Bratton…Glen Schaller died, SC Chamber Players next concert. Greensite…on the last public hearing for the Wharf Master Plan. Steinbruner…Supes rubber stamp housing, insurance companies leaving Calif., Big Basin Park recovery, rail & trail @ 17th and State Park, Aptos Village & Swenson, governor and county fair board. Hayes…”we need more mountain bike trails”…a spurious statement (and how to solve it).Patton….thou shalt not kill. Matlock…Cuban peanut farms a-cross America. Eagan …Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week. Quotes…”VETERANS”
DATELINE November 6
GLEN SCHALLER DIED. Glen’s death last week had and has an impact not just on me but on so very many readers who sent notes of our loss. Glen was a very involved and important Santa Cruzan. His full impact on our political status will never be known. I know that I worked with Glen for decades and maintained a complete respect for his politics and his way of life. Nora Hochman wrote…
“Monday afternoon October 30, Glen Schaller was discovered dead in his apartment. Many of you are aware of the significant health issues Glen faced – he was no longer working because of those issues.
Glen was a longtime significant activist in the progressive political community, labor and in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. His work stewarding new candidates through the various election processes, arranging phone banks, attending and coordinating endorsement forums was important and impressive. Many of us worked on various campaigns with him and the news that he has died is indeed shocking. His family is gathering here in Santa Cruz and will keep us all apprised of any activities to honor Glen and his deep roots in our community”.
Thomas Leavitt wrote, and enclosed a You Tube of Glen and me at Paul Lee’s Penny University…
“Glen Schaller‘s untimely passing is an immeasurable loss for progressive politics and union organizing in Santa Cruz. As both a member, and later co-chair with his sister, Merrie, I worked closely with him in the GLBT Alliance for many, many years… he was the epitome of ally, the only straight person in the room, but that never mattered. He was the campaign coordinator for the No on 8 campaign, and his work led Santa Cruz to have one of the highest votes against it. A brilliant and capable political organizer and strategist, and a warm, funny, thoughtful, considerate, and incredibly decent human being. I could go on and on about him, but the video on the right, of him speaking to the Penny Academy in 2012 (with you hosting, in fact), illustrates his skill, integrity, and thoughtfulness better than anything I could say. He handles tough questions with grace, peppers his comments with a remarkable knowledge of history, and then busts out about the Wobblies and anarcho-syndicalism in the middle of all that! He was just so damn smart and informed, someone I’ve rarely seen the like of in my many years of organizing. I’ll miss him, and his laughter and joie de vivre forever”.
What else is painfully sad is that The Santa Cruz Sentinel has not mentioned one word about Glen. That’s just another reminder of their lack of connection with our community.
SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS NEXT CONCERT. Their first two concerts of this season have been wonderful and almost jam packed for the Sunday afternoons. Their next concerts are tiled Sonatas for Friends and that means music by Ahn, Beethoven, Dorfan, and Prokofiev. Alison Lee and Isaac Pastor-Chermak, are the concert directors. The concerts will be SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 7:30 PM and SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 3:00 PM at Christ Lutheran Church 10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos (Off Highway 1 at Freedom Blvd.)
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.
NYAD. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). A must watch movie. No critique here, I loved it and became a total supporter of Diana Nyad (played by Annette Bening) the 64 year old who made four attempts at swimming from Cuba to Florida (110 miles!) She co-stars with Jodie Foster in this near documentary. The swim took her four tries over the decades before she succeeded and you’ll hang on to each attempt. Don’t miss this one. Try to get a copy of the New Yorker online from their piece in 2012 on Nyad herself.
FINGERNAILS. (APPLE TV MOVIE) (6.2 IMDB). This bizarre and foolish movie is based on some research saying that if you rip off a fingernail from a couple who wonder about their love being true and strong and fry the nails on a machine, a percentage flashes up showing if the couple is good to go. It takes place in a large group of offices called The Love Training Institute
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.9 IMDB). Mark Ruffalo is back onscreen this time with a French accent. It takes place in 1944 with Nazi Germany occupying a small French town full of resisters and a blind girl using a hidden radio to broadcast pro-France encouragements. The relationship between the girl and a German soldier holds our interest…to a point. Go warned.
THE AFTER. (NETFLIX SHORT) (6.4 IMDB). This short film seems to be a new idea on the movie internet…it’s only 18 minutes long. David Oyelow shows us the inside reactions to a tragic accident and how it affects his life. It’s touching, disturbing, and very deep into tragedy. It’s almost a silent film and we go so heartfelt into dealing with life’s surprises.
SISTER DEATH. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.8 IMDB). Almost entirely filmed and centered in a nunnery this movie from Spain covers it all. Ghosts, visions, dreams, memories, nightmares and even a rape by the nunnery gardener. It’s set during the Spanish Civil war and keeps us all guessing and hoping that the new nun comes to her senses. Watch it.
COLD PURSUIT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.2 IMDB). 71 year old Liam Neeson drives a snow plow for a living and some drug dealers kill his son by planting drugs on him. It’s just one more Hollywood take and lacks any and all believability. Laura Dern is back onscreen too, and plays her usual mugging self. Not recommended.
KAALA PAANI. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.1 IMDB). This movie from India takes us right through the covid epidemic and what it did and does to the citizens who live on two islands. Many authorities look for a cure as death hits on several islanders. What’s unusual is that it takes place not now but in December 2027. Go for it.
SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non-hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (8.1 IMDB). You can find as many great and positive reviews for Martin Scorsese’s newest creation as there are negative ones. This is the biggie for Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and even John Lithgow plus a very heavy Brendan Fraser. It’s the sad and tragic story of how the Osage Indians who lived and worked and settled on the oil rich lands of Oklahoma were murdered and cheated of their lands by the invading white so called settlers. It’s also three and a half hours long and has some very long scenes that drop/lose the important plot. See it just for the depressing history lesson.
PAIN HUSTLERS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). If you’ve ever wondered whether your Doctor gets hush money for prescribing your medicines this pseudo-documentary movie won’t solve your problem. Emily Blunt, Chris Evans and Andy Garcia do ok acting jobs in this not too subtle take-off on the Sackler family and OxyPharma/Fentanyl disaster. It’s all about hustling Doctors by any/all means to sell pharmaceuticals ie…Opioids. It’s centered in Florida in 2011 but it could still be happening. Not great, but involving.
ANATOMY OF A FALL. (DEL MAR THEATRE). (7.9 IMDB) I dozed off once or twice during the 150 minutes this mysterious crime movie runs. A guy/husband/father falls accidentally, or maybe was pushed off a third floor of a vacation cabin and dies. There’s a blind son and a grieving wife to suspect were involved and complex plus numerous courtroom scenes to keep you involved. It’s complex, involving and an ending you can’t forget.
ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.6 IMDB). A Polish movie about some kids making a movie. Friends since childhood, these teenagers fall in love and go through hell including a drowning. There’s all sorts of relationship issues between these youngsters and it’ll keep your attention…at least through the first three episodes.
BURNING BETRAYAL. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (3.9 IMDB). A Brazilian movie about marriage and sexual loyalty. The lead actress looks very much like Anya Taylor Joy but she’s a better actress. There’s courtroom scenes galore and even motorcycle club parties with women involved. The sex scenes are numerous and well done…if you like sex scenes, but mostly it’s boring.
FLASHBACK. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.9 IMDB). This quickie is only 16 minutes long and that’s enough. A Yoga teacher goes through a series of flashbacks through her earlier ages. There’s time zones and unusual memories that we don’t know are real or not. There’s also a character named Doctor Bones who adds very little to this fragmented plot.
CREATURE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.7 IMDB). This fantasy is based on the genuine Frankenstein plot…but you wouldn’t know it until 3 episodes into it. A father and son run a clinic and there’s demons and a dog named Darwin running around. The acting is hammy and the plot takes place in Istanbul. It says the plot centers on life and death and can life be created in a monster form. Confusing and not worth watching.
THE WHARF: FINAL WEEKS
The Wharf Master Plan is closing in for final review and vote by the city council on November 28th. The Planning Commission concluded its hearing on November 2nd with a 4-1 vote (2 absent) to accept the staff recommendation. The commission proposed no changes to the Plan although one commissioner tried for a friendly amendment to remove the Landmark building, a request which was not accepted by the maker of the motion.
A reminder if you have forgotten: the Landmark building is one of three proposed large new forty-foot tall public buildings to be added to the Wharf along with a 33% increase in commercial space. This large structure at the far southern end, assuredly blocking views, is imagined as a replica for the original Fish Warehouse which was demolished in 1960. At that time, the end of the Wharf was reinforced with new pilings and preserved for fishing. For scale, the one- story Wharf buildings in the photo above are probably twelve feet high and the two- story buildings, probably twenty- four feet high (as per Engineering Report citations). The three new structures will be close to twice the current highest building heights if you include the usual roof add-ons plus where roof line heights are calculated. In addition to this new construction, the Plan proposes a lowered walkway, eight feet below deck, stretching for over 800 feet on the west side, bringing people, noise, and activity to just beneath the restaurants pictured above, from the far -left side to about halfway to the right. The Historic Preservation Commission at its hearing voted to remove this lowered walkway citing that “the highly visible walkway would degrade the visual character of the Wharf by introducing an appendage to the Wharf that is incompatible with its original historic design.” Alternative 2 in the EIR removes this walkway from the Plan. The Court ruled the city has not made an evidence-based case for not choosing Alternative 2, the environmentally superior alternative. Besides impacts from the Landmark building to the sea lion viewing holes, whose relocation sites have been deferred to the future, the Westside Walkway and the three tall new buildings receive the most negative reactions to the Wharf Master Plan.
In preparing for these hearings, with four down and one to go, I am struck by the contrast between the public process for the current redesign of San Lorenzo Park and the process for the Wharf Master Plan. The former, under city Parks planner Noah Downing has involved the public from the beginning and has kept that public involvement every step of the way. Not hand-selected focus groups for an a priori agenda but a wide range of the public and community groups to develop a plan. The consulting firm working on the redesign is presenting several options shaped by and responsive to the public with full transparency. Given this genuine respect for public process, it is highly likely that the resulting design will have full community support, even if not everybody gets exactly what they want.
By contrast, the Wharf Master Plan was created with no public input by a SF design firm for $1 million provided by the city via a grant from the Commerce Department, applied for by the city with the false claim that the Wharf was “severely damaged” by the 2011 tsunami. Besides creating the Wharf Master Plan, the design firm included an Engineering Report which detailed the condition of all 4,450 wooden pilings (in overall good condition with only 5% needing replacement) and the observation that “the Wharf was undamaged by the tsunami.”
So, the Wharf Master Plan was imposed on the community as a fait accompli in 2016. Since that time, despite massive public outcry against many of the changes proposed to the Wharf’s historical feel and character, the Plan remains virtually unchanged (except for 5 feet shaved off the tall building heights from 45 to 40 feet as per city council vote). Speakers against morphing the Wharf outnumber supporters by a very wide margin and still nothing has changed. Alarmed at the inadequate 2020 Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Plan, a community group of which I am a member, raised money and filed suit in Superior Court. The Court ruled in the community group’s favor and against the city, requiring the Plan and its EIR be cancelled and recirculated, and still nothing has changed.
This ignoring of public sentiment is one thing. Distorting the facts, creating misleading narratives and marginalizing public input is another. Just a few examples: the city has created the fiction that the Wharf can only structurally survive if it is wrapped in a recreation cocoon of boat docks, lowered walkways, pontoons, viewing decks and widened promenades. Like encasing the statue of David in a plywood box to protect it. The Court ruled that there are many alternatives to strengthen the lateral stability of the Wharf other than those proposed in the Plan. Once the public points out a weakness in the city’s arguments, they switch to another. The most recent one is that the lowered Westside Walkway is needed for fire protection, providing firefighters access to the Wharf’s westside, currently lacking. When we point out that the city bought a Willard fire boat for just this purpose, the city omits that fact from its fifty- minute presentation, just repeating its original claim. Another “story” that gains commission sympathy is that the Wharf is barely breaking even in its revenues, so new economic generating facilities are needed. However, in their budget graphs they include expenses for the Lifeguards and Marine Rescue Units, both of which are under the Fire Department, so why are they even mentioned? Like claiming you can’t break even in your budget expenses due to paying your next- door neighbor’s mortgage. And if economics is a concern, why divert foot traffic away from the restaurants and retail stores to a lowered walkway at the back of such businesses, as a member of Don’t Morph the Wharf! pointed out at the Planning Commission hearing.
Then there’s small albeit noticeable manipulations such as listing letters submitted from the Sierra Club, the Santa Cruz Bird Club and Don’t Morph the Wharf! not under their group names but under the names of those who signed the letters. So, for the public and the commissioners it looks like there are three letters from five individuals rather than from three organizations representing hundreds of members. The Sierra Club Group represents three thousand members and supporters in this county but in the Agenda Report it appears as a letter from one person with no group affiliation.
Perhaps the city council will rein in this runaway Trojan horse, respect the recommendations of the Historic Preservation Commission, respect the Court Ruling and respect the voice of the public to preserve, not morph the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.
|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.
COUNTY SUPERVISORS WILL RUBBERSTAMP HOUSING ELEMENT IN PUBLIC HEARING NOVEMBER 14
How can the public hope for any meaningful input on the County’s Housing Element that will drastically change density, building height and size with rezoning 74 parcels when the document is scheduled to be sent to the State for blessing the very next day? That was one of my questions to the County Housing Advisory Commission and Planners last Wednesday.
Never the less, this is now our only chance to weigh in on what we feel is important…such as necessary environmental review to address traffic, water, removal of large heritage trees and existing housing to make way for what could be very dense, tall structures in Aptos, Seascape, Live Oak and Green Valley Road in Watsonville.
Housing Advisory Commission…who WERE all those people?!
EXCELLENT WILDFIRE INSURANCE VIRTUAL TOWNHALL MEETING
Assemblywoman Gail Pellerin held an excellent Virtual Town Hall meeting last week that featured a panel of four speakers that brought valuable information to the public. State Fire Marshal Daniel Berlant talked about a new pilot program through State Office of Emergency Services (OES) to help seniors and disabled residents get assistance to do work reducing fire risk. The Governor approved $100 million for wildfire protection grants. Ms. Amy Boch gave a great presentation about the United Insurance Policy Holders Advocacy and described what help is available. The two other presenters from the insurance industry and the State insurance Commission provided excellent information explaining the cause of the cancellation problems that have plagued property owners throughout the State.
MORE INSURANCE COMPANIES LEAVING CALIFORNIA
WE SHOULD EXAMINE FIRE RECOVERY IN BUTTE COUNTY AND APPLY GOOD PRACTICES HERE
Recently, a good article in the Mercury News reported the rebuilding process in Paradise is coming along quite well, with many upgrades to reduce fire risk in the future. I was struck by the Butte County offering a choice of nine free pre-approved house plans.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN BIG BASIN?
Take a virtual look at Big Basin State Park recovery since the 2020 CZU Fire. This should be interesting. Click for lots of photos: The Santa Cruz Mountains Bioregional Council (SCMBC)
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE PROPOSED RAIL AND TRAIL IMPROVEMENTS BETWEEN 17TH AVENUE & STATE PARK DRIVE?
Make sure you weigh in with your thoughts about the rail trail corridor improvements schedule for areas between 17th Avenue and State Park Drive (Segments 10 & 11) on November 16, 5pm-7:30pm. You’ll get two minutes.
The County is scheduled to receive comments on the Coastal Rail Trail Segments 10 & 11 Draft EIR at a public meeting on Thursday, November 16, 2023, 5:00pm – 7:30pm. The meeting will be held in-person at the County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 701 Ocean Street, Room 525, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Remote participation is also available via Zoom.
Please note that to reduce the risk of ‘Zoom Bombing’, attendees will be required to register for the meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link and information about joining the meeting. Registration takes approximately 1 minute, and you may register at any time up until the end of the meeting. Register here
This is a whopping 1474-page document, but I encourage you to read what you can and submit comment to:
Rob Tidmore, Park Planner IV
I have found the comparison of the environmental impacts of the Ultimate Trail (rail and trail) and the Interim Trail (trail only) on page 377 interesting. The mitigations for both are on pages 752-758. Take a look at the Appendix D Mitigation Monitoring Reporting Plan (MMRP) on pages 1223-1248.
The interesting thing about the Draft EIR is that it eliminates the 0.5 mile that includes the Capitola Trestle.
Attend the November 16 public meeting, and do your best to read and comment on the areas of the EIR that interest you most.
WILL APTOS VILLAGE PARK BE ABLE TO RECOVER FROM SWENSON’S DESTRUCTION?
The work to install a large drain pipe from the parking lots of Phase 2 Aptos Village Project to dump the dirty water into Aptos Creek continues. Anyone who has ever attended a concert on the lawn there or watched their kids and dogs run about will wonder if this grand space will recover?
The view from the Park driveway, looking toward Aptos Creek.
The drain pipe will empty into a pit of rocks on the banks of the Aptos Creek, potentially undermining the rootball of a heritage Walnut tree and cluster of Redwood trees.
Write County Parks Director Jeff Gaffney with your thoughts. firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe a letter to the editor.
GOVERNOR REVERSES BANNED STATES TRAVEL, AFFECTING SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FAIR INTERIM CEO
Governor Newsom is doing some interesting campaigning, isn’t he? Not only did he travel to Israel and China, he recently quietly removed his Executive Order that declared a number of states to be “banned travel states” for California State employees.
Oddly, in July and August this year, he added more states to the list of many that were deemed unacceptable for California State employees to travel to for business and get reimbursed by the California taxpayers. This was all based on what he considered regressive politics related to LGBTQ issues.
On September 12, he removed that ban with his approval of SB 447. Instead, the California taxpayers will pay for advertising campaigns in those 25 states to encourage their governments to change their thoughts and policies. Hmmm… Shouldn’t we just spend our money fixing roads and problems in California?
How does this affect the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds? Well, Interim CEO Ken Alstott who managed the Fairgrounds (a state-owned facility) from April to May, and has remained on the payroll until just recently, lives in Tennessee, one of those Alstott banned states. He commuted from that state to come work in Watsonville. Now that the Governor has reversed the travel ban, Ken Alstott will be able to be reimbursed over $12,000 for his travel expenses (on top of his $17,000 salary) to help manage the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds.
Isn’t that amazing? Fair Board members were not concerned about this expense.
Luckily, the new CEO Zeke Fraser lives in Santa Cruz County.
BROKEN PARKING PERMIT DISPENSER AT COUNTY BUILDING DOES NOT PREVENT TICKETING IF YOU STAY TOO LONG
Does it make sense to you that the County employs a parking lot attendant part-time to issue tickets to vehicles that overstay their one or two hour limit, yet provide no way at all for people to purchase permits to stay longer?
Strange but true. The County pays a very nice fellow named “Moon” to walk around the parking lot at the County Government Building on 701 Ocean Street to issue tickets. He is not there every day, but is usually there on Tuesdays when the Board of Supervisors are meeting and unsuspecting members of the public may stay for an extensive meeting agenda…and get ticketed if they do not dash out of the meeting and move their vehicles.
Moon keeps assuring me that he is going to get the machines fixed pretty soon, but so far, that has not happened.
The County’s General Services Dept. oversees this matter, and although staff assured me that “they are working on it”, members of the public cannot purchase extra time for parking at their office in the meantime.
For well over a year, there was no parking lot attendant. The job was cut to save money. However, Moon appeared with a ticket book last spring, and purportedly issued an entire book-worth of tickets to violators his first day on the job…including to County workers who chose not to pay for parking in the employee lot. Ooops.
It was a bit of rub because many of the tickets were waived, yet the cost of the ticket booklet itself was hundreds of dollars.
Here is the notice posted on both parking permit dispensers at the 701 Ocean Street County Government lot. They have been out of service for months, but the parking attendant continues to issue tickets for vehicles staying too long.
Is it in the best interest of the public to pay an employee to issue tickets to the public who are at the Government Building to do business or attend public meetings, and offer NO REMEDY to receiving a $30 parking violation, other than to leave a meeting every hour or two to move a vehicle?
Write to General Services Director Michael Beaton email@example.com and ask that either the machines get fixed or Moon take a vacation until they are fixed.
THANK A VETERAN
This Saturday, November 11, marks observance of Armistice Day, aka Veterans Day. It is not a celebration of war, but rather an opportunity to thank and honor those and their families who have fought for freedom, often with great sacrifice. Veterans Day 2023: Founding, Fact & Meaning
The WWI Monument at the intersection of Freedom Blvd. and Soquel Drive in Aptos is 100 years old, first installed by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) on Christmas, 1923 to honor the 60 residents of Santa Cruz County who perished in that war. The Monument was originally placed alongside the Santa Cruz-Watsonville Road (now Soquel Drive), and was nearly buried by the construction of the new Highway One in the 1960’s.
In 2002, a young Scott Evans, member of Boy Scout Troop 599 of Watsonville, worried the Monument would be lost and the significance forgotten, so made it his Eagle Scout Project to relocate it to the present site. Many local businesses, including Granite Construction Co., helped with the effort. Scott won many accolades from DAR and local civic groups for his good work.
Now, the Cabrillo Host Lions Club partners with DAR to maintain the garden at the Monument, having won a recent environmental grant from California Lions Club.
The Veterans, DAR, Scouts and Lions will gather on Veterans Day, at 2pm, to commemorate the centennial of the DAR placing the Monument, and to honor those 60 soldiers who perished, and recognize all Veterans and their families. Please join ceremony if you like. Parking will be available at the CHP Office across from the Monument.
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. ATTEND THE DRAFT COUNTY HOUSING ELEMENT PUBLIC HEARING AT THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS NOVEMBER 14 MEETING.
LIGHT A CANDLE FOR PEACE IN THE WORLD.
JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK, AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
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
A SPURIOUS STATEMENT (and how to solve it):
“WE NEED MORE MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS! “
Let’s reflect a moment about the changing nature of the desires of outdoor enthusiasts’ over the past one hundred and fifty years. A hundred and fifty years ago, hunting (including market hunting) was a predominant desire of outdoor enthusiasts. Hunters had already hunted out tule elk and beaver across the Central Coast, and they were quickly driving to extinction California quail and band tailed pigeons. Wildlife laws and enforcement had to be put in place to change those behaviors and expectations. Then, a hundred years ago, Santa Cruz citizens flocked to the County’s North Coast to enjoy wildflowers, a national trend. Here and across the United States, city people went to the country on day-long sojourns to picnic, walk, and enjoy wildflowers which they picked, dug up, and brought home for bouquets and gardens. It took a concerted effort and rulemaking to conserve wildflowers, to change public behavior on open space.
Fast Forward: A New Desired Outdoor Experience in the 2000’s
A well-funded and organized political campaign can have a lot of impact. We’ve been surprised by marginal segments of the population gaining traction and power in so many aspects of our lives. The group Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC) is an excellent example, and their statement ‘we need more mountain bike trails‘ is the rallying cry that has propelled them forward over a very short time. We can learn a lot about marketing, rallying cries, and how a functioning democracy can effectively counterbalance minorities by examining this parks management issue in Santa Cruz County. All politics is local.
Local Trail Statistics
There’s a lot behind the statement about ‘needing’ more mountain bike trails. In 2017, I first encountered this statement when MBOSC started circulating deceptive statistics about the limited number of mountain bike trails in Santa Cruz County. Shortly thereafter, a local land trust used those same statistics in a misguided effort at a partnership. MBOSC staff said: “We have 220 miles of legitimate trails here in the county. Of those, less than 40 miles are open to bikes.” On the contrary, my statistics (linked here) documented 136 miles of trails open to bikes.
When pressed, MBOSC noted that the skewed data they presented was because their constituency wants more ‘narrow single-track’ trails dedicated only to those recreating on mountain bikes. So, first we must delete the word ‘need‘ and replace it with the word ‘want.’ With that, let’s also get more honest about the group and who wants what, where, and why. Here’s their marketing phrase, restated more honestly:
“According to an advocacy organization, a subset of those individuals who choose to recreate on mountain bikes want increased mileage in Santa Cruz County of narrow single-track trails that exclude all other types of recreational use, which they feel would otherwise interfere with their own recreational experience.”
Designing Trails for Desired User Experience
What processes do we have in place to weigh some parks users’ desired experiences with that of others? How do we balance the desire for “narrow single-track trails dedicated to mountain biking” versus other user desires on public and conservation lands? Here is a link to an overview of the modern method of planning for these issues in parks.
The Purpose of Parks Institutions
To plan for park visitor use correctly, one must delve into the institutional purpose of a given land management agency. To continue using my example of State Parks, this is what the State has to say about whether or not single-tracked trails only for use by mountain bikers are appropriate:
“Improvements that do not directly enhance the public’s enjoyment of the natural, scenic, cultural, or ecological values of the resource, which are attractions in themselves, or which are otherwise available to the public within a reasonable distance outside the park, shall not be undertaken within state parks.” (Cal. Pub. Resources Code § 5019.53)
I suggest that ‘narrow single-track trails used only for mountain bikers’ are ‘attractions in themselves‘ rather than enhancing ‘the public’s enjoyment of the natural, scenic, cultural, and ecological values‘ of a park. In the same manner, do we seriously want to argue that zip lines or drones would ‘enhance’ anyone’s enjoyment of the scenic values of a park?
A Specific Park Goal
Planning for desired visitor experiences proceeds with the definition of the purpose of a particular park. For Wilder Ranch, the purpose is:
“…to protect, preserve, and make available to visitors the cultural and natural resources, including historic features, natural biotic communities, geologic and edaphic resources, and related recreational values of this portion of the coastline and coastal mountain region of central California. Public use and enjoyment of the park is encouraged in the limits established by the State Park classification and resource sensitivities.”
So, Parks planners at Wilder Ranch State Park get to determine which types of desired visitor use experiences fit within those goals, which are clearly related to protecting and preserving lots of things at the park.
Visitor Experience Conflict
When parks managers created the management plan for Wilder Ranch State Park, in 1980, they worked with UCSC professors and students to study the park and there were lots of public meetings. Those studies and the public meetings suggested a potential for visitor experience conflict between the two user groups recognized at the time: hikers and equestrians. As was common with the outdated approach, since hikers outnumbered equestrians, they delineated 27 miles of trails for hiking use only and 9 miles of trail for use by both equestrians and hikers. Parks planners did not envision mountain biking at all, and the plan has not since been updated for that use. Without formal adoption of this new user group in the Wilder Ranch General Plan, mountain biking is not officially allowed at Wilder Ranch State Park. Obviously, there are conflicts between the desired experiences of bikers, equestrians, and hikers…and even more conflicts now recognized by subsets of bikers (thrill riders versus family riders) and hikers (exercise hikers and wildlife viewers).
To minimize conflict and plan to integrate the many modern visitor use experiences at Wilder Ranch State Park using standard modern protocol would require an update of the General Plan. This is important, anyway, at Wilder Ranch State Park as Gray Whale Ranch and Coast Dairies Beaches have since been added to the Park…without any review/planning (no thanks to #CaliforniaCoastalCommission and #CaliforniaNaturalResourcesAgency for being okay with that!).
User experiences are ‘balanced’ not in terms of majority rule, but rather in terms of minimizing conflict with other users and natural resources. In other words, just because your advocacy campaigns make a lot of noise about wanting more miles of ‘narrow-single-tracked trails only for mountain bikers’ doesn’t mean you’ll keep getting more and more of those ‘rad experiences.’ There are too many other conflicting types of users wanting experiences in nature for that to happen, especially when the primary purpose of so many of our parks isn’t active recreational sports, but rather conservation.
Let’s recall that visitor use and wildlife conservation are conflicting goals on open space. This requires careful planning to accommodate both in a given region, across park boundaries. To make this point more strongly, I urge everyone to use the statement “active recreation in open space is Nature Extraction” – we now understand that recreational use disturbs and even eliminates certain species of wildlife. We are extracting recreational areas of open space for human gain…same as mining, only perhaps less obvious. This is one of the top ten threats to biodiversity worldwide and we can find solutions right in our own county, if we take this seriously.
Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at firstname.lastname@example.org
#309 / Thou Shalt Not Kill
Since it’s a Sunday, let’s take a moment to remember the Ten Commandments, and specifically the Fifth Commandment, generally rendered, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”
The Wall Street Journal is the beloved newspaper of those who want to think about money (and it is also aimed at those who want to be informed about those who think about money – which is my personal excuse for subscribing). Recently, the paper has given us a “good news” story about Bushmaster Firearms.
Here’s how The Journal reports the story, in an article published in its Saturday/Sunday edition, September 23-24, 2023:
In December 2005, five groups of Wall Street investors flew in private jets to Portland, Maine, where they took waiting limousines to a warren of metal buildings that resembled a midsize lumberyard. They had come to Bushmaster Firearms in pursuit of a highly profitable product whose market was growing faster than any other in America’s stagnant gun industry. The product was the AR-15, and red-hot Bushmaster, the nation’s leading manufacturer of the rifle, had decided to auction itself to the highest bidder.
Bushmaster’s owner Dick Dyke had once feared that he could never sell the company because so many people had a negative view of the gun. A few years earlier, Dyke had been forced to resign his post as President George W. Bush’s chief Maine fundraiser after the media found out he made AR-15s for a living. After that, his company was again pilloried when two snipers who terrorized the Washington, D.C. area used a Bushmaster in their attacks.
But by 2005, Dyke’s concerns had evaporated. Sales of the AR-15 were growing faster than any other rifle or shotgun. When Dyke let it be known that he might be interested in selling, potential private-equity buyers rushed up to Maine to see his operations and make a bid for the AR-15 maker. “All of the sudden, they became an amazing thing,” recalled John DeSantis, Bushmaster’s chief executive.
Bushmaster, which features a claim that the guns it sells are “made in America,” may well have been a business success story, but The Wall Street Journal article does note that the “massive increase in AR-15 production and civilian ownership” that came with this business success has had “profound consequences for the U.S., affecting how we vote, how we go to social events and how our children attend school.” As Jamelle Bouie puts it, in a column in today’s New York Times that refers specifically to the AR-15, “Our Gun Fetish Is Killing Us.”
I presume that anyone reading this blog posting knows what The Journal is talking about in its coverage of this subject. If you can penetrate the paywall that may be in place on The Wall Street Journal’s website, you can definitely get some details from the story. I am thinking, though, that most people know about Sandy Hook and about the subsequent episodes of mass murder carried out by persons using the AR-15 (and other weapons, too, of course).
Innovation is not always a great thing. Let it be said, however, that Bushmaster does continue to innovate. If you check its website, you will find that the company is offering “New Firearms. New Colors.” The M4 Patrolman, for instance, “delivers the perfect combination of style and substance,” the way Bushmaster tells it. I think we can see how this “style and substance” appeal might have attracted the Missouri woman pictured below, “at home with her [two] AR-15 rifles.”
I was struck by the lovely sign that this Missouri woman features in her home: “Think Deeply; Speak Gently; Love Much; Laugh a Lot; Work Hard; Give Freely; and Be Kind.” I was struck, also, by the pictures on her mantelpiece: her daughters (I am guessing) who are Sandy Hook-age young people.
We are both “individuals,” and we are also part of a greater whole. We are “in this life together.”
Since we are both individuals, and (more than that) part of the whole, we need to consider what we do from both perspectives. “Individually,” if we want to be sure that we don’t end up violating that Fifth Commandment, we should not be arming ourselves with automatic rifles and other weapons that make it easy to kill. Making this kind of individual choice against guns is documented in an article (also relatively recent) in The New Yorker. That article is titled, “The Last Gun I Shot.” It discusses Rachel Monroe’s relationship with the AR-15, and her decision to “put down the gun.”
“Collectively,” if we want to make it harder for individuals (including ourselves) to move into a violation of that Fifth Commandment, we should decide (and this would be a political choice) that corporations should not be able to establish their business success by selling armaments that are then conveniently used for mass murder. There are some efforts to arrive at such a result by way of lawsuits, which is all good and well, but I would like to continue to urge that we ought to make rules for ourselves that outlaw the widespread sale, to the public, of guns that are specifically designed to make it easy to kill multiple persons in short periods of time.
Since it’s a Sunday, I suggest that it would be good to reflect, just for a moment, on those Ten Commandments, and specifically on that Fifth Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” If we do think about the Fifth Commandment, there are some implications. There are some possible actions we might take, both individually and collectively.
Let’s think about them.
And…. just to be clear, while today is a Sunday, I’d say that any day is a good day to think about that Fifth Commandment!
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 email@example.com
CUBAN PEANUT FARMS A-CROSS AMERICA
Steve Schmidt in his recent post on his Warnings blog after seeing the latest discouraging polls in the Trump/Biden face-off, begins, “This will be a short post because the words need no interpretation, explanation or augmentation. They are what they are. ‘What they are is a plan to destroy America and plunge into the abyss. Eight years after Donald Trump came down the escalator there are no secrets left. Everything is open. Fascism has come to America, and it is wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross’.” Those last sentences are from the Washington Post.
Schmidt goes on to enumerate the plans Trump and his associates are mapping for using the government to punish critics and opponents in his second term in office, giving Trump the ability to appoint those he wants to investigate or prosecute, with his allies drafting plans to invoke the Insurrection Act for deploying the military to defeat any civil demonstrations that arise…a certainty. Justice Department and FBI personnel will be targeted, as will Joe Biden and his family, as Trump loudly proclaims, though accusations of corruption aren’t backed by evidence.
The Donald’s lackeys will see to it that these plans are well-formulated, even if they have to carry the Toupee Orangerie bodily across the finish line and hide him in a broom closet a la Woodrow Wilson’s babysitters. Trump’s worsening senility, noted with alarm during his time out of office, seems to be of no concern to his hordes who have kept him under wraps as much as possible, though with the numerous court proceedings it has been increasingly difficult to do so. In his appearances he has warned us that President Biden is going to get us into World War Two, and he seems to have forgotten Hillary Clinton was his opponent in 2016, remembering Barack Obama as his nemesis. His word salads, ever-present in his ‘speeches,’ sound ever more confused, dumb-founded, disoriented, a childish imitation of his previous bellowings. Even the media is forced to take notice instead of covering for the former president in order to sell air time or printed advertising with their softball interviews, questioning if he is truly a viable candidate for 2024. If he can’t be propped up adequately, the public recognition of condition may finish him off more quickly than the traipsing of the courts as they attempt to bring him to justice.
Trump’s declining mental state seems to have rubbed off onto the attorneys as they represent him in Judge Engoron’s courtroom, by Attorney Kise mentioning Breitbart conspiracy theories, or Attorney Habba complaining to the press about the unfairness of the proceedings, both playing the complete wet-behind-the-ears fools as if they are experiencing their first trial in a courtroom. They are not helping their client with their antics, indeed, he is beyond help because the trial by summary judgement has been decided…he has lost already, with only the punishment phase to be decided. Therefore, all the legal team has to do is keep Trump happy, looking like serious defenders who get a paycheck at the end. Embarrassingly, Trump doesn’t get it. He has no idea what is going on around him, so we are witnessing a guy on his trip downward, represented by attorneys who get it as they look forward to defending the next doofus in the queue.
Trump believes his ‘children’ are being dragged unfairly into his mess, though they are waist high in the big muddy as officers in the Trump Crime Family…hardly children now, being in their forties, no longer in danger of losing the innocence of a nine year old, as attorney Habba whined for the cameras. Just another element in this fantasy world. Ah yes, reminds one of that other magic place besides Walt Disney World in Florida…Mar-a-Lago, where people enter as lawyers and emerge as witnesses and defendants! Someone needs to remind the team that their client isn’t being indicted in the middle of his presidential campaign, he chose to campaign in the middle of his indictments. Colin Jost of ‘Saturday Night Live’ and its ‘Weekend Update’ segment called out Trump for complaining that he “basically doesn’t have the right to speak” after being slapped with a gag order by a federal judge. Comparing Trump to a child being grounded, in a child-like voice, he dug at Trump by saying, “She’s like literally killing me,” adding, “you’re not even my real mom!” as he slammed his bedroom door. Jost later mocked the former prez for sharing a courtroom sketch on Truth Social showing Jesus seated next to him. “Because if there’s one guy whose trial famously ended well, it’s Jesus’,” Jost said.
The two Trump boys, ages 39 and 45…wait…isn’t that their IQs?… testified last week, making remarks afterward to the assembled press on the courthouse steps, identifiable by their egg-smeared faces. Papa was scheduled to appear last Monday…so how did he score? And, daughter Ivanka was to appear Wednesday after the judge had previously allowed her to delay her testimony by a few days to better prepare. However, at this juncture, Ivanka is asking for yet another delay because of the hardship she faces “with the school week” and the judge is a bit miffed. He thinks she can afford a babysitter to deal with her kids’ school attendance! But, the judge COULD have brought up her attendance two weeks ago at Kim Kardashian’s 43rd birthday party in Los Angeles during the school week, in a new outfit, new do and nice spray tan. No matter, this judge has had it with the Trump family’s delaying tactics so her fantasy got canned…no public outcry on this one, sweetie! Remember when Barack Obama said, “I’m inspired by my own children, how full they make my heart. They make me want to work to make the world a little bit better. And they make me want to be a better man.” Contrast that to Donald Trump’s “She does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” Trump asked a woman at one of his rallies, “Do you have any children?” She answered, “Yes, I have one that’s just under two.” Defensively, Trump says, “I know how many one is!” One thing Trump will never defend is that awkward moment when a zombie looking for brains walks right on past him.
Trump’s choice for House Speaker, Mike Johnson, has decided to press on with the bribery investigation into the Biden family affairs. Former Speaker McCarthy had let the issue slide down on his priority list, but Johnson says, “There’s a lot of smoke here, and we’re going to find out very soon how big the fire is.” In the past, Johnson has accused the President of his alleged indiscretion, but says that the call for a rushed investigation toward impeachment should be approached with caution. House Republicans have failed in their attempts to link Biden to a Ukrainian oligarch, and the FBI has been unable to verify the tip they received. However, a Politico investigative report casts some doubt on Biden’s denial of involvement, contradicting White House claims on several points, particularly that he never discussed business dealings with family, and suggesting that incriminating emails were of Russian origin…fake news. Prominent in the denials is that Hunter Biden profited from China deals, or that his relatives benefitted from the Biden named. Politico feels strongly that the House investigation will bear fruit, with an AP-NORC poll showing that 70% of the public believes Biden acted either illegally or unethically. Will we see Mike Johnson move within one seat from the Presidency?
Speaker Johnson is a fervent supporter for trillions of dollars in cuts to our entitlements of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and at the same time raising eligibility ages, surely in the spotlight as we advance into the election run-up to 2024. The GOP acknowledges the political risks involved in cutting back benefits, yet are opposed to tax increases to shore up the programs, with even Democrats recognizing the nonsustainability in their current form. The entitlements have an annual cost of $2.7 trillion, and to examine the dilemma Johnson says he will appoint a 16-member bipartisan commission as a priority, with an announcement to come soon. In order to protect office seekers from angry or disillusioned voters no final decisions will be made until after the 2024 election. Johnson doesn’t believe he should dictate objectives or set benchmarks, but the Dems know his record speaks for itself, calling his proposed commission political cover in cutting our earned benefits. “It is unfortunate and disappointing that one of the Speaker’s first priorities is creating a mechanism intended to slash programs that American workers pay for in every paycheck, fully expecting the benefits to be there when they need them,” says Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Alex Lawson of Social Security Works believes this is a GOP trap to lay blame on Democrats for the Republican’s policy of cutting and destroying Social Security.
Representative Matt Gaetz has given Johnson the moniker “MAGA Mike” as he crows about the power of the movement in putting Kevin McCarthy out to pasture. To be sure, he is one of the most extreme Republicans to be found. As the new Speaker said on Fox with Sean Hannity, “I am a Bible-believing Christian, and if you want to understand my politics, pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it. That’s my world view.” As MSNBCs Mehdi Hassan asked, “Could you imagine if a Muslim member of Congress said the same about the Koran?” ‘Fox & Friends’ picked up where Hannity left off, as Kayleigh McEnany and Ainsley Earhardt bubbled over Kayleigh’s interview with Johnson about his Christofascism, saying, “I really believe he thinks God is leading the way, this will all get figured out.” In his first remarks to the House as the new Speaker, Johnson suggested that God had placed him in power, saying he doesn’t believe in coincidences, citing a Bible verse about God putting people in positions of authority. Religious-right activist Rick Green declared Johnson as “one of our guys.” And right-winger Benny Johnson tweeted about Mike: he’s America First & MAGA, ally of the House Freedom Caucus, mentor of Jim Jordan, legal defense for Trump impeachment trials, objected to 2020 election fraud, and called for Pelosi to be arrested. Theocracy here we come! Somewhere in Louisiana, Jimmy Swaggart is waiting for is phone to ring.
One of the quotes that popped up with the advent of our new God-appointed Speaker was one from our old nemesis, Barry Goldwater. Barry said, “Mark my words, if and when these preachers get control of the (Republican) party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe that they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.” Wikimedia had a treasure trove of Barryisms! When the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell opposed the 1981 nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the high court, Barry declared that every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass…John Dean later changing the anatomical reference to “nuts” as the accurate quote. Barry doesn’t stop there as he says, “I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’…just who do they think they are? And where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘Conservatism’. The religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy.” Ah, the conscience of a conservative…remember when?
And on the lighter side, Goldwater also said, “If you don’t mind smelling like a peanut for two or three days, peanut butter is a damn good shaving cream.”
And, who can forget Bob Dylan’s, “I’m a liberal to a degree, I think everybody should be free, but if you think I’ll let Barry Goldwater move in next door and marry my daughter, you must think I’m crazy. I wouldn’t do it for all the farms in Cuba.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
~John F. Kennedy
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”
“Homeless and at-risk veterans need more than just shelter. We must give them the tools to empower themselves and reclaim the self-worth and dignity which comes from occupying a place in the American dream. It is a dream they fought so hard to defend for the rest of us.”
~Maria Cuomo Cole
Matt Rife is one of my favorite current comedians, who, it seems, exploded on to the scene apparently out of nowhere. Here’s an interview where, among other things, he explains how.
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