because they are required to use the best available science. If they say that they don’t have sufficient science, they are admitting fault and might be held liable, so they can’t say anything but that they have enough science already.

When pressed, they say something akin to “Just look! Habitat!” You dare not suggest species are a better measure of management success because they have a world of arguments against that approach. Their argument goes…if you have a grassland, you have done all you can to protect grassland species…a redwood forest! Violà! Redwood forest species all taken care of! If the species aren’t there, they say something like “well, that’s beyond our control” or “they’ll show up some day.” In short…some vague habitat description and a map of the presence of said habitat is ‘good enough.’ The fact is that species are much more sensitive to management of those habitats than manager’s broad brush would suggest. The problem is…any more refined monitoring might be either expensive and/or could hold managers accountable.


What if you had rare wildlife species on the land you managed, what would you do? Might you consult with the agency that is responsible for recovering those species? The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has good wildlife biologists, and they have survey protocols that are useful in documenting a species’ presence/abundance. Same with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Would you want to make the public aware of the conservation work you are performing, and how successful it has been? Would you be worried about negative publicity?

Do you think lands managers feel accountable about more than their conservation mandates? Do you think that they feel accountable to certain recreational user groups? How would you know which type of accountability they feel more concerned about?

Your Role

I hope that you have joined a pro-wildlife advocacy group. Working together, we can make sure that the wildlife our children’s children experience is more diverse, and more plentiful, than what we experience now. The alternative is bleak: children fascinated by the last species, raising cockroaches in cages and hoping that their offspring might live in the impoverished ecology resulting from a world of shifting baselines. I don’t think that is good enough.

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

Email Grey at


November 13

#317 / Why We’re So Mean

David Brooks, who writes, most usually, for The New York Times, is a not a pundit who limits his pontifications to one venue alone. Recently, Brooks has written a long essay for The Atlantic, “HOW AMERICA GOT MEAN.”

You pretty much need to subscribe to The Atlantic to read its articles, I think, though non-subscribers are certainly invited to click the link that I have provided, and to test out how stringently The Atlantic is committed to maintaining a robust system of paywall protection. Presuming that The Atlantic is definitely feeling that a robust defense against non-subscriber intellectual interlopers is important, let me quickly summarize what Brooks has to say in “HOW AMERICA GOT MEAN.”

First, Brooks indicates that he is “obsessed” with the question of how Americans have become so “mean.” Brooks is also “obsessed,” he confesses, with another question, “how Americans became so sad.”

With respect to the “mean” thing, Brooks cites to various indicator statistics, including murder rates, the level of charitable giving within the overall population, and hate crimes. He is pretty clear, looking at the numbers, that there really is something happening on the “we’re getting mean” front. “We’re enmeshed in some sort of emotional, relational, and spiritual crisis,” Brooks says, “and it undergirds our political dysfunction and the general crisis of our democracy.”

Brooks offers a number of alternative theories as possible explanations:

The technology story: Social media is driving us all crazy.

The sociology story: We’ve stopped participating in community organizations and are more isolated.

The demography story: America, long a white-dominated nation, is becoming a much more diverse country, a change that has millions of white Americans in a panic.

The economy story: High levels of economic inequality and insecurity have left people afraid, alienated, and pessimistic.

While Brooks thinks all these “stories” are worth pondering, and have some relevance, Brooks doesn’t really believe that any one of them actually (or at least fully) explains what’s going on:

The most important story about why Americans have become sad and alienated and rude [Brooks says] is also the simplest: We inhabit a society in which people are no longer trained in how to treat others with kindness and consideration. Our society has become one in which people feel licensed to give their selfishness free rein. The story I’m going to tell is about morals. In a healthy society, a web of institutions—families, schools, religious groups, community organizations, and workplaces—helps form people into kind and responsible citizens, the sort of people who show up for one another. We live in a society that’s terrible at moral formation (emphasis added).

What we need, in sum, is better “moral training.” That’s what Brooks is telling us.

As anyone who has read my daily blog postings with any regularity knows, I am not really convinced that spending a lot of time acting as an “observer” of life is the best way to utilize one’s time. I am more interested in what to do. “Acting,” in other words, not “observing,” is what I think should be our major focus.

In order to be effective as “actors,” of course, we do need to have a sense of where we are, and what’s going on. Paying attention to sociology, technology, economics, and our political situation is clearly important. As a public intellectual and pundit, Brooks provides us with important assistance as he puzzles through important questions, including the question of why Americans have become so “mean.”

Personally, though, I tend to think that there is a problem when we start “seeing” the world as if the discrete encounters and experiences we have are best understood by deploying a “theory” that might appropriately explain them. To use Brooks’ article as an example of what I am talking about, if we are operating on the basis that Americans have become “mean,” we can start interpreting most of our encounters with others in the framework of “mean” / “not mean,” which I think can have the effect of radically diminishing our willingness simply to meet others where they are, and deal with them there.

While my experience is admittedly based on a very small sample, my own encounter with a bonafide “troll,” previously reported here, seems to illustrate the disadvantage of going out into our world with a preformed idea that we are likely going to encounter lots of “mean” people. I have, very recently, had an online encounter with someone who wrote me, “out of the blue,” from my perspective, to call me “ridiculous,” and to tell me that he “heckled” me during a speech I apparently gave in San Lorenzo Park, in Santa Cruz. I don’t remember any such incident, which must have occurred many years ago, but I replied to the person who emailed me, and our correspondence ended up with him thanking me for my years of public service.

Let’s try to avoid the “mean” / “not mean” construct as we encounter the other persons with whom we share the world. I continue to think that “talking to strangers” is an activity to be encouraged. Small groups, working on issues of mutual importance – “doing politics,” I am tempted to call it – are also likely to be productive, and to end up connecting us, as individuals, with other persons who turn out to be the opposite of “mean.”

Smiling at everyone helps, too.

If you have never thought about that “smile” idea, try it. I bet you’ll like it!

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

Email Gary at


November 13


Surprise, surprise…Judge Aileen Cannon has decided that for the present, our former president’s trial for charges of mishandling classified documents, scheduled for March 2024, will not be changed for now. Trump’s whining to get the dates rescheduled for all his trials until after the 2024 election has been dead-ended in all cases. He and his attorneys have been saying they are simply too busy with the complexities of preparation, while being tied to the demands of a grifting campaign which they term “the presidential nomination campaign.” Gotta keep that ‘basket of deplorables’ fat and happy to insure that the money keeps rolling in to keep the attorneys fat and happy! Judge Cannon indicates she will revisit other deadlines as the time draws closer, but by March many of the issues in the case may have been decided and Trump may be attending that trial in his custom-fitted orange jumpsuit by Brioni.

Special Counsel Jack Smith responded sans gloves with the Trump team when they attempted to get the federal election subversion case trial dismissed as being “meritless.” Smith’s team wrote in their rebuttal, “The defendant stands alone in American history for his alleged crimes. No other president has engaged in conspiracy and obstruction to overturn valid election results and illegitimately retain power.” The Trump claim that there was no crime since the election wasn’t successfully stolen, which was countered by Smith’s team saying that robbers are still charged with a crime even if they are “captured en route to a bank robbery.”A conspiracy can be committed even if the object of the conspiracy is unattainable,” they added. The Trump team now has ten days to respond before US District Judge Chutkan makes a ruling on their motion to dismiss. Keep an eye open for the getaway car!

In the New York court last week, Ivanka Trump, the Don’s “wonderful and beautiful daughter,” took the stand as a witness in daddy Trump’s $250M fraud trial for questioning about past deals as prosecutors attempt to prove the family organization knowingly lied to lenders. Following the leads of her brothers who testified the week before, she was “unable to recall” any details, saying, “I’m not an accountant,” in her calm and disciplined manner. Of course, she was undoubtedly fretting over her poor kids that she had to leave outside, begging for bread on the streets. She admitted that “there were many emails, many conversations” and she was treated to examination of copies of emails and other documents relating to a Deutsche Bank private wealth management division loan which had her fingerprints all over, so to speak. That loan, for purchase of the Doral Golf Club in Miami, was contingent upon the Trump organization maintaining a value in excess of $3B, which raised some concern with a Trump lawyer. Ivanka then renegotiated the contingency to get the net worth covenant reduced to $2.5B…not bad for a beautiful daughter who can’t afford a babysitter! Her comment via an email in 2011 was, “It doesn’t get any better than this. Let’s discuss ASAP.” The same year Daddy Donny would claim that he was worth $4.2B, though the prosecution alleges that he was not worth $2B at that time. Ivanka the Beautiful was originally listed as a co-defendant for the family case, but an appeals court tossed that designation, ruling that her involvement with the Trump Organization as a top executive had passed the statutes of limitations after she stepped down to serve in the Trump Administration following the election; therefore, she is only a witness.

Deutsche Bank, for its part, started severing ties with Trump after the embarrassment of the 2020 election due to the negative publicity. The threat to seize Trump’s assets as he spirals downward is real, as he would be unable to pay off the loans should they be called for payment in full. It is assumed Trump has only been paying interest on the loans, so the bank would declare him in default as they started the foreclosure on the properties he put up as collateral. Selling the loans on the secondary market is a non-starter, because no buyer would care to join the line of creditors who have been stiffed, especially if considering the added $1B debt that Trump is rumored to have. But then, misery loves company, and who would be more deserving than Deutsche, an enterprise noted for its money laundering schemes over the years, so criminality among criminals should get its just rewards…it’s every rat for himself.

A post on Quora reads, “My son is taking part in a social experiment. He has to wear a ‘Trump 2024’ t-shirt for two weeks to see how people react. So far, he’s been spit on, punched and had a bottle thrown at him! I’m curious to see what happens when he goes outside.”

Even though his kids were of no help to him after their court appearances, Spraytan Donny is hanging in there to salvage his ‘reputation’ as a legit businessman, placing a great burden on his legal team who now weave in and out of his fantasy world to earn their keep. As Aldous J. Pennyfarthing writes on Daily Kos, “If you ever find yourself in legal peril, you might want to consider hiring Alina Habba as your attorney. But only if you’re on trial for dropping a house on a witch, because if you hire her for committing crimes in the real world, you’ll likely be in for a rude awakening. Trump is facing loads of legal peril, and Habba’s job is to go on teevee to convince millions of people who are already sure he’s innocent that the Brobdingnagian heap of criminal and civil accusations against him were all meticulously curated by a sitting president who’s nothing but a listless amalgam of advanced dementia symptoms. If, during sentencing, she somehow manages to score him a hard-bristled toothbrush for his weekly prison urinal cleanings, that’ll be just gravy.” On a recent appearance with Newsmax’s Carl Higbie, Habba claimed Trump isn’t worried about going to jail because he “did nothing wrong” and the Secret Service will keep that from happening anyway. Pennyfarthing asks, “What does that mean? Who knows, really? The Rosetta Stone for translating MAGA-speak into the King’s English is likely more fermented psychedelic toad venom than any of our snowflake liberal bodies could possibly handle.” Aldous J. suggests it may translate into an OK Corral-style shootout between the Secret Service and the court bailiff working the fraud trial should Judge Engoron attempt to throw Trump into the cooler for violating the gag order. Or that possibly Trump has a stay-out-of-jail-free card because he has an armed Praetorian Guard paid for by the federal government, a snag they can surely work out if he is indeed sentenced.

Trump’s hand-picked Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, was still trying to prove his worth in bringing the two parties together as the deadline approached for the budget vote. Along with that countdown Mikey is drawing attention in many quarters as well…the most prominent eyebrow raiser being a year-old clip where he says he and his son use Covenant Eyes, which bills itself as a tool that “helps you live porn-free with confidence,” an app which weans people from porn by monitoring online activity of phones or computers. “Covenant Eyes is the software we’ve been using a long time in our household,” Johnson says in the clip, which was filmed at a ‘War on Technology’ event, hosted by Cypress Baptist Church in Louisiana in October 1922. Covenant Eyes’ site says, “Porn is a human problem, we provide a human solution. Covenant Eyes helps you and the ones you love live porn-free through transformative accountability relationships.” News doesn’t suggest that Johnson has a pornography addiction, only that the site sends a report to the ‘accountability partner’ who in this case is his son, Jack. Father and son receive a report on one another’s internet use once weekly, and if “anything objectionable comes up,” Mike or Jack will receive an immediate notification. Johnson said his son has “got a clean slate so far,”….no word from Jack on his father’s slate, nor from Johnson’s office after inquiries.

Speaker Johnson, noted for his socially conservative views, has made his Christian faith a cornerstone of his career, both politically and professionally. He once worked for Alliance Defending Freedom, a rightwing Christian legal organization which aims to overturn same-sex unions, enact a total ban on abortion, and strip away the standing minimal rights of the transsexual community. As far as raising questions about what Johnson does, or doesn’t do, on Covenant Eyes through his internet connections, it should raise security concerns since Google once determined the site violated its policies after a Wired investigation, though it has since been reinstated. Johnson’s office has been contacted for comment on donations to his 2018 campaign from Russian nationals through a Texas-based company, American Ethane, which donated thousands of dollars to Louisiana Republican candidates. American Ethane was run by American John Houghtaling, but 88 percent of the firm was owned by three Russian nationals. One of the men, Konstantin Nikolaev, an oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin, has financially backed Maria Butina, a Russian citizen who live in Washington, DC, and who served 18 months in prison after being convicted of being an unregistered foreign agent, after infiltrating conservative political groups and influencing foreign policy to benefit Russia before and after the 2016 election. Jason Hebert, former campaign manager for Johnson, claims the $37,000 was returned once they were “made aware of the situation,” being a violation of federal law to ‘knowingly accept donations from a foreign-owned corporation, a foreign national, or any company owned or controlled by foreign nationals,’ The Federal Elections Commission fined American Ethane $9500 for their transgression, resulting in a scathing condemnation by two FEC commissioners who said, “Though American Ethane did pay a civil penalty, it was a slap on the wrist that failed to account for a violation of one of the most fundamental provisions entrusted to this commission to enforce. One can only hope that in future cases, the commission will once again muster the political will to wall off our elections from the malign influence of foreign money.”

Steve Schmidt on his The Warning blog says, ” The new Speaker has no bank accounts of any kind, believes people and dinosaurs lived together 6,000 years ago, and is second in line to the American presidency; he is a fanatic, a true believer, the extremist in our midst, and is indeed the ‘Handmaid’s speaker.’ Mike Johnson of Louisiana shouldn’t be where he is. Now that he is, be warned.” Those who have looked into his personal financial disclosures found that he lists zero assets, and while he may be observing the rules on what he lists, it’s clear he doesn’t have much money…a red flag?

His wife, Kelly, has sponsored a seminar entitled ‘Answers for Our Times: Government, Culture, and Christianity,’ announcing herself as a Christian counselor and anti-abortion activist, claiming to be a “leader in the pro-family movement.” The two have followed the evangelical circuit giving their seminars, with Mike talking about how he thinks mandatory religious exams should be given to American political candidates. “I want to know what you think about the Christian heritage of this country. I want to know what you think about God’s design for this society. Have you even thought about that?” he queries. “We have too many people in government who haven’t even thought about this stuff.” Maybe he doesn’t know about Article VI Clause 3 of the US Constitution which says, “No religious Test shall be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Or, maybe like most Republicans, he just doesn’t care? Robert Harrington on The Palmer Report calls Johnson “a deadly dangerous christofascist looney, and people like him are infiltrating the Republican Party…they are becoming the Republican Party.” Harrington writes as one who has experienced first-hand the evangelical movement, the followers of which believe that more evangelicals should be in public office who can run government according to their intolerant biblical strictures. He says, “They are scary. There is always something deeply wrong with them. Always. None of them are ever normal. It’s a symptom of how the moral void of the MAGA Republicanism is being filled up by evangelical lunatics. And they’re coming for your country today.”

Posted on the Quora website: After seeing a protestor’s sign which read, “GOD WILL JUDGE AMERICA OVER ABORTION AND GAY MARRIAGE.” I need to get this straight…God didn’t judge America over the millions of natives that were raped and murdered and had their land stolen. God didn’t judge America over the millions of Africans that were raped, murdered and enslaved for centuries. And God didn’t judge America over not taking care of the homeless, hungry, sick and dying poor. But now God will judge America over abortion and gay marriage? Rrrrright!”

“Hey, you idiots! You think if Donald Trump was my Chosen One, don’t you think I could have gotten him reelected?”  – God

“Do you think that God gets stoned once in a while? Look at the platypus. I think so.”  – Robin Williams

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email:


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

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


“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If you think Independence Day is America’s defining holiday, think again. Thanksgiving deserves that title, hands down.”
~Tony Snow

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”
~John F. Kennedy. 


This week’s video is someone taking an actual 1960 literacy test from Louisiana. Fascinating and horrifying…

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