BRATTON…Coonerty admits to City Manager’s job, Credit Union building sold, Democrats to vote no on Greenway petition, movie critiques. GREENSITE…on Mismanaging the Public Purse. KROHN…More on recall origins, ballot initiatives, and Democratic Socialism. STEINBRUNER…Fire screening cameras, Kaiser med facility and no bus service, pure water Soquel project. HAYES…Stream walks, creek birds. PATTON…Political Rage and we’re all Foxed Up. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”Skeletons”
DATELINE October 11
RYAN COONERTY ADMITS TO APPLYING FOR CITY MANAGER’S JOB. As reported in BrattonOnline back on August 16 County Supervisor Ryan Coonerty applied for a new job as Santa Cruz City Manager. Not the Sentinel, not Outlook, not Good Times, nor anybody followed up on that news. On Friday (October 8th) Dan Orange on KZSC’s Bushwhackers Breakfast Club asked Ryan directly and Ryan admitted it was true. “That’s correct”, “they asked me to apply”, “they wanted someone local”, “the City council will conduct their interviews later in the fall”, “it’s helpful to have my application in there” were his responses. Now we have to wonder exactly who it was that asked him to apply. Was it Donna Meyers again acting under direct but silent orders from Cynthia Mathews? Less likely …was it the nearly triple salary figure that Ryan is going after?
CREDIT UNION BUILDING SOLD! One of our better informed sources sent this bulletin… The closing of the sale of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union/SCCCU property was a big hurdle overcome for the luxury hotel developers but it’s not the end of the story. (This process with the SCCCU has opened many people’s eyes to how the SCCCU has lost the founders’ vision of a democratically run and focused credit union that helped the unbanked and local startups, and now is acting more like a Bank of America – but that’s another issue and story). The City still has to sell their two “surplus” lots to the developers for the project to work. The next step is to stop the City’s sale of the “surplus” land. (Give the land back to the original “owners”, the indigenous tribe Amah Mutsen, Ohlone?! Or sell it for affordable housing?) The Economic Development Director Bonnie Lipscomb has promised the developers the sale of this City property to them will happen. Then if that fails, stop this egregious project during the approval process through the Planning Commission and City Council. The timeline isn’t clear but the approval process is underway. The Planning Commission may have a hearing in a few months or less.
Owen Lawlor again acts as the developer’s wheel greaser with Stephen Chan of Eagle Point Hotels leading the charge. Like you, I’ve heard that Geoff Dunn plays some role too. Greed and self-interest doesn’t just reside in New York. The Growth Machine never rests.
DEMOCRATS TO VOTE NO ON GREENWAY PETITION. Beware of the petition, don’t sign it!!
September 15, 2021
Regarding: The Greenway Petition for a Trail Only
The People’s Democratic Club, (PDC), advises community members to reject the petition by Greenway to eliminate the ability of our community to plan for clean, electric train travel in our county. Please do not sign the petition to place it on the ballot.
If you, as a voter, do not understand the petition, (and it is written to confuse us), do not sign it.
If you support any public transit, then we must fight any efforts to reduce or eliminate those public benefits. The Greenway measure would do both. Public transit benefits all of us. If you believe in public transit, don’t sign the petition.
If you are a community member who walks, cycles, rides buses and trains and you don’t want to tear up the tracks to block any future possibility of passenger train service, don’t sign the petition.
The PDC is a Chartered Club of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party, the County wing of the State Democratic Party. The PDC is dedicated to progressive community activism and strong public policy with significant public benefits.
This Greenway petition is none of those things. Please do not sign the petition.
Brian T. Murtha, President, PDC
YES, VOTE AGAIN!! Being good citizens and trying to do the right thing, be sure to send in that ballot from last week that gives 20 percent of the cannabis business tax to those children programs. Being in the “kinky” area we live in I’m sure there’s one or two “weird” minded people who have some other take on this, I haven’t received or heard of one. Send in those ballots ASAP before you forget. But why the ballot couldn’t have been saved and added to the next and more important ballot is beyond me ….and way over us!!!
APOLOGIA POR POGONIP PROMO. It was foolish of me to print Joan Gilbert Martin’s letter supporting the Homeless Garden Project’s proposed enlarged move to the Pogonip’s upper open Space in last week’s BrattonOnline. It was late and I’ve known Joan for decades. Michael Lewis wrote to us and pointed out that she called the concerned area “Miniscule” when in all reality it’s 10 acres!!! He wrote…”I’m concerned about Joan Gilbert Martin’s letter in Bratton Online calling for further diminution of the Pogonip Greenbelt. I see it now has appeared as an LTE in the Sentinel.
Joan Martin attempts to minimize the impact of this additional development of the Pogonip Open Space, by considering it alone, ignoring the cumulative impact of human activity in this and other Greenbelt properties. Just this one development of a “minuscule portion” of the Pogonip Greenbelt, added to hundreds of additional “minuscule” portions of the natural world converted to human use in Santa Cruz County, results in increasing overall loss of open space and natural habitat. Soon there is nothing left of essential habitat and biodiversity.
“A death of a thousand cuts”.
INDIA JOZE MOVIE. Jon Silver just finished a documentary about Jozseph Schultz. Most Santa Cruzans know him as India Joze. He’s a living legend in both the food and restaurant world as well as a humanitarian and a good guy. It’s also a history of a few eras of Santa Cruz history and contains interviews with very many of our area personalities. Christina Waters, Ann Simonton, Tom Brezsny, and plenty more. It’s being shown at the Del Mar theatre Wednesday October 27 at 6 p.m. You’ll need masks, proof of you know what… and for info email firstname.lastname@example.org. (ps. I’ve seen an advance print and it’s excellent, great and fun. Remember too that India Joze’s restaurant is in the 418 Project on Front Street.
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE STOPS SATURDAY HOME DELIVERY HERE. Another way to save publication costs and face the disappearance of newspapers is that the San Francisco Chronicle will no longer deliver their Saturday editions to Santa Cruz!! The Saturday edition has suffered a weight loss lately and it was noticeable…but we’ll miss it. Speaking of which another print “fact” that I love to announce every so often because it’s so surprising is that there are more subscribers to the New Yorker in California than there are in New York. More than that, there are more New Yorker subscribers in Northern California than in Southern California! That should give you something to talk about between trick or treaters in a couple of weeks.
Be sure to tune in to my very newest movie streaming 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.
LAMB. (DEL MAR THEATRE).
Noomi Rapace heads this cast and does a near-perfect job. A very lonely couple in Iceland doesn’t have any children. Going way beyond that, they magically turn a very odd lamb into their child. The child of their dreams has a lambs head plus a human body!! IMDB calls it Drama, Horror, mystery and it’s more than that…it’s hypnotizing and even thrilling to watch.
SQUID GAME. (NETFLIX SERIES). This series has been and is breaking all Netflix “viewing records” here and overseas. A South Korean huge movie that’s based on children’s games….except that the losers are shot immediately! It’s brilliant, fast-moving, engrossing (I’ve seen 5 of the 9 episodes) and can’t wait to see how it ends! Torturing, odd perspective on human behavior, cruel, deeply involving, and a thrill per minute, watch it ASAP.
THE BILLION DOLLAR CODE.(NETFLIX SERIES). This is a series about the internet development and controlled by Google Earth. Based on near true stories, its revelations about the tech world and its young developers is as touching as it is dispiriting. Much computer time, lots of legal issues, and yet there’s a very human side to all of this world. Well-acted, nicely paced, watch it when you’re not too busy.
LUNA PARK. (NETFLIX SERIES). An Italian film that centers on Rome in the 1960s. Twin sisters are separated at birth and the plot centers on which of the sisters will recognize the other. It’s a story of wealth, poverty and the differences money and power can make in our lives. The first two episodes kept me involved. Go for it, even though the acting is in question.
THE CHESTNUT MAN. (NETFLIX SERIES). A very bloody and very odd body is found in Copenhagen and two detectives are on the case. As usual, they are an odd team, yet they find clues and battle each other and their bosses about how to track the murderer. The murderer leaves little handmade chestnut men as clues. The Prime Minister is involved and very threatened. I’ve only seen the first 2 episodes and it looks like it’s worth watching.
MAID. (NETFLIX SERIES). It appears to take place in Port Hampstead, Washington and we see a crazed overacting mother played by Andie MacDowell and the pressures she puts on her daughter. The daughter is married to an abuser and she takes their three-year-old daughter while she gets jobs as a house worker. It’s jerky, twisted, and hard to understand, don’t bother with 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, 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 GUILTY. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Jake Gyllenhaal, and the voices of Ethan Hawke, Paul Dano and Peter Sarsgaard. (69RT). A shockingly tense and well-made remake of the Danish original film of the same name. Jake plays the Los Angeles Police Department officer who’s on duty at their main emergency 911 call office. He gets a call from a woman and the film goes from tense to weird, to wondering as he tries to get help to her. Do watch it, Gyllenhaal is at his very best and deserves an award or three.
THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK. (HBO MAX SINGLE). Michael Gandolfini the son of James Gandolfini (original Soprano) plays Tony Soprano as a lid growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. There’s race riots, drugs, school room silliness and more boring story lines. Ray Liotta plays Tony’s friend and unbelievably plays his twin brother for some screwed up plot reason. Vera Farmiga is wasted as she plays Tony’s mother. It drags on and on with little or no warmth or connection to the deep plot in the original series. You do not need to see this, except to appreciate how great the Soprano series was.(74RT)
LA BREA. (HULU SERIES). (11RT). A dull, poorly acted, neat special effects piece of silliness about a huge hole opening up at the La Brea Tar Pits in LA. The effects for the first ten minutes are worth viewing but stop there. People fall into the gaping hole and live in a new world while their families worry about how to reunite. There’s animal animation that is way below standard and remains only laughable. Watch the first ten minutes only if you’re from LA.
TITANE. (Del Mar Theatre). An engrossing horror film that won many Film Festival awards all over the world. With a woman (Julia Ducouranu) director this mind-bending, challenging, innovative, twisting story will stay with you long after leaving the theatre. A little girl is in a car accident and has a titanium plate placed inside her head near her brain. The rest of the story is beyond anyone’s belief and if you like challenges you’ll love this movie. Not for the faint of heart…only for the folks who love complex and new plots. Go for it.
THE MADWOMAN’S BALL. (AMAZON PRIME- SINGLE). (84RT) A wonderful movie based on a true account of Dr. Charcot who in the 19th century (1885) directed a clinic devoted to “cure” the insane. One woman is punished by her family and sent there. She sees ghosts of the staff member’s families and drives her favorite nurse into helping her escape. It’s a huge production and very much worth your time and subscription.
THE STRONGHOLD. (NETFLIX SINGLE). Three very frustrated French cops are very tired of watching their territory being taken over by candymen/drug dealers in the Marseilles district of France. Doing their best to stop local crime they face opposition from their directors and plot and plan a huge drug raid on their own. The plot is fast, clever and you’ll watch a fine use of the camera. Go see it somewhere.
BLUE BAYOU. The “hero” is a Korean-born immigrant to the USA, who makes a poor living as a tattoo artist. He and his wife face horrible legal USA immigration laws and policies that ruin their lives. Justin Chon is the lead — he wrote and directed the film too. I haven’t cried at a movie in years…I wept during this one, three times. It’s brutal, touching, draining, and well worth your time.
MIDNIGHT MASS. (NETFLIX SERIES). On an island with a population of only 127, teenage boys and a guy recently returned from prison start this series with many good possibilities. There’s also the problem of some mysterious pandemic/evil force killing many of the island’s cat population. I’ve only seen 1 episode of the new series, but it’s diverting.
FOUNDATION. (APPLE TV SERIES). This huge super-extravaganza cinema giant film is based on Isaac Asimov’s early sci-fi books. Those books were the source of the Star Wars series, and you can see some of the theories and plots developing here. There are floating spaceships, no R2 D2 or goofy beasts, but deep and intricate interstellar plots galore. Universes are collapsing, warlords are fighting, and the plots only get thicker with each of the episodes. Watch it — but stay alert, you’ll love it.
THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE. (DEL MAR THEATRE). Seeing Jessica Chastain’s intricate and perfect makeup on a big screen like the Del Mar’s adds a huge amount to this near-documentary. Jessica plays Tammy Faye Bakker, wife of Jim Bakker, the religious head of the televangelist’s religion. Andrew Garfield plays Jim Bakker, but is no cinematic match for Jessica or Tammy. Because their world is so showbiz and church-oriented, there’s little chance of taking any of it seriously…much more like a comedy attempt. (64RT)
AMERICAN TRAITOR: THE TRIAL OF AXIS SALLY. (PRIME SINGLE). This is a dramatized version of the pro-Nazi propaganda broadcasts made by Mildred Gillars an American woman who lived and played in Berlin during World War 2. Al Pacino mugs and stammers his way through the movie playing her attorney. It’s a very poorly acted and directed courtroom drama about an incredibly interesting part of the German-American relations during that war. Watch it for historical data only.
MUHAMMED ALI. KEN BURNS DOCUMENTARY (PBS SERIES) …It deserves the (100RT) and even more. Cassius Clay was so much more than a boxer and conscientious objector. Ken Burns has always been great at documentaries and this I even better. Muhammed was a brilliant thinker, super showman, and a very giving human being. No matter how much you remember about him or think you know watch this series
SUPERMAN & LOIS. (HBO MAX SERIES). Growing up when we could buy Superman and Batman Comics for 10 cents at the cigar store they have always been repressed heroes of mine. That’s why this updated Lois Lane married to Clark Kent in Metropolis and Smallville, Kansas raising twin teenage sons was/is so much fun. At first Superman doesn’t tell the boys who he is, then later they find out they have power problems of their own. Later in the series we find out that Superman’s greatest enemy also from Krypton is none other than Lothar. Its diverting, professional, escapist go for it…when you have the time.
AMARAICA. A very sad telling of the enormous issues that immigrants face when trying to get into and stay in the United States from Mexico. Not well-acted and many plot holes. You’ll watch ICE raids and babies in cages and then you’ll realize just how wide spread this torturous story is. The bigger problem of how to change such tragedy stays with us.
SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. Finally they too are returning to a “full” live season! Their first concert will be: A World Tour of Nationalist Trios with Music by Turina, Piazzolla, Dvorák on Saturday, November 6, 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 7, 3:00 pm. It’ll feature THE VERVE TRIO: Chia-Lin Yang, Concert Director & Piano Learn More
NEW MUSIC WORKS. The New Music Works are back with their 43rd season and their next concert is Saturday, November 13 at 2p.m. in the Heart Of Soquel Park and it’s free to the public!!!Phil Collins is the music Director and Tandy Beal is the choreographic Conjurer. They’ll perform Terry Riley’s Minimalist Masterwork. Go to www.newmusicworks.org for necessary details.
MISMANAGING THE PUBLIC PURSE
There is a disconnect between the city of Santa Cruz’s claims of dire financial straits that were a hallmark of budget cuts in June and the recent upper level hiring, promotions and consultants’ fees announced by the city.
In April 2021, Santa Cruz city departments were told by the city manager to prepare for significant budget cuts. The hardest hit as always, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Full disclosure: I’m a city Parks and Recreation commissioner. At the meeting where we were to give our input into the proposed department budget and budget cuts, there was insufficient time to comment since staff presentations swallowed most of the two-hour meeting. Thus I never got to say that I considered it unwise to eliminate the hands-on position of construction specialist, unwise to cut Civic Auditorium staff to look for alternative business models and unwise to eliminate city support for popular events such as Woodies on the Wharf. The ranger program had already been eliminated by city council vote. Council subsequently voted to approve these and other department cuts.
A city council task force of three was then appointed to explore other means of raising money for the city. As is now usual, that involved consultants. The recommendation was for a sales tax increase of one-quarter of one percent, which if passed by the voters would make the city’s sales tax, which is a regressive tax, at the top end of the scale at 9.5 percent. In order to avoid the need for a supermajority vote and aim for a simple majority, the extra money raised would have to go into the General Fund and could not be earmarked for specific programs. That didn’t stop the council proponents of the sales tax measure arguing how the money raised would solve the city’s affordable housing crisis, the houseless camping crisis and fund popular programs. One wonders why these hot ticket issues weren’t already the city’s priorities? To place the sales tax on the ballot required a full council vote of approval and council member Sandy Brown voted no. Her reasoning was based on seeing the lowest paid city workers never receiving a living wage even when past sales tax increases were achieved. She had no reason to believe this time would be any different.
During the same time period, if not at the same meeting, there was a recommendation to raise the Planning Director’s salary by $12,000 over his current salary of $253,000 since he was assuming the added role of handling homeless issues for the city. All city department heads earn salaries and benefits well over $250,000. They never take cuts other than furloughs, which are pretty popular (time off) with the city’s top earners. Top city management has swelled over the past decade with positions of department spokespeople the new norm, as though directors can’t speak for their own departments.
Fast-forward from budget crisis June to October, when the city has just hired a new position of Homeless Response Manager. I’m not sure if the $12,000 extra that the Planning Director received for handling such issues will be given back since he has since been promoted to Deputy City Manager. Some may feel the city needs a Homeless Response Manager. I am skeptical. The press release for this new position states that the “overarching goal of the city’s homeless response program is to provide a pathway to county services and ultimately to stable housing.” There are already numerous pathways to county services and stable housing provision for the majority of folks living on the riverbank or under bushes is beyond the scope of the city.
The overarching goal should be to find permanent sites for camping and RV parking and manage them well. With its highly paid upper management, the city has so far failed to achieve even one of these goals and it’s unlikely a new position will succeed where others have failed to move the needle.
Then, with the ink barely dry on budget cuts and eliminated positions, the city council recently voted unanimously to fund $102,000 for consultants to help staff prepare another environmental review for an amendment to the Pogonip Master Plan. This is to facilitate the request by the Homeless Garden Project (HGP) to move its future location from the Lower to the Upper Pogonip Meadow despite the conclusion in the original Environmental Impact Report that the Upper Meadow is not a possible site for the HGP due to environmental constraints. Besides consultant fees, this two year process will absorb Parks and Recreation staff time so that two other projects, Harvey West Pool and San Lorenzo Park will be on hold.
Council didn’t blink, either at the expense or the projects on hold. Doesn’t appear that increase in sales tax was ever needed. Maybe there’s a bit extra to pay those low wage city workers a livable wage? And re-hire Dave.
|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.|
RECALLING THE RECALL.
Recalling the Origins of the Recall
There’s a high-end building boom in Santa Cruz and it’s not what the doctor ordered. Luxury condos, tear-downs giving way to trophy homes, endless bidding wars over once moderately priced homes, the housing crisis has left many scars. If you’re a socialist, now’s a good time to be alive because we are up to meeting this severe challenge. The current Santa Cruz city council majority ought to be called out for continuing to vote with their developer and real estate overlords. Martine Watkins, Renee Golder, Shebreh Kalantari-Johnson, Sonja Brunner, and Donna Meyers–are supported by these same real estate interests and for-profit housing developer interests. They ran on a pro-development platform and they are carrying it out. Just go to the Santa Cruz planning department web page …. and you will see no less than twenty-five significant projects that will yield very few affordable units. So, it is not surprising that their administration of this city has been an investment piñata party for developers under the fuzzy notions of “equity” often invoked by the current 5-2 majority. This council majority has filled the piñata with loads of community assets and interests since their election and it includes the 205-unit project on Pacific Avenue that has not even one unit of affordable housing. The development is a poke into the eye of the current inclusionary rule of 20%. In addition, this city council majority has negotiated with an out of town hotel developer to sell two city-owned parcels so as to make a large hotel project work on the site of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union. Another auto-centric project stuck into the pro-market rate build program is a plan to construct a five-story parking garage on the site of the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Clearly, this council is not negotiating in the interests of its low and middle-income residents.
Policy-making by Initiative, Proposition, and Recall
We may not have a socialist city council yet, but we do have the means of creating and instituting socialist policy through the initiative process. It is a collective endeavor that can make lasting impacts on the way we live now and in the future. The ballot initiative process was born in the Golden State back in 1911 to reign in the Southern Pacific Railroad and the pro-capitalist powers of Harrison Gray Otis, then the owner of the Los Angeles Times. Policy-making by initiative and proposition has brought monumental changes to this state as well as to the Santa Cruz community. Legislating by the ballot is an act of self-governance more akin to the direct democracy of a New England town meeting today beyond just getting candidates elected. In fact, it is a way around the elected officials who’ve been coopted by the circling vultures of capitalist self-interest. Some elected officials are better than others at warding off these powerful special interests. The free-market buzzards in Santa Cruz are currently winning, with their 5-2 council majority.
Recent Socialist-Supported Ballot Initiatives
In 2020, a total of nine ballot initiatives, endorsed by various Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) chapters around the country, won. The $15 minimum wage sailed to victory in Portland, Maine and Orlando, Florida. A “No Eviction Without Representation” measure passed in Boulder, Colorado, and in Montgomery County, Maryland, voters turned back a cap on property taxes with DSA’s support. Measure J in Los Angeles was backed by DSA-LA. This initiative “requires that no less than 10% of the county’s general fund be appropriated to community programs and alternatives to incarceration.” In fact, the Socialist party of California supported “[T]he adoption of the initiative, referendum and recall and of proportional representation, nationally as well as locally” in their 1912 platform according a Northern Illinois University labor history web page. Socialists saw the ballot initiative as an opportunity to chip away at the Democrat-Republican duopoly of power. The Progressive party was running Teddy Roosevelt after his two terms as a Republican president. He and Eugene V. Debs would lose the presidential election of 1912 to future one-termer, William Howard Taft, who in-turn would be followed by the overtly racist policies of Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. That same Socialist platform was pretty remarkable, and prescient, in the scope of what we are still facing today in terms of big national issues encompassing capitalism’s shortfalls. The Socialist’s reform measures included direct election of the President, “equal suffrage for men and woman…full voting rights in US Territories…the adoption of a graduated income tax and the extension of inheritance taxes,” and voting rights for the District of Colombia, which was actually recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, but has yet to be signed into law.
A Brief History of the Ballot Initiative in California
The California “initiative, referendum, and recall” movement actually began in Los Angeles around 1900. It was the election of Hiram Johnson as governor in 1910 and, believe it or not, his “Progressive majority” (republican at the time) that introduced the initiative, referendum, and recall efforts at both the state and local levels of state government. Johnson, a Republican populist, ran a crusader campaign against the hegemony of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) notes that the initiative process actually began in South Dakota in 1898 and as of today “that makes 24 states with an initiative process.” The initiative, referendum, and recall law was enshrined in the California constitution in a special election that was held on October 10, 1911. Although transplanted Pennsylvanian, Dr. John Randolph Haynes who formed the Direct Legislation League in Los Angeles in 1900 is credited for bringing the initiative, referendum, and recall process to California. Lawyer and historian Joshua Spivak also credits the Socialist-Labor party’s activist efforts in passing such avant-garde policies. But to understand the initiative and recall movement at the time, one has to consider the unique history of Haynes. He “was not a typical progressive, having amassed a fortune in his medical practice and in real estate, mining, and other capitalistic ventures. However, he spent a large portion of his wealth to promote a form of gradual, democratic socialism in the United States.” He also supported public ownership of all utilities and was instrumental in starting and keeping the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in public hands. Haynes Wikipedia entry actually calls him “a prominent California Socialist.” What is clear is that the initiative, referendum and recall law was designed and implemented by socialist and progressive forces in the early twentieth century to act as a populist lever of power that could thwart powerful capitalists who were led by oil and railroad millionaires.
1914, A Decisive Year in California History
Interestingly, a pair of early statewide initiatives included abolishing the California poll tax (52%-48%) and also providing $1.8 million in construction bonds for the University of California in 1914 (63%-37%). Another ‘believe-it-or-not’ Golden State moment occurred on the 1914 ballot when forty-eight propositions appeared, the most ever! I urge you to look at this list of 48, many of which we are still debating over today. Nineteen-fourteen was clearly a turning point in California history. On the ballot that year there were two competing alcohol initiatives. Proposition 2 would have made alcohol illegal and Prop. 37 would repeal proposition 2. That year, Prop. 2 was trounced and 39 won overwhelmingly with the pro-alcohol forces voting winning by more than 120,000 votes. The federal government trumped the California proposition when it outlawed alcohol sales and consumption from 1920-1933. It was the period known as prohibition. Another proposition on the 1914 ballot, Prop. 33, would’ve “authorized municipal corporations to acquire and operate public utilities.” It lost, 55% to 45%.
Socialist Turns Democrat to Run for Governor
In the 1934 election for governor, Socialist Upton Sinclair did what Bernie Sanders would do years later, switch to the Democratic Party. Sinclair ran for governor. He is the author of such classics as The Jungle (1905), King Coal (1917), and Oil (1926) and was a long-time member of the same Socialist party of Eugene V. Debs and Jack London. Sinclair had run twice before as a Socialist. He ran on a platform, and movement, to “End Poverty in California” (EPIC). Although he came much closer to winning while running as a Democrat, his campaign was severely undermined by Hollywood’s “news reel” propaganda hit pieces against his candidacy. The anti-Sinclair forces were funded by movie producers Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg. Historian James Gregory offers a curious state-wide voter breakdown in his essay, Who Vote for Upton Sinclair and EPIC?
[Editor’s (Krohn’s) Note: What does this initiative, proposition, and recall history mean for Santa Cruz? Two initiatives, “The Empty Homes Tax,” and “Our Downtown, Our Future” will be highlighted here next week as Part II, “Santa Cruz Ballot Initiatives Seek Justice and May Threaten Politically-Deaf City Council.”]
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
MORE BIG CHANGES IN PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT APPROVED LAST WEEK
Last Tuesday (10/05) the Soquel Creek Water District Board approved huge new changes to the PureWater Soquel Project to remove all advanced sewage water treatment from the Santa Cruz site, instead consolidating the treatment at Chanticleer and Soquel Avenue, and increase the design-build contract cost by 30%.
The new name for the treated sewage water supply access at California and Bay in Santa Cruz will be “PureWater Soquel Source Pump Station”, and the former nitrifying Bacterialogic Aeration Facility (nBAF) will not be built, thereby removing hundreds of construction truck trips and nighttime excavation work. (See Item 7.3, beginning on page 150)
The design-build contract cost is now $87,022,827 and does not include the other eight contracts with other contractors that includes $45,000 annually for a lobbyist.
The treatment at the Chanticleer facility will now use ozone, rather than a series of hazardous chemicals that would have been stored on-site there, across from the County Office of Emergency Services and adjacent to Highway One traffic corridor and a soon-to-be-built bicycle/pedestrian overpass. However, there will still be many large storage tanks on-site containing other hazardous chemicals for sewage water treatment.
If I understand the analysis correctly, this may be a good thing, a bad thing, and would harbor many unknowns.
The good thing is that it may eliminate the multiple large tanks of hazardous chemicals that had been planned to be stored within 0.25 mile of three schools and in a residential neighborhood on the Westside, but it seems the chloramine-laden effluent that poses a real threat to the aquatic habitats in the eight pipeline stream crossing locations, which include the San Lorenzo River, is still a threat. Last Tuesday, I specifically asked the Board in writing to answer whether or not chloramine, which is toxic to all aquatic life, would be in the pressurized effluent piped from Santa Cruz to the Live Oak facility. They refused to answer. Page 407 indicates chloramine is a residual in the effluent pipeline, and must be monitored and maintained at 4-5 mg.
The bad thing is that the design has changed to dump all the contaminants and treatment chemicals and their by-products directly into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
“Piping to return MF strainer backwash waste, MF backwash waste and RO concentrate (ROC) and off-specification MF feed, MF feed tank overflow, RO feed tank overflow, off-specification UV-AOP effluent, and purified water tank overflow as well as AWPF plant bypass to the ROC line for discharge via the existing tunnel portal box to the ocean outfall.”
Page 414 gives parameters of just how dirty this concentrated waste can be.
This sewage effluent outfall pipe has a known rupture that allows a plume of treated sewage to exit a mere 65 feet from shore. The State Water board has taken enforcement action against the City of Santa Cruz to repair this rupture, but the status is unknown.
Unknown impacts of this major Modified PureWater Soquel Project’s second round of significant changes without any real EIR update or public comment period include:
- aesthetic impacts of the new 60′ radio communication pole (3′ diameter at base leading to eventual 18″ diameter at top) at the Chanticleer facility that will be visible from the Highway One corridor and pedestrian/bicycle overcrossing adjacent to the property;
- potential radio interference from the equipment on this pole that will be aimed directly at the Santa Cruz County Office of Emergency Services disaster communication center, located just across the street at the County Sheriff Center;
- an even higher energy increased demand than before, with “approximately 7,797 MWh per year, which is 1,597 MWh per year greater than that described in the Certified EIR and 2020 Addendum.” (page 172), and
- a permanent emergency generator (80 kW RO Flush Emergency Generator with a 175- gallon fuel tank), to provide for operational flexibility during power outages, but none of this was included in the original EIR.
The new Design-Build contract with Black & Veatch for treatment facilities alone has increased over 30% to now be $87,883, 805 and is starting eight months later than anticipated. The State Grant requirement deadline for Project completion looms. See the Project timeline on page 417.
SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT COMMUNITY WATER PLAN SUSPENDS STORMWATER COLLECTION PROJECT
The District Board also approved the Community Water Plan Update, which suspends the pilot project to collect stormwater in Seascape and use it for aquifer recharge near the Seascape Golf Course. There was no discussion about this sudden change, and it was only due to Director Carla Christensen questioning the announcement of the project’s suspension during the Item 7.2 Board review of the document.
General Manager Ron Duncan simply stated the District is not moving forward on the project, which has been funded by a State Prop. 1 grant, but provided no explanation at all. None of the Directors asked for one.
PROPOSED MULTI-STORY KAISER MEDICAL FACILITY WOULD HAVE LARGEST PARKING GARAGE IN THE COUNTY BUT CLAIMS NO SIGNIFICANT TRAFFIC IMPACT
Last Wednesday (10/13), Supervisor Manu Koenig held a well-attended hybrid Town Hall meeting about this very large Project at 5940 Soquel Avenue in Live Oak, with another scheduled November 3. This four-story medical complex and separate four-story 730-car parking garage would be the largest in the County. Is this really the best place to put it???
Most who attended the meeting felt it is not. I was happy to be able to join the in-person contingent of about 30 people, with another 60-70 joining via Zoom.
I was unable to arrive in time to hear Director of Public Works Director Matt Machado speak about the multiple improvements that could be made to mitigate the traffic inherent with the proposed Project. Later, people referred to the “$3.5 million” the County would receive from the applicant. People also questioned “four pedestrian bridges” that could be built with the influx of cash to the County, and how there would be improvements to Soquel Drive, not Soquel Avenue…like sidewalks.
The problem is that there is NO Metro bus service currently serving this area and Mr. Machado stated that there are no current plans to bring any Metro bus service to the area. Instead, the mitigations would focus on connections to existing Soquel Drive fixed bus routes on the other side of Highway One, relying on a new pedestrian/bicycle overpass near the Sheriff Center at Chanticleer, and also the availability of Para-Cruz and LiftLine services, which is quite restrictive.
People who live in the Gross Road area and rely on already-congested Soquel Avenue for their ingress and egress to Highway One expressed concern that adding even more traffic is unacceptable. Most wanted to know more about what the traffic “diverters” the Draft EIR proposed to limit cut-through traffic would look like, but based on vague descriptions, would be a nightmare. The people who live in the 40th Avenue and Gross Road neighborhood do not want the barricade removed that currently prevents traffic from Soquel Avenue from cutting through their kid-friendly street to 41st Avenue.
Above all, many questioned why the County would re-zone this parcel from affordable housing R-Zone to commercial, and wipe away an opportunity to provide more affordable housing for the people?
At the very end, I brought up the existing sewer moratorium in that area, and wondered how the County would address Kaiser’s sewage impact? With hesitation, Supervisor Koenig asked Mr. Machado to answer. He said the current work happening on Soquel Avenue (related to Soquel Creek Water District’s Modified PureWater Soquel Project treated sewage water) would provide some short-term relief, and the County has other projects planned for the future to address the problem. He did not really discuss the possibility of Kaiser upgrading the sewage lines and pump stations as a Condition of Approval for the Project.
The Final EIR with Response to Comments is expected to be released this December, “with Board of Supervisor approval in February, 2022.” The Project would first have to go before the County Planning Commission for comment/recommendation, and the parcel would have to be re-zoned.
Big changes for big money. Many people felt this seems “like a done deal.” One participant pressed Supervisor Koenig for his view…does he support this Project? After being pressed, he said “Yes, with traffic mitigations.” Mark your calendar for November 3, when the Project Applicant will host a public meeting. Watch for announcements of that and the video recording of last Wednesday’s meeting here
MORE ALERTWILDFIRE CAMERAS FOR THE COUNTY
Last Tuesday,(10/05) the County Board of Supervisors approved Consent Agenda Item #19 to explore further locations for remote fire-scanning cameras in the County. CalFire and County Fire staff have identified priority locations for the installation of new cameras that could help quickly alert and update emergency responders and the public to wildfires. Here is a list of possible sites: Watsonville Fire Station #2 Cell Tower, City of Santa Cruz coastal area (wharf, Dream Inn, Long Marine Lab), Silver Mountain Winery/Summit Area, Davenport Cement Plant, Cabrillo Horticulture/Mid-County, and Mount Madonna Center.
It would seem that Loma Prieta Mountain would be another good location. Can you think of others? Write your Supervisor with your ideas. Here is the view possible with existing cameras
BE GLAD THAT YOU CAN SEE, BE MINDFUL OF THOSE WHO CANNOT
Friday, October 15 is International White Cane Day, an educational day instituted by the International Lions Club to help raise awareness of public etiquette and the blind.
Learn valuable tips for how to regard and protect the safety of those who are visually impaired here
MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY WRITING A LETTER OR MAKING A CALL ABOUT AN ISSUE YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT.
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
The tinkling, gurgling, and bubbling sounds of local streams are especially relaxing around now, the driest part of our dry season. It is normal that it has been six months since we had any rain at all. It may be another month before storm fronts sweep from the North, drenching the parched ground for several days with an inch or more of rainfall. At present, though, streams are at their annual lowest flows. But, because our community has been generous, creeks remain flowing with clear, clean, cool water. Taking a leisurely and observant stroll along one of our many creeks will help to clear your mind and relaxed observation of streamside life can lead to delightful discoveries.
Fish, amphibians, and birds are easy to encounter with a brief streamside pause. We tend to hustle along trails, distracted in conversation or deep in thought. But you might want to stop, take a few deep breaths, listen for water sounds, smell cooler, moist air…and wait to see what happens. Ripples form where a fish captures a bug from the water’s surface. Focus your eyes down into the water, and you might glimpse a fish. It will probably be a young steelhead or maybe a coho salmon – two very rare fish that live among the stream’s cobbles, riffles and pools eating invertebrates and shining their beautiful scales in the occasional sunbeam-lit water. Creek pools may have newts or salamanders. With their yellow bellies and brown bumpy backs, two newt species (rough skinned or California) use their ‘tail fins’ to swim away if you get too close.
Harder to see, the gray-silver and more uncommon California giant salamander is mostly hidden under rocks. After getting big enough, these newts and salamanders crawl out of the stream to wander the rainy winter landscape, gobbling up prey in the leaf litter or deep inside gopher burrows. These amphibians are super toxic – a single newt has enough poison in its skin to kill many people – so they are brave and easy to find wandering trails or crossing roads near streams and rivers in the early winter. Crowds of newts make nighttime mass migrations after the first couple of rains have moistened the landscape. If you can plan not to drive at night during the second through fourth rainstorms, you’ll be saving gas, contributing to climate change solutions, be physically much safer, and potentially save many salamander lives. Encourage your friends to do the same! Post ‘newt crossing’ signs on your road. Drive slowly and avoid the many difficult-to-see newts.
My favorite creek birds are kingfishers and dippers (also known as ouzels). Kingfishers use their big sharp bills to spear fish. Ouzels dive into stream pools to eat underwater insects. Kingfishers are noisy, dippers silent…so, non-birders are more likely to see the kingfishers which have distinct flights and calls as well illustrated in this beautifully produced linked video. Kingfishers like to nest in holes in the soil of steep banks – they are burrow-birds! And it’s not easy to find that kind of habitat, but one road cut near Elkhorn Slough is a go-to spot to see their nests. Dippers are not common in Santa Cruz County, and are elusive even where you might count on seeing them. I know they are about when there is ‘white wash’ on perching rocks midstream.
At the beginning of the essay, why do you think I said streams flow because of our generosity? Primarily I say that because we are a democracy: from the springs to the ocean, free-flowing water is publicly owned (except in the rare cases where a portion of the flow has been legally ‘allocated’ for human use). At the local level, Santa Cruzans value letting streams flow and have worked hard to protect enough land around streams so that they continue to flow. San Lorenzo Water District and the City of Santa Cruz manage and protect lands to assure drinking water security. Bond funding to protect watersheds purchased the Pogonip Green Belt property near the City. Many places we could put dams to capture more water, we chosen not to. And so, we have many free-flowing streams without dams. These streams recharge groundwater, and not so many wells have run dry as they have elsewhere in the state. More than anything, it seems to me that our community’s conservation of streams and the forests around them has been instinctually generous, a big-heartedness that understands the inherent value of such things. I am so very pleased to be part of a community that acts on those values.
While we have protected many streams, the streams we have need restoration and management. Natural dams were once common- trees fell from old age and trunks floated downstream and occasionally jammed up flow, creating pools and fish and frog habitat. With forestry practices and our habit of keeping things ‘neat,’ there are fewer logs in streams (but, after the CZU fire, it looks like we might get a new wave of logs). So, in a few streams around our area, restorationists have placed big logs and boulders to help restore ‘complexity’ in streams. Also, in the past few years, there’s been a new movement to bring back beavers. Downtown Santa Cruz is built on what was most likely prior beaver ground. Beavers contributed to the creation of the deep, fertile soils of the Pajaro Valley. Wherever they could find a place, beavers would have made ponds along our streams, carefully weaving together branches into logs until they backed up water into a big pool. These pools would have been great habitat for our amphibians and would have helped recharge groundwater. These dams were porous and ephemeral enough to allow occasional salmon migration. But, beaver pelts were worth money, and trappers killed all the beavers a long time ago. When will beavers return- on their own…or with a little help from restorationists? The closest places to see beavers is just north, in Pescadero Creek, or just south, in the Salinas River…neither are that far from us, as the beaver swims. Maybe a generation or two from now will get to experience a ‘tail slap’ somewhere close by.
Getting back to the subject of streamside strolling during this dry fall…I advise taking some time to watch reflected sunlight as it sparkles and shines off of a stream. Under-lit from reflected sunshine, the normally shaded streamside tree trunks glow and rocky outcrops shine with unexpected color. Reflected light from creek ripples makes the otherwise still leaves and needles overhead seem to dance and move in fascinating patterns. If you take some time to gaze into the water, your eyes will relax your mind with the constantly changing liquid patterns: forming and collapsing pillows, effervescence bubbles flow swirling out into pools, slow eddies creating many unfolding patterns, forming and dissipating into one another, making sense, but at the same time fascinatingly unpredictable.
Streams are quieter now that the neotropical migratory songbirds flew south, but their noise will change with the coming rains. Soon, the quietest of streams will make louder sounds. Areas downstream of our pavement, roads and ditches will “flash” with higher flows and become muddy. Creeks protected by the right amount of well-managed uphill lands will rush and roar and, even after big storms, maintain clear water, pulsing after downpours and gradually flowing higher with the progressing rainy season. Through the cool, rainy winter, chickadees will miss their bright yellow and orange warbler friends but will greet and welcome them when they return next spring.
Before the rains come, you might notice branches and debris high above the water along the banks or even hanging many feet above, tangled high in the trees and bushes. That stuff tells you how the water may soon get, having been deposited there in prior years. If you take a photo or a video now of a favorite stretch of stream, think how much fun it will be to compare that with what you might record mid-winter. Creek habitats are the most obviously and dynamically changing of any of our natural areas, helping us to better plug into the changing seasons. At this point in the year, you might find a walk along a stream to be a revitalizing reprieve from the otherwise dusty and dry landscape.
Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at email@example.com
#284 / Political Rage? We’re All Foxed Up
The September-October 2021, issue of Mother Jones asks a pertinent question: “What’s fueling America’s political rage?” The Mother Jones’ article addressing that question, by Kevin Drum, is worth reading. Drum first establishes that we are, as Americans, mad at each other. REALLY mad at each other. The article then further argues, pretty convincingly, that it’s not because: (1) America has gone crazy over conspiracy theories; (2) Social Media has caused all the problems; or (3) Things have just gotten worse.
Drum concludes that Fox News is the cause of the problem, toute simple. As he puts it: “It’s All About Fox News.”
Fox News stokes a constant sense of outrage among its base of viewers, largely by highlighting narratives of white resentment and threats to Christianity. This in turn forces Republican politicians to follow suit. It’s a positive feedback loop that has no obvious braking system, and it’s already radicalized the conservative base so much that most Republicans literally believe that elections are being stolen and democracy is all but dead if they don’t take extreme action.
I understand that this is not an exciting conclusion. Liberals have been fighting Fox News for years with little to show for it. It’s more interesting to go after something new, like social media or lunatic conspiracy theories. But the evidence is pretty clear: Those things act as fuel on the fire—and they deserve our opposition—but it’s Fox News that’s set the country ablaze.
For the past 20 years the fight between liberals and conservatives has been razor close, with neither side making more than minor and temporary progress in what’s been essentially trench warfare. We can only break free of this by staying clear-eyed about what really sustains this war. It is Fox News that has torched the American political system over the past two decades, and it is Fox News that we have to continue to fight.
I don’t ever watch Fox News (or any other television news, for that matter), so I am not in a good position either to agree or disagree with Drum’s conclusion. While I am pretty convinced, just from reading about Fox News, that it is a malign force within our body politic – and intentionally so – I do tend to be skeptical of simple explanations for what are often rather complex human realities. Still, I am definitely willing to believe that corporate media platforms (Fox News may well be the industry leader) use time-tested propaganda techniques to advance their corporate and political agendas.
Given Drum’s suggestion that “it is Fox News that has torched the American political system over the past two decades, and [that] it is Fox News that we have to continue to fight,” I would have liked to hear some positive suggestions on how we might carry on that “fight” in the years upcoming. Diagnosis is important, of course, but remedies are ultimately more important. Past efforts haven’t seemed to work.
As I said in a recent blog posting, I am not convinced that any “governmental bureau of honest news” is going to solve the problem – which may mean that we are back to that “talking to strangers” idea I have mentioned before. Dialogue and discussion, outside the mass media, is perhaps the most effective remedy we have, close at hand, to deal with the “political rage” that Drum identifies.
Talking to strangers, though, as a way to offset some of the political rage that is poisoning our politics, would necessarily mean that would have to lay down our anger long enough to talk to those with whom we expect to disagree.
And to listen to them, too. Let’s not forget that part!
Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 is very foolish of a man to be frightened of a skeleton, for Nature has put an insurmountable obstacle against running away from it.”
~G. K. Chesterton
“The skeleton was as happy as a madman whose straitjacket had been taken off.”
“Humans feel bereft of meaning; you need this mythology to shape the skeleton of your lives. Without myths, how can anyone live in this world and feel fulfilled?”
I can’t believe that it’s been 30 years since Nirvana’s Nevermind came out. Here’s a really sweet interview with Dave Grohl.
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
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Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
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