Blog Archives

November 4 – 10, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Publishing day and the election, Library issue not over?, New Santa Cruz publication, UCSC’s East Meadow victory, UCSC’s water lawsuit problem, 40 movies to think about. GREENSITE…on Managing City Council. KROHN…Rank choice voting, mail-in ballots. STEINBRUNER…Soquel Creek Water Board’s bad behavior, rate increases from the water board, Pure Water Soquel issue, covid and water bills, Aptos Radio Towers gone. Send Rail trail comments to the feds. PATTON…After the election, what? EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…“ELECTIONS”.

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SANTA CRUZ MUNICIPAL WHARF 1906. That’s Steve Ghio with a cap, holding a 50 pound deep sea bass. Steve Canepa is shown holding a fish basket.                                                   

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

DATELINE November 2

APOLOGIA PRO ONLINE SUA. It’s tough to remember – and more tough to deal with – but deadlines for Brattononline are every Monday, as close to noon as possible. For this week that means that none of the writings here can reflect on Tuesday’s (Nov. 4) election results until next week. All these weeks and months of poll guessing, vote predicting and other political fears we’ve had to live with will just have to remain guessable for (hopefully) only one more week.  

NEW SANTA CRUZ PUBLICATION. No matter how this Tuesday’s vote turned out, check out this new Democratic Socialist Publication. They’ve put a lot of hard work and research into it.

LIBRARY ISSUE NOT OVER YET! Heading the Friends of the Downtown Library, Jean Brocklebank sent out a news report to their many followers. She tells how the fight has carried on over 3 years, and that it probably isn’t over yet. She thanks Sandy Brown and Katherine Beiers for their supportive votes, and tells how Martin Bernal “revised history”. Read all of it here… 

Dear Friends of the Downtown Library ~ By now, most should know that the City Council voted (4 – 2) to approve the $240,000 contract with Griffin Structures, its project manager for the block long, 6 probably 7 storied concrete behemoth on Cedar Street (aka the mixed-use project). The Taj Garage still breathes.

It is sad but true that in terms of our campaign of the past 3 years and 10 months, the downtown library was buried first by a parking garage, and ultimately by housing. And for all of us who worked so hard these past years, as one who opposed the project just wrote: “Opponents of the crushed library are also now crushed.” 

That said, we applaud those of you who sent emails to Council last week, as it received 240 individual emails, not just from DBTL but from the Downtown Commons Advocates (DCA) and CFST, all opposing the contract with Griffin and thus the project. Compare 240 to the 68 supporting it. Alas, added to those 68 emails was the litany of supporters that appear on the Downtown Forward website, which was sent as one email to Council from Vivian Rogers, a staunch supporter of the project from the get go, who constantly misrepresented both the venerable existing downtown library and the Taj Garage library. 

Thanks to Sandy Brown and Katherine Beiers for their NO votes 

At Tuesday’s Council meeting, in answering Katherine Beiers question about Measure S ballot language, Renee Golder happily told Katherine (as though Katherine was not smart enough to know) that the ballot language is “On the public libraries’ website, they have the ballot language there.” 

But Renee Golder did not quote the Measure S ballot question that included “construct/expand where necessary”. Instead, she quoted the Fiscal Impact statement by the County Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector, which only referenced “new construction” as defined by the ballot question (which includes “where necessary“). 

Beiers other very pertinent questions of how it was determined “necessary” to build a new downtown branch and when exactly it was planned to be put in a parking garage went unanswered. Martin Bernal attempted to answer Katherine, but in doing so he used a 2013 Library Facilities Master Plan to imply that we, the voters, knew all along that the downtown branch would be newly built in a mixed-use facility. However, that 2013 document only referred to replacing, rebuilding or building new and maybe a joint-use facility with other public or private partners on its current site (see page 24 of the Master Plan). Besides, abandoning the existing library and putting it in a parking garage was never addressed in the public arena during the campaign. Clever of them, yes?  Bernal revised history. Again. Continuing the pattern of subterfuge by the city began in the spring of 2016.  Before we voted on Measure S. 

Is this over? 

Probably not. Ahead of us lie the City Council elections. If we are not successful in electing Brown, Hill and Kumar, then there still remains the fact that no matter what City staff presented in their feel good report to Council last Tuesday, funding for the behemoth is not guaranteed. Government decision-making by hope is a crap shoot. Sometimes it works, mostly it doesn’t. For now, it may appear that the library is indeed buried, but if government can operate on hope, then maybe we’ll join them. We’re down, but most assuredly not out. We’ll continue to send updates as the months go by. 

Jean Brocklebank, On behalf of 163 others of Don’t Bury The Library

UCSC AND FUTURE GROWTH. The East Meadow Action Committee has worked for years now to stop development of UCSC student housing on the East Meadow of the campus. That’s the meadow with cows that the world sees when entering the campus. EMAC sent this notice Nov. 2, revealing how the regents hid items, failed to publish findings and gave no chance for comments on this huge project. Read this to get a more complete idea of the issue… 

Court Orders UC Regents to Rescind Their Approval of UCSC’s Student Housing West Project.

Today the Santa Cruz Superior Court issued a Writ of Mandamus ordering the Regents of the University of California to rescind their approval of UCSC’s Student Housing West project.

The Court’s order carried out the Court’s final judgment in a case brought by the East Meadow Action Committee (EMAC) in April 2019 under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). That law mainly addresses procedural issues. It does not necessarily stop a state agency from building an environmentally flawed or poorly designed project. But it does require that agency to be honest and transparent about what it is doing, to give the public an opportunity to comment, to incorporate feasible mitigations and alternatives that mitigate for significant environmental impacts, and to make its final decision in public and on the record so that there is public accountability. The court found that the UC Regents failed to meet the requirement of the law when they improperly approved the Student Housing West project. Specifically, the Regents rejected the alternatives, including environmentally superior alternatives, as economically infeasible at a time when the economic analysis was being withheld from both the Regents and the public, and the missing economic analysis was only made available several weeks later to a small subgroup of Regents meeting secretly and off-the-record. The court therefore is ordering the Regents of the University of California to rescind their approval of the project.

The Court’s Writ of Mandamus therefore “commands” the Regents to set aside:

  • their “adoption of the CEQA Findings and Statement of Overriding

Considerations approving the Student Housing West Project…”

  • their “adoption of the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program for the

Student Housing West Project…”, and

  • their “approval of the design of the Student Housing West Project…”

and to do all that within 120 days.

We at the East Meadow Action Committee do not oppose the construction of additional housing on campus, and in fact we do not oppose 95% of the Student Housing West project. What we oppose is a decision that was made in haste and behind closed doors in September, 2017, to move 5% of the Student Housing West project to the East Meadow. This decision was made in order to avoid having to work with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS) to devise a relatively small Habitat Conservation Plan for parts of the west campus site. Working with the USFWS remains a viable alternative to East Meadow destruction. For a campus that justifiably prides itself on its Environmental Studies Department, the decision not to pursue this alternative in 2017 was a mystifying failure to be true to itself. But it is not too late for UCSC to revise this decision, and the judge’s order provides another compelling reason to do so.

Moreover, in the current fiscal and public health emergency, with so many crucial questions unanswered about the future size and nature of higher education in the US, and with demand for student housing depressed in the near term, UCSC has the time to fully consider what project is most appropriate to these now changed circumstances, and it should avail itself of that opportunity.

We believe UCSC can move forward deliberately with any of a number of alternative plans for building additional on-campus housing in an environmentally responsible way, and it can do so while preserving what is special about this campus. We look forward to working with the UC administration on that project. We believe the UCSC administration is increasingly aware that the East Meadow portion of this project would be destructive to the campus, to UCSC’s reputation, and to the support UCSC enjoys from so many.

We note, however, that it is also possible that, having rescinded the approval as ordered by the court, the university and the Regents could attempt to re-approve the same discredited version of the project. Our work is not done until it is clear that the UCSC administration and the Regents are not going to make that mistake. This project was scheduled to begin construction in the summer of 2018. Thanks to all those who have supported EMAC financially, materially, politically, and intellectually, the meadow endures, as do the university’s principles of environmental stewardship and responsible growth. EMAC is eager to work in favor of a project that accords with these principles and protects the East Meadow. We remain committed to opposing a project that includes its destruction.

East Meadow Action Committee

UCSC’S WATER LAWSUIT AGAINST SANTA CRUZ. I’ve been in many meetings where and when the city questions whether or not they are legally required to provide UCSC with water. One friend says, I think that the state law prevails, and that the City cannot, legally, extend water to the unbuilt portions of the UCSC campus without LAFCO approval.  Whatever’s right there’s still not a word in the Sentinel, this is what KCBS had to report on  October 15, 2020  

Saying it wants the water it was promised, the University of California, Santa Cruz filed legal action earlier this week against the city it’s located in. While the two sides do not agree on what was promised back in 1962 and 1965 in regards to water use, the city of Santa Cruz and the university do agree that legal action was needed to settle the ongoing dispute. The disagreement isn’t about how much water the university uses now, but rather water services looking forward, with development in mind.

Santa Cruz Mayor Justin Cummings said UCSC wants water services expanded to parts of campus that are beyond city limits. “The city council is unable to provide water and services to North Campus at this time, despite the language in the contract signed in the early 1960s,” said Cummings. UCSC said it is simply asking for the city to confirm whether or not it intends to fulfill its original agreement with the University of California.

Land-use plans that UC campuses must create designate certain areas of the campus as sites for possible housing communities, academic buildings and other facilities. Confirmed water access is critical to that planning.

“The financial decision will be made by the courts, which is unfortunate, but the city and university will continue to seek ways to cooperate and do not want this decision to interfere with collaborations on other issues,” Cummings told KCBS Radio.In an emailed statement, UCSC Chancellor Cynthia Larive said sometimes circumstances prevent people from reaching an agreement despite the best of intentions, and in such cases, an outside opinion is helpful, if not warranted.

GO HERE* FOR BRATTONLINE’S Oct.19 first report on UCSC’s water issue.

* UCSC VS. SANTA CRUZ OVER WATER. For decades UCSC has been insisting that the City of Santa Cruz promised to supply the campus with water. The city has either denied this or never proved it promised any such thing. Now UCSC is suing the city to settle the matter. Here’s a link to the campus view 

One of the many questions that UCSC has never admitted is about how much water is now available if they dug wells on their campus. Another thing the campus founders were more or less promised and appeared to have some effect was the promise of genuine college level football…but why go there??? Now here’s a link to Campaign For Sustainable Transportation . Read up on the candidates and issues, we can trust them. Here’s what Good Times wrote on the issue. 

Which Council Members Will Stand Up to UCSC?

On Tuesday attorneys for the University of California Board of Regents filed a lawsuit against the City of Santa Cruz. The lawsuit claims that the City is denying water for UCSC expansion into the forest north of campus, in violation of promises the City made in 1962 before UCSC was built. The City’s position is that UCSC should abide by the decision of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) regarding expansion of the campus. California set up LAFCO’s in an attempt to limit urban sprawl. The University claims it is exempt from LAFCO authority. 

UCSC’s Long Range Development Plan allows for expansion to 28,000 students from its current enrollment of 19,000. This expansion would have a major impact on the price of housing, traffic congestion, and water supplies. The City of Santa Cruz does not have authority over UCSC expansion. The only leverage the City has in order to win concessions on housing, traffic and water is bargaining power. The City can refuse to extend water service into the proposed development north of campus. The City could also implement a tax on parking on campus.

The City Council has not always bargained effectively with UCSC on behalf of the interests of the community. In 2011, the Council actually approved a letter to LAFCO opposing a draft LAFCO policy that the City “demonstrate the availability of an adequate, reliable and sustainable water supply” before UCSC expansion could be approved. 

For the Campaign for Sustainable Transportation,

Rick Longinotti, Co-chair

I really wanted to see Woody Allen’s newest movie “A Rainy Day in New York” now playing at the Del Mar, but the Covid/Mask issue plus maybe a lot of people coughing and sneezing made me think about it. Now we see that Woody’s film will be online in 5 days, the choice is obvious. Besides, Landmark isn’t honoring Critic Passes. 

SARAH COOPER: EVERYTHING’S FINE. Sarah is an online sensational comedienne. She pulls off her great Trump lipsynching, and is just totally fun to watch. Ben Stiller, Jon Hamm, and Maris Tomei all get in on it. She also takes on Mr. Pillow, Melania Trump, QAnon and all in 49 minutes. We need more laughs like this. 

SECRETS OF THE SAQQARA TOMB. A straight documentary about how archeology works. It digs around a pharaoh’s tomb and will teach you much more about archeology than you thought was there to learn. It’s a change from what we “normally” watch.

ROGUE CITY. A genuine French (Marseilles) crooked cop movie, starring Jean Reno and Claudia Cardinale. Gangs, drugs, and switching timelines make it a bit difficult to follow who is cheating who…but it’s good. 

CADAVER. On Netflix it’s Kadaver. Little girl finds a corpse hanging after a nuclear disaster. Mom’s an actress in a traveling show. It’s political, Norwegian, and features expensive sets. Not the best you’ve ever seen, but if you’ve seen almost everything…try it!

BETTER THAN US. This is a Russian attempt at a scary robot movie. It has an unbelievable 100% Rotten Tomato score, but no reviews yet! It’s about how a family gets to hide and keep a sex robot, and it’s supposed to be a serious scary movie. I thought/think it’s so funny an attempt that I’ve been laughing ever since. If (a small if ) you need a laugh, then watch it!

THE UNDOING. (HBO) Nicole Kidman and a older -ooking Hugh Grant take the leads as a gorgeous psychiatrist who’s married to a doctor. They have a rather plain -ooking daughter who has a beautiful girlfriend. Everything’s fine until a murder happens. Being HBO this takes weeks to watch and the first two episodes look good so far.

WE ARE WHO WE ARE. (HBO) Chloe Sevigny is a lesbian U.S. Army colonel stationed at a base in Italy. She has a teenage son who is worried about transgender issues. Having lived at 6 army bases a long time ago, I think the interactions of fellow soldiers are not too realistic. The entire episodes seem stodgy. 

BARBARIANS. Way back in 9 AD, the Romans would invade Germany, a lot. This is told from the German side of these forest battles. A big-deal statue is stolen, secret romances happen, and so do a lot of be headings. Much war and machine-stitched costumes sort of ruin the image, and it won’t take your mind from the barbarians in charge of our lives today.

HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR. A young girl is hired to be a governess in this mystery based on Henry James’ book, “Turn Of The Screw”. She sees shadows and spirits, and it stumbles along from there. Not much has been changed from any old mansion scary story. You can and should find something better elsewhere. 

WHAT DID JACK DO? This oddity – created, starring and directed by David Lynch – is worth about 17 minutes of your time…that’s the full length of it. Lynch plays a cigarette-smoking detective, interrogating a capuchin or orangutan monkey. The monkey may have committed a murder. It’s pure David Lynch, and nutty like Eraserhead. I didn’t like it at all, but it’s only 17 minutes. 

DOLLY PARTON: HERE I AM. We’ll never see an off-screen minute of Dolly Parton. She’s always on and always surprising. She’s written over 3000 songs, she’s 74 years old, been married 30 years and this documentary is wonderful whether you are a fan or not.  Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin love her and talk about their friendship when they made “9 to 5”. Click on it.  

OUTPOST. Is an almost documentary made from a book about an American army  Outpost stationed in a valley surrounded by Taliban snipers in 2006. It’s all war, little background, much bloodshed, tension, perfectly edited and another way to escape the boredom and questions from sitting in our houses wearing masks.

TO THE LAKE. Made and filmed in Moscow by and for Russian audiences with subtitles. A mysterious plague hits Moscow and nearly everybody wears masks. Victims turn into zombies, drool, bite, and smear blood everywhere, as usual. Two fighting families get in cars and share drastic tragedies while on the road. You’ve seen all this before many times except this is a Russian copy of the zombie flicks.

RITA. Rita is a Danish private school teacher with two children. Her daughter is dyslexic  and her son is gay. Rita is completely fascinating you’ll never stop wondering what she’ll do or fail at next. She sleeps with almost everybody and argues with an anarchistic bravado. Watch it and her. 

REBECCA. Laurence Olivier and Alfred Hitchcock made the original flick from Daphne du Maurier’s short story and it was better than this dull and vapid version. Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas just lack the depth and interest of the original. Don’t bother

ON THE ROCKS. Bill Murray just walks through this movie not seeming to know he’s being filmed. No acting, no emoting, no feeling and it’s probably his idea of a style. He’s a rich domineering father who controls and almost totally ruins his daughter’s interracial marriage. Boring to the extreme.

BORAT: SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM. Supposedly a follow up to Sasha Baron Cohen’s earlier Borat movie. I copied some adjectives from other critics that I agree with…repugnant, filthy, incestuous, shocking, crude, cringing, appalling, harsh, repellent, menstrual and more. It also has a very strange actual scene with Rudy Giuliani and another with Tom Hanks that I’ll never figure out. Do not watch this mess.

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7. This new movie written and directed by Aaron Sorkin is not just superior but it’s important too. The most important role has Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden. Then there’s Sasha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman and even a smaller part with Michael Keaton as U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. The 7 were defendants being tried for more than six months in Chicago for  causing riots, conspiracy and more at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. It’s a sad and realistic look at our court system, our politics, democracy and police tactics all of which takes us right up to our present times. Don’t miss it. I’m also proud to tell you that on October 30, 2008 our then State Assemblyman Bill Monning (now Senator) brought Tom Hayden to my KZSC radio program Universal Grapevine. We didn’t talk about his marriage to Jane Fonda and the movie doesn’t touch it either.   

BORGEN. I started watching this series months ago, it’s one of the finest series I’ve seen. Now the world’s critics and audiences are catching up on it. Here’s what I wrote back on Feb. 5…

Borgen translates as “the castle” in Danish, and I must tell you that I’ve been totally immersed in this three season iTunes saga since my daughter Hillary found and recommended it. It’s the story of a woman who becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark. If you like politics and wonder what a politician’s life is like, forget any American versions and watch this instead. The show started in 2010, and from what I hear it won’t go past the third series. Forget “Veep”, “House of Cards”, “The West Wing” and the rest… Borgen is far superior. I’d give you your money back IF and etc….but it would be too much trouble, and you’ll love it too. Now there’s talk of a fourth episode to be released in 2021 with the original cast and on Netflix.

THE OLD GUARD. Charlize Theron was a big hit in Mad Max: Fury Road and she plays the same tough, unstoppable warrior in this one. A brutal, violent fantasy Theron heads a group of four immortals who travel through many centuries looking for a missing time traveler. They go through Morocco, the crusades, a crucifixion, but it’s well done and provides escape from our equally challenging times. 

THE HAUNTING OF BLY MANOR. No big name stars this is a genuine haunted house movie. It’s based on a Henry James short story and you’ll some great James lines like the Turning of the Screw as the ghosts haunt the manor now located in Northern California!

SOCIAL DISTANCE. Note that this is NOT Social Dilemma . Social Distance is a brand new movie centered and laying out the problems of living in these Covid/Trump times. It’s a series of near interviews with alcoholics, funerals, masks, care givers, baby sitting…you name it. Well done but it’s no escape from today…it just makes you think about what’s going on for all of us.

LA REVOLUTION. A Netflix original this series is very realistically set in France in 1787. Love, torture, voodoo, royalty, castles and all sorts of mischief. Go for it.

YOUNG WALLENDER. Wallender is/was a very popular Swedish series started back in 2008 starring Kenneth Branagh and this new addition takes us back to Kurt Wallender’s beginnings as a police officer in his very first case. Wallender tries to stop a guy from exploding a grenade in a victim’s mouth, if that gives you any idea. I’m betting that this series will remain excellent.

CALL MY AGENT. There might be a problem in finding this one under that title on Netflix, if so try “Dix Pour Cent”. Billed as a comedy it centers on the lives of the talent agents and stars who work at a famous show biz agency in Paris. Tempers, jokes, love affairs, and much talent all get very mixed and still it’s almost riveting.

OCTOBER FEST: BEER AND BLOOD. Set in Munich, Germany in 1900 this focuses on a plot from a wealthy brewmeister to take over the stalls, stands and profits that another brewmeister has held for decades at the Octoberfest. Families get in fights, daughters fall in love with the wrong people and it’s a major film. Great acting, photography, and effects.  

DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD. A no holds barred documentary by the documentarian/photogrtapher who’s father is dying from Alzheimer’s and dementia. I’m not sure if it’s cruel or empathetic but if you’ve ever had to live and/or care for a relative/ friend with these ailments you know how painful it can be. No laughs, no solutions just a sharing of the negative dread of old age. Go warned.   

THE GLORIAS. This bio-pic of Gloria Steinem is a good one. Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander and two more women/girls play her in this near dream like history of the womens’ movement and her part in it. Julie Taymor directed it and does portray Gloria as her real mini-skirt, long nails gorgeous self. Timothy Hutton is in it too nut he shouldn’t have been. It has much fantasy, dreams, animation and oddly placed moves that obscure the important view of women’s equality fights that Steinman was an integral part of. Bette Midler plays Bella Abzug. Watch it, and don’t snicker at the odd ball parts

EMILY IN PARIS. Lily Collins is Emily. Emily is from Chicago and is sent to Paris as a company rep. The Paris group doesn’t like her and Emily has a rough time adjusting to France. Cute, clever, time consuming, charming, and I imagine the series will be the same.

TEHRAN. It has a 93 on Rotten Tomatoes!! An international spy killer-thrill series. It mixes Iran, Tehran, Jordan, Israel’s internal wars with a young woman’s attempt to steal government high tech secrets. Complex, well acted, and if you can keep up with identities, you can continue forgetting about movie theatres.

THE ARTISTS WIFE. Bruce Dern and Lena Olin take on the heavy lead roles in this painfully, near true story of how parts of the Dolby Sound family dealt with the dementia and Alzheimers of old man Ray Dolby. If you’ve ever had to deal with these age old afflictions you know how deep the pain goes. 

CRIMINAL. This is an unusual series that consists of four different story lines on four different websites. There’s Criminal: United Kingdom, Criminal: Germany, Criminal: Spain and Criminal: France. All episodes were filmed in Spain and center on criminals each being questioned and interviewed in exactly the same interrogating room with a very important two-way mirror separating them from the cops and legal team. I’ve watched almost all of the four series, they are clever, well acted, puzzling in a good way and well worth your time.

ENOLA HOLMES. From a series of new books this is a fable about Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes little sister Enola. Enola spelled backwards is of course Alone. Millie Bobby Brown plays Enola and is super, couldn’t be better. It’s light clever, mildly absorbing and if you’ve nothing else going on….go for it.

THE INVISIBLE MAN. This got an amazing 91 on Rotten Tomatoes and I must admit I’m still remembering the tension, the scares, and surprising talents of Elisabeth Moss in the lead. She’s the ex-girlfriend of an optical genius who invented an invisible suit. It sort of looks like a wetsuit with knobs. So basically, he haunts her. The police don’t believe her so she takes matters into her own hands and fights him, wherever he is supposed to be. It’ll take your mind off all the stuff that’s haunting you nowadays, watch it.

THE VOW. 82 ON Rotten Tomatoes is just about what I’d give this documentary. NXIVM is the name of a self awareness, mindfulness group. It has masters and slaves and even branding women members in private places. It’s a documentary but not your average documentary. If you’ve ever belonged to or have thought about joining one like maybe Scientology don’t miss this partial opening of their secret doors.

CHALLENGER: THE FINAL FLIGHT. We’ve never heard much about this 1986 NASA shuttle flight disaster. This is a  four part documentary with J.J. Abrams doing the producing. The NASA flight was done for much needed social approval and a brilliant, pretty, school teacher was included among the astronauts. The Challenger blew up in less than two minutes after it was launched and all the crew perished. The film shows NASA’s faults, details all the worlds  reactions and will teach you some necessary features involved in our space programs.

RATCHED. Named and promoted as a back story to the famed Nurse Ratched played by Louise Fletcher in Jack Nicolson’s and Ken Kesey’s  “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” book.For some reason the hospital is changed from a military re hab center in Menlo Park where Kesey did time to a spacious retreat in Lucia, which is near Big Sur. Judy Davis, Sarah Paulson, Cynthia Nixon and believe it or not, Sharon Stone are in it. It’s a gruesome movie with such scenes as a doctor hammering an ice pick into a patient’s eye or being given a severed head as a present. The lesbian sub plot is very insensitive, so is the sodomy story…don’t bother.

THE SOCIAL DILEMMA. This one hour and 20 minute documentary a Netflix original is so important, good, and timely. It focuses on the control the internet has over us now and the inevitable growth it will take as time goes by. The control goes much deeper than your searching for a toaster on Amazon and seeing toasters pop up on the next 20 screens you open. It’s about how Facebook, Twitter, Google, You Tube and many more. Are controlling how long we watch and how often we click on any site, then selling the data from our views to advertisers. They work hard to change our groups of friends to bring people with similar views together politically, religiously and change our lives in the process. My notes while watching say things like…the future an Utopia or oblivion,  causing a civil war, ruining a global economy, prioritizing what keeps us on our screen, election advertising, existential threat, can’t agree on what is truth, assault on democracy and on and on. Do see this documentary and think about it and us and yourself. … 

RAKE. I’m still enthralled with watching RAKE. It’s one of the most consistent brilliant funny, curious, serious, series I’ve ever seen. It’s a Netflix feature from Australia back in 2010. This week Netflix introduced Charlie Kaufmann’s newest movie “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”. You need warnings about Kaufmann’s films. Remember “Being John Malkovich”, “Synecdoche, New York” and especially “Eternal Sunshine of the Eternal Mind”. “I’m Thinking” is one of his impressionistic, dreamlike. Psychological adventure voyages. It’ll stay with you for days after.

THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME. This is a Netflix thriller set in the town of Knockemstiff, Ohio (a real place). Robert Pattinson (of Twilight fame) plays a knockabout country minister who does bad things to good people. Tom Holland and Bill Skarsgard, and Mia Wasikowska do fine jobs of acting but the plot is predictable, stodgy, and adds nothing to cinema history 

COAST ELITES is HBO’s masterful so called comedy that centers on our very present trials and tribulations caused by Trump, fires, and solitary confinement in our own homes. Bette Midler starts the series of 5 monologues. It’s new, innovative and immensely thought producing. Watch it, think about it. 

LAUNDROMAT. How could a movie directed by Stephen Soderbergh and starring Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas be so bad? Don’t waste your time trying to figure it out. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 41! The plot focus is on tax evasion, off shore investments, insurance rip offs, and is way too complex and silly at the same time.

GOOD MORNING VERONICA. Don’t bother with this Netflix mess. Hackneyed, trite, poorly acted, a waste of your time. 

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November 2

MANAGING THE COUNCIL
At a recent zoom meeting lasting 5 hours and 53 minutes, city council members were maneuvered through deliberations and decisions on an Interim Recovery Plan (IRP) by a team of consultants, Management Partners, with offices in Orange County, San Jose and Cincinnati. 

On a bright note, all council members made thoughtful comments, asked useful questions and highlighted important considerations. They found much common ground. Respect and appreciation were in abundance. On a less bright note, the public was an afterthought at best. This was a public meeting. I tuned in a bit late, perhaps ten minutes after the start to find the public comment period had been placed at the beginning of the agenda and I had missed it. Apart from that curious placement, the Mayor, noting that there were no members of the public in attendance at that time said that maybe the public could call in later and public comment period could be re-opened. I did that, following the usual zoom instructions and entering the usual *9 to show I was waiting to be un-muted. No one noticed the public was waiting despite there being 3 consultants in attendance to facilitate the meeting. The show went on with my champing at the bit for my two minutes, which never materialized. The public hearing ended 6 hours later with congratulations all around. 

There was a lot to comment on. Since the context of the IRP is to choose city priorities for the next 12 to 18 months in a fiscal crisis with reduced staff hours, one wonders what Management Partners are being paid? Since they have been doing this consulting work for the city over the past few months, interviewing council members, department heads, conducting a community survey, writing a Work Book for council, facilitating this zoom meeting with future work including translating the copious notes into a Work Plan and facilitating two more council meetings, the price tag must be hefty.

There’s a question as to whether consultants are needed for this task? There must be a competent facilitator among the plethora of highly paid city upper management. Or maybe a competent Administrative Assistant?  Choosing 5 priorities out of a list of 7 and narrowing to the top 3 is not rocket science, although council members found it frustrating since there was considerable overlap. For example, Taking Actions to Ensure Long-term Fiscal Sustainability can hardly be separated from Downtown Investment or Restarting and Growing the Local Economy but they were listed as 3 separate priorities and council had to choose, which they did like reluctant school children. And those 3 had to compete with Provide for Public Safety which lost out, despite its being a priority of the community.  Few of the community’s priorities made the cut. 

Then there’s the nagging issue of subtle manipulation that is a hallmark of most consultants. I spotted a few examples. One slide showed the Department Heads’ priorities. The next showed Councils’ priorities. There was some overlap and also notable differences. No Department Head chose Public Safety, Downtown Investment or Green Economy as priorities while Council members chose all three. That is revealing.  From then on, all slides collapsed Department Heads and Council into one category when showing priorities, a problem on multiple levels.

Consultants are also the note takers. While capturing every word and summarizing into a sentence is challenging, it is also open to distortion. At one point the Vice Mayor commented on the work regarding our coast and West Cliff as important for tourists and residents. I noted the latter were omitted from the consultants’ notes so only tourists will be recorded as important. 

A small tension arose when the City Manager, calling in these hard times for discipline, civility, and a team effort with the City Manager’s Office taking the lead, also appointed himself as arbiter of what council initiated projects will or won’t be accepted and moved forward. That issue will probably return for more council scrutiny.

Some council members expressed concern that these decisions on priorities were taking place before a new council is seated. Reassurance was given that the new council members will be “on boarded” which I take to mean, told what is the Work Plan and the priorities they have inherited. Staff and consultants will bring back to Council a summary of all this in November with a final Work Plan and Actions in January. 

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

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11/03/20, Election D-Day

Towards a Fairer Vote

As I write this, I am on a Zoom call with the folks at Fair Vote, an organization based in Washington, D.C. that promotes Rank Choice Voting (RCV). Maine is the first state to use it in a federal election (2018) and it may be the primary mechanism by which Republican incumbent Susan Collins is defeated this year.(Ranked choice voting gives Sara Gideon edge in Maine’s senate race, poll finds ) Democrat Sara Gideon is ahead in polling, 48% to Collins’ 42%, but to be declared the winner in Maine the candidate must receive 50% of the vote. Left of center candidate Lisa Savage is at 5% and she is telling her voters to rank Gideon as second choice on their ballots. As a result, Gideon will likely win and it could be a win for the political left in Maine. If Gideon wins because of left voters,  that should mean more seats at the Gideon policy table when she takes a Senate seat. RCV is now used in a lot of politically sister-like cities to Santa Cruz to decide mayoral, supervisorial, and city council elections. Places like Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Fe, NM, Cambridge, Ma. and Takoma Park, Md., all use the RVC system. In fact, it will begin to be in use in Amherst, Ma. and New York City next year, 2021. Ranked Choice Voting offers more inclusive and fairer electoral outcomes. It allows more voters to have a stake in the election and it avoids costly run-offs like we have in SC county supervisorial races. 

How Ranked Choice Voting Works

“RCV is a way to ensure elections are fair for all voters. It allows voters the option to rank candidates in order of preference: one, two, three, and so forth. If your vote cannot help your top choice win, your vote counts for your next choice. In races where voters select one winner, if a candidate receives more than half of the first choices, that candidate wins, just like in any other election. However, if there is no majority winner after counting first choices, the race is decided by an “instant runoff.” The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who picked that candidate as ‘number 1′ will have their votes count for their next choice. This process continues until there’s a majority winner or a candidate won with more than half of the vote.” Also, the voter is under no obligation to rank candidates, they can vote for only their top choice if they like. Go to FairVote.org  for more information.

Do Mail-in Ballots Equal Better Overall Election Results?

Maybe. Seems to me there are advantages:

  • The voter has time to study the ballot, 
  • the voter can get together with friends and family to discuss the issues,
  • there are fewer reported ballot errors in mail-in ballots (not more, as some earlier suspected)
  • and, if everyone gets their ballots in early enough there just might be faster vote-counting result, and winners could be announced earlier, but don’t count on it in this election. Our registrar of voters has until Dec. 3rd to certify the ballot results.

Reported Mayhem After Nov. 3rd?

Many individuals, groups, and organizations are gearing up for what seems to be, if you take Trump at his word (always dicey) and what is being reported, a most chaotic atmosphere post-election with each side possibly declaring victory. Perhaps the most unnerving feeling is the utter insecurity many I talk to are feeling because we all have no experience with such a time as we now find ourselves in. There has never been a President threatening not to leave office, or one who cries foul because he is losing and then calls for his supporters take to the streets. Voter intimidation is real and has been happening. We have no reason not to believe those counting mail-in ballots over the next couple of weeks, especially in Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Michigan will not be threatened or assaulted by Trump political gangs. What can we do to thwart the possibilities of real votes being overturned by Trump thugs and loyalists? (NY TIMES – Trump Biden Election Campaign

Choose Democracy  First, take the pledge that you will vote, protect the vote count, and alert public officials where you stand and that you expect them to also support a complete and fair vote count, no stopping until all ballots have been counted. Here’s the pledge:

  1. We Pledge to vote in this election and to protect and to do all we can to keep polling locations open, accessible and free from interference.
  2. We Pledge to talk with our friends, family, and neighbors and get them to commit to vote early by mail and in-person beginning Oct 5. 
  3. We Pledge to demand that our elected officials and institutions count every vote. 
    4. We Pledge that we will participate and/or support efforts to immediately & nonviolently refuse to cooperate with any illegitimate power grab – a clear and dangerous denial of the democratic will of voters – that is attempted. We MUST protect the integrity of the democratic process.

Sign the Veterans for Peace pledge to defend democracy:Choosing Democracy Santa Cruz County, CA

Next, go to the Santa Cruz Town Clock at 4p on Wed. Nov. 4th, the day after the election, and be in the company of others who also believe we should count every vote because our democracy depends on it.
Rally to Demand Every Vote Gets Counted
  

Finally, we must demand that our elected leaders represent us in Washington, D.C. and do NOT let Republican operatives perpetrate what they did in Florida in 2000 and get officials to stop the vote-counting in key swing states. We know this will be the largest turnout ever in the United States. We all know Republicans seek to suppress the vote because they have at every turn. Who then is coming out to vote? Just sayin’, be ready to show your support–written and vocal support will be needed. 

“The thing about Republicans putting four popular women of color on their ads across the country & acting as though they’re running against us everywhere is… people kinda like what we fight for: healthcare, housing, climate, & justice for all.” (Nov. 1) 


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

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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NOVEMBER 2

A VERY UNPLEASANT MORNING AT THE FARMERS MARKET WITH SOQUEL CREEK WATER BOARD MEMBERS
Last Saturday, I arrived early at the Cabrillo Farmer’s Market peripheral entry to campaign for and with two excellent Soquel Water Board candidates, Corrie Kates and Maria Marsilio, as we have done every Saturday for the past three months.  Unexpectedly, incumbent Bruce Daniels joined me at the spot with his campaign signs, and he was soon joined by Board member Carla Christensen.  I was prepared to share the space, but shocked by the rude vitriol and insults dealt by the two of them.

Bruce Daniels quickly stood at arm’s length in front of me, pounding the wooden stake with his large campaign sign at my feet, uncontrollably shouting “YOU LIE!  YOU LIE!  YOU LIE!” over and over.  He called me “incompetent”.  Wow.

His behavior attracted quite a crowd of passersby as I was forced to defend myself.  I asked him about his public statement at the February 19, 2019 rate increase hearing when he told the audience the Board could remove the 9% annual rate increases planned for five years, which was based on the District getting no grants for the PureWater Soquel Project, as soon as the District got the $50 million grant from the State, which could be as early as June, 2019.  “I SAID MAYBE! MAYBE, MAYBE, MAYBE!” he again shouted uncontrollably. 

Here is the link to that February 19, 2019 public hearing video: Soquel Creek Water District 02/19/19

You can watch him assure ratepayers that the steep annual increases would go away once the District got the public funding for PureWater Soquel.  You can watch Project Manager Melanie Mow-Schumacher assure Bruce that this was true. The Board has not publicly discussed any rate relief for customers struggling under this burden in current devastating economic times.

Meanwhile, back at the Market, Bruce refused to tell me what years he actually served on the State Water Board, as he claims in campaign materials, but without any dates.  The State Water Board has informed me they do not have records of past Board members, and suggested I ask Bruce Daniels and Tom LaHue.  I wrote them, but they did not answer, and when I asked Bruce about the dates Saturday, he again shouted “I AM NOT GOING TO TELL YOU!  YOU’LL JUST USE IT AGAINST ME!”  

I wondered how having actual dates of public service on such an esteemed State Water Board could possibly be used against anyone, unless, maybe there are no dates….  Hmmm…

Finally, after a final outburst of “YOU LOSE! YOU LOSE! YOU LOSE!”  from Bruce, having cited everything I have done for public benefit in the past, including running for County Supervisor, Bruce left.  

I took a deep breath.  Carla Christensen then began by saying “You’re inept and you lie.”  I asked her to name one lie I had said.  She stated that I just “won’t let go” of old stuff, and cited the excerpt I have brought up publicly and in my legal appeal from General Manager Ron Duncan’s Declaration of February 20, 2019 filed in Superior Court, claiming all PureWater Project work has to be done by February 29, 2020 or the District would have to forfeit any grant money. 03-03-20 Board Correspondence [pdf]

“The last date for disbursement of Prop. 1 grant monies is February 29, 2020, thus all project work must be completed by February 29, 2020 or the District would be required to surrender the $50 million.”

How, then could the Board approve the $6.2 Million Design/Build work for the Project on March 3, 2020, as well as other Project construction contracts awarded since,  and not have to surrender the $50 million grant….if what Ron Duncan claimed, under penalty of perjury, were true?

“That’s old information,” Carla said, “you should just let go of it.”  

I asked her how she and the other three Board members could possible sit quietly and have allowed Bruce Daniels to explain at great length that the PureWater Soquel Project Twin Lakes Church INJECTION  Well would all be “gravity-feed”, not injected?  He did this at the Board meeting on election night, 2018 when the Board approved the Negative Declaration Environmental Analysis for the Twin Lakes Church Pilot Well, before even approving the PureWater Soquel Project or certifying the Project EIR.

See minute 1:41:35 “This is not injection, it is gravity feed”

Soquel Creek Water District Board Meeting 11/6/2018

Carla’s reply Saturday morning was “Well, I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”  Really?  She seconded the motion to approve the action.  Hmmm… 

She said I am inept at the legal challenge against the PureWater Soquel Project EIR, currently in the Sixth District Court Of Appeal.  She said she has fought and won environmental challenges in the past.  When I asked her if she did her own legal work or hired an attorney, she replied “Well, I hired an attorney, of course.”  How nice that she has the money to do so.  I repeated my justification for my taking the self-represented legal action that I had made earlier to Bruce’s “YOU LOSE!” tirade, that I am compelled to take the action because I believe, on principal,  it is the right thing to do for the community and environment, but I do not have $100,000 for legal representation.  It isn’t about the chance of winning or losing, it is because the Project EIR was so inadequate, and the District refused to correct anything. She left the Market soon after.  A man came up to me later and said he had overheard the “earlier discussion” and based on his observations, would be voting for Corrie Kates and Maria Marsilio. 

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT BOARD TO CONSIDER FURTHER RATE INCREASES 
This Tuesday Nov. 3, the District Board will again consider a critical issue on an Election Night meeting agenda…”Shall we raise the rates AGAIN when the current rate increase schedule runs out in 2023?”

11-03-20 BoardPacket.pdf

The District Board has a pattern of scheduling Board meetings on Election Night to consider very significant matters that they do not necessarily want the public to weigh in on.   That was the case in 2018 with the Twin Lakes Church Well action and hearing the proposed monstrous rate increases to pay for PureWater Soquel: SqCWD 11/6/2018 Board Meeting – from 11/6/2018 – SqCWD Board Meeting (website audio is so low you cannot hear, but see the link to the YouTube in the article above that was luckily a member of the public who attended recorded).  The Board met again on Election Night, 2019 to approve multiple Project consultants and yet another staff and Board trip to Washington , D.C. to glad-hand people for public funding of that Project.  (There is no video for the 2019 meeting because when staff unplugged the microphone while I was reading Ron Duncan’s sworn declaration into the record, it caused a “technical problem”.)

What will the Board approve now with Item #7.2 “Board Feedback and Direction Regarding Customer Support and Rates Discussion”????

“The current rate structure was approved through 2023. A new rate evaluation will need to begin next year, in fall 2021, in order to have a new rate study developed by the time the adopted rates expire. Any program considerations involving rates would need to meet the legal requirements of Proposition 218 and financing constraints.”  

Stay tuned…unless there are more “technical difficulties” and no video gets posted. 

Here is the letter I submitted to the Board on Item #7.2:

Dear Board,

I am submitting written comment on Item 7.2 and also have requested permission to speak about this issue at the November 3, 2020 meeting.

click here to continue (link expands, click again to collapse)

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A VIRTUAL PUBLIC HEARING.  JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK, AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE

Happy Election Day…I hope everyone voted! 

Becky Steinbruner 831-685-2915 (I welcome your discussion)

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

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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October 31
#305 / Last Exit?
 
David Frum, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, has given us a warning in a recent article in The Atlantic. The warning came in the headline to Frum’s article: 

Last Exit From Autocracy

America survived one Trump term. 
It wouldn’t survive a second.

Frum’s article makes what is now a pretty familiar critique of the conduct of President Trump (and of those who have enabled him). The president is crooked and corrupt, says Frum, and he is an authoritarian. Given that, Frum makes clear that there are significant risks to our democracy that would become an urgency, were the president to be reelected. It is a good article in that way. Click the link (above) to read it, which you will be able to do if you are either a subscriber to The Atlantic, or have not yet worn out your welcome to read a limited number of articles in The Atlantic, each month, before the website shuts you out. I have also been informed (though I have never tried it) that using the Chrome Browser in the “incognito” mode may let you slip by the Atlantic’s paywall.

I have no quarrel with almost everything that Frum says about President Trump, and about the high stakes in our upcoming election. I must say this, however: I don’t like that headline! And I don’t much like Frum’s statement that, “No one could do anything to stop him.”

No one could do anything to stop him. No one has stopped Trump from directing taxpayer dollars to his personal businesses. No one has stopped him from defying congressional subpoenas looking into whether he was violating tax and banking laws. No one has stopped him from hiring and promoting his relatives. No one has stopped him from using government resources for partisan purposes. No one has stopped him from pressuring and cajoling foreign governments to help his reelection campaign. No one has stopped him from using his power over the Postal Service to discourage voting that he thinks will hurt him.

“No one has stopped him.” That is the more accurate statement, not that no one could have stopped him. It would also be correct to say, “No one did stop him.” Someone could have stopped him, but no one did. That’s the truth. It isn’t the truth that no one could have stopped him. The truth is that those who could have stopped him didn’t stop him. We didn’t stop him. Review my recent blog posting on what must happen in the case a “coup” is attempted. 

If it were actually true that no one “could” stop Trump’s corrupt and authoritarian actions, then Frum’s headline prediction might be better supported. That headline proclaims that while America has “survived one Trump term,” it would not “survive a second.” 

I take exception to this importation of the laws of physics into our political life. “Inevitability” is not a category that ever applies in the realm of human affairs, in our politics, and in our life together.

If Trump is crooked, and corrupt, and is an authoritarian who misuses his official powers – and Frum definitely makes a good case that he is – the correct reaction is not to decide that nothing can be done about it. The correct reaction is to proclaim the absolute necessity that we actually do something to prevent further abuses. 

I am as nervous as everyone else about the outcome of the upcoming election. We are going to know how the election went in just a few days now. I can feel the dark pressure of dread press down, but I will not be crushed. I will not capitulate. 

If the president is reelected in a fair election, then I, and all of us who believe, with Frum, that he is corrupt and that he has misused his powers, must muster our efforts, and engage, and do all we can to insure that the president will not continue to flaunt the law and the Constitution. We are going to have to divert our attention from our personal concerns to the task of insuring that “America,” and our democratic government, survives.

Even more so if the president loses the election and then seeks, somehow, to defy that electoral decision. 

Most of us, most of the time, are willing to let the machinery of government work on its own. However, it is “our” government. When it becomes clear that it is malfunctioning, we must turn our attention to how we make it run right. Those working for the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, to replace our current president and his vice president, are already in gear. Those who have already voted against the president are in gear. And those who haven’t voted yet still can, since the election is next Tuesday, November 3rd. Those who have voted or will vote for a change have begun the process necessary to make sure that our current president will not be able to continue his corrupt and crooked ways, defying democracy.

But what happens if our current president is reelected (or if he loses and refuses to abide by the election results)? That does not mean that America will not survive. Not unless we acquiesce. Not unless we name ourselves helpless, as Frum would suggest we are, people who “couldn’t do anything” to stop the absuses of democracy that are our legacy and the inheritance that we must make sure will be passed on to those who follow us. 

I do not agree that there is nothing to be done. I hope those who are reading this agree!

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

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. 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. He writes about Fear and Fear itself…go for it.

    ELECTIONS

“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”
~Gore Vidal

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”  
~Abraham Lincoln 

“When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” 
 
~Euripides, Orestes 


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

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

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
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