Blog Archives

October 25 – 31, 2023

Highlights this week:

Bratton…San Francisco and Santa Cruz’s similarities, Santa Cruz Chamber Players concert. Greensite…on time is short for saving our historic Municipal Wharf from a Pier 39 future. Steinbruner…CZU fire rebuilds, new Aptos Library, AMBAG’s growth forecast, Mosquito consultant, rail/trail comments. Hayes…Politician’s Community Surveys. Patton… a “Nation” defined. Matlock…a kraken, plea deals and tears on my pillows. EaganSubconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress… Goodnight! Quotes…”Halloween”


EASTSIDE SANTA CRUZ HALLOWEEN PARADE 1959. These little urchins were part of the Parent Education Nursery parade and they must all be in their 70s now! Let me know if you know any of them and we’ll celebrate!!

Additional information always welcome: email
photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

DATELINE October 23

SAN FRANCISCO AND SANTA CRUZ’S SIMILARITIES. This week’s edition of The New Yorker (October 23, 2023) has a great article about San Francisco, its past present and future. I was actually surprised to learn as much as I got from reading it. As Gary Patton dutifully reports…if the paywall doesn’t stop you… go here to read all of it.

It tells how S.F. became the world headquarters of the AI (artificial intelligence) world. It goes deeper to report on the many business closures and I began to realize how similar Santa Cruz’s situation is. Politically it states, “We have two dominant shades of blue—progressives and moderates” In San Francisco they’re both Democrats. But they spar as if they were opposing political parties”. It goes on to state “But in the last forty years the number of malls in the United States has declined by nearly three quarters”. I could quote more but I’ll conclude with “If the struggle in San Francisco’s downtown is the struggle of the American dream-how to be a global city and a small, authentic town at the same time—the solution rests with those who can build bridges between structures of power and grassroots enterprise”.

SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS CONCERT. Their Concert #2 is titled Love and Thunder: A Road through Impressionism. It’s happening Saturday, November 4, 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 5, 3:00 pm. It’ll feature Chia-Lin Yang, Concert Director and piano; Elbert Tsai, violin; and Brady Anderson, cello. They’ll play Piano trios by Debussy and Brahms. Go here to get tickets and info

I search and critique a variety of movies only from those that are newly released. Choosing from the thousands of classics and older releases would take way too long. And be sure to tune in to those very newest movie reviews live on KZSC 88.1 fm every Friday from about 8:10 – 8:30 am. on the Bushwhackers Breakfast Club program hosted by Dangerous Dan Orange.

BODIES. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.3 IMDB).**** Four bodies in four different eras or is it one body and four eras? This tight, tense, well-acted, big budget movie will keep you glued through all episodes. It’s from a graphic novel but you wouldn’t know it. 1943, 2053, 1891 etc. Is the body still alive? Are the four detectives related? Great questions and puzzling answers…don’t miss it.

OLD DADS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB).*It’s billed as a comedy but I didn’t laugh once. 3 long time old friends share racial slurs, share tempers, marriage failures and even get fired together. Bobby Carnavale never was and still isn’t a favorite actor for me…so skip this one.

30 COINS. (HBO SERIES) (7.1 IMDB). A mysterious voice over kept me from watching very much of this one. It’s in Geneva, Switzerland and a cow gives birth to a perfect human baby! The main character is a priest in a small town in Spain. He owns some rare coins which may be haunted. Watch it if the sound track works for you.

LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY. (APPLE TV SERIES) (7.9 IMDB). *•Brie Larson the actress/actor is almost too pretty to have any serious problems…even in this drama. She gets fired and decide to host a tv cooking program to teach special menus to her audience. She gets involved with coupling issues, racial problems, and has bad sex with a doctor. After that a dog narrates episode 3! Your choice!!

THE CONFERENCE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.9 IMDB).***A very scary Swedish horror movie about developers trying to create shopping center (with an IKEA store in it) in a community in Finland that doesn’t know how it will affect their community. It goes from deep dark murder to nearly slapstick laughs. It’s well made from any angle and worth watching.

BLANQUITA. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.5 IMDB). ***A movie from Chile with a plot that centers on the sad life of a young girl who was raped, abused, and molested at a very early age. She decides to testify against the senator who was one of the guilty men. She gets guidance and help from a priest. It’s based on a real case and she gets vast media attention which causes both good and evil results.

PACTO DE SILENCIO/ “PACT OF SILENCE”. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.8 IMDB).* A successful media executive woman in Mexico goes on a deep and personal search to find the mother who abandoned her when she was born. She discovers four women who might be that possible mom.  Very dramatic, maybe too dramatic and it contains plenty of hidden issues.

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, Max or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.8 IMDB). ** It does give credit to Edgar Allen Poe for the title but not much else is from the book. It’s really a not too subtle riff on the very real Sackler Family and the opioid pharma OxyContin disaster. Usher’s Mom dies, her grave empties mysteriously, and six kids fight forever over the fortune. It’s really a horror film with a very confusing, crazed plot.

A DAY AND A HALF. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.8 IMDB). * This is a Swedish movie and is supposedly based on a true story. A crazed dad searches for his baby daughter, gets a gun and leads police on a long multi car chase all over Sweden. There is so much sadness and tragedy and combining of plots that it’s hard to follow and share the tension and mystery.

FAIR PLAY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.6 IMDB). *** An absolutely engrossing and magnetic movie that grabs you at the start and you’ll watch every second. It’s about hedge fund business in New York City… no, it’s really about an affair that an up and coming woman exec has with an equally ambitious male executive. It’s the job versus love, its love versus money its strength versus weakness and you’ll watch every second trying to figure out who’ll win….don’t miss it.

BALLERINA. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.3 IMDB). ***A Korean action movie and they just get better and better. Ballerina is full of violence and minimal ballet. Its how one woman seeks revenge after her soon to be best friend gets into a complex and dangerous situation. The scenes between the two friends are touching and real and the violence is just as real…be aware but enjoy it.

October 23


Time is short to still preserve our historic Municipal Wharf from being turned into a Pier 39.

The next two public meetings, Planning Commission on November 2nd followed by City Council on November 28th will determine the future of this iconic landmark.

If you’ve been following the issue, you know this is a second go-around after the Court ruled in 2022 that the initial EIR (Environmental Impact Report) on the Wharf Master Plan was deficient; that the city of Santa Cruz “violated CEQA’s substantive mandate” when it approved the project and ignored a feasible alternative with less environmental impacts. That Alternative #2 would remove the lowered Westside Walkway from the project and was determined to be the environmentally superior alternative meeting all project objectives in the EIR. The city failed to adopt it without providing feasible evidence for that decision. The Court ruled against the city.

Many other aspects of the Wharf Master Plan met strong community opposition; namely the addition of three new forty-foot-tall buildings, especially the one proposed for the Wharf’s southern end, impacting the views from the Wharf and the location of the sea lion viewing holes. That plus a thirty percent increase in new commercial structures at significantly higher elevations than the current buildings. However, it was the lowered westside walkway that was the focus of deliberations at the recent Historic Preservation Commission hearing.

Try to imagine in the above photo, an external walkway, eight feet below deck level, twelve feet wide, eight hundred feet in length, suspended on new shorter pilings not necessarily matching the other Wharf pilings, stretching below the Wharf restaurants with extended sloping ramps on both ends of its length. While the EIR claims it would not interfere with views from the restaurants, reality begs to differ. More significantly, it would bisect the current structure horizontally, changing the character and feel of the pilings which were determined to be the remaining historic feature of the 110- year-old Wharf. It would bring people, movement, noise, and intrusion into the nesting areas of migratory birds under the Wharf. It would make it more difficult for the birds to access their nests. And as more than one member of the public noted in a letter to the Sentinel, the current height of the Wharf pilings allows even the biggest waves to pass under the Wharf. Put a pedestrian walkway eight feet down, and “imagine how a tubular steel rail would fare once submerged in storm waves and swell and pounded by the surf and logs.” I would add to that scenario “and catapulted into the plate glass windows of the restaurants.”

However, it was the impact of the westside walkway on the historic character of the Wharf pilings that concerned most of the Historic Preservation commissioners. They voted 4-1 to recommend its elimination to council. They also voted unanimously against the staff recommendations to accept the EIR and the Wharf Master Plan.

At the earlier hearing before the Parks and Recreation Commission, the vote was 5-2 to accept the staff recommendations but some commissioners did pose challenging questions and concerns: two noted that there has been no economic analysis to assess whether the investment in proposed new facilities, buildings and commercial space will be financially viable, and whether the maintenance for the new facilities would require more work crew and at what cost. Another noted that the focus appears to be on economics at the expense of environmental impacts. More than one spoke to the impact on low income, subsistence fishermen and women since two thirds of the tailgate fishing areas will be removed. There is no doubt that the Wharf Master Plan is a gentrifying Plan, intended to shift the class make-up of Wharf visitors from working class to the more affluent. One indication of this shift came from the retired Wharf Supervisor, a strong supporter of everything in the Plan, who shared that some Wharf business owners object to people who spend all day fishing and don’t buy anything. That they pay parking fees wasn’t mentioned.

At both hearings, the city’s CEQA consulting attorney from the Sacramento law firm was personally in attendance. She had represented the city in Court, losing the case to the community group, Don’t Morph the Wharf! of which I am a member. She did not speak to legal matters but tried to help the commissioners craft their motions and clarify Roberts Rules of Order. That service was an expensive expenditure of public monies, one that staff, or chair should have been capable of handling. I thought of that expenditure when I noticed for Tuesday’s 10/24/23 city council agenda, a budget adjustment request from the city attorney’s office for an additional half million dollars over the millions already allocated.

If city management staff were responding to public sentiment, to the Court order, to preserving our history, the current recirculated EIR and Wharf Master Plan would have been modified from the first iteration. A modified Plan would protect nature and view sheds. The federal Commerce Department granted a million dollars last year to replace the pilings under the demolished Miramar restaurant, absent any Wharf Master Plan. Future grant monies for maintenance can be sought with a far more modest Plan.

That city management staff have dug their heels in to change nothing, means that those of us concerned about this Plan must be prepared to have our voices heard at city council on November 28th.

Email me at if you want to be added to the growing list of community members who support preserving not morphing the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

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


October 23


Why was this incredibly important issue hidden on the CONSENT AGENDA at last Tuesday’s Board of Supervisor meeting?

Only 38 of the 911 homes destroyed by the 2020 CZU Fire have been rebuilt.  Rather than improving the process to help those who lost their homes get back on their land, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors want to sweep those people out of the mountains, and into the dense urban area with a new deal that would allow a developer to get even more concessions for high-density subdivisions if they participate.  Affordable?  Not likely.   Isn’t this really playing on the desperation of those who have now run out of money and emotional fortitude, and have still not made permit progress with the County Planning Dept. and 4Leaf Consultants who are to streamline permitting and help these victims?

Take a look at Consent Agenda Item #26

Thank goodness for the Sentinel article that brought it to light for those who could not be at the 9am Tuesday meeting of the Board

The staff report has this to say about the sorry state of affairs for rebuilding those 911 homes that burned:

“That leaves roughly 45% of CZU fire victims who still own their property and who have not initiated any action to rebuild whatsoever.”

DOC-2023-842 Direct staff in the Community Development and Infrastructure Department and staff in the Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience to collaborate on additional outreach to disaster victims in Santa Cruz County to understand the obstacle

Rather than lead an investigation as to why this is so, Supervisors Koenig and McPherson want to launch a survey to see if the CZU Fire victims would like to move into the dense urban area and sell their rural property.

The transfer process would allow the sending site owner to sell their development rights to a developer or landowner with a property in the receiving area. In addition to specifications that incentivize including a residence for the disaster victim, the developer would then be permitted to increase the density or intensity of a receiving site development beyond what is typically allowed. A conservation easement would be put on the sending site to prevent future building at the disaster-prone area.

Koenig told the Sentinel that transfer of development rights have been used across the country, but this potential county program would mark it’s first-ever use in the context of helping disaster victims rebuild in safer areas.

“This program is not meant to force people out of their homes and it’s not meant to prevent people from rebuilding their homes wherever they want,” said Koenig. “It’s meant to create an alternative option in a way for people to either rebuild somewhere else or capture the value of their home even if it has been destroyed.”

What is the real reason behind this ludicrous plan that ignores the fact that some people need to live in quiet areas and are willing to take some responsibility for risks inherent?  Take a look at the Sempervirens GREAT PARK PLAN that very closely mirrors the boundaries of the 2020 CZU Fire:

Great Park Campaign Final Report Spring 2016

Great Park Campaign Report Spring 2014

This was proposed in 2016, with the big question mark about how to gain ownership of the private property within…like the McCrary family.  Well, guess what…their homes burned in 2020, and the County is letting precious few rebuild.  And now, here comes Supervisor Manu Koenig and Bruce McPherson dashing forth with a plan that would maybe be the only way available for those displaced by the ravages of the CZU Fire and getting nowhere with the County to rebuild, other than being financially drained.

Isn’t this amazing?


The Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG) is a powerful appointed staffed agency that meets with representatives from Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties.  It is the local arm of the State’s stick that is mandating all jurisdictions to triple the number of new developments or run the risk of losing any semblance of local land use discretionary control.

 The AMBAG 2026 Regional Growth Forecast meeting last Monday with jurisdictional planners and managers was interesting.

The population in our area is projected to decrease, and be composed mainly of aging residents and college students.  Take a look at the slides attached at the end of this blog.  I think Slide 11 is especially interesting because it shows the numbers for 2026 are much lower than the 2022 Forecast that influenced the Regional Housing Number Allocation (RHNA) mandate driving the feverish updates on all jurisdictions to re-zone and plan for three  to ten times more building by 2030.

The first draft projections included constant population at the University of California, Santa Cruz and at California State University, Monterey Bay, which is unlikely given expansion plans at both universities of 10,000 – 15,000 students. Once university plans are included, the region will continue to grow slowly through 2050.

Agency members participating in the meeting wanted to have data to support the AMBAG claim that population could increase due to climate change bringing people here to the cooler coastal area, but it turned out there is none.  The data (one study by a former staffer) examined the trend to move away from wildfire-prone areas, leading to the idea related to climate change.

A person from Salinas wanted to know why the Growth Forecast has hard numbers, and could not be presented in a high and low range that would take into consideration uncertain factors.   The answer was that the computer model would not handle that level of information, so the EIR would be challenging, and it doesn’t matter because AMBAG re-evaluates the growth forecasts every four years anyway.

A person from Watsonville questioned the connection between an increase in agricultural jobs but a forecasted drop in population…that does not match with the City’s plan to focus more on providing affordable housing for farmworkers.  No comment from AMBAG staff.

The representative from the City of Santa Cruz pointed out that the development planning in the City is much higher than the 2026 AMBAG growth forecast of 2.4% but don’t ever see it going higher than 5%.  That was discussed awhile, but many wondered about the discrepancy between the AMBAG forecast and the State Dept. of Finance forecast that states population will be stagnant through 2060.

AMBAG staff seemed uncomfortable in explaining that a very recent “robust” discussion with the State Finance people has led them to believe that the next population forecast by the Dept. of Finance “will probably be a little higher.”  Hmmm….

The person from San Juan Bautista wanted to know how demand on infrastructure associated with the Growth Forecast is reflected in the analysis.  What about water and the expected increase in ag? The AMBAG staff talked a lot but gave a very illusive answer about  “we just have to show trends’.

Here is further summary from the staff report:

“Job projections are also lower than in the 2022 Regional Growth Forecast (RGF), reflecting updated data from the
California Employment Development Department. Data through 2022 show that the
region’s jobs have rebounded from the 2020 recession, but have not grown to levels
predicted in the 2022 RGF.

Population projections are substantially lower than the 2022 Regional Growth Forecast
(2022 RGF), reflecting updated information from the 2020 Census and new estimates from
the California Department of Finance (DOF) that show population loss in the region in recent
years, steadily falling fertility rates, stagnant mortality rates, and an aging population”

Agenda Packet 10-23-23

I was not able to get the meeting’s Zoom connection to work so joined by telephone.  I heard comments and questions from staff representing Santa Cruz City, Watsonville, Salinas, San Juan Bautista and I think, Marina, but none from Capitola, Scotts Valley or the County of Santa Cruz.

The AMBAG amended 2026 Regional Growth Forecast will return to the Board, the elected representatives, in November, and in-person public meetings are scheduled for January or February.


Because an exotic mosquito was found in Watsonville last year, the Ag Commissioner wants to raise taxes to gear up for what may or may not be a problem.  However, never miss an opportunity to raise new taxes when people could be easily persuaded to vote for it in fear.

Take a look at the County Board of Supervisor CONSENT agenda Item #49 that approved $245,766 to hire SCI Consulting to develop a Benefit Assessment ballot measure in the near future.  This is the same consultant that developed expensive documents and weighted ballot measures for Santa Cruz County Fire in 2020 and Branciforte Fire District in 2023.  We are a lucrative County for this consultant, because their weighted ballot Special Benefit Assessments are much easier to get a 51% approval vote for than a regular 2/3 voter approval for a special tax.  Such would be the case for CSA 53 Mosquito and Vector Control revenue increases. [Agenda Item

“Santa Cruz County Mosquito and Vector Control (MVC) is a special district and is currently funded by County Service Area (CSA) 53, CSA 53 South and CSA 53 North. The Division provides vector-borne disease monitoring, mosquito control, and other important public health services to all Santa Cruz County residents.”

Which is worse… blood-thirsty mosquitos or hungry consultants that glad-hand our local elected officials?

“The first step in this process is to administer a survey with the goal of testing public interest and potential rates. Survey results are expected by March 2024 and will provide direction on either moving forward or postponing the assessment measure.”

I wonder who will receive notice of the survey?????


Many who have been watching the Aptos Library new construction project thought it would be open by now.  However, according to library staff, the doors won’t open until December at the earliest.

The delay is rumored to be caused by PG&E scheduling issues, similar to what happened at the Capitola Library. Once up and running, the facility will be able to run 100% on power from the rooftop solar panels.

Library staff also mentioned the opening of the new Live Oak “Library” Annex (no books, no librarian but paid for with Measure S library tax funds) adjacent to the Simpkins Swim Center will also be delayed for reasons similar to the Aptos Library delay.


Now is your chance to review the Draft EIR for the area segments to build a rail and trail on the corridor between 17th Avenue in Live Oak and State Park Drive in Aptos: Public Review Period on Coastal Rail Trail Segment 10 & 11 Project Draft Environmental Impact Report Now Open

There will be a Public Meeting on Thursday, November 16, 5pm-7:30pm with details to follow: IU Webmaster redirect

Public Comment closes December 16, 2023.

This 4.5 mile project evaluation claims to detail both the Ultimate Trail Plan (rail and trail built) and the Interim Plan (rail removed and trail-only built) with equal detail.  However, the study excludes the areas involving the Capitola trestle: “excluding a 0.5-mile section following surface streets through the incorporated City of Capitola from Opal Street/Cliff Drive Plaza to Monterey Avenue/Park Avenue”

Take some time to browse through this document and voice your thoughts.  Strangely, they are to be directed to Mr. Robert Tidmore at the Santa Cruz County Parks Dept.   The address provided on the website for comment is broken but here is what was sent to interested parties:

Rob Tidmore, Park Planner IV


Phone: 831-454-7947

I have already written Mr. Tidmore to ask that the Draft EIR be available at the Capitola, Live Oak and Downtown Libraries.  Currently, they are only available in the County Bldg. and Parks Office that are not open on weekends to allow public review.

For some reason, the County of Santa Cruz Parks Dept., not the RTC, seems to be the lead agency on this project, and will hold a public hearing on November 16.

The County Board of Supervisors approved accepting the unanticipated $45,000 payment from the RTC for this EIR work done by Remy Moose Manley LLP, a legal firm in Sacramento

This interesting item was Consent Item #52 on the October 17, 2023 County Board of Supervisors agenda

Remy Moose Manley LLP appears to be a large legal environmental firm.  I wonder why they got the job, rather than Dudek, another giant that opened up shop in downtown Santa Cruz as the current building boom was getting started


Last week, the Finance Director, Leslie Strohm, interrupted the Raftelis Consultant to inform the Board that part of the reason the rate increase is necessary is due to the $11 Million revenue shortfall because customers have done such a good job in conserving.  Wow. Also, the nearly $120 million in cost overruns for PureWater Soquel plays a big role, but that was not really discussed.

“Well, I’m not in favor of the 25% increase the first year,” said Director Tom LaHue, tuning in from Anacortes, Washington.  Except for Director Bruce Jaffe’s questions about inflation, tuning in from his home, there was little discussion about anything of substance.

Four ratepayers were there in the audience, and one stood up and voiced opposition to yet another rate increase. “There are customers on fixed incomes who are struggling now to pay their water bill, and conserving all they can.  You don’t seem to care.”

The Board did not respond but directed staff to guide the Raftelis consultant in making a presentation to them November 21, when they will decide just how steeply the impending rates will climb.

Never mind that at the last rate increase public hearing (February 19, 2019), Director Bruce Daniels said “so as early as June, we could start reducing these rate increases we’re talking about, if we get the grant for PureWater Soquel Project”.  (see minute 2:12 – 2:13:40)  Hesitantly, Project Director Melanie Mow-Schumacher agreed.

Soquel Creek Water District 02/19/19

The District got that state grant, and others, but never reduced any rates.  And here they are, coming back for higher rates to pay the debt on PureWater Soquel large cost overruns and hefty monthly staff bonuses to mid-management associated with the Project work ($3600/month until the Project comes online).  Back in 2019, Finance Director Leslie Strohm assured the full cost of the PureWater Soquel Project had been built into the rate increases (see minute 15:40)

Now, in keeping with the District’s policy since 2020, no capital projects will be undertaken, such as the $2.5 million Quail Run Tank serving Aptos Village for which the District borrowed the full amount to build several years ago but has not done anything to actually build it.

Their game plan is to have a rate increase public hearing a few hours before Christmas Day (when lots of people are really too busy to notice) and send out ballots right away.  The problem for ratepayers is that the ballot will require a 51% protest to shoot the rate increases down…that’s pretty difficult, given there are nearly 15,000 customers.

Anyone in Soquel Creek Water District had better start speaking up now.  Write a letter to the editor of local papers and to the Board:   The Board and staff all seem to be very out of touch with those they represent and work for.

Ratepayers have organized a meeting Sunday, October 29 at the Capitola Library conference room (near the newspaper reading area) for 4pm to strategize.  Please share this information.


The District chose to hold their Water Harvest Festival on October 14 in Chanticleer Park, a location not even in their service area?  Hmmm… well, never mind, because the PureWater Soquel Project treatment plant isn’t in their service area either.

I wondered why none of the District staff even gave a mention at last Tuesday’s Board meeting about how the event went.

Maybe the bright blue kombucha they served, made from treated sewage water the likes of what the PureWater Soquel Project is scheduled to inject into the pristine groundwater, then pump out to sell to customers, did not go over so well with informed members of the public?  Maybe not many people were interested in drinking something that resembles Tidy-Bowl blue toilet water…..

We are excited to unveil and host a Pure Water Kombucha tasting. Collaborating with Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Santa Cruz-based Living Swell Kombucha company, a special kombucha is being crafted exclusively for Soquel Creek Water District that utilizes OCWD’s purified water. OCWD currently operates the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) which is the world’s largest water purification system for indirect potable reuse and produces 130 million gallons of water per day. At the Water Harvest Festival, we will be proudly serving ~300 tastings of vibrant blue-hued kombucha, made with purified water!





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



October 22


Two weeks in a row- my column is featuring community surveys, egads! Praises to the people and groups who reach out to invite community engagement through surveys. At the same time, I’m begging for the wealth of the Bay Area’s social scientists to help whoever is creating these surveys.

District 28, Gail Pellerin’s, Community Survey

Here is a link to a blank copy of the survey for reference after the live survey disappears. And, here is the link to the live survey. Fill it out only if you reside in California Assembly District 28, Gail Pellerin’s territory. The deadline is December 8th 2023.

Who is Gail Pellerin?

The following is Assemblymember Pellerin’s biography, from her website:

Assemblymember Gail Pellerin was elected to the California State Assembly in November of 2022 to represent the 28th Assembly District.

Assemblymember Pellerin served as the chief elections official in Santa Cruz County from 1993 until her retirement in December 2020. Gail served as President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials from 2010 to 2012 and as co-chair of the Secretary of State’s Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Gail has a BS in Journalism from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Before her experience in public service, Gail worked as a campaign assistant to political campaigns, a newspaper reporter and photographer, and a community college instructor.

Proper Survey Methodology

The first thing I instruct anyone who is creating a survey meant to inform their work is: assure that the answers are precise enough to inform your actions. Read the survey carefully with that in mind. Will Assemblymember Pellerin take the issues with the highest votes and focus effort there? Or will Pellerin use the responses to formulate a better election platform? Her next bid for election is November 2024. Maybe it’s a bit of both.

The next thing I tell anyone who is creating a survey is: tell the respondents what you will do with their data.

Neither the survey I posted last week, nor this current survey have anything definitive about how your answers might affect anything. This is a recipe for a low response rate and lowered community confidence in public process, in general. Ostensibly, public engagement surveys are created for just that: to engage the public. Surveys can not only gather information, but they can inform the public about what’s happening.

Another thing I tell survey design folks is to edit their surveys. The mix of words that are capitalized and not is distracting and further leaves intelligent respondents less than hopeful about the outcome of their time filling out the survey.

What to do with “Other?”

Most survey choices don’t reflect my proclivities, but sometimes there’s an ‘other’ choice- where I can fill in my non-conforming response. I get stuck there: if I have a non-conforming response, does that mean that it will be discarded, or will someone take the time to collate all such responses into trends? How to I pose my ‘other’ response such that it will blend with anyone else’s similar answer, so that together we make a bigger impact? Should I take the time to organize a lot of people in my District to fill in the ‘other’ category so that the Assemblymember pays attention?

I hope someone who designs these surveys lets me know, or, better, that future surveys guide respondents better.

First Question: What is Our Community’s Greatest Need?

The first question, “what is the greatest need facing your community,” is an interesting one. The question challenges the respondent to think of themselves as part of a greater community. This is laudable, encouraging civic thought along the lines of ‘what issue can an Assemblymember address that can cause the greatest good for the greatest number of my community?’ It follows that Pellerin chose the list from which the respondent can choose based on a feasibility analysis, but the survey does not clarify. The most important common human need is to reduce greed, as evidenced by income disparity in our community, and all the issues listed have root causes in that arena. Alas, addressing that need must be beyond feasibility.

With this question, I struggled with the previously mentioned “other” box. My base philosophy is that my community’s greatest need is environmental stewardship: we need all species, and we can do a lot locally to help that need. However, the survey offers the choice ‘Additional Park/Open Space,’ which doesn’t quite work. I almost wrote ‘species conservation’ in the ‘other’ box, but chose that ‘conforming’ answer just to be safe.

Question 3: Housing Nonsense

Check it out: the survey says to ‘check all that apply’ as ‘most needed.’ There’s a logical error inherent in that, right? There are undoubtedly statistics about this, and really this is a question for experts…very few civically engaged people would know how to answer this, but again it’s a laudable exercise to engage our community in the question. And, the informational aspect of the question again poses interesting contrasts. For instance, you can vote for “Middle income/moderate-density housing” versus “low income housing” or “senior housing,” suggesting low income housing or senior housing will be anything but moderate density. That is, suck it up low income people and seniors – you’re going to have to live in packed-in spaces. Interestingly, single family housing stands alone among the other choices that reflect income, age status, or density; so, medium or high density housing and housing for low income or seniors apparently also isn’t in the cards for stand-alone homes. Very informative!

Current Legislation

The final question, weighing in on expanding on someone’s list of current legislative priorities, is also enlightening. This question also says ‘check all that apply.’ I would assume any thinking person would check the box ‘combating climate change.’ Beyond that…isn’t it interesting what the Assembly member has chosen as the menu? This is where the ‘other’ box becomes especially enticing.

Quick! Fill in the survey if you are in District 28!! And, use the survey’s design and information as you cogitate on your vote next November.

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:

Email Grey at


October 21

#294 / A “Nation,” Defined

Ayman Odeh, an Arab Palestinian citizen of Israel and a member of Parliament, is pictured above. Writing in the October 20, 2023, edition of The New York Times, Odeh addressed this topic: “What It Takes To Choose Life Over Revenge.”

Odeh’s commentary, of course, is pertinent to our current situation. Revenge is motivating both Hamas and Israel in the current, and horrific, conflict between them, a conflict that could expand to include the entire world, and bring death and destruction down upon all of us. What Odeh has to say is worth reading. It is worth thinking about. Because there is a just cause for “revenge,” so apparent on all sides, thinking about how we can avoid becoming a world that will destroy itself in the search for revenge is timely. If you can access what Odeh has to say, I encourage you to do so.

I am writing, though, on a slightly different topic, though I think a related one.

The following statement in Odeh’s opinion piece is what has stimulated me to publish this blog posting:

A nation is defined as a group of people with a common language, a common past and common dreams.

In fact, this is not true of the United States of America. The United States of America is not a nation that is defined by its commonalities. Sometimes called a “nation of immigrants,” the United States is not a group of people with a common language, common past, and common dreams. It is not what we have in common that makes us a nation.  Those who came here, both before – and particularly after the American Revolution – came from different pasts, and were people of different ethnicities, different religions, different languages, and different cultures. In fact – really think about this – we are defined as a nation more by our differences than by what we have in common.

What binds us together, as a nation, what makes us a nation, is our dedication to a particular idea about government. That idea is often expressed by this phrase: E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one.

The force that binds us together in this nation is our joint commitment to a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Self-government is what makes us a nation. We do not search for what we have in common. We search for ways that we – with all our differences – can live together. We search for how best to govern ourselves, and how to live together, and prosper, both individually and collectively, despite the fact of our obvious differences, and despite the fact that we may well disagree on what is best, and what we should do.

We are a nation dedicated to a government – to a “politics” if you will follow me that far – that allows us to debate and discuss what we should do, and then to mobilize our wealth, and resources, and energies to try to achieve it – reserving always, of course, our right to change our minds and choose to do something different.

If our nation is dedicated to that kind of government (and it is), if that is what “constitutes” us as a nation (and that is what our Constitution proclaims), then we should recognize and celebrate the fact that it is our commitment to self-government that makes us into a nation. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that we must “agree” to some single, “common” purpose. A proper understanding of our government, and of our nation, defined by our commitment to self-government, tells us that we can not only tolerate, but can take great joy in the fact of our differences. It is from within our differences that we work with each other to discover what we think it will be best for us to do. It is from within our differences that we seek to discover how we can live together.

In a nation so organized, revenge has no easy place to gain a purchase. Let us be sure that we are not swept up into the temptations of revenge, and that we are not carried away by those who believe that differences must eliminated, and that “wrong” must be expunged and “right” made triumphant.

That idea is an idea we see in many places.

We have a different message for the world.

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

Email Gary at



October 23


In what they are hailing as a consensus choice, House Republicans have nominated a college intern named Zach to be the new Speaker of the House. The freshly minted GOP nominee acknowledged that he was “kind of surprised” to be chosen as Speaker but said that he was “totally stoked about wielding that hammer.“I’m, like, whoa – all of a sudden, I’m Thor,” he said. “This is gonna be dope.” Zach, who is taking a year off from his studies at the Northern University of Southern Florida, is well-liked within the GOP conference, insiders said. “Zach never screws up our coffee orders,” one Republican congressman said. “You couldn’t say the same for Kevin McCarthy.” Nah, that didn’t happen – only in The New Yorker magazine, courtesy of humorist Borowitz.

But it COULD happen with the way the KidzRoom is playing now. Yet another couple of weeks without a House Speaker (unless one was elected after this writing from the nine who have dared a candidacy) with Scalise and Jordan being shot down! Scalise saw the handwriting on the wall after one ballot and bowed out, but former wrestling coach Gym Jordan was persistent, thankfully less so than Kevin Mac, and got his comeuppance quickly, being pinned three times, with the Big Lie Freak even admitting he had lost an election! His underbite must have mangled his tongue something awful in the process. Representative Matt Gaetz who was the mastermind of this whole fiasco by getting McCarthy tossed out, was irate as he whined on Xwitter, complaining that his fellow traveler and MAGA enthusiast was thrown off the mat by his GOP colleagues. What could be more satisfying than having two election denying insurrectionists, supposed sex abusers given the heave-ho by their party?

Jordan had launched a fierce arm-twisting campaign to convince his Republican colleagues to cast a vote for him, calling for a Tuesday roll call vote as a bullying tactic. The threats received online and by phone to House members and their families only drew anger, and by Wednesday he was losing ground. His method of attacks was reminiscent of his wrestling days as described by those who associated with him as a student and later as a coach. Wrestling is known as the art of forcing opponents to relinquish their posture and surrender, and Jordan says, “It’s as basic as it gets.” Writer John Irving who was a wrestler in prep school observes, “Wrestling offers folks in different weight classes the opportunity to bump into people your own size, and you can bump them very hard…” Former Speaker John Boehner compares Freedom Caucus member Jordan’s political style as “legislative terrorism,” as the two battled each other to the point where Boehner couldn’t take it anymore, resigning in 2015. As Boehner says, “He is wound tighter than a baseball. You just see him walk with an intensity that you don’t see in other members.” If they met in the halls of Congress, the former Speaker would try to defuse Jordan’s intensity by asking him, “What are you planning to f___ up today?” Jordan’s partisan influence that allows him to survive in his party is the very blockade to his success, which even the Former Guy was not able to overcome.

Republicans need a Speaker who can be more commonsensical, and many are pointing toward giving that power to temporary Speaker Patrick McHenry, but he has shown little interest in taking the gavel. Some are saying that his reluctance is what makes him a good candidate, but his name does not appear among the nine who are competing for the seat. House Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota seems to be ahead in the running, but Trump acolytes started hitting him with attacks and calling him “Nancy Pelosi in a Suit,” though the former prez has yet to publicly attack Emmer – at this writing. An olive branch was tossed in the form of a statement to Politico which said, “Whip Emmer worked hand-in-hand with President Trump to help House Republicans fire Nancy Pelosi and retake the majority. If he becomes Speaker, Whip Emmer looks forward to continuing that productive relationship.” Not very commonsensical! Steve Bannon has called Emmer a swamp creature who hates Trump, “the biggest never-Trumper in the House,” though he voted with Trump 90% of the time during that presidency. Islamaphobe right-winger, Laura Loomer, called Emmer “a closet liberal, essentially a Democrat, and one of the worst members of Congress.” So, how did he do after Monday evening’s candidate’s forum, and in Tuesday’s vote after all that fanfare?

Regardless of the outcome, CNN reported a few weeks ago that Kevin McCarthy and his allies (more than one? really?) are going on the attack against Matt Gaetz for leading the revolt against McCarthy’s speakership by ‘expelling’ him from Congress. The ‘allies’ plan to use an upcoming report from the House Ethics Committee that will show unprecedented corruption and ethics violations by Gaetz, including the much ballyhooed child sex-trafficking activity, charges for which have stayed sidelined for far too long. Gaetz has said if his House disruptions lead to an end of his political career, getting rid of Kevin McCarthy makes it all worth it. Perhaps he can get an adjoining cell to be near his fading bronze-skinned, crew cut shorn, balding hero, DJT.

Trump’s political fundraising scam is still rummaging through the pockets of those who believe this self-proclaimed billionaire needs their money to be elected, as he uses their donations to pay legal fees in his many criminal cases. Despite a federal ban on using donor contributions for personal use, the money is actually going to political PACs which are able to spend as they please. So, Trump’s multiple daily pleas for cash to send him back to the White House are a bit deceptive since the attorneys are raking it in for themselves. Federal Elections Commission records show that The Don’s Save America PAC has spent nearly $37M to over 60 law firms and individual attorneys since January 2022, and in the first half of the current year over $20M has gone out for not only Trump, but his businesses, his children, and former White House aides and employees of the Former Guy. Can paying attorney fees for co-defendants and possible witnesses be considered witness tampering or buying a person’s loyalty?

Which brings up the plea deals of Attorney Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro in the Georgia election interference case, agreed to by DA Fani Willis for their cooperation with prosecutors. Would this have come about if Trump had agreed to send some defense monies their way? Or, was the evidence simply to damning for an easy way out? To most this wasn’t a surprise and it puts pressure on other co-defendants as they face legal jeopardy, a signal that if they want to deal the time to act is now, otherwise they go down with the ship. Scott Hall, a former bail bondsman pled guilty several weeks ago, and he along with Powell were accused of breaching an election office branch in Coffee County, Georgia. Powell played a broader role on Trump’s legal team in trying to overturn the 2020 election, though Trump, true to form, is asking, “Sidney who? She never was a part of my legal team!” The man needs to read his past emails for a refresher, as well as the plethora of emails between the attorneys on the ‘team,’ collected by the DA.

Both Powell and Chesebro faced seven felonies, but Powell pled guilty to six misdemeanors, while Chesebro pleaded guilty to one felony count. In so doing, they will avoid conviction under Georgia’s RICO Act, which accuses all defendants of entering an unlawful conspiracy to keep Trump in power, the basis of the indictment. Both individuals seem to be referenced as unindicted co-conspirators in Trump’s federal elections case in DC, and Powell still faces legal jeopardy from defamation lawsuits from Smartmatic and Dominion, the voting machine providers. Trial dates for Trump and the remaining fifteen co-defendants are not set, with Trump and Rudy Giuliani not expected to appear until late in 2024, so don’t expect them to plead guilty in the near future. Now, we wait for the shoes to start dropping since it appears Trump is not dropping any dollars in that direction with the three guilty pleas, and especially with the Kraken having devoured Sidney Powell.

And, we mustn’t forget poor Mike Lindell, crying tears on his MyPillows after losing his lawyers who unceremoniously dumped him for being in arrears on his legal fees…unable to pay them for the past two months. They claim he owes them millions and Mikey tells Politico, “I don’t know where I go from here.” The attorneys informed federal judges in Minnesota and Washington they wish to withdraw representation as Lindell faces billion-dollar lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, saying he had made payments in a timely fashion through 2022, but 2023 has been another story with only small payments forthcoming. Both courts then approved the law firm’s request to withdraw as they were being placed in financial jeopardy. Even as Lindell’s legal and financial difficulties increase, he continues to stand behind Trump’s groundless election fraud claims. He claims he is facing five audits by the IRS, that American Express has slashed his credit line from a million dollars to $100K and that he lost more than $100M in retail sales by being dropped by Costco, Bed Bath & Beyond, QVC, JC Penney and Wayfair, though purchases may still be made online. In July he auctioned off equipment from his factory in Minnesota, yet he bragged to Steve Bannon on his ‘War Room’ podcast that he still spends a million dollars a month…donating to Save America PAC?
Go figure!

A narcissist, a pedophile sex-offender and a Russian spy walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “What can I get you tonight, Mr. Trump?”

Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email:


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 you will find his most recent  Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.


“First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys.”  
~Ray Bradbury

“The farther we’ve gotten from the magic and mystery of our past, the more we’ve come to need Halloween”.    
~Paula Curan

“Most people will tell you growing up means you stop believing in Halloween things – I’m telling you the reverse. You start to grow up when you understand that the stuff that scares you is part of the air you breathe.”     
~Peter Straub


Just in case you didn’t know that YouTube has all kinds of stuff, not just cute animal videos… here’s 8 hours worth of singing bowl music for you to sleep to! Inspired by a sunset, the color of the video fades to dark, just like a real sunset.

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