Blog Archives

October 14 – 20, 2020

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…state proposition correction, no more You tubes, don’t bury the library, Cabrilho College board candidate, Wharf Impact report, our special bubble, many movies, streamers, and screamers. GREENSITE…on More Wharf Tall Tales. KROHN…Money and politics, state government and money, city council and money. STEINBRUNER…Purewater Soquel Creek project, local control of water, governor to take your land, homeowner insurance. Fire districts consolidate. PATTON…People and Percentages. EAGAN… evergreen Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. QUOTES…”flies” 

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OPENING DAY SANTA CRUZ MUNICIPAL WHARF (PIER) 1914. You can just barely make out the Boardwalk and their much shorter pier in the background. Note also there’s already a car for hire at this celebration. The bend in the wharf which is so prominent here is what has protected the wharf all these years by being angled into the approaching waves.

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

DATELINE October 12
 
NO MORE YOU TUBES IN THE CORNER!  Almost forever I’ve been linking all of us to You Tubes in this upper right hand corner. No More. You Tube is too big a giant, too many ads, and not enough of the uniqueness and charm that I used to find every week. Wikipedia reports.. “YouTube and selected creators earn advertising revenue from Google AdSense, a program that targets ads according to site content and audience. The vast majority of its videos are free to view, but there are exceptions, including subscription-based premium channels, film rentals, as well as YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, subscription services respectively offering premium and ad-free music streaming, and ad-free access to all content, including exclusive content commissioned from notable personalities. 

As of February 2017, there were more than 400 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute, and one billion hours of content being watched on YouTube every day. As of October 2020, YouTube is the second-most popular website in the world, behind Google, according to Alexa Internet.[2] As of May 2019, more than 500 hours of video content are uploaded to YouTube every minute.[7] Based on reported quarterly advertising revenue, YouTube is estimated to have US$15 billion in annual revenues. 

PROPOSITION CORRECTION. It’s embarrassing but somehow last week the Friends Committee on Legislation recommendations on how to vote for our state propositions got messed up here on BrattonOnline. [20 and 21 ended up in the wrong order. Mea culpa! ~Gunilla]  Thanks to so many folks for letting us know about that. Here again is Friends Committee on Legislation of California link, and below how they suggest you vote.

Prop 14 NO
Prop 15 YES
Prop 16 YES
Prop 17 YES
Prop 18 YES
Prop 19 NO
Prop 20 NO
Prop 21 YES
Prop 22 NO
Prop 23 NO
Prop 24 NO
Prop 25 YES

With all the zillions of big bucks spent by those hidden industries to sell us their products and fill their portfolios it’s hard enough to ferret out the truth. The Friends Committee has been doing that for generations.

MOVIE THEATRE THOUGHTS. As avid a movie goer as I am and always have been I am surprised that neither of our two print purveyors The Sentinel and Good Times have printed any news at all about the opening of the Del Mar theatre and the closing of our Regal Cinema 9. I was anxious to see two of the films at the Del Mar and was again puzzled that Landmark was allowing NO PASSES for any films there. That usually happens when they don’t want critics to see and maybe ruin a film before the general public attends in possible droves. But now I’m thinking and so far avoiding going to the Del Mar. I think about the Covid up turned sneezes and coughs in the dark, the many door handles, the popcorn handled by at least two employees before I get mine. I wonder how many times the theater employees get pandemic tested…daily, weekly, before they hand us our tickets, our candy, and again, our open bagged popcorn. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in my movie section down below most of the films being shown at our Del Mar and other open theaters are available online.

DON’T BURY THE LIBRARY ISSUE. Jean Brocklebank and friends sent this update.

Here’s a City Council Meetings History

The October 13 City Council meeting agenda still does not contain an item on the financials report that was requested of staff by Council way back at its June 23 meeting, to be reported “no later than three months.” 

Three months meant Council’s September 22 meeting. At that meeting, with no such information, staff tried to convince Council that staff first needed a $240,000 contract with a consultant, to have the consultant derive the financing information. With the public weighing in and asking how a quarter of a million dollars could be committed before they had the information requested in June, Council wisely agreed and didn’t approve staff’s request. Instead, after almost 3 hours of discussion, including the public comments, the Mayor made a motion, which passed unanimously and required staff to return in October with said financial information. That unanimously passed motion meant either the October 13th or 27th Council meeting. 

It is not happening this coming Tuesday Oct. 13, and that does not surprise us, because there is so much unknown about financing the complicated project. One might think that after almost four years of pushing this project, someone somewhere somehow would have pulled this funding stuff together so decision-makers (the City Council) could know what the project will likely cost and not have to rely on staff’s constant faith-based (we believe, we think, we hope) statements that all will be okay.

Tuesday’s  (Oct. 13) Council Agenda 

Although there is no financial information agenda item, there will be a City Manager’s report — but we doubt Bernal will have anything to say on the Mixed-Use Project’s financing information. That said, after years of surprises with this Taj Garage project, we’ll still be tuning in to the meeting on the 13th … just in case! If anyone is also interested in doing so, click HERE to view the agenda, including instructions on how to “attend” virtually.

On the agenda, the City Manager’s report should be about 12:30 pm. Also, note that Oral Communications will be held at or around 5:30 p.m. If anyone has any ongoing thoughts about the wise and sensible return to plans for a renovation of the existing library before we lose more Measure S funding (which diminishes as every month proceeds) then Oral Communications is a good place to say so! Especially as the city is in dire budget difficulties and no one knows how it will be able to manage a behemoth multi-storied project. After almost four years, the library continues to be held hostage to the mixed-use project. It is time to set it free”!

CABRILHO COLLEGE GOVERNING BOARD TRUSTEES. Not easy to read and decipher who’s best for the Cabrilho College Board of trustees. Reading through the list of endorsements is even more confusing.  I contacted folks I know who care a lot about and for our community college…they all support Diana Alfaro. Her website… https://www.diana4cabrillotrustee.com Such people as Donna Meyers, Cynthia Mathews, Carol Fuller, Zach Friend, George Ow, Teresa Thomae and Mark Mesti-Miller endorse her opponent for Area 4. That makes it easy!!!  

WHARF IMPACT REPORT. Carmella Weintraub sent the following last minute notice…”I have been interested in the Wharf Plan for quite some time and it looks like it is moving ahead like so many other “Master (?) Plans in Santa Cruz. (Perhaps if we had more Mistress Plans it might retain more of a balanced outcome!)  BUT, this week on Wed, the 14th of Oct. and Thursday, the 15th there are two important meetings about the SC WHARF FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT and its acceptance by the two so called Advisory Commissions related to the Wharf.

On Wed, the Historic Preservation Commission Meets to certify (or not) the Final EIR and CEQA Findings re everything they plan to do to essentially take the whole look and feel away from the Wharf. This meeting starts @ 7:00 and can only be attended by teleconference only..  (We already know how fun that is). 

Public comment is welcome by phone, email or letter from 10/12 to 10/17 and  the numbers to call during the actual meeting (and the agenda) are here

On Thursday, the SC Planning Commission meets on the same issue @7:00 pm. and can also be attended only by teleconference, but you can actually see them LIVE for this meeting. 

The input numbers and agenda are here 

Again, public comment can be made in advance by mail or email or at the meeting.  Instructions are given on this link. 

A COPY OF THE EIR AND FINAL PLAN IS HERE

ONCE AGAIN, WE CAN STILL HAVE INPUT AND… KNOWING THE CITY AS WE DO, WE MUST SHOW UP AT THESE Zoom MEETINGS (WHICH I NOW CALL “FAST-FORWARD SECRET SUMMITS”) 

This is basically a show up and speak up effort.  I love our town and it s quirky character and like all of us, it deserves kind attention”. Carmella Weintraub.

OUR SPECIAL BUBBLE. According to Gail Pellerin, our County Clerk our county now has 168,000 registered voters. While it seems easy to relax about that figure and our near self imposed left leaning tendencies we need to remember that in 2016 22,438 voters OUT OF 132,165 VOTED FOR Trump !!! 

STREAMERS, SCREENERS, CRIES & CRITIQUES.
The big news is that The Del Mar theatre opened last Thursday…and on the very same day our local Regal Theatre 9 (along with their entire chain) closed until further notice.

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

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

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

I said it before and will repeat….I still haven’t been to a movie theatre. The  reviews of current films read poorly, and dealing with the seating, lines, and the improving quality of what’s online hardly makes it seem worthwhile


Here’s last week’s visions and beyond 

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

EVIL. The ongoing battle between church and the devil is the point here. A young woman chases ghosts, demons in her dreams as she tries to outwit her dream like killer fears. Better than average and might even get more serious as the series develops.

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

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

FREAKS.  Definitely NOT the classic Tod Browning black and white genuine carnival freaks backstage lives. This new film (2018) is a silly science fiction teen age adventure about a 17 year old girl who has superhuman powers. She searches for her mom and runs into lots of trouble. Not a great film by any means…but it might take your mind away from the here and now. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALIVE. This Korean zombie thriller has absolutely nothing new, exciting or creative in it. People become Zombies by catching a virus (duh!!!). They act and look and stagger like every zombie we’ve ever seen on screen. They bleed a lot and smear the blood on walls, windows, everywhere. A sweet young girl is found by a nice young boy across the huge patio in their apartment building. You know the rest, trust me. 

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

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

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

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More Wharf Tall Tales

West side of the Wharf

There’s nothing like a City of Santa Cruz Agenda Report to get your blood boiling. 

This time it’s the Agenda Report on the Wharf Master Plan (WMP) and EIR prepared for the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) meeting, which may be over as you read this. Why write about something that’s over? Because the same staff hyperbole, distortions and omissions are likely to dog this issue all the way to city council vote at the end of the month. 

The Agenda Report, submitted by the city’s Asset and Development Manager, approved by the Director of Economic Development and the Director of Planning and Community Development, contains the following entries:

“It has been said many times that the one constant on the Wharf is change”.

“The reality is that the Wharf has always changed. Life in the Pacific Ocean is hard and requires adaptation to survive.” 

“The Pacific Ocean is unforgiving and the Wharf is approaching a slow boil.”

This hyperbole is not as bad as the city’s lying to the Federal Government to gain almost a million dollars in grant monies to fund the Wharf Master Plan but it is deceptive. It flies in the face of the Engineering Report, which found 91% of the 4,450 current pilings of the Wharf in excellent condition and concluded that:

“Because of its location and deck elevation (+23 ft., MLLW) Santa Cruz Wharf should continue to function well into the future, as it has for the past 100 years with continued maintenance and strengthening. With a sea level rise of 3.5 ft., the deck of Santa Cruz Wharf would be approximately at the same present elevation of Capitola Wharf.”

The Wharf road needs re-surfacing due to the heavy traffic load, not due to the Pacific Ocean or sea level rise. Replacing Wharf pilings as needed is nothing new. 

Contrast the above Engineering Report with the Agenda Report entry:
“In making its decision whether to recommend approval of the Wharf Master Plan to City Council, staff urges the HPC to consider the long term sustainability of the Wharf itself. The unprecedented challenges already apparent from climate change, COVID-19, as well as the Wharf’s mounting infrastructure backlog, harsh environmental and regulatory setting, and the fiscal solvency of the Wharf in light of the City’s now acute and structural budget shortfalls are all factors that impede the City’s ability to effectively steward the Wharf. These underlying conditions reinforce the immediate need for Wharf Master Plan approval.”

Staff is exploiting the pandemic, the fiscal crisis and climate change to urge approval of an unpopular Master Plan that is all about gentrifying the Wharf and changing its character. Replacing the small percentage of pilings and fixing the road surface does not need a Master Plan. That is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

And,

“Without significant reinvestment soon, parts of the Wharf may reach a tipping point and begin to fail. Correcting the infrastructure backlog problem is a level of investment that the City does not currently have resources for and that the Wharf Crew cannot manage alone. The City must attract additional investment and outside grant funding. To do so, the City needs an approved Master Plan and EIR.”

The cost for road re-surfacing and minimal piling replacement can be obtained from a number of sources including Measure H funds, especially earmarked for city streets of which the Wharf road is one. It does not need an approved Master Plan and EIR. 

The Agenda Report urges support for the WMP due to the current Wharf businesses that are struggling due to the coronavirus. This is true, although probably no more than other city small businesses. Given the disruption that new construction will generate, it’s likely that Wharf businesses will suffer even more. Without an economic analysis to demonstrate that the WMP will be a moneymaker, it is just as likely that it will be an economic failure.  If the city is so concerned about Wharf businesses why did it refuse to renew the lease for Andy’s Bait Shop that has now stood empty for 5 years?  Why did it refuse to grant Gilda’s previous owners a favorable lease? Why say: When lifeguards and marine rescue are included, the Wharf has been struggling financially for four of the last six years” when both are under the Fire Department? 

The Agenda Report intones that: “Without an approved EIR however, the City has been mired for nearly two years in state and federal permitting for critical repairs and has paid significant consultant and filing fees for emergency permits as well.” 

Who took from 2016 until 2020 to complete an EIR, which can usually be completed within a year? The city did.

While acknowledging that the historic integrity of the Wharf is largely reflected in its wooden piles, in the list of proposed physical alterations to the Wharf structure, staff omits inclusion of the Western walkway which, being 8 feet below deck will horizontally bisect the piles on the western side, altering the character, look and feel of the Wharf. This is perhaps the most critical issue for the HPC to weigh in on and it is not listed except in passing for another entry. 

As a final sop, the Agenda Report reassures that the WMP is only a suggestion, a guide and other than the Wharf entrance and the eastern expansion, there will be plenty of opportunity for public input on the other “improvements.” We have seen how that plays out with other big projects and it doesn’t. The Program EIR is always used to justify specific project EIR’s. That the 3 new buildings have been reduced to 40 feet in height and the new south landing will not be used for tenders from cruise ships is a small step in the right direction. That the Agenda Report omits reference to the Environmentally Superior Alternative from the EIR that gets rid of the Western Walkway is a more reliable guide to the city’s intentions.

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

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October 12

MONEY

It is pretty obvious that there is a great deal of money being spent nationally, state-wide, and locally in order to fashion particular political outcomes. Jaime Harrison, Senate candidate in South Carolina, has raised a mind-numbing $87 million to unseat repugnant, self-deceiving and nation-deceiving incumbent, Lindsey Graham. Harrison’s run is a righteous cause, but the amount of money involved is still unseemly. Of course, Republican troglodyte Graham said last year he would never take a vote on any Supreme Court nominee this close to a Presidential election. NOT! He is the chair of the senate judiciary committee overseeing the nomination of conservative Amy Coney Barrett who just might replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Graham, trying to move with all deliberate speed, is now standing in for the once lonely Labor government poodle, Tony Blair, who was called George Bush’s poodle in the run-up to the misguided US invasion of Iraq in March of 2003. Graham is not only now a Trump suck-up, but he’s gone so far as to politically shave his butt and walk it backwards into a wind turbine of Democrat cash blowing right across the sitting Senator’s 2020 hopes of keeping South Carolinians shackled to a future without healthcare for all. Everything is coming down to the corporate-backed, take-no-prisoners lobbying effort in the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizen’s United v. FEC decision that reduced cash on the barrel, as my grandfather would say, to a modern conservative definition of free speech. The cash haul by South Carolina’s Harrison is but one example of how even good people can get caught up into the bad politics of raising money to pummel your opponent. My experience is that many who put money on Harrison did so only to curry influence and receive favors after he’s elected. But Jamie Harrison is the best candidate running for Senate in South Carolina, and make no mistake, I support Harrison over Graham.

  1. MONEY

The political money cesspool is currently wide and deep here in the Golden State too. Proposition 22, the Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash-funded initiative will likely be the most expensive in state history. Already more than $185 million has been raised and more is on the way as the sprint to Nov. 3rd is underway. (BTW, this does not include the money spent on signature-gatherers to get it on the ballot in the first place.) This money is a Las Vegas-style bet, mostly by the “ride-share” industry and with the odds in their favor. The Gig-economy titans seek to overturn Assembly Bill 5, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year. (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB5 ) It calls for these same companies to make drivers official employees, instead of independent contractors. Without being an “employee” there is no chance of unemployment insurance, disability care if injured on the job, or health insurance being paid by these corporations. It is pure capitalist rhetoric–we are all free agents–vs. the notion that workers have rights and ought to be able to collectively bargain (since 1935) and be at the same bargaining table as the owners. Uber argues that workers want more flexibility and should be essentially free agents, but current law does not prohibit these large corporations from paying fair wages and offering flexible hours to their soon to be, employees, if Prop. 22 is defeated at the polls.

IS BIG MONEY BUYING THE COUNCIL?  

Now, keeping the notion in mind that when larger entities–companies, corporations, and individuals–act as agents of realtors and developers and contribute to city council campaigns, they usually want something. They generally wish to see fewer obstacles in their way in maximizing their present and future investments in Surf City. Of course, many locals contribute to city council campaigns because they hope for an overall change in government policies, or a continuation of the status quo. Voluntary campaign spending limits are set at around $40,000 for each council candidate. Periodic statements, called Form 460, are required to be submitted periodically during the campaign to show where a candidate’s money originates. Are there bundles of donations from certain sectors like real estate interests, for-profit housing developers, or labor unions? If so, that would might indicate as to what interest group a candidate would end up beholden to? Again, if you accept the limit of $400 per person in donations during the campaign and $40k overall, one would think this might not be enough to buy a councilmember’s vote, but my experience is that it certainly opens sitting councilmembers doors a whole lot easier and creates a subtle sort of you owe me attitude among certain donors. I would argue that some economic players–local and out of towners–donate with the expectation of impacting local zoning, taxing, and property initiatives that any particular city council may take up. For example, Santa Cruz witnessed perhaps the biggest money coming to town in the form of the CAA, the California Apartment Association’s shameless behavior in leading the $1.2 million campaign to defeat Measure M, rent control, in 2018. They had enough left over to spend lavishly in the later recall campaign of two city councilmembers and then install their 4th vote (out of 7 councilmembers) onto our city council this past March. Big money bought the council, and a lot of the largesse spent on stopping rent control and enacting recall came flowing in from outside of Santa Cruz. And guess what? These same interests are doubling down in the 2020 city council elections. Candidate campaign donations and expenditures can be found here: https://public.netfile.com/pub2/?AID=CRUZ 

City Council MONEY Trail 

Developer and real estate interests are funding at least three local candidates in the lead up to the Nov. 3rd election. It’s an election that actually began on Oct. 5th when locals began receiving their official mail-in ballots. It is clear that real estate interests are trying to buy another city council. The overwhelming amount of money put up by the real estate industry and certain individual realtors for three candidates, is clear. There are three candidates that the realtors are seeking to not just influence, but to buy as was seen during the rent control and recall campaigns. It’s not just speculation on my part about where the realtor’s money is, but the three candidates even trumpet on all their mailings and web site the support of an outside Political Action Committee (PAC), Santa Cruz Together.  It is no surprise that developer and real estate interests are NOT supporting Sandy Brown, Kayla Kumar, and Kelsey Hill, but labor unions are and the donations are lopsided with hundreds of dollars coming from labor, but thousands from the multiple property-owning class. Labor’s efforts are dwarfed by the large donations Santa Cruz Together, and the candidates themselves, have received from real estate interests. These entities, they often hide behind LLC’s, are investing money into candidates and they will expect a return. Remember, while many of these folks have maxed out the $400 individual limit per candidate, there are no limits on what they can donate to the SC Together PAC…and donate they are…From SCT’s 460 form it looks like “total expenditures made” was $78,108 this calendar year. Here is a list of what just a few of these donors (not to mention, but not listed, are donors from San Jose, Oregon, San Mateo, and San Francisco) have given this year:

Ken Carlson, realtor, $2,250

Peter Cook, Lighthouse Realty, $2,500.

Richard Moe of Soquel, developer and realtor, $4,000

Robert Williams at 134 McCormick St. is a property manager, $1,500

Hallie Richmond, real estate agent, Live Oak, donated $2,501 on Sept. 23, 2020.

Kenneth Rilling property owner of Prunedale, $800.

Alan Ramadan, of Scotts Valley, who brings together “entrepreneurship and venture capital,”$2,500.

Doug Ley of Redtree Properties (His Front Street properties up for city permitting) (Karl Rice president of Boardwalk is also on this board.), $1,000.

To see entire list, go here 

On the first day of Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett hearings AOC tweeted:

“Sick and tired of Republicans who co-opt faith as an excuse to advance bigotry and barbarism. Fact is, if today Christ himself came to the floor of Congress and repeated his teachings, many would malign him as a radical and eject him from the chamber.” (Oct. 12)

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

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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October 12

IS PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT REALLY NECESSARY?  DISCUSSION AND CANDIDATE FORUM THIS THURSDAY
Please join the conversation this Thursday at 7pm with Mr. Rick Longinotti, leader of Desal Alternatives and member of the Santa Cruz Water Supply Advisory Committee (WSAC), along with Soquel Creek Water District Board Candidates Mr. Corrie Kates and Ms. Maria Marsilio.  

The WSAC developed a set of recommendations to address regional water supply needs that listed conservation and regional water transfers as the top solutions.   In his endorsement of Kates and Marsilio as candidates for the Soquel Creek Water District Board, Rick noted:

  •  “In a well-intentioned effort to address a serious aquifer overdraft, the Soquel Creek Water District turned to highly expensive and energy intensive solutions: first desalination and now recycled waste water. The recycled wastewater project would commit water customers to high water rates and high energy use. Before considering such a commitment, the District should optimize water conservation and water transfers with Santa Cruz.”

Please join the discussion this Thursday at 7pm on Zoom.  Access information is in the “Events” 

The following Thursday’s Zoom meeting will host Dr. Karl Maret…”Is the PureWater Soquel Project plan to daily inject millions of gallons of treated wastewater into the drinking water supply safe?  Will the water be safe to drink in the future?”  

Mark your calendar and tell your friends and neighbors.

THE STATE IS NOT THREATENING TO TAKE AWAY LOCAL CONTROL OF WATER IN MIDCOUNTY
The Soquel Creek Water District incumbents sent out a campaign mailer this week that really made me shake my head because the claim that the State is chomping at the bits to take over the local water supply is simply not true. 

I attended a Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency workshop on March 9, 2019 where Mr. Erik Ekdahl, State Water Resources Control Board Deputy Director discussed the role of the State regulatory intervention actions and groundwater management agencies.  The bottom line is that the State does NOT want to take over the water management in overdrafted basins, and would provide multiple opportunities for the local agencies to correct issues.  

The greatest trigger to having the State take control of local water resources is not having submitted a Groundwater Sustainability Plan.  The MidCounty Groundwater Agency, which includes Soquel Creek Water District, did submit this draft plan in January, 2020.  The State may take two years to evaluate the Plan.  If the groundwater situation were dire in 2025, it could trigger State Intervention.  Recent News | Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency 

But that is unlikely, as Mr. Ekdahl discussed last year.  Whats more, groundwater monitoring reports show that by and large, the groundwater levels are rising or stable.

So, should we believe the Soquel Creek Water District incumbents’ fearful campaign ads that State takeover is imminent if PureWater Soquel Project is not imposed?  I just don’t think so.

Remember, the State made the determination in the 1980’s that the Mid County’s Soquel Valley Basin was in critical overdraft at the request of the City of Santa Cruz and a County Supervisor.

(see last week’s Blog information)

Here is the official State intervention policy:

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

LOCAL FIRE DISTRICTS MOVING FORWARD TO CONSOLIDATE BY EARLY NEXT YEAR, BUT WITH QUESTIONABLE REPRESENTATION PROCESS
The Aptos / La Selva Fire and Central Fire Protection Districts are consolidating, and the new large agency will be called “Central Fire Protection District”.  I support the consolidation, but worry about the governance.  Here is why: 

  1. New Board members will be swept out of office upon consolidation, with no disclosure made at the time of their election that the seats were soon to disappear.  
  2. The Ad Hoc Committee that chose the Board members during meetings closed to the public will exclude the new Board members just elected, unbeknownst to the new Board members.  
  3. While the consolidated District will, in 2022, change from at-large elections to district elections, the large area will be carved up into five districts that, based on equal population, cannot possibly provide equitable representation to the rural areas of the District.

The Ad Hoc Committee, whose meetings are not open to the public, decided last summer that the Board for the new agency would consist of three existing Aptos/La Selva Board members and two existing Central Fire Board members.  They thought the consolidation process would be wrapped up by July 2020, but it wasn’t, due to disparity in Union benefits disparities.  

Because of the delay, the incumbent seats for those who were NOT chosen to serve on the consolidated Board had to  be offered for re-election.  The incumbents did not file for re-election, so the five seats stayed open an extra week.  Interestingly, five members of the public did file for the seats and will now be seated in early December as new Board members for the respective Districts.

But wait a minute…LAFCO published a classified ad October 8 in the Sentinel that it will hold a public hearing on November 4 to consider the consolidation.  

The October 8, 2020 Aptos / La Selva Fire Board agenda packet (page 37) states the following timeline:

Update on Consolidation Process:

Next steps in the consolidation process: · 

Submit final Plan for Service and other documents to LAFCO · 
November 4, 2020: LAFCO hearing. ·
 December 4, 2020: 30-day Reconsideration Period ends. · 
December 8, 2020 first meeting for new CFPD Directors · 
December 10, 2020 first meeting for new A/LSFPD Directors · 
January 1, 2021: AB 1140 (Retirement protections) becomes law. · 
January 6, 2021: LAFCO Protest Hearing to receive Protest Petitions. · 
February 3, 2021: LAFCO Protest Hearing to adopt Protest Results. · 

Date to be Determined (February/March): Consolidation effective after all Terms and Conditions satisfied. LAFCO records the completed Consolidation with the County and the State Board of Equalization · 

Date to be Determined: New Directors of Consolidated District seated at first Board meeting.

I attended the October 7 LAFCO meeting and heard discussion of the consolidation.  The Plan for Service document had already been submitted, even before the two Fire Boards approved them, enabling the matter to be scheduled for the next Commission meeting.   
I raised the issue of governance in the future, asking why there cannot be a seven-member consolidated Board  composed of randomly-drawn names from the two agencies’ combined 10 members?   This would provide an opportunity for the new Board members, one of which is a woman, to serve on the consolidated Board .  

LAFCO Director Joe Serrano stated it would be up to the two Fire Districts to make those recommendations.

Last week, the Aptos/ La Selva Fire Board wanted nothing to do with this suggestion, even though it was supported by the woman who has been elected to serve on the Board. 

It is curious that so many things seem to be rushed, that the five-member Board chosen in meetings closed to the public includes two brothers, and that the large area comprising the future district elections cannot possible provide equitable representation for the seven areas of Day Valley, La Selva Beach, Aptos, Rio del Mar, Capitola, Soquel, and Live Oak when the district lines will be drawn to have equal population numbers.  While the quick retort is that a seven-member Board would be unwieldy, that is not the case with the City of Watsonville’s Council,  the Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s Board, or the Cabrillo College Board, all of which include seven members.

Please write to the LAFCO if you are concerned about the governance issues or future level of representation in the soon-to-be-consolidated Aptos/La Selva Fire and Central Fire Districts…whose name will be “Central Fire District”.  

Does it seem right that a woman would be edged out of serving the public in order to allow two brothers to keep their seats?   

Santa Cruz LAFCO Director Joe Serrano , and Clerk Debra Means

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND A VIRTUAL TOWN HALL MEETING.  MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THIS WEEK BY JUST DOING SOMETHING.

Cheers and Happy Autumn,

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

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

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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October 11
#285 / People Versus Percentages

Heather Cox Richardson, pictured above, writes a daily bulletin, distributed widely under the title, “Letters From An American.” If you click the link, you can sign up to get her daily bulletins sent to you by email. I, personally, think that they are both informative and motivating!

In her September 1, 2020 letter, Richardson says this: 

I try to write these Letters as if they are sort of a flowing report on the news. But I just can’t flow over this number once again. We have lost almost 185,000 people to Covid-19. That number is a 9-11 attack every day for two months. It is flying a full 737 airplane into a mountain every single day for more than two years. I cannot fathom why combatting this disease is not an all-hands-on-deck national emergency.

On September 1, 2020, the population of the United States of America was over 331,347,000. As of September 1st, in other words, speaking in terms of percentages, we have lost 185,000 / 331,347,000 people to Covid-19.

When you do the division, this is the number you get: .000558327071016. I am not good enough at math to know exactly how to express this percentage in words. Clearly, though, 185,000 people is not a very big percentage of our total population. The number of those who have died from Covid-19 is much, much, much less than 1%. This may be the reason that the national government is not treating the pandemic as an “all-hands-on-deck” emergency. “All hands” don’t seem to be threatened. The fact that the government has not developed a clear and effective response to the pandemic, and to its manifold health, social, and economic impacts, may also be attributed to the fact that the percentage of people actually dying from Covid-19 is small. Thinking in percentage terms, the pandemic is just not that big a deal. Lots of people do make that argument. 

Of course, this approach raises a question. Should we really be using the percentage of the population affected by something to decide what the government should do? I believe that this specific example – the pandemic, and the government’s response to it – illuminates a fundamental question about what sort of role we should expect the government to play in our lives. 

One approach, founded on the undeniable fact that we are all “individuals,” is to decide that we should all deal individually with our own problems and possibilities, to the greatest extent possible. The basic idea is that people need to work things out on their own. Government doen’t need to get involved, really, unless the issues start affecting a large percentage of the population.

The other approach to government is much more “personal.” That view of government is premised on the idea that “we’re all in this together.” That approach means that we should always be thinking about whether or not we, collectively, might be able to do something to be of assistance to those who have individual problems. This way of thinking about things suggests that the government should take action when “persons” start getting impacted, whatever percentage of the total population those persons may be. “Their” problems – the problems of individual persons in trouble – are actually “our” problems, if we genuinely consider ourselves to be “in this together.”

Under its current management, the national government is not really that interested in assisting individuals with their problems – and when you start looking at it in terms of percentages, you can come to the conclusion that the pandemic really isn’t that important. Clearly, our current president seems to take that approach. He keeps insinuating that the pandemic really doesn’t exist, and I get the impression that he is quite irritated by those, like Richardson, who seem to think that the government should be doing far more than it is doing, and responding much better than it has responded so far. 

As far as the president is concerned, the pandemic isn’t that big a deal. To quote him: “it is what it is.”

Billionaires, of course, can generally take care of themselves, so they don’t usually think too much about what “their country can do for them.” They don’t need to! Similarly, those with a narcissistic personality disorder are, by virtue of their narcissism, particularly immune to thinking much about anyone but themselves. The kind of empathy that leads directly to a concern for other people can go missing in action when someone is ultra-rich, or when someone is a pathological narcissist. I would say that both those factors are currently in play at the highest levels of the national government. I think they help explain what has happened, as we ponder Richardson’s question about why the government has not responded to the Covid-19 pandemic in an all-hands-on-deck manner. 

More than anything else, this pandemic demonstrates, at least to my mind, that we have not, as yet – and speaking collectively – really mastered what it means to think of the government as “our” government, instead of “the” government. 

When we have a government that is actually “our” government, and not just “the” government, then we will expect the government to respond positively and helpfully to each and every one of us. After all, it belongs to “us.” It is “ours.” When that understanding truly prevails, “empathy” will be the government’s middle name. 

But to make “the” government become “our” government, let’s not forget that we need to be involved ourselves. To the degree we think “the government” is someone else, so that we don’t take personal responsibility for the government on an individual basis, we won’t see much need to get personally involved. If that is how we structure our relationship to government, we leave ourselves open to the situation we have today. The pandemic shows us what that is like. 

In November, we are going to be making a major decision on how we proceed from here. Are we “all in this together,” or not? 

I would like to think we are. That is my view. I think “empathy” does need to be our government’s middle name.

Do I need to remind everyone that the very minimum way we get personally and individually involved in “our” government is by keeping ourselves fully informed and voting? 

No? I don’t need to remind you? Great! But voting is just a first step; do let me remind you of that! 

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

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.

    “Flies”

“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind”.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne.

“Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught”.
~Honore de Balzac

“As my Sicilian grandfather used to say, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar, right?”
~Andrew Cuomo


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

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

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
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