BRATTON… De-sal in our Bay, Mayor Fred Keeley, great Craft sale, film critiques GREENSITE…on Cuba. KROHN…election results 2022, who won, who cares? STEINBRUNER…Purewater Soquel project, Branciforte Fire District, SC County Fire Code, Aptos Village new intersection? HAYES…Ferns. PATTON…Name those Billionaires. MATLOCK…searching for solutions in all the wrong places. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week. QUOTES…”Thanksgiving, part 2″
DATELINE November 21
DESALINATION PLANT COMING SOON! In a surprise move the California Coastal Commission voted to approve a de-sal plant in Marina. Go here to read the sad news. It’ll be built and operated by Cal Am. As Cal Matters newsletter states…
“California American Water, the nation’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater company, plans to build the plant to pump ocean water, desalinate it and provide drinking water to 100,000 people on the Monterey Peninsula. The largely Latino, agricultural community of Castroville would also receive the water at a discount”. “”It’s our city, our water, our beaches, and our wildlife — so that Cal-Am can send the water to another wealthier community who don’t even want it,” Marina Mayor Bruce Delgado told commissioners, his voice breaking”.
All of this battle over again long after we fought de-sal here locally years ago. More than that another website says, Cal Am Desal threatens to diminish and contaminate Marina’s water supply with saltwater intrusion. 100% of your drinking water comes from Marina’s groundwater basin.
Cal Am proposes to build a desal project that will take up to 15 million gallons per day from Marina’s already over-drafted groundwater basin. It would only supply Monterey Peninsula customers. Marina would receive none of this water .It threatens to diminish and contaminate Marina’s water supply with saltwater intrusion.
Cal Am’s desal threatens Marina’s beautiful coastline by adding a major industrial facility on its dunes and beaches.
It would damage vital open space, and natural and wildlife habitat, and would limit access to the new beachfront property after the CEMEX sand mining plant closes.
ABOUT MAYOR FRED KEELEY. Last week I “printed” a note here about our new Mayor Fred Keeley that said he was a rich landlord. I should have checked before using that note. Turns out he isn’t a landlord and he isn’t rich.
GIFTS FROM LOCAL CRAFTSPEOPLE. I’ve known almost all of these crafts people for decades, and their work is excellent. I went to their first Barn Sale last year and almost finished my entire gift list. Check out… Marcia McDougal – ethnic jewelry, textiles, and collectibles. Heather McDougal – jewelry, painted leather, quilted bags and garments. Kim Kempke – pottery. Saarin Schwartz – pottery. Rita Bottoms – books of her own essays and a new book about her husband Tom Bottoms’ art. Bonita John – maps and cards. Jill Damashek – pottery. Matt Hill – wood sculpture and poetry. You’ll find pottery, jewelry, textiles, wood sculpture, books, and cards created and collected by local artisans. It takes place at The Barn which is a great, nearly ancient structure up the Ocean Street Extension road at #2016. It happens only December 3 & 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
THE GOOD NEIGHBOR. (HULU MOVIE) (6.3 IMDB). Two men forced to be neighbors become involved in a bike accident killing a young beautiful blonde girl. Their relationship to each other and how they work to avoid the guilt and legal problems makes this a positive nightmare to watch…and you should watch it.
FROM SCRATCH. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.9 IMDB). I could only take about 25 minutes of this mindless, low level “romantic drama”. A girl from Texas goes to Florence Italy and despite the super scenery has typical Hollywood tete a tetes that will make you cringe.
1889. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.1 IMDB).A German film centering on a cruise ship full of passengers that meet up with a ghost like ship named The Prometheus. It’s a fine film with great effects, good acting, intelligence and a plot that will keep you attached for episodes.
THE DEVILS HOUR. (PRIME SERIES) (7.8 IMDB). The plot is that 3:33 am is the devil’s hour for this mother who is raising her son. He has amnesia and she’s a social worker. The police are heavily involved in trying to solve a murder and she keeps seeing bloody scenes in her dreams. It’s worth staying up for.
FALLING FOR CHRISTMAS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.3 IMDB). I was curious to see what Lindsay Loman (now age 36) looks like after all these years. This is billed as a “romantic comedy” but it really isn’t either one. The acting is nonexistent, the plot is terrible and it’s aimed at teen agers who haven’t learned what’s funny. Avoid at any or no cost.
FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE. (HULU SERIES) (6.7 IMDB). Jesse Eisenberg plays off Claire Danes as a separated but still married couple. He’s a doctor and is trying to adjust to being single and still raising their kids. Good acting, intriguing plot, and a chance to review your own issues with relationships. 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.
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). A serious story from a book about a very young girl who was deserted by her family and forced to live her life known as the Marsh Girl. Perfectly acted by Daisy Edgar-Jones and aided by David Strathairn as her attorney its deep, colorful, and threatening as she learns how to cope with the few humans in her life plus a murder. The ending is a shocker and it’s very worthwhile watching.
THE CROWN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.7 IMDB). This is the fifth (that’s 5!!!) season of this Queen Elizabeth saga and it does lack something. We Americans (and much of the world) have always been so fascinated by the British throne and surroundings so we watch anything and everything about those royals. Here we watch Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s marriage remain in hell especially having Dominic West playing Charles. He just isn’t right for the part, but watch it anyways just to get one more take on all the sadness and mistakes the royals make decade after decade.
CICI (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.3 IMDB). A Turkish movie that starts off in black and white and goes to full color as the movie works hard to reveal the terrible intra family relationships between father and mother and all their children and relatives. It’s depicted as some of the relatives reunite while they attempt to film their own movie of their families past. Its slow moving, flips from present to their past many times and even gets confusing and requires careful paying attention.
BANSHEES OF INISHERIN. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (8.2 IMDB). A nearly perfect movie that I would give many Academy Awards to. First of all to Colin Farrell who plays a longtime friend to the older Brendan Gleeson. These two guys live on a very small fictional island off the coast of Ireland and suddenly Gleeson tells Farrell he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. It baffles Colin and all of their friends on the island. It’s a deep but nearly humorous self-inspection that Colin goes through that makes us all relate to our own friendships. Well worth watching and admiring such talent.
ROBBING MUSSOLINI. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.5 IMDB). This silly movie starts off with a bunch of thugs from Milan trying to decide and plot how to steal Benito Mussolini’s wartime treasures back in 1945. Then 10 minutes into the plot it turns to cartoons and Marvel Comics tricks and lost me completely. I stopped it after 25 minutes.
This sculpture, located in the Plaza San Francisco de Asis in Havana, was donated by the French Ambassador to Cuba in 2012. It is titled, La Conversacion and is the work of the French sculptor, Etienne. It embodies what has been singularly absent from most of the US government’s approach to this island country since the Cuban Revolution of 1959.
I just returned from a trip to Cuba organized by The Nation magazine’s travel program. Our government does not allow us the freedom to travel to Cuba as individuals. The easing of some restrictions under the Obama administration, including travel, was reimposed by the Trump administration and the Biden administration has done little to improve the situation.
Organized under the currently permitted category of person-to-person contact, The Nation arranged an outstanding itinerary for the week’s adventure. A free copy of the riveting book, Back Channel to Cuba, The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana by William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh was sent to each traveler well before departure. This tome, based on previously classified exchanges at the top levels of government, provided a framework for understanding the undercurrents of political posturing by various administrations from Eisenhower to Biden towards the tiny country of Cuba, population 11 million, that overthrew a corrupt, unpopular US supported dictatorship with a Revolution that had wide popular support.
Where that support stands today and how the people of Cuba are faring is what I hoped to discover. The Nation provided the opportunity for fascinating conversations with a variety of Cubans, including Oniel Diaz, cofounder of AUGE, a private advisory group on business management, a presentation from urban planner Miguel Coyula and a Q&A with Carlos Alzugaray, the former Cuban diplomat and Ambassador to the European Union with Cuba expert Peter Kornbluh. Political and economic discussions were balanced with amazing trips to the homes and studios of independent Cuba artists, the Museum of Cuban Art, the Habana Compas Dance Studio and a visit to the Lizt Alfonso Academy, a women-led dance company and school for local youth. A Cuban saying: “food is optional, music is mandatory” notwithstanding, we were treated to the best of both, including renowned singer, songwriter Frank Delgado for a discussion and performance of the nueva trova movement as well as a private performance by the 14-member Youth Symphony Orchestra that had us to our feet with standing ovations.
There was ample opportunity for informal, frank conversations. I peppered with questions the Cubans we encountered on our trip as well as Peter Kornbluh. Their wealth of experience and knowledge framed my observations. In no way do I have a complete picture, nor would I venture a definitive opinion. Cuba is a complex puzzle. I feel I have a handle on a few pieces and can draw some tentative conclusions that I expect will be challenged by a fresh conversation, but this is what I can surmise so far.
The Cuban people are hurting. Badly. The economy is dangerously precarious. Inflation is skyrocketing. Food and supplies are in serious short supply. Despite much open land and good soil available for farming, Cuba imports most of its foodstuffs, including basics such as chickens and pigs. I kept asking why? The answer when it came clarified the problem. While land is available, feed for chickens and pigs, seed for crops, parts for machines are not. As many know, the US has imposed an embargo on Cuba since the Eisenhower Administration. The Cubans call it a blockade. Fidel Castro called for an end to the blockade in every concession he offered to the various US Presidents via back-channel communications. The blockade is still imposed today. It was the major driving force behind Cuba’s increasingly closer ties to the Soviet Union. When the USSR collapsed, so did Cuba’s economy. Today there are more Cubans leaving Cuba via dangerous routes than at any time since the Revolution.
It is easy to blame the US blockade for Cuba’s economic problems and exodus of Cubans and it certainly is a major part. However, other factors are also involved. Covid significantly decimated the tourist industry and the Trump administration’s banning of cruise ships visiting Cuba finished it off as did Trump’s reversal of the Obama administration’s allowing remittances to be sent to relatives in Cuba by Cuban Americans. There are also internal factors involved. I was impressed with the willingness of the Cubans we met to readily acknowledge the economic problems created by the hard-liners in the Cuban Communist party as well as by the bureaucracy. The private sector in Cuba now constitutes most of the businesses compared to those state-owned. There were 100 private companies started in just the last year. Trumps crack-down on the ability of Cubans to travel to the US has severely impacted the growth and success of this private sector, which, if you are keen to erode support for communism, the rallying cry of the US for 60 years, it should be obvious to encourage.
So far, the Biden administration has left most of the Trump administration’s crackdown intact, despite his campaigning on opening channels of communication and normalizing relations with Cuba. Maybe we can start a conversation towards this goal with our representatives? The Cuban people need and deserve our support.
|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.|
“ELECTION RESULTS 2022”
Who Won, Who Lost and Who Cares?
As readers of “The Santa Cruz Political Report” and Brattononline.com may ascertain, there is no joy in Mudville this week, Measure O and Measure N have both struck out. Within the Santa Cruz progressive-left community, it is an earthquake of 8.0 proportions. We worked hard, spent hours walking neighborhoods, fundraising, and distributing yard signs. While N, the empty homes tax, was straightforward—a tax of $6,000 on homes left empty for at least eight months per year affecting less than 1% of property owners, Measure O, “Our Downtown, Our Future” was a bit more complicated and aggressively challenged the capitalist take down, the hoped for accumulation of $capital$ to be extracted from Surf City. Some of the biggest names in real estate and development in this part of the world are at the table carving up the Holy Cross like it was one of those chocolate Easter crosses made at Mackenzie’s on Soquel Avenue. The administrators of this sacking, the city council, are now parceling out the realtor chocolate goodies to the Swensons, Devcons, Pacific Homes’, and Lawlor LLCs. All are peculiar interlopers to this community, they gobble up our seed corn faster than it is produced. Santa Cruz is for sale and guess what? It has many buyers including Goldman Sacks of NYC, the UC Regents of Oakland, and the (Brian) Dinnerstein Companies of Houston. The word is out, this town is on the high roller sales charts, brace yourself for more plunder. These election results will see more baristas, bar-backs, bus boys, and Berners living in their cars, in the UCSC forest, or in the hinterlands of Hollister, Gonzalez, or Los Banos. The enclave-by-the-sea, aka Santa Cruz, will be tough to buy into for most people. The results of Election 2022 places an authentic and unrelenting Haves, or real estate imprimatur, on our town that may be hard to cast off.
Top Ten Reasons Why Measure O Went Down
- The city attorney, Tony Condotti, wrote biased ballot language, which the group, Our Downtown, Our Future (I was a part of ODOF) failed to legally challenge. Anyone encountering Measure O for the first time, likely a majority of voters, read this statement on their ballot: “Shall the City of Santa Cruz General Plan and Downtown Plan be Amended to: 1) prohibit construction of the proposed Downtown Library and Affordable Housing Project and relocation of the Downtown Farmers Market;” I kid you not, that was the actual ballot language…like if you voted yes, you were voting against Santa Claus, or outlawing surfing at Steamer Lane…of course, in hindsight, we should’ve sued to correct the language.
- The “No on O” money trail is ugly, self-preservationist, and leads to a very wealthy group of developers and real estate interests, the amounts which could never be overcome by the “Yes on O” contingent of grassroots supporters. See the $$$ trail HERE.
- The status quo, those in the business of profiting off of Santa Cruz seed corn was potent. The Chamber of Commerce, Business Council, UCSC admin, and the support of five past rather politically moderate mayors, proved tough to overcome. They never mentioned that six former mayors supported Measure O: Celia Scott, Katherine Beiers, Tim Fitzmaurice, Bruce Van Allen, Jane Weed, and Chris Krohn.
- Killing affordable housing. The No on O message that Measure O would be “killing” an affordable housing project, which they claimed was all but built (untruthful) proved extremely difficult for ODOF to overcome.
- Not truthful. The No on O opposition not simply not honest. Measure O message and plan was transparent, community-centered, and honest. Although the plan was taking on the most powerful economic interests in the County, it was seeking to “fool” no one.
- Complex measure. The five main components of the initiative were perhaps too complex. It started out as a plan to stop an unneeded and unwanted 610-space garage, but morphed into an expansive, and visionary, plan to promote downtown open space, reuse and rebuild the Church Street library, maintain shade and keep the carbon inside the 10 heritage trees on Lot 4, and promote affordable housing on eight downtown surface lots. Measure O had arguably turned into an ambitious plan and proved a heavy lift in the eyes of voters. Btw, the initiative also included two Cruz Hotel parcels that the city was set to sell so that the hotel project could happen. Buy low, sell high!
- Messaging. The messaging about killing a housing project ended up losing younger voters, but obviously many older “No on O” voters did not reciprocate enough to save Measure N. Yimby, DSA, and the College Democrats became sold on the 120-promised units of affordable housing in the near term, despite the main purveyors of the project—the Santa Cruz City Council majority—could not be trusted, and all five opposed both Measures N and O.
- Social media. “No on O” ads on social media seem to [T]rump the Luddite, non-paid consultants within the ODOF organization.
- Inside baseball: Measure O’s yard sign and second mailer needed to come out sooner. (Converse: according to a printer at Community Printers, the Measure O yard sign was the best yard sign he had ever seen in Santa Cruz!)
- Spending. While ODOF was outspent more than 2-1 by the No’s, we raised a lot by Santa Cruz standards, close to $70k. Going in, we did not know raising that amount would be possible and we were perhaps more frugal early in the campaign in paying to get our message out than we needed to be. What did Big Daddy Unruh say, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics”? Well, the “No’s” owned the industrial money milk factory in this election, but the Yes on O side stood tall and still had a pretty good cow in the race to be competitive.
Measure O…the Vote
As of Friday, November 18th at 4pm:
Yes 8,971 (40.01%)
No 13,453 (59.99%)
Undervotes (these are ballots counted, but the voter chose not to mark this particular Measure).1,077
Measure N, What Happened?
In the beginning, Measure N, taxing empty homes up to $6,000 to acquire, or build, affordable housing seemed like bringing a thimble of water to the Pacific Ocean. Yes, it would indeed be significant like a moon landing inside of the immeasurable universe, but a small piece of the housing puzzle. It would not solve the housing crisis, but would bring some much-needed spirit, and a few dollars, to the long-term struggle for affordable housing in Surf City. The Measure N steering committee knew that the forces of capital, the investors who spent so heavily against rent control, might be bellying up to the bar on this one as well. Well, we found out quickly, that they were looking for a gun fight as the California Association of Realtors threw down a chunk, $49,900, to defeat this well-crafted affordable housing initiative.
Top Reasons Why Measure N is Failing
- The money. The strongest argument why Measure N failed is likely the $$$ that was spent against it.
- The money came from the wealthy. It was a classic Haves vs. have-not playing field. The blizzard of mailings was relentless and I would suggest the majority of money came from outside the city of Santa Cruz. One late mailing tried to portray how many people were opposed to Measure N. There were like 200 names listed, the vast majority I did not recognize even after living in this county for more than 40 years. While the Yes on N group used social media to its advantage, the “No’s” seemed to cede the younger voters to N and went after the older voters. The “No on O” group, on the other hand, went after both demographics using its largesse on social, snail mail, and broadcast media.
- Political power structure linkage. The moderate-conservative theme among their candidates—Kalantari-Johnson, Keeley, Newsome, Golder—reinforced at every opportunity their closed circle strategy of defeating candidates Cummings, Schendledecker, Marin, and Maxwell…as well as both N and O.
- The Leftist Firing Squad. In this country the right (Republican congress) and moderate right (Santa Cruz politics) always seem to be able to get in line when told to by their leaders. The moderate left (Santa Cruz progressives) on the other hand are prone to form the political circular firing squad, and not necessarily for the wrong reasons either. Often there are legitimate disagreements. DSA wanted the housing in the city project on Lot 4 and therefore was lukewarm on Measure O, for example. The SEIU labor union supported Measure N, Keeley for Mayor, and Maxwell and Marin for city council. They left out Joy Schendledecker for Mayor (many in labor apologized later after it was too late) and did not support Measure O either. The Sierra Club was keen on O, but did not take a position on N. SantaCruz4Bernie saw their role as singing Kumbaya, and bringing everyone together. In the end, SC4Bernie produced a good-looking door hanger, but was likely short of walkers to distribute it in the final two weeks of the campaign. The progressives have to get their political act together earlier for the next election, although that may be asking too much as there are serious disagreements among what might constitute a majority-left voting bloc of local voters that includes renters, students, homeowners, and labor.
- Fred Keeley effect. Although at the beginning of his campaign to be the first directly elected Santa Cruz mayor this century, Keeley was agnostic on both Measures O and N, but by the middle of the campaign he seemed to be swayed by the naysayers and made that known in a few public and private places. In the end, this hurt both campaigns, which saw the funny, but disconcerting, $500 donation from Fred to both the Yes on O and No on O campaigns.
- C. Together. This local political action committee is perhaps the big winner in local politics and represents what Trump meant when he said, “we’re going to win so much, you may even get tired of winning…” The progressive left in Santa Cruz must take a hard look at itself and strategize better because the moderates and moderate-conservatives of this PAC are winning, and they do not appear tired yet of winning even more. Do progressives want to win?
Measure N, the Vote
As of Friday, November 18th at 4pm, Measure N was doing far better than Measure O, but still trailing.
N – City Of Santa Cruz Empty Home Tax Initiative – Majority To Pass (Vote for 1)
Yes 10,109 (44.19%)
No 12,765 (55.81%)
Total Votes: 23510
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 email@example.com
Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
NOT SO DENSE, PLEASE
Pleasure Point residents have paid attention to the County General Plan Update and consistently worked hard to present alternative solutions to the Plan’s proposal to rezone nine parcels along Portola Drive for new very high-density development, cramming new Ultra High Flex (UHF) zoning that would allow 45-80 units/acre all on Portola Drive. It seems their Supervisor, Chairman Manu Koenig, listened and asked other Supervisors last Tuesday to remove the ultra-high density zoning from those parcels. “I’ve received lots of correspondence from the group about this, and it seems they are not opposed to housing, but just want a bit less,” he said.
Supervisors agreed to reduce the allowed density to Residential High Density, bringing 30 units/ acre, and to keep commercial zoning on a parcel at the end of 41st Avenue.
Many have wondered how the County planners could feel that focusing all of the County’s new ultra-high density housing in Pleasure Point made any sense, when it is not near any major transportation corridor, and Portola Drive is about to be put on a “road diet”, actually reducing the number of lanes available for the traffic that exists now.
The Supervisors will continue their review of the proposed General Plan update on December 6.
Make sure your voice is at the table and present alternatives to what concerns you most. Good work, Pleasure Point Community!
WHAT THE PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT WILL DO TO YOU AND THE ENVIRONMENT YOU LOVE…DECEMBER 1 PUBLIC HEARING
Folks, this is your final chance to weigh-in on Soquel Creek Water District’s expensive and potentially damaging PureWater Soquel Project that will inject treated sewage water into the drinking water supply for the MidCounty’s aquifer. Please share this information with your friends and neighbors.
Find a section of the document that speaks to your concern, and write to the District in the manner outlined on the website. Here is a link to the document
1.9 Pathogenic Microorganism Control ………
1.12 Response Retention Time …………….
1.13 Contingency Plan …………
1.14 Monitoring and Reporting Program ………………
3.1 Requirements for Public Health Protection ……………………… 3-1
3.2 Requirements for Environmental and Water Quality Protection ……………3-9
3.3 SWRCB Requirements …………………… 3-12
3.3.1 Antidegradation Policy (aka how will this affect the pristine aquifer water??……………………… 3-12
3.3.2 SWRCB Recycled Water Policy ……………………………………….. 3-12
3.4 Federal Requirements for Groundwater Replenishment Projects …………… 3-13
Please participate in this December 1, Virtual Public Hearing at 5:30pm and send in written comment with your thoughts, concerns and alternative solutions.
MAYBE NO PURPLE PIPE FOR RECYCLED WATER IRRIGATION AFTER ALL?
A friend sent me the latest customer newsletter for the City of Santa Cruz Wastewater Department, which highlights the PureWater Soquel Project tertiary water treatment plant construction.
I am curious about the vague statement regarding the City using Title 22 water for irrigation and bulk water fill station:
“In the future, Title 22 tertiary water may be provided for offsite use as well such as irrigation of La Barranca Park and a bulk water fill station for construction dust control.”
It was my understanding that a part of the City’s agreement with Soquel Creek Water District is that the City will receive 360AF/Y Title 22 recycled water for irrigating La Barranca Park and would build a bulk fill station to accommodate the opportunity to provide some of that recycled water for construction uses.
I also had understood that the water at the tertiary plant now under construction will not meet Title 22 standards, so the recycled water for the City’s uses would require the City to install a 6″ purple pipe from the Project’s Chanticleer Advanced Water Treatment Facility to return the agreed-upon 360AF/Y Title 22 recycled water to the City.
However, in now reading the description of the City’s Title 22 recycled water benefit, it is unclear what the Project now includes in terms of the City’s 6″ purple pipe commitment.
I wrote to Ms. Rosemary Menard last week about this. She acknowledged my message but stated there will be no answer until early December. Hmmmm……. Does that all hinge on the PureWater Soquel Project Engineering Report getting rubberstamped?
Please read through that voluminous document to see what you can learn, and participate in the December 1, virtual Public Hearing at 5:30pm. Public Comment on the document closes December 8.
TURMOIL IN BRANCIFORTE FIRE DISTRICT
Why would Chairman of the Branciforte Fire District demand a Director Pete Vannerus resign as one of the two who voted in opposition to the District spending $28,000 on a verbal-only bid likely to cause a new tax on residents?
Why would the Director of LAFCO strong-arm the Branciforte residents to spend this money to determine what may already be coming along in another consultant study funded by LAFCO, and due out soon?
How can a Board that does not have a quorum move ahead on a verbal $28,000 consultant bid when last month’s Board action had no written amended contract?
All of this odd activity, and more, caused Director Dick Landon, who had voted against the $28,000 verbal contract last month, to resign in disgust.
Read the Draft Minutes of the October 20 Branciforte Fire Board meeting here
The Board could not approve them last Thursday because there was not a quorum, due to the two resignations and Director Kurt Meyer was not present.
WHAT THE NEW SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FIRE CODE MEANS FOR RURAL PROPERTIES
In my opinion, it was rather devious of the County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios and the County Board of Supervisors to bury the new Countywide Fire Code in with the major Building Code amendments last Tuesday. The spotlight on the new requirement for all-electric construction overshadowed the major changes to the County Fire Code…both were mashed into Item #12.
Unless you looked very carefully, the Fire Code issue was essentially hidden.
The link to the Strikeout-and-Underline version of the Code provided on the Board website continues to be broken…offering only this message:
Error : The document appears to be corrupted and cannot be loaded.
The Supervisors will be reviewing this again for Final Adoption on December 6. Please contact your Supervisors with concerns and alternative solutions.
If you are able to find a Strikeout-and-Underline copy, maybe you will share my concerns regarding the following:
1) The definition of FIRE CHIEF has been removed from 7.92.202. You will only find that fact by looking at the Strikeout-and-Underline version (which the County doesn’t seem to want us to see) or in a list of “Proposed Changes to Fire Code” provided in the four-page list on the Central Fire District website under Community Risk Reduction Division
Section 202 – Fire Chief Definition has been removed
Who IS the Fire Chief? Who can act AS the “Fire Official”, a term used throughout the new Fire Code, but never defined?
2) 184.108.40.206 Section 111.1 is amended – Board of Appeals established.
Section 111.1 of Chapter 1 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is amended to read as follows: 111.1 – Board of Appeals established. In order to hear and decide appeals of orders, decisions or determinations made by the fire code official relative to the application and interpretation of this code, there shall be and is hereby created a Board of Appeals.
The Board of Appeals shall be: For the Santa Cruz County Fire Department, the Board of Supervisors of Santa Cruz County, or a sub-committee as appointed by the Board of Supervisors of Santa Cruz County.
What is the cost of taking an appeal to the Board in this instance? Anyone appealing a planning dept. issue must pay $1800 to file such an appeal with the Board of Supervisors.
3) 220.127.116.11.2 Section 112.4.2 is added – Enforcement.
Section 112.4.2 of Chapter 1 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows: 112.4.2 – Enforcement. The fire code official and their delegated subordinates, pursuant to the provisions of Section 836.5 of the Penal Code of the State of California, are hereby authorized to arrest a person without a warrant whenever they have reasonable cause to believe that the person has committed a violation of any of the provisions of this Code in their presence. Upon making such an arrest, the fire code official or their delegated subordinate shall prepare a citation and release the person arrested pursuant to Section 853.6 of the Penal Code of the State of California, the provisions of which are hereby adopted by reference as part of this section.
This is very chilling language. Who IS the “fire code official”? Who CAN be the “delegated subordinates”? There are no definitions of either term in Section 202.
4) 7.92.202 Section 202 is amended – Definitions. Section 202 is amended – Definition of All-Weather Surface.
Definition of All-Weather Surface in Section 202 of Chapter 2 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added after Alcohol-Blended Fuels to read as follows:
ALL WEATHER SURFACE. An all-weather surface shall be a minimum of 6 inches (152 mm) of 95% compacted Class II base rock for grades up to and including 5%, oil and screened for grades up to and including 15%, and asphaltic concrete for grades exceeding 15%. No grade shall be allowed to exceed 16% in State Responsibility Area (SRA) or 20% in Local Responsibility Area (LRA).
This requires paving all driveways and roads over 15% grade in the SRA. This will be cost-prohibitive for some rural residents, and will cause increased stormwater runoff. Why are steeper gradients allowed in the LRA?
5) 7.92.307.4.1 Section 307.4.1 is added – Bonfires.
Section 307.4.1 of Chapter 3 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows: 307.4.1 – Bonfires. A bonfire shall not be conducted within 50 feet (15240 mm) of a structure or combustible material unless the fire is contained in a barbecue pit. Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 50 feet (15240 mm) of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.
7.92.307.4.2 Section 307.4.2 is added – Recreational fires. Section 307.4.2 of Chapter 3 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows: 307.4.2 – Recreational fires. Recreational fires shall not be conducted within 25 feet (7620 mm) of a structure or combustible material. Conditions which could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet (7620 mm) of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition.
What is the difference between a “bonfire” and a “recreational fire”? There is no definition provided in Section 202.
How are “warming fires” defined and regulated? The document is silent on warming fires, yet these fires have great potential to cause wildland fires, and in fact have in Santa Cruz County, eg, the DeLaveaga Fire in August, 2022.
6) 7.92.308.1.7 Section 308.1.7 is added – Religious ceremonies.
Section 308.1.7 of Chapter 3 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows:
308.1.7 – Religious ceremonies. When, in the opinion of the fire code official, adequate safeguards have been taken, participants in religious ceremonies are allowed to carry handheld candles. Hand-held candles shall not be passed from one person to another while lighted.
This is government overreach, and should instead offer language about ground surface conditions required (eg, beach sand, raked bare mineral earth or road base free of organic material).
7) 7.92.503 Section 503 is added – FIRE APPARATUS ACCESS ROADS.
Section 503 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added and amended below. 7.92.503.2.1 Section 503.2.1 is amended – Dimensions. Section 503.2.1 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is amended to read as follows:
503.2.1 – Dimensions. Fire apparatus access roads shall have an unobstructed width of not less than 20 feet (6096 mm), exclusive of shoulders, except for approved security gates in accordance with Section 503.6, and an unobstructed vertical clearance of not less than 15 feet (4572 mm).
- Within the State Responsibility Area (SRA) of Santa Cruz County, all driveways serving two or fewer habitable structures shall have an unobstructed width of not less than 12 feet (3658 mm) and an unobstructed vertical clearance of not less than 15 feet (4572 mm).
- Within the Local Responsibility Area (LRA) of Santa Cruz County, access roads shall be a minimum of 18 feet (5486 mm) wide for all access roads or driveways serving more than two habitable structures, and 12 feet (3658 mm) for an access road or driveway serving two or fewer habitable structures.
Where it is environmentally inadvisable to meet these criteria (due to excessive grading, tree removal or other environmental impacts), a 12-foot (3658 mm) wide all-weather surface access road with 12-foot (3658 mm) wide by 35-foot (10,668 mm) long turnouts located approximately every 500 feet (152,400 mm) may be provided with the approval of the fire code official.
- Vertical clearance may be reduced; provided such reduction does not impair access by fire apparatus and approved signs are installed and maintained indicating the established vertical clearance when approved by the fire code official.
How will property owners and private road associations comply with this new requirement when, combined with the new 16% grade limit, it would not be technically or financially feasible?
8)7.92.503.2.1.1Section 503.2.1.1 is added – Vegetation clearance along access roads.
Section 503.2.1.1 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows:
503.2.1.1 – Vegetation clearance along access roads. Areas within 10 feet (3048 mm) horizontal and 15 feet (4572 mm) vertical on each side of portions of highways, public and private streets, roads and driveways which are ordinarily used for vehicular traffic shall be cleared of flammable vegetation and other combustible growth. Design of such area may be found in Santa Cruz County Fire Prevention Officers Standards.
Where is the “Santa Cruz County Fire Prevention Officers Standards”? Does this mean that the Santa Cruz County Dept. of Public Works will be required to resume roadside mowing on an annual basis?
9) 7.92.503.2.4 Section 503.2.4 is amended – Turning radius. Section 503.2.4 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is amended to read as follows: 503.2.4 – Turning radius. In the State Responsibility Area (SRA) no roadway shall have a horizontal inside radius of curvature of less than 50 feet (15,240 mm) and additional surface width of 4 feet (1219 mm) shall be added to curves of 50-100 feet (15,240-30,480 mm) radius; 2 feet (609 mm) to those from 100-200 feet (30,480-60,960 mm). In the Local Responsibility Area (LRA) the minimum centerline radius shall be 35 feet (10,668 mm).
How will the County address existing roads in the mountains, such as Eureka Canyon Road and Highland Road, where there are curves that do not comply? Is this an example changing the road requirements to accommodate purchases of Type I engines, rather than Type 3 engines?
10) 7.92.503.2.5.1Section 503.2.5.1 is added – New dead-end access roads.
Section 503.2.5.1 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is added to read as follows:
503.2.5.1 – New dead-end access roads. New dead-end roads are prohibited, without secondary access, serving more than one parcel in new minor land divisions or subdivisions which exceed the following distances from an adequate through road unless approved by the applicable fire protection agency, the Department of Public Works, and by the Planning Commission; in no case shall a new dead-end road exceed 1/2 mile in length.
If property owners are unable to obtain easement agreements with neighboring properties (such as State Parks) to allow for a secondary access, this would prevent the property owner from building. This is a taking by government regulation.
11) 7.92.503.2.7 Section 503.2.7 is amended – Grade.
Section 503.2.7 of Chapter 5 of the Fire Code of Santa Cruz County is amended to read as follows:
503.2.7 – Grade. The grade for all roads, streets, private lanes and driveways shall not exceed 16% in State Responsibility Area (SRA) and 20% in Local Responsibility Area (LRA).
This is inconsistent without explanation. The grade limitation for LRA shoud be 16%, consistent with the SRA limit.
Take time to read through the document, ask your Supervisor to provide a Strikeout-and-Underline version that makes it transparent exactly what the new Santa Cruz County Fire Code changes will mean for rural residents, write the Board with your concerns and reasonable solutions, and remember to show up at their December 6 meeting to speak up.
NEW COUNTY FIRE DEPT. WEBSITE IS PROBLEMATIC AND MISSING CRITICAL DOCUMENTS
The new Santa Cruz County Fire Dept. website just got launched, but is missing some really important information, such as the financial documents, the County Fire Master Plan, and the Santa Cruz County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).
When I wrote CalFire Chief Nate Armstrong, who also gets paid to act as the County Fire Dept. Chief, to ask about this problem, he responded on November 8:
“Unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly when the links will be fixed and don’t know of another online location for those two documents right now. But I can assure you that knowledge of those two documents is by no means needed for participating in a constituent interview for the current master plan process, which I think you will see once you attend your interview. I do appreciate your wanting to be prepared for that process, but I think you will see that the input the consultants are looking for is more global and subjective than the particulars of any document.”
In order to prepare for a stakeholder interview to which I was invited, with the purpose of providing input on the County Fire Master Plan that County Fire taxpayers are giving $40,000 to AP Triton consultants to do, I really did need to review the expired 2012-2015 Plan version. I realized that the County Board of Supervisors must have approved the document, because they are the governing body for County Fire Dept., I did a search…and there it was.
County Fire Chief Nate Armstrong looked very shocked when I presented a hard copy of the document to the County Fire Department Advisory Commission on November 16 and explained how I managed to find it myself. He looked across the table in disbelief at General Services Director Michael Beaton, who controls the purse strings for County Fire, who convinced the Ad Hoc Committee they were not capable of updating the County Fire Master Plan and that AP Triton had to be the consultant to do the fast-tracked job…without bid or RFP, or consulting the Commissioners.
When Mr. Beaton later presented to the Commissioners the Scope of that work, with great apologies for not having provided them with any information at all about it until that moment, he initially refused to answer my question about who will pay for the $40,000 cost? “Public Comment has ended” he said, but then reluctantly offered that “County Fire” will pay the bill. Wow.
APTOS VILLAGE GETS NEW INTERSECTION?
New Parade Street intersection at Soquel Drive in Aptos Village now includes railroad crossing arms and signals, just installed last week.
Another view…note that the Bayview Hotel has recently been painted white, restoring it to the original color. The historic private crossing in front of the Hotel will be closed as soon as Parade Street is opened.
MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. ATTEND THE DECEMBER 1 ZOOM PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT PUBLIC HEARING AND ASK WHY THERE ISN’T WIDESPREAD USE OF THE RECYCLED WATER FOR IRRIGATION AND GREEN PLANET COOLING? ATTEND ONE ZOOM COMMISSION MEETING AND FIND OUT WHAT YOUR COMMISSIONERS ARE DOING TO REPRESENT YOU AS AN ADVISORY GROUP TO MAKE THE COUNTY BETTER.
HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING …WE INDEED HAVE MUCH FOR WHICH TO BE GRATEFUL.
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
When the flowers fade and the leaves fall, ferns are the life-filled bright points in the natural world around us. Most people could distinguish a fern from other types of plants: they are distinct enough and their patterns seem imprinted in the human psyche. Ferns are an ancient type of plant: Earth was dominated by ferns for millions of years before plants with more showy flowers (and seeds) evolved. Ferns can reproduce sexually or asexually, and we are still learning about those reproduction systems. People can grow ferns from spores…and luckily people are doing enough of that to make ferns available in the nursery trade, because certain ferns can be great additions to our tended landscapes and in restoration areas.
In this column, I describe four common local ferns: western sword fern, giant chain fern, polypody ferns and bracken fern. These four types of ferns are so common in our area that it is worth knowing which is which. It will take little practice to tell them apart.
Western sword fern (Polysticum munitum) is called this because each leaflet has a hilt-like appendage at its base. These are bunch-ferns: each plant has a center point where it grows new fronds. New fronds unfurl each year in the middle of winter. These ferns don’t like fire. Students I’ve worked with analyzed forest vegetation data before and after fire to discover that what had been nice understories thick with sword ferns failed to regenerate after the Lockheed fire. Sword ferns survived our north coast fires because they were in spots that fire skipped over or where the fire burned less severely. Sword ferns prefer dark, moist coniferous forests- north-facing slopes are best, but they thrive anywhere redwoods drip moisture combed from summer fog banks.
What good are sword ferns? Indigenous people north of here used this species as roof thatch. I’ve lowered myself from one fern bunch to the next on extremely steep slopes; the plants were that well rooted! They must be important for slowing erosion and slope failure. If you have a shady place in dense forest, it would make a great landscape plant: it is the ideal size for most people – 3′ tall and 3′ wide – and is evergreen.
(Sword fern photo by Flickr user brewbooks, licensed for use through creative commons.)
Polypody ferns are easy to spot because they sprout fronds from runners rather than forming bunches. And, they go entirely to sleep during the dry summers, their fronds wilting and disappearing. With the recent rains and cooler days, Polypody ferns have begun their annual re-flush of new growth. The best stands I’ve seen are on rocky outcrops at the edge of ravines on the North Coast – big, lush mats unfurling new fronds right now. I’m used to seeing ferns and orchids draping tropical trees, and I am always pleased when I find polypody ferns growing on tree branches around here. It is uncommon, but you can see them if you look enough.
There are two polypody ferns locally: California polypody and Licorice fern. It is difficult to tell the difference between them. Licorice fern, though, is less common – it has roots that taste sweet with notes of ginger and licorice.
(Sword fern photo by Flickr user John Rusk, licensed for use through creative commons.)
Giant Chain Fern
Giant chain fern (Woodwardia fimbriata) is a big, big fern of the wettest places. This species’ fronds get up to 4′ long. It cannot grow unless its roots are wet: in springs, seeps, and along creeks. But, it won’t grow in much sun, preferring mostly to full shade. It gets its name from the neatly arranged, chain-like shape of its spore-bearing ‘sori’ on the underside of its leaves. I’ve encountered stands of giant chain fern that are so thick on the banks of local creeks that I hesitated to hike through them. But they are gentle enough and, if you are careful, you can weave between the towering fronds without getting too tangled.
Indigenous people north of San Francisco used this species of fern stems in basketry.
(Giant chain fern photograph by Flickr user aliivibrio licensed for use through creative commons.)
Bracken fern is a very widespread fern that grows from gnarly long underground runners. Someone once told me that this species is responsible for a lot of tropical rainforest deforestation. The story goes like this: ranchers cut down rainforest for pasture, pasture grows nice for a little while but then bracken fern takes over, so they must clear another patch. And so we learn that bracken fern spans the globe from the tropics to very northerly latitudes. And, we learn that cows don’t eat bracken. When I helped take care of University lands at Fort Ord, I encountered people harvesting arm loads of bracken fern fronds. These fronds are a popular food in some cultures. But bracken fern fronds are carcinogenic! Perhaps the news hasn’t reached everyone. Don’t eat them! That carcinogen is probably why cattle ranchers don’t want their livestock eating it.
In fact, nothing much seems to eat bracken- even deer leave it alone. Apparently, there is a sawfly that feeds on it.
Bracken fern takes over meadows around here, too. There are big stands of bracken in the meadow across from the UCSC Arboretum. If you go out there in the early summer, I recommend lying down in the middle of that patch on a sunny day and breathing deeply. Bracken gives off a sweet, spicy smell that is like lightly toasted hay.
This species has been shown to inhibit the growth of other plants through chemicals it exudes. So, once a bracken fern stand gets thick enough, little else grows near it.
Of the ferns I describe in this article, this is the one you don’t want to plant in your landscape. Like polypody ferns, this species dies back each year. But, unlike polypody ferns, this one leaves behind a massive amount of dead and dry leaves which are difficult to clean up. The old leaves are still well attached to their runners and, at the same time, are a fire hazard. Bracken fern shoots up new leaves right after wildfires, even when it otherwise seems quite dry.
(Bracken fern drawing provided via Wikimedia commons and made available via a Creative Commons share alike 4.0 international license.)
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 email@example.com
#321 / Name Those Billionaires!
That is Larry Page, pictured above. He is one of the co-founders of Google. He is also number six on a list, compiled by Forbes, of the 400 richest people in the country. I almost said “men,” but there are a few women on the list. Want to see the entire Forbes 400 list? Click right here!
If you’d like to pare it down a bit, and don’t have time to look through a listing of 400 people, you can use the following link for an article that is headlined, “80 California Billionaires Make Forbes 400 List Of Super Rich.” That’s where I got the picture of Larry Page.
I, personally, qualify as a “Native Son of the Golden West,” meaning that I was born in California, and when it comes to naming the billionaires, I always like to keep my focus local. I don’t need to keep track of every billionaire in the nation or the world. My envy and outrage can be confined to that list of eighty! Maybe you’re the same!
Actually, I like to think, I am not really that “envious” of the billionaires who have made that Forbes 400 listing (California-based or otherwise). A certain quotient of “outrage,” however, might be admitted.
For a nation of such great wealth, isn’t it something worthy of condemnation, not congratulation, that a rather short list of people controls such a large percentage of land, money, and everything else, including both personal celebrity and political influence? I do have an “egalitarian” bias, I have to confess, based on my belief that we are “all in this together.”
Generally speaking, it seems to be natural to equate wealth with importance, but who is important, actually? My answer? EVERYONE is important.
We are, in fact – and it isn’t just a feel-good slogan – “in this together.” The enterprises and activities that have produced the wealth that is documented in these lists of the billionaires were not created and made successful ONLY by the persons who have ended up with the most money. Wouldn’t we all be better off if we were able to reduce the economic inequality that these lists of the billionaires document, and make sure the benefits of human ingenuity and activity were distributed to everyone – at least to the extent that everyone would could live a life that includes sufficient food, housing, health care, education, and safety?
That would seem fair to me, and that, at least, is what I suggest should be our economic, social, and political goal. We might start thinking of this as a “global” objective, too.
Such a more egalitarian distribution of the wealth that we all help produce isn’t going to happen, though, is it? Well, it certainly isn’t unless we change the rules.
And who makes the rules?
When I ask that question, I am back to that old Abe Lincoln prescription. Right near the end of the Civil War, which was fought to end a system of wealth acquisition based on slavery, Lincoln told us that the Civil War had been fought to ensure that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
OF the people, and BY the people means that we have to get involved in government ourselves. Personally!
I happen to know, from my own personal experience (in mostly a local context, I admit) that when more people get personally engaged in politics, in making the government do what most people want, in making the government do what we believe we need, the theoretical principle, articulated above (and which is hard to disagree with in principle) actually does work!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
So far this week, the wheels have stayed on despite the expected announcement of The Former Guy, tossing his hat into the ring for a third try at the office of president. Complicating his run is Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s dual investigation into The Don’s possession of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as his involvement in the planning and attempted overthrow of the election of Joe Biden as the rightful successor to the presidency with the insurrection on January 6, 2021. With the midterm elections past, the AG made his announcement that a veteran prosecutor, Jack Smith, would be handling the problematic explorations of wrong-doing, especially in light of Trump’s entry into the race. This should be a signal to Trump that he is in completely new territory…no more whacks across the knuckles with a ruler for him!
“The Department of Justice has long recognized that in certain extraordinary cases, it is in the public’s interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution,” Garland announced from the DOJ podium. Smith, who is a registered Independent, previously worked in the department’s public integrity section, before serving as the acting chief federal prosecutor in Nashville, TN during the Obama years, and is now coming from a stint as chief prosecutor for the special court in The Hague while investigating international war crimes. Lacking a political party affiliation will serve to deter any interpretation of bias or partiality, though Trump immediately branded Smith as “a Trump hater,” as he joins this “continuing political witch hunt.” A Trump lackey called the appointment “a totally expected political stunt by a feckless politicized, weaponized Biden Department of Justice.”
“Throughout his career, Jack Smith has built a reputation as an impartial and determined prosecutor who leads teams with energy and focus to follow facts wherever they lead,” Garland said. “As special counsel, he will exercise independent prosecutorial judgement to decide whether charges should be brought. The extraordinary circumstances here demand it.” Smith’s statement through the Justice Department said he will do his work independently and “in the best traditions of the Department of Justice. The pace of the investigation will not pause or flag under my watch,” he promised. Smith will have authority to prosecute federal crimes resulting from his work, but the AG maintains final authority, and should he oppose any proposed investigative results from Smith, by federal law he is required to notify Congress. To many observers it seems that it’s a cut-and-dried case considering all the evidence revealed in press coverage, and particularly from the House Select Committee’s findings. If evidence doesn’t exist to file charges, “You have to be able to admit that if it’s not there, it’s not there,” Smith says. “I think that’s hard for people to do and having been a prosecutor for 15 years that is something I can do.”
Let’s hope Smith at the least considers two recent reports released by veteran prosecutors and top legal minds of these two ongoing probes, both reaching the same conclusion, that evidence exists to bring charges against the Orange One. The probe into his actions in Georgia to “find 11,780 votes”, and the mishandling of top secret documents taken to Mar-a-Lago upon his retreat from Washington, are seen as an ending to Trump’s evasion of accountability for his crimes. It took almost 500 pages to enumerate his likely state and federal transgressions such as soliciting to commit election fraud, violating state RICO acts, to espionage and obstruction of justice. “We conclude that Trump’s post-election conduct in Georgia leaves him at substantial risk of possible state charges predicated on multiple crimes,” declares a report from the Brookings Institution.
Just Security, a group made up of former prosecutors, found additional statutes to be considered in Trump’s mishandling of documents that would allow for his prosecution, just as anyone who has faced similar charges. “We determine there is strong precedent for the DOJ to charge Trump. There are many felony cases that the DOJ pursued based on conduct that was significantly less egregious than the present set of facts in the Trump case,” they wrote. “In short, we conclude that if Trump were not charged, it would be a major deviation from how defendants are typically treated.” Members of this group include former prosecutors who worked on the Mueller Report, saying that the former prez’s reluctance to return documents after a request to do so, which then resulted in a subpoena and consequently the FBI ‘raid’ only add to the significance of the case. All of which is further complicated by the number of highly sensitive documents, the length of time he chose to retain them, and his involvement of others in the handling of the materials.
The report finds at least 11 charges that could be brought as a result of Trump’s Georgia actions. In the Mar-a-Lago section of the report, three additional statutes could be considered beyond the original three in the government’s warrant, two of which address the resistance from Trump, to include criminal contempt and lying to authorities. The third, a statute that covers conversion of government property (good for ten years behind bars), would require the government to prove that a defendant converted or retained items for their own use. In true fashion, Trump denounced the FBI and DOJ in his candidacy speech, saying, “No threat is greater than the weaponization from the system, the FBI or the DOJ.”
These reports also respond to any likely defenses Trump might use – twenty pages dealing with Mar-a-Lago alone – such as his claim of personal items being taken, or claim of executive privilege, ad infinitum. Also dismissed in the Georgia case, is a possible defense that Trump genuinely believed he won the election and therefore has some immunity from prosecution, a concept solidly disproven by the House J6 Committee.
The Donald is attempting to block any legal challenges by his announcement, but he also sees his support within the GOP dwindling, which was impetus to shake up the troops and get early contributions that might otherwise go to campaigns of potential rivals. One consideration is that he needs to appear as a vocal leader after his midterm endorsed candidates had lackluster results, and his limited campaign appearances resulting from a number of candidate shunning his support. His favorable ratings were sinking before the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, after which his favorables dropped even more, instrumental in turning the predicted midterms ‘red wave’ into an ‘ebb tide.’
Let’s face it…nobody likes a loser who has never won the popular vote, even though his arrogance and his insolent down-with-the-libs style still speaks to the GOP. But, the Blitzkrieg Bozo had to step up before his floor collapsed, and now the party is affixed with an albatross they don’t want or need, with an infestation of hesitant cowards with no guts to step up and call the would-be emperor a phony frog-prince. Even the Parking Garage Hero of January 6, VP Mike Pence will only skirt the possibility that he and his family were endangered by the mob, saying that he was initially “angry” with his boss on that day, but his “Christian beliefs” have since tempered his feelings – call it ‘fear,’ Mikey. You’re not going to mess with the Albatross by criticizing him, or by showing your hand as you reach for the Golden Ring on his finger. Adherents of Florida’s ‘Coyote’ DeSantis keep tempting him to enter the fray as his poll percentages rise, and as he says, “Followers will walk across broken glass to see me.” Sure, Ron – just make sure you’re wearing your brogans and a bullet-proof vest when you bend over to kiss that ring – he shoots people on Fifth Avenue, you know!
New York Times columnist, Charles Blow, writes that Trump has learned through his failures, his close calls with the justice system, to become a better political predator, being more dangerous than ever now. He has learned that his supporters will support much of his disdain for the system, for women, and for the law, and he sees the necessity of severe loyalty tests, that grasping for power must come early in order to break the political system. A tight grip on those around him would be needed…no more wishy-washy ‘loyalists’ who won’t kowtow until the end, such as Mike Pence or Bill Barr, who questioned his authority. His belief that presidents should operate with impunity, which would invite corruption and total defiance of democracy; however, he has come to believe that though presidents aren’t too big to fail, they are too big to jail, and a Donald Trump free of prosecution is a Trump free to rampage with revenge. Blow says, “Not prosecuting Trump threatens the collapse of the entire political ecosystem and therefore the country.”
So, until special counsel Jack Smith gets his investigation underway, we will have to rely on Republicans to face up to it: do they fall prey once again to the wiles of a narcissistic, sociopathic grifter? Or, despite the gravitational pull of the party’s base do they finally escape this rocket ride toward the darkness of another ‘lost in space with the Trump Syndicate’ era? “As an American, the idea of another Trump campaign with all of his lies and divisiveness and his efforts to undermine American democracy is an absolute horror show.” said Senator Bernie Sanders. “On the other hand, I got to say that as a politician who wants to see that no Republican is elected to the White House in 2024, his candidacy is probably a good thing.” Even the National Review presented its message to the GOP with, “Republicans: Trump is your problem. Wake up.”
Robert Harrington writes in The Palmer Report, “The GOP knows that Trump still has ratings with much of the low-information and brain-damaged part of the American constituency, and they are hell-bent on exploiting it. After all, those people do in fact vote, unfortunately.” He goes on to say, “Trump doesn’t merely live on toxic waste. He thrives on it…so many Americans love Donald Trump because he gives them permission to hate. They love hate and Trump is the only hate merchant in town. So they will continue to defend and protest this toxic little man because he’s the only one who will openly join them in their disgusting pastime.” He ends with, “That is the evil that faces us today. I think we can defeat them.”
A possible, but temporary, solution to our political problems may lie within this story: On a flight from Delhi to New York it was discovered after take-off, as flight attendants were readying meals for passengers that only 200 meals were mistakenly loaded for the 400 on board. An idea by one attendant was announced to the passengers, “Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t know how it happened, but we have over 400 people aboard, but only 200 dinners. Anyone kind enough to give up their meal to someone else, will receive unlimited free liquor for the duration of the flight!” Her next announcement six hours later: “Ladies and gentlemen, if anyone wants to change their mind, we still have 180 dinners available.” Moral of the story: People who like to drink, Democrat or Republican, have very kind hearts. Might work!?
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: email@example.com.
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.
“Thanksgiving, part 2”
“My parents came from little, so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it.”
“Every year, I hear about Thanksgiving. Who do one give thanks to? … And who is giving thanks? What are they giving thanks for? For lots of poverty that’s on the earth and lots of war that is a-rumoring all over the earth? For lots of people who die daily and the crime that multiply?”
“We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all.”
I’m not sure what to say, other than this is pretty precious 🙂
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
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