BRATTON…How to vote again, Annie Steinhardt visit, no lookout news. GREENSITE…on Tree Loss for Segment 9, Rail/Trail. KROHN…(watch this space). STEINBRUNER…Cabrillo college name change news, rail & trail in Live Oak, Scotts Valley water and Soquel Creek district. HAYES…Intentional fire. PATTON…two crises. MATLOCK…It’s showtime for the small ‘d’…and no complaints! EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week. QUOTES… “Voting”
DATELINE November 7
LAST TIME VOTING NEWS!! I mixed online print dates about voting so I’m running my advice and choices again this week. I also want to point out Dale Matlock’s Musings and his statistics study. See Grey Hayes deep news about the “controlled burns”, read Becky Steinbruner’s briefing about Cabrillo College’s name change. Gillian Greensite rails positively over the removal of trees for the Rail system. Gary Patton tells us about the deep divide in our two major parties…just make sure you vote.
Bratton Online is a work of passion. Bruce and the other writers don’t get paid to do this. However, websites still cost money to run, host, etc. We are in our 20th year and in need of some upgrades on the back end, so any help is much appreciated!
TIME TO VOTE. More than ever it’s important that you mail in your vote or drop it off or find a voting place. Seldom in our Santa Cruz history have we had so many life changing issues and candidates to choose from!! Big money developer money backing pro-growth projects and candidates like Shebreh even though Bud Colligan’s money couldn’t stop the Pro Rail and Trail movement. Justin Cummings experience and clear positions make him a clear choice. Fred Keeley’s quick change artistry and flip flop stands make Joy Schendledecker by far the most responsive and responsible City Mayor candidate.
MORE ABOUT VOTING. I have absolutely no reason or reasons whatsoever to differ one iota from the slate that Santa Cruz For Bernie puts forth. Go here to check it out https://sc4b.org/endorsements#2022-general .
Gail Pellerin, California Assembly District 28 (parts of Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties) https://www.gailpellerinforassembly.com Voting Rights Veteran, Groundbreaking LGBTQ+ Ally
Justin Cummings, Santa Cruz County Supervisor District 3 (Santa Cruz and North Coast) https://www.cummingsforsupervisor.com Environmental Scientist, Renter Advocate
Felipe Hernandez, Santa Cruz County Supervisor District 4 (Watsonville and South County) https://www.voteforfelipe.com Labor Champion, Affordable Housing Advocate
Yes on N, Empty Home Tax, Santa Cruz City Ballot Measure https://emptyhometax.org fund truly affordable housing
Yes on O, Our Downtown, Our Future, Santa Cruz City Ballot Measure https://www.ourdowntownourfuture.org no library under a parking structure
Joy Schendledecker, Santa Cruz City Mayor https://joyforsantacruz.com
Héctor Marín, Santa Cruz City Council District 4 https://hector4santacruz.com
Sean Maxwell, Santa Cruz City Council District 6 https://maxwellforcitycouncil.com
Once again… MEASURE O DESERVES YOUR YES VOTE. In my 52 years in Santa Cruz I can’t remember an issue that created more division than Measure O the library parking garage farmer’s market measure. Go to https://www.ourdowntownourfuture.org/ to check the organizations, people, and facts about the Measure.
ANNIE STEINHARDT FANS. Just a note for fans of Annie’s that she’s doing well and is in Bend, Oregon! Annie was the fiddler in our Hot Damn String Band for more than 30 years. She wrote many books (Thunder La Boom, Pele Voodoo, and How to get Balled in Berkeley) and of course was a star of the Pele Juju band playing bass and fiddle. We had a grand phone call and she really misses Santa Cruz.
LOOKOUT’S FINANCIAL FUTURE? I shared the rumor last week about the Lookout newsletter having financial problems. Receiving no news on that score whatsoever we can only assume it’s true…but we’ll keep watching.
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, Calamity Kyle and DJ Tamarindo.
ENOLA HOLMES 2. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.9 IMDB). This is take 2 about Sherlock Holme’s sister Enola. Henry Cavill is back as Sherlock and it’s a semi-serious comic look at how Enola Holmes solves crimes and she looks at the camera a lot which was clever once or twice. Helena Bonham Carter has a small role, and it’ll take your mind off politics.
GOD FORBID. (HULU MOVIE) (6.9 IMDB). An amazing shocking beautifully done documentary about Jerry Falwell’s fall from power and his secret sex life. It covers Falwell’s Christian church manipulations and digs right into his relationship with Donald Trump and the whole Florida fiasco…don’t miss it, you’ll be surprised.
BLOCKBUSTER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (5.4 IMDB). There really is one Blockbuster Store left open and running but this isn’t in this simple minded comedy. It’ simple minded not clever and I’m not sure why it was produced. Don’t waste your time.
THE PERIPHERAL. (PRIME SERIES) (8.4 IMDB). Chloe Grace Moretz is always a pleasure to watch and she’s the lead in this trippy sci-fi adventure. It’s just outside of London in 2090 and she has a brother who obtains nerve bending headsets that projects Chloe into simulations that will keep you very near the edge of your seat.
THE WHITE LOTUS. (HBO SERIES) (8.4 IMDB). Back again with a new locale and almost all new cast set in Sicily. Again it’s about tourists staying in a fancy hotel and some dead bodies are discovered. Jennifer Coolidge returns as the extra-large and outgoing married babe with issues. Intrigue and suspicions bounce around and there’s lots of Italian scenery to look at as well as the very clever twisted plot.
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.9 IMDB). If you’ve seen the original 1930 movie from the book by Erich Maria Remarque you’ll almost recognize many, many of the bloody cruel scenes all over again. There’s little plot except to show us once again just how pointless and evil war has and will always be. It’s in German and centers on World War I and how it ended. Excellent and 5 thumbs up!!
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.
THE GOOD NURSE. Based on a terribly true story Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne takes leads in this Pennsylvania and New Jersey tragedy of a hospital attendant who killed somewhere between 40 and 400 hospital patients while on duty. How he does it and how all the hospitals he worked for covered up his sick work is terrifying. It’s also perfectly acted and produced. He’s still in prison and the hospital have never been charged for allowing his behavior.
TAR. (Del Mar Theatre) (8.2 IMDB). A complex fictional story about the trials and tribulations of a lesbian classical orchestra conductor who is brilliant, driven and trying to raise a daughter. The story will remind some audiences of Marin Alsop formerly of our own Cabrillo Festival of Music and she does actually get a mention at the beginning of this saga. Cate Blanchett takes acting to a new level and should take home yet another Oscar. It is a very original and rapid paced story that will have you poised and wondering all the way through. Don’t miss it.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.6 IMDB). There’s eight one hour complete stories, some good some great others are blah. Actors such as Tim Blake Nelson, F. Murray Abraham, Rupert Grint and Martin Starr all have varying roles. I enjoyed and shriveled watching story #2 “Graveyard Rats”. It was perfect pre Halloween viewing and let’s hope for more from G. del Toro who didn’t direct any of these stories but does act as host.
THE VATICAN GIRL. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.2 IMDB). This is an amazing documentary about a 15 year old girl who lived inside the Vatican City and disappeared in 1983. To this day they have never found out what happened to her!! It’s got four episodes and covers so many historical facts and revelations about the pope’s life you’ll be shocked….and puzzled. Was it mob induced, was it church secrets? Questions keep occurring and we’ll probably never know the answers.
THE PRIEST. (PRIME MOVIE) (6.1 IMDB). A poorly done movie from India that copies every fake “was it suicide or murder plot” ever filmed. The acting is unbelievable, the photography is unimaginative the plot is boring and no tension either. A cop and a priest try to find out who is doing it and I left it at 1hour and 5 minutes.
GREEN THINGS THAT STAND IN THE WAY…
If you love trees, whether for their beauty, habitat, carbon capture or all three, the draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Segment 9 of the Rail Trail project should give pause for thought.
The photo above is a small stretch between 7th and 17th Avenues (photo credit: Michael Lewis). Almost all the trees are native and will be cut down for the rail/trail project. According to the DEIR, “the proposed project would result in the removal of 381 trees, 265 are native species: coast live oak, CA bay laurel, madrone, wax myrtle, arroyo willow, CA buckeye etc.” (3.3-116 DEIR).
The DEIR captures the impact of this habitat removal:
“Project operation (trail use) would result in the permanent loss of 1.94 acres of wildlife movement habitat, including coast live oak woodland, riparian habitat, non-native forest, and understory vegetation (Table 3.3-2 and Table 3.3-7). Over this area, native vegetation, non-native forest, and ornamental plantings would be replaced with the hardscape trail infrastructure, including retaining walls, the trail itself, and the trail shoulders. This impact would degrade the functions and values of the wildlife corridor and contribute to increased fragmentation of City and County open spaces and linear aquatic features. Additionally, wildlife-friendly fencing (see footnote 23) is proposed along Twin Lakes State Beach open space and guardrails would be installed along the viaducts. These features may further impede wildlife compared to the existing conditions where wildlife can move freely through and across the corridor.
“The permanent loss of trees along the rail corridor would reduce cover, shelter, foraging opportunities, and reduce available resources generally. The loss of tree canopy, especially significant and Heritage trees (see Table 3.3-8) would change the microclimate of the corridor through a significant reduction in shade. In this Mediterranean climate, large trees with multi-tiered canopies provide a range of functions, buffering wind, providing a combination of deep shade and dappled sun, insulation from both heat and cold, creating leaf litter, which retains soil moisture, promotes soil micro-organisms and nutrient cycling, and provides habitat for invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals. Understory vegetation, where present, also contributes to the value of the corridor, providing forage and refuge and further affecting the microclimate of the area. These functions are important for wildlife moving between open spaces and linear aquatic features.” (DEIR page 258)
The DEIR concludes that: “Due to the substantial number of trees planned for removal, including a large percentage of trees regulated by City and County Ordinances, the inability to mitigate the majority of tree removal on-site, and the number of years required for trees to mature, this construction impact would conflict with City and County policies and ordinances that regulate tree removal and thus would be significant and unavoidable (emphasis in original) even with the identified mitigation (Mitigation Measures BIO-9a, BIO-9b, BIO-9c).”
As Alexander Gershenson PhD reminded the Santa Cruz city council when they sought to weaken the city’s Heritage Tree Ordinance in 2013, “mature trees store, on average, 1-2 metric tons of carbon.” If cut down, not only is future carbon storage lost forever but also from “chipping, the usual disposal method, the vast majority of this carbon is released to the atmosphere within 5 years.”
The DEIR for Segment 9 admits there are no current plans on where to plant replacement trees. A sapling, even 20 saplings do not equal a mature tree and may take 50-100 years to reach the carbon potential of the big tree cut down. Meanwhile the big trees’ ongoing carbon sequestration is forever lost.
Not only are the trees gone. Also gone is the understory vegetation, vital for many bird species. The hill slopes bull-dozed, the soil, a carbon sequester, paved over. Birds, bats, butterflies, reptiles, insects all rendered homeless due to human self-interests. No, they don’t just relocate. All are territorial and compete for habitat in a world increasingly dominated by human encroachment.
None of the above apparently disturbs the rail/trail zealots. Wedded to the carbon reduction hypothesis that the train will get people out of their cars in sufficient numbers to compensate for the carbon release from such massive tree removals, they evoke the following:
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” William Blake
In its Alternatives section the DEIR fails to include a 12-foot trail. This smaller alternative would save many if not most of the trees. The DEIR only includes two alternatives: a 16-foot- wide pedestrian/bicycle trail on top of existing rails and a 26-foot- wide pedestrian/bicycle trail that replaces the existing rails and railbed. Since the rail/trail Segment 7 Phase 2 is already under construction with a 12-16-foot trail, it is curious why such an option is omitted for Segment 9 where the environmental impact is more significant.
For those still reading, who have not penned an angry email to BrattonOnline protesting the inclusion of such heresy, and who would like to submit a comment on the DEIR, the deadline is Friday November 11th. Comments can be sent by 5pm that day to Nathan Nguyen, Public Works at firstname.lastname@example.org
|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.|
Turnout is pretty low so far, so if each of us goes out and reminds five of our friends and family members, each vote will count even more because overall turnout in this non-presidential year, and sleeper-governor’s race, may barely make it to 50%. But most of us are hoping for a higher turnout. This week’s column is abbreviated because I have been out drumming up votes, but suddenly, last week four University of California bargaining units voted overwhelmingly to authorize an indefinite strike beginning Monday, November 14th. More about this below, and next week, but for now, please vote because there has never been more of a difference between candidates and measures.
- Yes on N (affordable housing for Santa Cruz)
- Yes on O (puts aside 8 lots for affordable housing and keeps the Farmer’s Market and downtown library where they are_
- Justin Cummings for 3rd District Supervisor
- Felipe Hernandez for 4th District Supervisor
- Joy Schendledecker for Mayor
- Hector Marin for City Council, 4th District
- Sean Maxwell for City Council, 6th District
All of UC Set to Strike Over Unfair Labor Practices by Administration
There are currently four bargaining units that have decided to authorize a strike across all 10 UC campuses beginning next Monday, November 14, which includes our grad students and junior researchers. All of them have contracts up at the same time. The group totals 48,000 employees across the 10 UC campuses. We are living in unprecedented times.
What it means for Santa Cruz
What blows me away is that according to the UC Student-Workers Union UAW 2865 Twitter site, 36,558 voted to strike. That number is huge. It is around 75% of the total number of members in the four unions and it represents a 98% vote to authorize a strike. This vote is a long-time in coming and says something dramatic about the times we are living in. It is reflective of the gulf between California haves and have-nots. Most deciding to strike are part of the have-not class. I am from a union household. Growing up, both my parents were union members and I have been a member of 2 unions. I have never heard of these kinds of numbers and percentages before in terms of participation by rank and file in a vote, and the 0-60 mph velocity that is being taken towards an actual strike. They are not threatening to strike, according to my source, they voted to authorize a strike if demands were not made. And those demands are also unprecedented. What is even more dramatic is that this could be an indefinite strike, not typical 2-day ones we have become accustomed to on the UCSC campus. The current group appears to be tightly organized and ready to walk out. Stay tuned, there may be traffic snarls, lots of rhetorical sword slashing, mostly on the part the part of UC adminstrators, and an eery air hanging over our city, emanating from the 1965 bargain hammered out by the old conservatives who ran Santa Cruz way back in the day. Some of them are still waiting for a PAC 12 football team to rise up through the November fog. Not a chance now. What strikers are asking for is a living Santa Cruz wage of $54,000 per year. It is likely a non-starter with the Oakland office of the UC. This may be a much longer strike than previous ones. The UAW has already said they will provide strike benefits of $400 per week to those willing to person the picket line. Again…stay tuned.
Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at email@example.com
Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
CABRILLO COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES MAY DECIDE TO CHANGE THE NAME THIS WEEK
Trustee Adam Spickler mentioned to Sandy Lydon at a recent “History Dude” presentation that on November 14, the Cabrillo College Board of Trustees will consider a report and recommendations by the Ad Hoc Committee to change the name of Cabrillo College….will anyone know about this until it is done?
According to Sandy Lydon’s presentation, in the late the College was named with neutrality foremost in mind and it helped knit a very fractured and divisive Santa Cruz County together. Will a potential name change just open up more political tension while wasting millions to change the name on documents and all manner of legal matters?
Here is the link to recorded public educational meetings held on the matter in 2021:
RTC EXTENDS COMMENT PERIOD FOR RAIL TRAIL IN LIVE OAK
If you have thoughts about the Rail Trail Project segment in Live Oak, you have more time to research the Project environmental impacts and send in your Comments by Friday..
The Project alignment extends from the Beach Street/Pacific Avenue roundabout within the City limits on the west to the eastern side of 17th Avenue in the unincorporated Live Oak area of the County on the east.
Public Review Period: The public review period for the DEIR begins Friday, September 23, 2022, and has been extended to Friday, November 11, 2022 at 5:00pm. The City must receive all written comments regarding the adequacy of the DEIR within this time period. Written comments may be
submitted in person, by mail, or by e-mail. The mailing address is 809 Center Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Direct all comments to the attention of Nathan Nguyen, City Engineer, via email at email@example.com or via phone at 831-420-5188.
CALL IN WITH YOUR COMMENT ABOUT PG&E VEGETATION REMOVAL
If you care about how PG&E is handling all the trees their crews have been cutting down for vegetation management projects, you need to call in on November 17 when the CPUC will take public comment on Resolution M-4864 at its voting meeting, when this item is expected to be considered.
Here is the explanation from the Rural Counties Representing California (RCRC):
On October 31, RCRC and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) jointly requested that PG&E immediately begin removing felled wood cut down during utility vegetation management operations.
While PG&E commendably increased the pace and scale of its vegetation management operations to reduce the risk of utility-caused wildfire, it is regrettable that PG&E is largely refusing to remove trees cut down during those operations.
This refusal is: impairing public safety; increasing fuel loads; compromising property owners’ efforts to create and maintain defensible space; and imposing heavy financial burdens on property owners to abate these hazards created by PG&E. More than a dozen counties have expressed concerns about this course change and the dangers and burdens it creates.
On November 3, RCRC and CSAC provided comments to the CPUC on Resolution M-4864, which would allow PG&E to exit Step 1 of the CPUC’s Enhanced Oversight and Enforcement Process. PG&E was placed on Step 1 of the Enforcement Process because it failed to sufficiently prioritize its vegetation management work on its highest risk power lines in 2020. As PG&E has focused its work on high-risk lines, the CPUC is considering whether to let it out of the enforcement process. RCRC and CSAC noted that PG&E’s work is far from done.
By failing to haul away the resulting wood debris, PG&E has failed to complete its vegetation management work on many of those line miles. As a result, RCRC and CSAC urged the CPUC to either:
- Keep PG&E in Step 1 of the Enhanced Oversight and Enforcement Process until the felled wood issue is adequately resolved; or,
- Order PG&E to remove felled wood at the request of property owners as a condition of its emergence from Step 1 of the Enhanced Oversight and Enforcement Process.
The CPUC will take public comment on Resolution M-4864 at its November 17th voting meeting, when this item is expected to be considered. Members of the public will have 1-2 minutes to speak, and the call-in number will be:
- Phone: 1-800-857-1917, passcode: 9899501#
- Spanish Phone: 1-800-857-1917, passcode: 3799627#
CONNECTING WATER SUPPLIES FOR SCOTTS VALLEY AND THE CITY OF SANTA CRUZ
There will soon be an emergency water supply intertie connection between Scotts Valley Water Dept. and the City of Santa Cruz. It’s in the works, with the City pursuing easements on private properties affected. One such parcel is owned by Scotts Valley Fire Dept., and is along La Madrona Drive.
The project includes a new 12″ diameter water main that will connect to Santa Cruz City tanks on Kite Hill Lane, and to a new pipeline via Fire House Lane to Sims Road. The pumping station will be at 6000 Fire House Lane, on property owned by Scotts Valley Fire (APN 021-141-20).
The issue is clearly described in documents included in this Wednesday’s Scotts Valley Fire Board meeting packet, as Item 9.2 Correspondence.
This will allow a more regional water management system, and better help all municipalities prepare for emergency water collaboration.
COMBINING SCOTTS VALLEY WATER DEPT. WITH SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT?
Last week, the Soquel Creek Water District Board reactions were cool to the generous offer of Scotts Valley Water Dept. to fully fund a consultant analysis of consolidating various administrative and /or operational aspects of the two water agencies. The idea came up last winter with the proposal to form an Ad Hoc Committee to discuss the potential partnership. Out of those monthly discussions came the proposal by Scotts Valley to fund the RFP for detailed analysis.
Mind you, Soquel Creek Water District Board members are enthralled with themselves and what they do, and are really hesitant to give up any control at all. Director Bruce Daniels was obviously irritated that the Board could not really turn down the RFP gift. “Well, we should suggest three things the consultant should study so that they aren’t just going all over the place looking at things.” Board Chair Tom LaHue wondered what control, if any, the Board has over the content and scope of the RFP selected? General Manager Ron Duncan said he will suggest that the Board be allowed to comment on the RFP scope and selection of consultant.
Take a look at Item 7.2 on the November 1 Agenda: Agenda Center
Isn’t this interesting? The common thread is the PureWater Soquel Project water treatment plant that could provide recycled water to Scotts Valley. As I understand it, the plant is being built to accommodate more than the 1.3 million gallons/day currently planned to pressure-inject into the aquifer and drinking water source for the MidCounty area. This would allow Scotts Valley Water Dept. to have more recycled water for irrigation, or even to sell for drinking water when the State legalizes selling recycled water directly as potable water. That regulatory change is expected to happen late next year.
A STUDY TO STREAMLINE PERMITTING FOR DRINKING TREATED SEWAGE WATER
Also on the Soquel Creek Water District Board November 1 meeting was a Consent Agenda Item 4.6 to contribute $5,000 to a $65,000 study by the National Water ReUse Institute to develop a document to help push through Potable ReUse permits for Soquel Creek Water District’s PureWater Soquel Project and others like it.
The project is intended to work with the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) to develop a regulatory framework for technology and validation credits, including primary and secondary treatment, Membrane Bioreactor (MBR), Reverse Osmosis (RO), Ultra Violate (UV), Advance Oxidation Peroxide (AOP), free chlorine, ozone, groundwater recharge, surface water augmentation, etc. The framework would detail the performance of each process, the settled science on each process, the surrogates for each process, the credits that can (or should) be approved for each process.
The document would have conservative minimum criteria along with higher credits based upon site-specific data. It would also lay out data collection and analysis procedures. The primary end goal is to give the Department of Drinking Water a document which staff can reference to expedited approvals and provide greater confidence in treatment train validation and pathogen removal credits to the sponsor utilities.
The framework and reference document will focus on applications for small-to-medium sized agencies, which are representative of many of the utilities along the central coast who are looking toward potable reuse.
Proposed Facilitation Team
The proposed plan is for the NWRI to have an Independent Advisory Panel (IAP) conduct the work. The IAP should include engineers experienced in validation, pathogen experts, those with regulatory expertise, and those that understand how to implement projects. Contributing utilities should have a seat at the table, providing review and guidance to the IAP.
The costs for this work, estimated at $65,000, are necessary to cover the costs of NWRI efforts. These costs will result in the hosting and chronicling of workshops as well as the generation of draft and final reports detailing the effort. Where possible, IAP time will be donated.
I wrote the Board and asked that they pull this critical item from the Consent Agenda for better public discussion. They refused to do so.
HOW MANY OFFICES DOES SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT NEED?
I feel sorry for the ratepayers who are facing ever-increasing significant rate increases to fund the expensive PureWater Soquel Project. This Project has at least three construction offices…ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching!
|Early on, the District did an EIR evaluation of establishing a construction office, bought a new double-wide mobile trailer to install adjacent to the District offices at 5180 Soquel Drive, and paved a parking lot for the PureWater Soquel Project construction office, outfitting it with office furniture. It seems empty.|
|The District also uses the former Pro-Vision Glass Shop building adjacent to the Project’s treatment plant on Chanticleer Avenue (across from the Sheriff Center) and uses that as a construction office for staff|
|And, according to a small sign posted at the treatment plant construction site, there is a third construction office location in the adjacent West Marine Center building at 2350 17the Ave. Suite 250|
|No wonder the Project cost has skyrocketed, being sold to the Board at an initial $60 million and now approaching $200 million. I pity the ratepayers almost as much as I pity the privately-owned small water company customers (Pine Tree Lane Water Mutual and Bluff Water Mutual) and private well owners who are directly downstream of the treated sewage water injection well at Twin Lakes Baptist Church, just across the Highway.|
|Out-of-control spending for a Project that may not even work to address salt water intrusion in the La Selva Beach and Seascape areas,
and could potentially contaminate Midcounty drinking water supplies. Construction of the eight miles of pipe has and will continue to snarl traffic for months, but is not including any purple pipe for the District to use for recycled water for irrigation along the way.
Please make sure to participate in the December 1 Virtual Public Hearing about this Project and consider writing to the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors
CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF PIGEON POINT LIGHTHOUSE BEACON
There’s a big celebration this Saturday, November 12 at Pigeon Point Lighthouse will honor 150 year history of the beacon, and may be the last time you can tour the structure before it closes for renovation. The evening will feature the glorious original Fresnel lens on display in the Fog Signal Building, (5pm-7pm).
Here is what that Fresnel lens beacon pattern looked like when operational at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse:
WRITE ONE LETTER. MAKE ONE CALL. READ THE PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT TITLE 22 ENGINEERING REPORT AND PARTICIPATE IN THE DECEMBER 1 VIRTUAL PUBLIC HEARING.
THANK A VETERAN FOR THEIR SERVICE.
MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING SOMETHING.
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
California has a wildfire problem and intentional fire must be part of the solution. Last week, there were two intentional fires in our area: at Wilder Ranch State Park and Soquel Demonstration State Forest. These were what is termed as ‘broadcast burns’ rather than ‘burn piles.’ Many more burn piles happen than broadcast burns each year, but there are more and more broadcast burns happening with time. The idea is that if we don’t burn dead vegetation when we want to, it will burn when we don’t want it to, fanning the flames of wildfire and endangering human and non-human lives, property, water supplies, and habitats. There are debates about the need to do broadcast or pile burning in wildland situations, but vegetation and fuels control within 100 feet of homes at the wildland urban interface is more widely accepted.
While the date of the advent of human manipulation of California’s landscape pushes further back, we can locally at least note a 6,000 year history. From the fire scars left in old growth redwood, we know that native peoples burned into redwood forest every 4-6 years. Early Old World explorers described extensive areas of grasslands being burned along the coast. Without humans, scholars suspect that fires would have been fewer and more catastrophic: lightning strikes along the coast are rare and it would be rarer still that lightning strikes would have occurred in a dry enough time of year so that fires would spread. I’ve read that the non-human fire return interval for our area is hypothesized as every 80-120 years: at that interval, fires would have really raged! But, before the native peoples, our region had other factors at work that would have created a different, more fire resilient landscape.
Before humans and their fires, there were other things going on here in Central California that would have affected natural fire regimes. This region has been drying and getting hotter for a long time. Judging from the pollen records dredged up from local ancient ponds, only 20,000 years ago we had the same kinds of fir forests that you find in Northern California presently. Those fir forests suggest a moister landscape. The pre-human Californian landscape also had Pleistocene megafauna: herds of grazing animals, including mastodons. Those animals would have reduced wildfire fuels through grazing while uprooting trees and shrubs and creating discontinuous firescapes. Fewer trees would have meant moister forests as there would have been less transpiration of the groundwater. And, beavers would have flooded valley floors, making wet fire barriers.
The Present Conundrum
Except in wetlands and adjacent to streams, vegetation doesn’t decompose readily in our climate. If it isn’t consumed by herbivores, you can find grass stems that have accumulated in our coastal prairies for 5 years – quite a fuel load! In redwood forests, branches larger than 1″ sit on the soil surface for decades before decomposing. In shrublands, dead branches hang onto plants for many, many years and whole dead shrub skeletons stand for a long time, held up by living neighbors. Eons ago, that biomass might have been once crunched into the soil or eaten by the Pleistocene megafauna. For the past millennia, that biomass might have been burned by native peoples. Now, it just accumulates awaiting the next fire.
Given the fuel accumulation across our region, intentional burning seems an important option if we are to adequately steward this landscape to keep people safe. There are important differences between pile burns and broadcast burns. Pile burns take a lot more labor to pile up all of the fuels and need to be carefully placed as to avoid damaging branches overhead. The intense heat from a burn pile can damage the soil beneath or at least kill the seeds and microorganisms, leaving a pock mark that has to heal. Broadcast burns take less labor and flames/heat are patchy and generally less intense in any one place. Broadcast burns are more likely to trigger germination of the many ‘fire followers’ – plants that require heat or chemicals from fire to germinate.
Intentional Fire Tricks
There are many tools and techniques that professionals employ to make an intentional or prescribed burn happen safely and effectively. The first thing that they do is to make sure that the entire burn area is planned so that flames cannot escape into adjacent areas. Sometimes, this means bare soil created by bulldozers, roads, or hand tools. Other times, it can mean an adjoining moist forest or creek. Next is picking the right weather to burn. It seems that local fire professionals are looking for a time after the first rains when it is still dry enough to burn. Recent rains calm the heat and spread of fire by increasing the moisture in the fuel. If it gets too wet, it won’t burn well or at all, so there’s a sweet spot. Someone monitors the temperature and humidity every day in the week leading up to fire; they plot those along with fuels moisture on graphs and share them with the team that’s working on the burn. Another thing that has to be in alignment are air circulation patterns, so the government agency that makes sure we have good air to breathe, the Monterey Bay Air Resources District, has to declare the day of the burn a ‘burn day.’ They do this based on the science of air circulation: they want smoke to be blown away and dispersed so that it is not too much of a threat to human health. On the other hand, the burn team doesn’t want so much wind that controlling the spread of the fire will be an issue. Much lies in the balance. It is often difficult for everything to align. With climate change, viable prescribed burn days are predicted to get harder to find.
More Burn Work
Another part of making intentional broadcast burns work is the people part. The burn team needs to notify a lot of people. Signs go up along nearby roads ‘prescribed burn, do not report’ is a common sign. They also tell emergency responders so that when people call 911, they’ll know what is going on. Each agency’s public affairs office puts out word through their networks; increasingly, social media is becoming important this way but traditional news outlets are also informed.
And then, there is bringing together the people working on the burn. There are crews of ‘drip torch’ operators: those are the ones lighting the fire with a can of fuel that literally drips fire onto the ground. Their supervisors let them know when and where to drop fire; those supervisors need to understand how fire will spread and proceed according to a plan that was agreed upon way in advance of the burn day. There is always a burn boss, the person following that plan and communicating with everyone on what to do. There are also crews of people ready to put out the fire with fire hoses and hand tools. There are fire engine operators standing by; sometimes, there are fire fighting helicopter operators ready, as well.
Our Role with Intentional Fire
Watching carefully the recent prescribed burn at the Soquel Demonstration Forest and having participated in other such fires, I see how everyone is able to play a part with making it more possible for more intentional burns to help restore ecosystems, maintain water supplies, protect lives and keep human infrastructure safe. If you want to participate in prescribed burning, the Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association is the place to go. With basic training, you can participate in burns like just happened at Wilder Ranch State Park. The more trained people there are willing to help, the more burns that can happen. There appear to be expanding opportunities even for well-paid careers in this field for those considering changing jobs or entering the workforce. Volunteering as a fire fighter will help not only prescribed fire but also save lives and property when wildfires take place.
Those with the skills to help us learn more about prescribed fire are needed to do citizen or more formal science on the effects of prescribed fire. We need to better understand how frequently we should burn, the effects of fires that occur after rains have germinated seedlings, and the effects of prescribed fire on greenhouse gasses. Many are concerned about burning some types of habitats too frequently, especially locally the many types of rare chaparral and pine woodlands; so, more folks taking data about those areas would really help.
Those who can’t directly, physically help with prescribed burning or who don’t have the skills for science, have other ways to help. If you pay attention to the media and see a prescribed burn being planned, help spread the word so people aren’t fearful when they see smoke. If you want to help others to understand the reasons for prescribed fire, tell this and your own stories to friends.
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
David Leonhardt writes for The New York Times. In his lengthy article, “A Crisis Coming: The Twin Threats to American Democracy,” Leonhardt says this:
The United States today finds itself in a situation with little historical precedent. American democracy is facing two distinct threats, which together represent the most serious challenge to the country’s governing ideals in decades.
The first threat is acute: a growing movement inside one of the country’s two major parties — the Republican Party — to refuse to accept defeat in an election….
The second threat to democracy is chronic but also growing: The power to set government policy is becoming increasingly disconnected from public opinion.
There is no doubt in my mind that Leonhardt is right to be concerned about the state of democracy in the United States of America today. The fact that significant numbers of people are willing to deny the validity of our last presidential election, without producing any proof of any significant failure in the vote-counting process (just to place themselves in support of the person they wish had won) is definitely disturbing. It is a sign that our democracy is not in good health. Again, there is no doubt about that.
But let me push back just a bit on Leonhardt’s second threat – or at least the way he has phrased it – and let me suggest that the “two” threats identified by Leonhardt may actually be the same threat. I am quarreling with Leonhardt’s idea that “public opinion” is what should be guiding our politics.
In fact, our political system is not designed to reward or respond to “public opinion.” There are many different opinions, about almost everything, and our system exalts this as a positive good. To measure “opinion,” however, we use “polls,” or “focus groups,” or other evidence of what people are thinking. Polls, and poll results, are not “votes,” and we do not, and should not, expect that the results of opinion polls (opinion) will determine the public policy decisions that will guide governmental action. Those who support former president Trump should not expect that their passionate opinion about Trump’s claim to have won the election should determine whether or not he is president.
“Votes,” not “opinion,” is what counts in our system.
To cite to an important and pertinent example, and one alluded to by Leonhardt, that means that the fact that a majority of people in the United States think that a woman should have a right to choose whether or not to have an abortion during the first trimester of a pregnancy (which was the rule set down in Roe v. Wade) is not what does or should determine what the rules about abortion should actually be.
What counts is not “opinion” but “votes.” That is the way political power is tallied up and the basis upon which that power is then made effective.
The Trump election deniers are really claiming that “votes” shouldn’t matter, and that the decisions that determine what the government does should be based on the opinion of the public – which those who support Trump believe is strongly supportive of the former president. Naturally, those who don’t support Trump think that public opinion is against him, not for him, but the argument must not be about “opinion,” but about “votes.”
The way Leonhardt phrases his “second” threat to democracy, claiming that we need to have political decisions that reflect “public opinion,” is a rather slippery slope. His “first” threat shows just how slippery.
There are, as Leonhardt demonstrates, a number of structural aspects of our current governmental system that make it possible for there to be decisions that fail to conform to the overall “public opinion,” on abortion and on other issues. I am not much moved. If there are deficiencies in how we have structured our government (I will stipulate that there are) then we need to change the system. I pointed out in another recent blog post that there are mechanisms to change the Constitution, if it comes to that.
In fact, though, the real source of the disconnect between “public opinion” and “public policy,” is that too many people think of government as something that happens to them, instead of something they do themselves. We have “opinions,” and we root for the home team. Maybe we click on those political emails that I find, myself, to be so unappealing. The point is, we are ever less willing, most of us, to recognize that a system of “self-government” means that we must get engaged ourselves.
If we lose “democracy,” or our “democratic system,” the fault is not that governmental institutions are not reflecting “public opinion.” Who knows, really, what that public opinion is, until the votes are counted?
I have engaged in a lot of politics (mostly at the local level). It requires personal involvement, door-to-door excursions to talk to strangers, and hard-headed demands backed up by whatever political tools are currently available.
Politics cannot be carried out “online.” It is not a “spectator sport.”
“Opinion” is fine, but political power becomes effective when the public with opinions mobilizes to obtain the right to govern.
It’s the “votes” that count.
Just in case you haven’t noticed, your last chance to vote in our current elections – affecting national, state, and local policy – is this Tuesday, November 8th. Whatever your opinions, make sure your votes will help advance the policies, and the politicians, you prefer.
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
IT’S SHOWTIME FOR THE SMALL ‘d’… AND NO COMPLAINTS!
Well, it’s finally show time! So, depending on when this is read, the question is…will you vote?…or did you vote? Left Coast California numbers show that only about 17% of ballots had been returned by early voters by last Friday, hardly a respectable number considering that a 55-60% turnout overall was predicted for the state’s mid-terms. Procrastination, disinterest, disgust, or fear? Across the nation, CNN reports that early voting is up compared to the 2018 mid-terms, particularly in four of the key states poll watchers have been eyeing, though mail-in ballots remain below the 2020 counts. Pre-election voting is up in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin, with only Arizona seeing a decrease in early voting activity. Wouldn’t be that state’s armed activist groups clad in military garb, bullet-proof vests and masks, who are ‘guarding’ ballot boxes with their intimidation and threats to prevent ‘misconduct,’ could it?
These right-wing paramilitary, conspiracy theorists claimed to be protecting the vote by dissuading ‘ballot mules‘ from ‘fraudulently’ casting dozens of ballots at once for friends, neighbors or family. They have also mobilized to work the polls as observers at counting centers, searching for transgressions with the count and challenging ballots cast. Many of these groups have been organized by Clean Elections USA, the founder of which is a QAnon adherent. A judge ruled against a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino, both of which had complained that an injunction was necessary to prevent the ‘observers’ from intimidating voters by photographing them, or criticizing their right to vote. Judge Michael T. Liburdi found that while voters might feel threatened, the conspiracy theorists were protected constitutionally to assemble in public places by the First Amendment.
The state of Texas didn’t have to resort to paramilitary QAoners to suppress their undesirables from early voting…simply place only one ballot drop box per county, and it requires that you waltz across Texas with an overnight at the Dewdrop Inn to exercise the political franchise. Home county of Houston, Harris County, has a populace of 4.7 million people within its 1,777 square miles, and only one drop box. The capitol city of Austin, in Travis County, embraces 1.3 million souls within its 1,023 square miles, and only one drop box. And, to complicate the situation in Houston, you have to know the rules: “In-person drop off at NRG Arena on Election Day only from 7 AM – 7 PM. You must present an acceptable form of photo identification. Only the voter may deliver their ballot in person.” Just short of the ‘Jim Crow‘ poll tax, albeit with extra mileage?
As we rational individuals know, cases of fraudulent voting are few and far between, though there are many unfounded complaints around the nation, and investigators are kept busy looking at them simply to maintain voter confidence in our system while prosecuting a small number to hold people accountable. And, as we also know, the storm began by the Orange Albatross after his 2020 election defeat, along with his QAnon base, has initiated the distrust of many as they continue the ‘Big Lie‘ of a ‘stolen election,’ making it critically important to prove otherwise. Elections departments nationally have had to either add staff or increase workloads to deal with the complaints which range from accusations of campaign finance violations, government employees blatantly espousing their preferences, or simply a distaste for lawn signs or bumper stickers.
Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee Chairwoman, responded to an interviewer that GOP candidates will accept the results of Tuesday’s midterm election. “When this process is played out and the votes are canvassed and certified, every one of your Republican candidates will ultimately accept their results, even if they lose?” asked CNN’s Dana Bash on ‘State of the Union.’ “They will”, the Chair responded, while indicating she believes Republicans will take over both houses of Congress. Florida’s Senator Rick Scott said the results will “absolutely” be accepted, with the proviso that Republicans deem the outcomes to be “free and fair.” Telling Chuck Todd on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press, “We’re also going to do everything we can to make sure they’re free and fair, and if there are any shenanigans, we are ready to make sure. We support our candidates to make sure these elections are fair and every ballot is counted the right way.” Hmmm…the ‘right way?” Both GOPers are echoing Arizona’s Kari Lake who said she will support the election results because she “is going to win.” No shenanigans here, folks!
Susan Glasser in The New Yorker, writes, “I have a bad case of election dread right now. It’s hard to see how any American democrat – that’s democrat with a small ‘d’ – wouldn’t.” Last week, President Biden in his speech, proclaimed that our Democracy itself is on the ballot with the midterm campaigning coming to a close. He referred to the undercurrent of threats and violence, as he spoke of the attack on Paul Pelosi, but his main thrust was against The Trumpmeister and his Big Lie becoming an article of faith for the MAGAts. Whether the former president believes the lie or not, he uses it to drive a wedge between what we now see as two Americas, casting aspersions upon our long-held beliefs that ‘the system works.’ The extreme Republicans, in questioning the legitimacy of races they don’t win, is a subversion of the electoral system, creating disunion and chaos. Glasser’s essay continues, “I’m sure that many Democratic candidates in close races around the country would prefer that Biden had spoken about his plan to defeat inflation or bring down gas prices or safeguard women’s reproductive rights. The President’s pitch, though, was not about policy battles a much as his first principles. He was campaigning for democratic votes, not just Democratic votes.” With Biden’s warning that “we can’t take democracy for granted any longer,” Glasser goes on to say, “There was no real news in this lament other than the startling fact of it occurring. As I listened, it sounded to me like Biden’s personal rebuttal to a recent Times public-opinion survey that seemed to sum up the dissonance of a nation hurtling recklessly over a cliff. ‘Voters see democracy in peril, but saving it isn’t a priority.’”
Dan Rather in his recent essay on Steady, speaks of ‘An Unsettled Time,’ reminding us that with Trump and his minions fanning the fires to swell our disorientation, stoking our anxiety and fears, it is important to face facts. Too many Americans have refused to do so, leaving us in the current mess with forces destroying American democracy by inciting division instead of building unity within which most Americans wish to live. With polls so close, we may or may not be in trouble, but whatever the results, it will be momentous for the country. Dan says that “come what may after Tuesday, the country will continue and it will be up to us to nurture a future of opportunity where America’s most noble values can thrive anew.”
So, how will you vote/did you vote? Here’s hoping it is/was for the small ‘d’ with a !!
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.
“It’s not the voting that’s democracy; it’s the counting.”
“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.”
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
This is the cutest thing! Lucille Ball, Lucie Arnaz, and Ginger Rogers do a dance number, and someone set it to Beoyncé’s “Single Ladies”.
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