Blog Archives

November 29 – December 5, 2023

Highlights this week:

Bratton…our highway system, local craft fair, Santa Cruz Chorale, movie critiques. Greensite…on Wharf Decision Postponed. Steinbruner…prescribed burn, land trust tax, Big Basin water co., Chanticleer pedestrian overcrossing, Rail and trail project. Hayes… Animals of our Hearts. Patton…Looking clearly at what’s happening. Matlock…taxing a mandate for leadership. Eagan Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week. Quotes…”wharves and docks”.


TWO WAY TRAFFIC ON PACIFIC IN 1953. This was Pacific Avenue 70 years ago… The decades old argument over traffic on Pacific Avenue never dies. One way, two way, or better yet… closing it temporarily as a test. It would solve a lot of things. This is Pacific, Lincoln and Soquel Streets.

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

DATELINE November 27

OUR REVOLTING HIGHWAY SYSTEM. (from a message by the Campaign for Sustainable Transportation)

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The first highway revolt followed the 1967 plan to extend Highway 17 through Santa Cruz. There were three routes under consideration: one through Pogonip, one parallel to Mission St., and one at California St. In addition the plan called for a loop to the Boardwalk, running down Ocean St. and Chestnut St. All routes would have required extensive demolition in residential neighborhoods. Celia and Peter Scott were leaders in the successful highway revolt. They, along with Paul Elerick, Debbie Bulger, Bill Malone, and others started the second highway revolt in 2002. They formed CFST to stop the plan to double the lanes on Highway 1 from Santa Cruz through Aptos. We’re still in the middle of that revolt.

The highway revolt is now in full flower across California, sparked by Caltrans removing whistleblower Jeanie Ward Waller from her job.  See “I lost my job for speaking out against highway widening”.  Groups across the state are calling Caltrans to live up to our climate and social equity goals.
Our Senator John Laird is key to holding Caltrans accountable. Please sign the email to Senator Laird or

(and paste the text below in a second email to Governor Newsom.)

Dear Governor,
We in Santa Cruz County experience the impact of Caltrans’ distorted priorities. We have among the highest rate of injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists in the state, and a transit system struggling to meet our needs, which Caltrans is engaged in widening Highway 1 in what the EIR states is a futile effort to reduce congestion.

Demoting Jeanie Ward-Waller is an example of the problem at Caltrans. Please work to audit Caltrans to uncover the ways in which that agency is undermining state climate goals. And please work to re-prioritize transportation funding in order to meet our needs for socially equitable access.

      Thank you,

     (your name)  

WINTER CRAFT FAIR & TREASURE MARKET. This will be the third annual holiday bazaar of hand-crafted and curated gifts made by a bunch of my longtime friends. You’ll find pottery, jewelry, textiles, handmade clothing, books, and cards created and collected by our local artisans. All this in a rustic setting just 5 minutes from downtown Santa Cruz. For more information, contact  You’ll see selections from Marcia McDougal’s collection of exotic treasures; Heather McDougal’s exquisite new painted and quilted jackets; Kim Kempke’s ceramic children’s cups with her charming animal drawings; handmade pottery by Jill Damashek; cards, maps, and sundries from Bonita John; books written by and about Rita Bottoms and her late husband, painter Tom Bottoms; and functional wheel-thrown pottery by Saarin Schwartz. Refreshments, too! It happens Saturday and Sunday Dec 9 & 10 from 10-4 at The Barn, 2016 Ocean St. Extension, Santa Cruz.

MOVIES? SERIES? EPISODES? SEASONS? CHAPTERS? Do movies have episodes? Are series also movies? One book says that an episode is a single event or a group of related events. Daughter Jennifer is working on a permanent definition and would like to have a workable solution from any reader.

THE SANTA CRUZ CHORALE’S MUSIC OF CHRISTMAS. On Dec. 16 at 8pm & 17 at 4pm the Santa Cruz Chorale will feature works by renowned composers such as Byrd, Scheidt, Elgar, Britten, Tavener, and Biebl, and beloved carols from around the world. The power and beauty of this music will resonate with traditionalists and contemporary music enthusiasts alike. This year, the centerpiece of our program is the Magnificat for orchestra and choir by Austrian composer Heinrich Biber. Born in the 17th century, Biber was known for his innovative and expressive compositions. His Magnificat is a masterful piece that beautifully captures the essence of the festive season. Once again, we are honored to be joined by the Monterey Bay Sinfonietta, whose exceptional musicianship enriches our performances.

Holy Cross Church, 123 High Street, Santa Cruz

Tickets: General $30, Seniors $25, Students $5

For Saturday concert only, 4 or more tickets: $20 each Tickets can be purchased at or (831) 427-8023

Twitter: @SantaCruzChoral


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 CROWN. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.6 IMDB). **-  Diana’s back and so is Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Camilla and the rest of the 60 episodes of England’s royalty. Imelda Staunton is still the queen and a relative unknown Elizabeth Debicki is Diana. I’ve never figured out why we Americans are so attached to British royalty and their changes, but this series will undoubtedly go down in TV history as a huge success. Do watch it. Plus we get to watch Helena Bonham Carter, John Lithgow, Charles Dance, all in bit parts throughout the series.

GIRI/HAJI. (2020 RELEASE) (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.8 IMDB) ****  There’s a London police detective who works hard to fight and stay away from the warring Yakuza gangs. The issue is that his own missing brother belongs to a Yakuza gang in Tokyo and may have murdered an important Yakuza member. The musical score is excellent and so is the plot. Daughter Hillary remembered this series and we spent half of Thanksgiving night watching almost all of the 8 episodes.

MIDNIGHT RUN. (1988 RELEASE) (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.5 IMDB). ***- An absolutely brilliant comedy plus crime plot that will have you rolling on the floor with pathos and delight, see it again even if you remember the best scenes. It stars Robert De Niro as the cop and the ever subtle Charles Grodin as the robber being escorted across country by De Niro. The laughs are both outrageous and subtle and the rest of the cast looks like out casts from The Sopranos.

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie or series 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 or series title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

SEBASTIAN FITZEK’S THERAPY- DIE THERAPIE”). (PRIME SERIES) (7.1 IMDB). **** There’s a psychiatrist who has lost his 13 year old daughter many years ago. How he deals with that and trying to find out what happened to her makes this a deep and twisted movie. There’s another 13 year old girl who enters his life and adds to his (and our) confusion. Thought provoking doesn’t go deep enough to describe this one…go for it.

THE RAILWAY MEN (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.9 IMDB). ** Bhopal in India was the site of a horrible explosion at their Union Carbide factory in 1984. 15, 000 local citizens died from the poisons in the air. Union knew of the gas leak problem and did almost nothing to avert the catastrophe. The movie is from India and is extra dramatic, overly hammy, but reveals the then corporate attitude back in the 1980’s.

TILL MURDER DO US PART. (NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY SERIES) (7.0 IMDB). *** Maybe the girl and/or her boyfriend killed her parents back in 1985 in Virginia. This documentary digs up the known facts of Soering vs. Haysom. Many of the actual people in the historical case are in this documentary including the main male suspect who decides to speak only German for the movie makers. Go for it.

A THOUSAND LITTLE CUTS. (PRIME SERIES) (5.1 IMDB). *** A twisted, complex plot that leads us to question whether the girl is telling the truth about breaking her ankle or is it a deep conflict involving her and her therapist and the prescription drug companies? Acting is fine, the story will make you think about your own meds and it’s worth seeing.

CIGARETTE GIRL. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.3 IMDB). *** A movie from Indonesia where they actually hand make cigarettes from spices and not tobacco. They are called Kretek and contain herbs, cloves, sandalwood and secret flavors to compete and the competition is fierce, and real. Don’t watch this if you have a smoking problem! There’s love, family issues, and just enough of a plot to keep it interesting.

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.

LOCKED IN. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.1 IMDB). * A confusing drama centering on a formerly famous woman who has been seriously injured and unable to talk. Was she in an accident or an attempted murder? Her doctor becomes her lover and her daughter focuses the plot on many unconnected possibilities. Yes, confusing, not the greatest acting and we’ve seen it many times from Hollywood in the last 100 years.


November 27


By now you are probably aware that the council agenda for the meeting on November 28th did not include the Wharf Master Plan as scheduled. While there is some relief in having the pressure off for a few more weeks, the effort involved in preparing for the November council meeting was for naught.

The council hearing date is now January 9th. I found this fact out when I contacted the city clerk to confirm that I wasn’t imagining things, that indeed the just published council agenda did not include the Wharf Master Plan, a fact she confirmed. A further email of enquiry and I found out the new hearing date. I have no idea why the date was changed at the last minute, since it had been published as November 28th two months previously. However, I’d lay odds the city staff and consulting attorney knew about such a change in date well ahead of the public’s finding out. With the pressure off for now, there is an opportunity to reflect on the broader picture.

This Wharf make-over has run rough-shod over the public process from its beginning. At no point did city staff give public notice that they were contemplating significant changes to the Municipal Wharf and invite public input as they are currently doing for a re-design of the San Lorenzo Park.

The Wharf Master Plan was created by consultants out of San Francisco, delivered as a done deal, foisted on an unsuspecting public whose voices of protest have been brushed off like crumbs from the table. The consultants share with pride that their proposed changes “will be transformational in redefining the image and identity of the Wharf” Apparently that’s not what the public wants. Had the public been involved from the beginning in developing a Wharf Master Plan, it would have been completed long ago and reflected the wishes of the community. Of course, there would have been differing opinions on what changes were welcome, but none would have included three forty- feet tall-buildings, a ridiculous below-deck walkway taking people behind the restaurants and shops into potential rogue waves on the weather side of the Wharf, blocking migratory birds from accessing their nests. Nor is it likely the public would have supported a thirty percent increase in commercial space on the Wharf when current stores in town are shutting down. Had the public been consulted, the sea lion viewing holes would have been preserved in their current locations and someone would have noted that the planned new gateway and sign would not allow the Wharf crane to enter the Wharf!

This whole mess is a cautionary tale for what happens when the public is ignored. Yes, the public gets to weigh in on the required environmental documents and the city is required to answer the public’s comments, after a fashion. Responses tend to be cherry-picked and manipulated in a predetermined direction. So, the twelve, twenty feet long outriggers on the east side at the end of the Wharf, originally described as intended for increasing Wharf stability and declared off-limits for sea lions are suddenly renamed as sea lion Haul Outs when the public becomes aware of the potential loss of sea lion viewing in the Plan. The CA Coastal Commission’s written concern regarding the westside walkway is never mentioned but one staff’s early on verbal comment in support of the walkway is presented as the official CA Coastal Commission position. There are scores of similar examples which I will gladly ignore until 2024.

For next week’s piece in BrattonOnline you can be sure I will not be writing about the Wharf Master Plan!

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 27


Rural dwellers here have always kept an eye to the sky during fire season, so when planned Prescribed Burn Projects happen, yet are not publicized, many get very worried.  How can CalFire do a better job of publicizing their plans to intentionally burn areas?

Kudos to Mr. Joe Christy and the Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council for organizing this great public event:

“The Bonny Doon Fire Safe Council is having a public event to discuss solutions to the problem of getting the word out about Rx fires the day before a/o day of the burn. The event will be Wednesday evening, December 6, from 6-8 pm at the Beauregard Vineyard tasting room, 10 Pine Flat Road in Bonny Doon.

We have lined up Cecile Juliette, CAL FIRE CZU Public Information Officer, and Portia Halbert, State Parks Senior Environmental Scientist in the Santa Cruz State Parks, David Reid, Director of Santa Cruz County Office of Response, Recovery, and Resilience, and Jim Frawley Santa Cruz City Fire Chief. I did speak earlier with Nick Otis UCSC OES Manager,  who, alas, is out of town for a training that week, but he did tell me about a new website that State Parks has set up about Santa Cruz District Prescribed Fires.”

If you live in the mountains, or even at the edge of the urban area (aka  the wildland urban interface), this will be a great opportunity to learn more about these planned Prescribed Burns, and offer your ideas about how the public can be informed.


The Santa Cruz County Land Trust asked the County FireSafe Council to endorse a proposed tax initiative for next year’s ballot that would impose a new tax of $87/parcel in the unincorporated areas to get money for the County to pay for clean beaches, fire reduction, water projects, and wildlife preservation projects.

This is being proposed because apparently, County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios has notified the Land Trust that there will be budget cuts in the near future that would undermine money available for such purposes.   For some reason, the County is asking the Land Trust to gather public support for this now, and get the initiative on the ballot next year.  The money would be administered by the County at the rate of 20% of the anticipated $7.3 million the tax would rake in.

The Land Trust has purportedly hired a consultant to write the initiative, and is actively seeking political support from groups, such as the County FireSafe Council. However, none of the Council members had yet seen the proposed initiative they were being asked to endorse, so it was tabled.  How refreshing!

Should we trust this Land Trust initiative, seemingly being done at the County’s bidding?   I don’t think so.

Didn’t the County also say the 2018 Measure G tax to fund “critical unmet needs” would go for fire protection?  That did not happen at all.  Zero dollars raked in by the Measure G sales tax increase have gone to fund fire protection.

Furthermore, the County Parks Dept. is now claiming the Measure G promise to fund $435,000 in improvements at Aptos Village Park was “just a recommendation” and likewise may never happen.

Here is what the Second District Parks Commissioner had to report in that regard when I inquired:

“There were spending recommendations approved by the BOS on August 7, 2018 (Resolution 182-2018) they accompanied the approval to put Measure G on the ballot for voters (also approved on that day) in that resolution $435K was assigned to Aptos Village Park. Measure G will be in place until the year 2031 and approval for spending of the recommended $435K for AVP will have to go before the BOS, it is not guaranteed or currently planned.”

The County Civil Grand Jury investigation of Measure G monies also revealed that the County Board of Supervisors and County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios were less than forthcoming: Grand Jury Measure G report

So, should there be any reason to trust the shill tactic of the County’s use of the Land Trust, which will not have to be transparent to the public because it is not a government agency?

There is no information about the potential initiative on the Land Trust website. Land Trust of Santa Cruz

However, maybe their newly-released Strategic Plan that refers to “Champion a county-wide open space funding measure us a vague announcement of their shill 2024 ballot initiative that we can be sure the County Board of Supervisors will rubberstamp for the ballot, with only a handful of endorsements.

  1. Increase regional public investment and capacity for conservation lands management in Santa Cruz County.
  2. Champion a county-wide open space funding measure.

Land Trust of Santa Cruz County shares five-year strategic plan


Is this the first of consolidations forced by the State?  Santa Cruz County Superior Court Case 23CV01615 involves forcing the owners of the Big Basin Water Co. to hand over control of the system to a legal entity and likely consolidate the service with another nearby water jurisdiction.   The owners were in the process of working with an outside company to manage the system which sustained considerable damage in the 2020 CZU Fire.  Then, the State moved in.

Will we be seeing more of this?  There are many well-run small water systems in the County, but it is well-known that the State intends to consolidate as many as possible in the near future…and is now going after the low-hanging troubled ones first.

In some cases, it is a wise move.  Historically, it was a relief when the County of Santa Cruz forced consolidation of the Vienna Woods Water System in Aptos with Soquel Creek Water District because the then-owners of the Vienna Woods system, John and Evelyn Cavanaugh, had built a substandard system that caused residents to run out of water nearly every weekend, yet refused to do anything about it.  The County also stepped in in the 1990’s to force the same owners, John and Evelyn Cavanaugh, to divest ownership of their Greenbelt Water Company in Aptos because the storage tank had ruptured and was not being repaired, and they had stopped making payments on a State water loan yet continued collecting the surcharge money on customers’ bills.

So now, think about how consolidating the Soquel Creek Water District with the City of Santa Cruz Water Dept. could be a good possibility, in order to spread the huge debt burden the District ratepayers now shoulder for the crazy expensive PureWater Soquel Project to inject treated sewage water into the aquifer.

But is consolidation always the answer?

Granted, the Big Basin Water District has had extreme hardship due to the CZU Fire damages, but so did other area water jurisdictions.  So, will those also eventually succumb to the State’s stick of forced consolidations?  Keep your eye on this.  Mandatory Consolidation or Extension of Service for Disadvantaged Communities | California State Water Resources Control Board


Last week, Soquel Creek Water District General Manager Ron Duncan defended the need for a 12% annual rate increase for the next four years to an audience who spoke out against increasing their water rates.  One person said her family conserves all that they can, and still have a large water bill because of their family size, and sometimes have to borrow money to pay their bill.

Others wanted to know how the District is working to cut any costs, rather than simply bump up the rates and jab users who are on fixed incomes and already in the lowest use category.

Strangely, the District’s proposed plan would make water cheaper for those who use more, and increase the rates the most for those who use the least amount of water…because it turns out that group of customers is the largest percentage of the ratepayer population.  The Raftelis consultant tried to explain this would somehow lend equity to the District’s basin sustainability work.

Ron Duncan listed off many vague answers to the publics’ questions in testimonies that avoided answering one important one:  What is the unit cost of the PureWater Soquel Project water?  This is important to know because the impending rate increase will hit the lowest water users the hardest in order to “equitably” spread basin sustainability costs, aka PureWater Soquel Project’s whopping debt.

The Board opted to ask the expensive Raftelis consultants to explain more about what that rate increase and restructuring would look like at a December 5 Board meeting.  It should be interesting but does not bode well for families and the elderly who are on fixed incomes and using minimal water. This is pretty disgusting, especially after the Board just granted a big raise to General Manager Ron Duncan, retroactive to last July.

New Board member Jennifer Balboni cheerily declared that the fixed monthly service charges should increase 60%, not the 40% recommended by Raftelis, because the District needs the secure revenue level.  Wow.  At least she also recommended that the excess land the District owns be sold in order to bring in some revenue.

Please attend the December 5 District Board meeting and speak up.


It is interesting to watch construction of the new pedestrian overcrossing on Highway One that will provide sweeping views of the Live Oak area traffic and the PureWater Soquel Project sewage water treatment plant.  Many wonder why the overcrossing is being built there, and who will really use it?  What are your thoughts?


The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) has filed legal action that will likely grab half of the parking area for the historic Bayview Hotel and adjacent Trout Gulch Crossing, where Caroline’s Thrift Store is located.  The RTC is contesting who actually owns the area adjacent to the rail corridor, and undoubtedly seeks to ask the Court to grant ownership to the RTC and wipe out 50% of the parking area of all those commercial businesses, avoiding a messy eminent domain action.

Sneaky, isn’t it?

The Case Number is 23CV02345, if you want to track it.

The reason the RTC wants to take this land is to make a 14′-wide trail adjacent to the railroad tracks.  Why can’t the trail be narrower and on the opposite side of the tracks near Soquel Drive?

I think it is odd that the RTC is now claiming the railroad right of way extends into the parking lot of these two legacy business parcels when in the recent past, RTC staff met me at the site to show me the limit line for campaign signs and it was NOT what the RTC is now conveniently claiming in order to build the Segment 12 rail trail.  Hmmm…….

Write the RTC staff if you have thoughts about this: Santa Cruz County RTC c/o Ms. Sarah Christensen

State Route Highway 1 Auxiliary Lanes and Bus-on-Shoulder Improvements—Freedom Blvd. to State Park Dr.—and Coastal Rail Trail Segment 12 Project


It is confusing to me that the County Parks Dept. is acting as the lead agency for the EIR work on the Segments 10 and 11 Rail Trail, when the project and rail corridor are owned by the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission (RTC).

Mr. Tidmore, County Park Planner who is handling the EIR work, was kind enough to respond to my recent e-mail query about this:

“The County is the lead agency for CEQA for the Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 and 11 project, because this is the County’s project, not the RTC’s. As you are likely aware, the Coastal Rail Trail is split into 20 segments per the MBSST Master Plan, and various segments are already complete or are under development, which are being led by different agencies. The City of Watsonville was the lead for Segment 18 in their jurisdiction. The City of Santa Cruz is the lead for Segment 7 in their jurisdiction, and for Segments 8/9. Similarly the County is the lead for Segments 10/11 b/c it’s in the County’s jurisdiction. The RTC works closely with the lead agencies since they are the owner of the rail line. They are also leading Segment 5, and Segments 13-20 as part of the passenger transit project. “

The County Parks Dept. is also handling a big part of the Segment 12 RTC project, between State Park Drive and Freedom Blvd.

The Segment 12 project has flip-flopped a few times in the lead agency work.  The green text below is the response in 2020 from County Parks Planner Robert Tidmore to my query back then on this issue with regard to the Segment 12 Mar Vista pedestrian overcrossing planned in Aptos. He is the same person leading the Segment 10 and 11 Rail Trail Project whose Draft EIR is currently open for public comment until December 15.  Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 and 11

I see in the timeline that in 2019, the RTC transferred the overcrossing project to the County.  However, in 2020, the SCCRTC reclaimed the overcrossing project ownership from the County.  Yet, you work for the County and are in charge of the project?

Yes, this project has changed hands a number of times, so I sympathize with and understand your confusion. You are correct, in 2020 the RTC reclaimed the overcrossing project from the County. The County and I have a minimal role, primarily as the project liaison to the public and elected officials, and to lead the community outreach process.

I am confused as to the status of ownership of this project.  Can you please help me understand this?  I appreciate your help.

RTC is the project owner.”

Somehow, I think this is still pretty confusing, and still wonder why the RTC is not the lead agency on any of these segments of the rail trail.  If you understand it, please drop me a note.


I was saddened to read of Dean Lundholm’s recent passing.  He was a true gem in our Community.  I met Dean at the County Housing Advisory Commission meetings where he was always a gentle but firm affordable housing advocate.   I remember his pointed questions of County Planning staff Julie Conway when she and then-Planning Director Kathy Previsich presented a plan to drop the required 15% affordable requirement for projects that would be rental units.  Dean and fellow housing advocate Nancy Abbey did not fall for the argument that “it just won’t pencil out for developers” to follow Measure J requirements for inclusionary affordable housing.

I would also reliably see Dean when attending various other housing meetings and seminars, and always appreciated his warm smile and friendly demeanor.

I will miss him.

Dean Lundholm Obituary



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 26


We each come to loving non-human wildlife for our own reasons, and we want to assure that all species are thriving for future generations. Among the many people with whom I interact, their answer to an intriguing question is uncannily and increasingly resolute.

“How many species do you need to maintain the quality of life you desire?”

“All of them” is the answer more and more people are giving me.

How does that work?

Only through the goodness of our hearts will we conserve wildlife. What doors open our hearts enough that we are willing to act to restore wildlife?

Cute, Fuzzy Creatures

As children, we are fascinated and kind towards non-human animals. Often, what we glean from children is that they find wildlife to be ‘cute.’ Whether they are stuffed plush toys or animated cartoons, we indulge our youngest children’s inherent love of wildlife. They have pets, or visit friends’ pets, and develop relationships with non-human species. Children learn to cuddle and stroke pet fur, and the pets purr and roll, and show pleasure, giving love back. Humans and non-humans give and receive love, reducing stress and building trust. We expand the community from our core human families to include non-humans.

As adults, we carry with us that love of cuteness, the desire for connection with non-humans, the tactile pleasure of the furry cuddling interaction. And we develop still other ways to connect with non-human animals.

Non-Human Friends: Our Pets

The friendships we create with non-human species are complex, and we each have our own approach. Many share a basic understanding that has developed with our non-human pet species. There are troves of common wisdom about dog and cat behavior towards, and expectations of, humans, which I will not repeat. I’m sure you have plenty of material to reference, as this is a deeply cultural realm and the subject of many conversations, especially when extended family gathers and ‘pet talk’ is a relatively safe space for discussion.

As those pet conversations get more personal, it becomes clear that many humans rely on non-humans (and vice versa) for friendship. Our pets go with us on adventures and reveal to us much that we may not have otherwise experienced. Our pets recognize our ups and downs and participate actively with all of our emotional territory.

Wild Friends

It’s not only pets: some people recognize friendship with wild creatures. The stand-out crowd are those who feed or provide water for wild birds. This bunch is so numerous as to have a sizeable economy surrounding these connections. People buy and maintain hummingbird feeders, bird baths, bird feeders, suet cages…some even invest in specialized foods such as worms or fruit jellies for their favorite bird species. There is an emerging movement in gardening for wild birds.

Still others connect with the wild furry animals that they frequently encounter in parks or in their yards…squirrels, deer, and foxes are the ones I hear about the most. People put out squirrel food, some even getting to know a squirrel well enough to feed it out of their hands. Some folks get to know a certain local doe and her fawns, watching her through the year as she raises them from spots to adolescents. The doe may very well know about the safety net provided by their proximity to a friendly human’s habitation. She and her fawns will feel comfortable near the humans they recognize. Being very sound-centric, they respond attentively and curiously when we talk to them. The very habitual fox, trotting the same paths at the same times each day, will know just how to avoid human encounters but we catch glances of them when we break our rhythms. They poop on our shoes outside the door as a way of saying hello. For a while, foxes were so regularly seen in Bonny Doon that when their populations dipped a whole community was saddened.

Wildlife Viewers

Many of us are falling in love with more and more species of wildlife. We call ourselves naturalists or wildlife viewers. We study the critters we encounter in order to learn new stories. Domesticated dogs provide a gateway into the natural world…through our regular ‘dog walks’ and through our observation of their sniffing around and explorations. Wild animals do those things, too, in many more ways. They draw us out of our cozy homes to visit them and see what they are up to. Observing their behavior, we learn new things about the natural world. As our curiosity grows, we find ourselves in places we wouldn’t otherwise venture, at times of day we might not otherwise get out. Wildlife viewers must get up very early sometimes. To see a river otter, they go to the riverside; to see whales, they go out in boats; to see pond turtles, they spend time gazing at logs in ponds; to see snowy plovers, they squint into binoculars on a wind-blown beach; to hear owls, they stay up late and scritch gravel to goad them to calling.


A significant and important segment of the human population connects with wildlife as part of the hunt. Sometimes, hunting provides important food for subsistence; historically, this was even more so. Other times, hunters enjoy the sport as well as the food. Hunters and people who fish get to know the species they pursue and the habitats those species rely on. And, their love of wildlife for hunting has actualized incredible conservation successes. Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited are two of the many organizations supported by hunters which have helped steward wildlife habitat and recover species.

All of Us

Statistics suggest that the vast majority of humans, even here in the apparently divided USA, strongly support wildlife conservation. When we realize the importance of wildlife to our standard of living, we are compelled to learn more about what wildlife need to survive. When we connect with wildlife, we realize we are part of something greater than ourselves, bigger than our simplified human-oriented world. When we see wildlife make a connection with us, we feel part of the natural world, and our basic selves become more grounded and real. When we work to conserve wildlife, we are at our best…serving the world that serves us. Three ways we can be effective at wildlife conservation:

  • Vote for candidates that detail their approaches to conservation. Every political candidate has the means to make a bigger difference than any one of us acting alone.
  • Join a wildlife conservation organization, donate more than membership fees. The Center for Biological Diversity is my choice. The Audubon Society is a good one, too. I’m vetting others…suggest one that you think I should mention!
  • Tell your friends heart-felt wildlife stories. Help create a culture that connects with wildlife!
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 21

#325 / Looking Clearly At What’s Happening

In an opinion column in the September 9, 2023, edition of The New York Times, Stephanie Muravchik and Jon A. Shields, both of whom teach at Claremont McKenna College, tell us that “Republicans in Wyoming See Clearly What’s Happening.”

Ok. So, what’s happening?

According to Shields and Muravchik, our American politics is becoming “nationalized.” If this is true, that is a fundamental reversal of the “federal system” of government which was established in our Constitution. Muravchik and Shields don’t think that this is a good thing.

Hannah Arendt is my designated “guru,” where political theory is concerned, and Arendt wouldn’t think that this is a good thing, either. Arendt really liked that American commitment to federalism! According to Arendt (read On Revolution for the full story), the fact that there are so many separate political powers in the United States is a wonderful hedge against totalitarianism, which she believed was a huge threat to human liberty (read The Origins of Totalitarianism for the full story).

According to the Shields-Muravchik commentary, the so-called “MAGA Republicans” are marching towards a full nationalization of American politics (which, of course, is consistent with our suspicion that the Trump brand of politics is “totalitarian” in its intentions). Luckily, though, and this is, again, according to Shields and Muravchik, Republican Party leaders in Wyoming are not really buying the move towards a nationalized politics with all of its totalitarian dangers. I hope they’re right.

For those of us who don’t live in Wyoming, though, let’s understand the basic message (coming to us from Arendt, and now from Shields and Muravchik): Diversity is good! Political differences are a “feature,” not a “bug,” when we think about good government. Arendt calls it “Plurality.” Check out the picture from The Times commentary, above. We don’t want citizens to have all their cultural and individual dissimilarities expunged, do we? I don’t, at least! You probably don’t, either.

Furthermore – just as a practical reminder – the ability to take effective political action is maximized at the so-called “lower” levels of government. Local government is actually the most “powerful” level of government, if “power” means the ability to take action and do things (which it does).

It is easy to be seduced into the idea that we should focus our main attention on that government in Washington, D.C. Let’s reconsider that!

One of the great things about “local” government (and even “state” government) is that you can actually make change happen at the local and state levels. But… to do that, of course, you need to get involved in politics and government yourself!

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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

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November 27


Turns out the new Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, was a seer of sorts who in 2015 as a state legislator in Texas predicted that Donald Trump was “lacking in character with no moral center which is desperately needed again in the White House.” He completed his summation of Trump in saying, “He will likely break more things than he fixes, being a hot head by nature, which is a dangerous trait to have in a Commander-in-Chief.” Mikey called it, but then he underwent an oracular conversion in the intervening years, becoming an architect of the insurrection to overturn the 2020 election, who at Trump’s urging wrote an amicus brief which was signed by more than 100 House Republicans in a case brought by the Texas attorney general. As journalist and author, Mark Sumner, wrote in Daily Kos, “No member of Congress did more to overturn the 2020 election.” Johnson himself has cemented his support for The Don’s candidacy, saying he is “all in” for 2024 and telling CNBC, “I was one of the closest allies that President Trump had in Congress. He had a phenomenal first term. I have endorsed him wholeheartedly.” Now that the Speaker has made a trip to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring, it marks him as the highest-ranking official to endorse the former prez, in essence placing the stamp of approval of the House of Representatives onto the candidacy. No doubt Johnson double-kissed the ring to show his appreciation for Trump’s endorsement to place him at the end of the speakership strings as his new puppet. We can bet Trump’s assistance was sought as Speaker Johnson attempts to ease the hard feelings resulting in the House from his role in keeping the government funded with Democrat’s help. This new duo bears a lot of scrutinization as they seek to implement the Project 2025 plan to turn the government to the right as rapidly as possible with a Trump, or GOP, victory…quite a turnabout for a movement once defined by denouncing the evils of big government. Trump’s’ authoritarian arrow has pierced the conservative bloc deeply.

The $35 volume published by Heritage Press, ‘2025 Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise’, spells out the Project 2025 Presidential Transition Project, which was established in 2022 to recruit thousands of conservatives to Washington, DC to replace existing federal civil service workers, characterized as the “deep state,” to further the objectives of the next Republican president. The 1981 edition made the Washington Post’s best seller list, and the New York Times in 2002 called it “the manifesto of the Reagan revolution,” appearing during Reagan’s presidency. This authoritarian danger is a threat to our democracy, separate from Trump and his MAGAts, a part of the right-wing infrastructure that is blatantly working to undermine the checks and balances of our constitutional order, handing power to the presidency. Trump has made no secret of his desire to be a strongman ruler with complete control of our government, with his handlers openly discussing plans to consolidate power, the Washington Post running a story entitled ‘Trump touts authoritarian vision for second term.’ As we know from his previous term in office, Trump demanded a loyalty pledge from his subordinates and should that not be forthcoming in a second term, those underlings would be quickly fired and replaced by those who would do his bidding. Conservatives are salivating at the idea of being able to have the White House in control of the Justice Department and the IRS to “get their retribution” against political foes, as they disrupt and cancel all court proceedings against Trump and his hordes. In particular, former Trump Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark has continued his collusion to overturn the 2020 election by working with the Center for Renewing America, a DC-based think tank run and staffed by former Trump administration loyalists.

One chapter in ‘2025 Mandate for Leadership,’ as detailed in Mother Jones, calls on the next president to “maintain a biblically based, social science-reinforced definition of marriage and family,” presaging a war on marriage equality…hello, Michael Johnson! The Heritage Foundation claims it is raising $22M to satisfy the yearnings of a power-mad indicted former president in Project 2025 which could give him free rein, or free reign, to break the law, assist those who do, and losing the Kraken to do what it will. Observers have said Trump failed to do more damage because of the incompetency of his minions, and his own lack of knowledge of the workings of government, but the Heritage Foundation will gladly put him on the right track to institutionalize authoritarianism, by declaring martial law in order to use the military for policing Americans. Better get our red MAGA caps ready!

As Republican’s attitudes shift from democracy into even more conservative territory, they are now disparaging the concept of a public education, proposing defunding government education and giving vouchers to parents. Fox’s Greg Gutfield declared private school vouchers are needed because public schools are “a destructive system” and describing teachers as “KKK with summers off,” while Senator Marco Rubio calls public schools “a cesspool of Marxist indoctrination,” with Trump declaring that “public schools have been taken over by the radical left maniacs.” Marjorie Taylor Greene, who could be the poster child for the necessity of funding public education, has called schools “taxpayer-funded indoctrination centers.” Historically, the GOP has scorned public schools, but are now advocating an end to them, putting them in the same category as libraries, as being a socialist concept to educate people. The party is now attempting to restrict funding as they divert resources to charter schools, private institutions, and homeschooling, all of which lack an adherence to those standards placed on public schools, which dangerously promote critical thinking resulting in an educated public! School desegregation heightened the conservative fight against public education, every GOP presidential candidate expressing hostility, and now President Reagan’s promise to dissolve the Department of Education forty years ago has become a rallying point for today’s party stalwarts. Trump did his best to damage the concept of public schooling by appointing heiress Betsy DeVoss to head that department, despite her lack of background in education. DeVoss advocated against federal funding for education, attacked teachers, rolled back protections for minorities, and rewrote regulations to make it more difficult for sexual assault victims. Needless to say, she was admired by conservatives for taking public school funds to be funneled to right-wing religious schools.

“School choice reforms” is the new thrust in red states which burdens public schools with expensive requirements while moneys go to unregulated charter schools. Right wingers donate unbelievable sums toward indoctrinating students in these schools, leaving the public schools to languish, struggling with not only educational programs but lacking funds for mental health, violence/suicide prevention, and drug abuse. The GOP justifies the plan by saying, “Money is going to the kids,” but the state education budget is threatened with underfunding and perhaps failure. States such as Florida, Arizona, and Texas are aggressive in their pursuance of “school choice reforms.” Failed right-wing Christian nationalist candidate, Doug Mastriano, attempted to eliminate property taxes in Pennsylvania, a major source of that state’s school funding, proposing to give families $9,000 vouchers, a pittance basically, but destructive for public schools. Vouchers usually fall short of covering tuition costs at most schools, leaving the families with hefty make-up expenses, or as with Florida, the poorer students end up in low-quality charter schools that go out of business while leaving behind poorly educated student bodies.

Sadly, everything in this country is viewed through a political lens, pointing to why we don’t have benefits or social policies enjoyed by other developed countries, such as universal health care, reliable public transportation, paid parental leave, and strong social safety nets. Up to now, education had been the one shining example, where both political parties could put aside their differences to give their children a leg up in the world with a solid education… even teachers had a special place in the hierarchy. Regardless of socioeconomic status, religion, or background, 90% of our children were served by public schools; now, the MAGAts want to overturn the cart, with the billionaire’s destroying the system, demonizing teachers, and being openly hostile to educating children, all falling victim to Trump’s legacy.

Public funding is taking another hit in Ohio, a state that recently voted to embed into their constitution, abortion access, in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision. Issue 1 was fiercely opposed by the GOP, but they aren’t giving up, as they attempt to thwart the will of the people by proposing even more anti-choice legislation. The state has supported so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” for ten years, which Aldous J. Pennyfarthing calls “Potemkin clinics notorious for misleading women who seek abortions. In case you’re unfamiliar, imagine Mitt Romney opened a weed dispensary in your town and wouldn’t let you leave until you snorted at least a half ounce of oregano. Now imagine it’s not weed but basic health care you’re looking for. That’s essentially the gist.” Now, Buckeye GOPers are determined to divert even more taxpayer funds to those “deception dens.”

The Guardian reports Ohio state senator Sandra O’Brien has proposed that individuals who give to “qualifying pregnancy resource centers,” be eligible for tax credits, at a capped cost of up to $10M to the state. These centers offer free ‘services’ to pregnant women and are usually faith-based with the aim to see pregnancies continue to term. They are accused of attempts to mislead, often located near abortion clinics with signage declaring “Birth Choice” or “Woman’s Choice” as they dispense inaccurate information. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has exposed these clinics as providers of falsehoods and inaccurate medical information with no legal obligation to disseminate the truth, having no requirements for client confidentiality. Some are affiliated with national organizations that provide funding, support, and training to advance their overreaching antiabortion agenda. The ACOG estimates that 71% of the clinics use deceptive means, spreading debunked information, with 38% not clearly revealing on their home page that abortion care is not provided, thereby impeding access to comprehensive, reliable, ethical care…a ‘charity’ worth Ohioan’s tax money?

Pennyfarthing says that the Republican refusal to give up on their “50-year fetus fetish” is good news for the Democrats in the upcoming election, but horrible news for anyone who seeks comprehensive reproductive health care. As conservatives look to put in place a national referendum on abortion, 2024 looks awfully bleak for them. The Heritage Foundation’s ‘2025 Mandate for Leadership’ is working to revive a 19th-century law preventing women from using contraceptives to accompany the GOP drive toward outlawing abortions. The 1873 Comstock Act prohibits the mailing of contraceptives, “lewd” writings, and any “instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing” that could be used in an abortion, and though it’s dormant it’s still on the books. Easy-peasy! All the next Republican president has to do is enforce the federal law…the caravans of rampaging, wild-eyed forced-birthers are here!

Of course, Florida governor Ron DeSantis is caught up in this GOP “fetus fetish,” but at least one donor is no longer impressed, saying, “I’m a bit agitated these guys have spent all this money for no return. You don’t just keep throwing money at Radio Shack.” Tuning him out in spades! As the DeSantis Never Back Down super PAC senses game over for his campaign, tensions have become standard operating procedure among the board members, with fisticuffs being turned aside by more rational members. Seeing Nikki Haley pushing ahead to the number two spot has prompted a second super PAC to launch, ‘Fight Right Inc.’ which is only in competition with NBD for money and power, using differing strategies. Some $100M has failed to transform de facto-alternative DeSantis to front-runner, now appearing to be in also-ran status.

A man walks into a pub in Dublin, and asks, “Am I too early for a drink?” The barman says, “Yes, it’s ten minutes until opening time, but you can wait over there on the bench.” The customer thanks him, sits down and the barman asks, “Would you like a drink while you’re waiting?” Yes, for sure, as this tension rises while we all wait for some sanity to appear in our national scenario! The wait may be a long one.

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.

    “Wharves & Docks”

“The oldest, wisest politician grows not more human so, but is merely a gray wharf rat at last”.       
~Henry David Thoreau

“If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock”. 
~Arthur Goldberg

“One will never reach distant shores, if he chooses to remain upon the dock, In fear his little ship of dreams may be dashed against the rocks”.
~Fethullah Gulen


Miss PunnyPennie (Len Hennie) is a fantastic young Scottish poet. She has a book coming out, it’s called Poyums (Scottish pronunciation of “Poems”) and is available for preorder. I’m thinking of getting the audiobook version 🙂

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