BRATTON…measures and candidates to vote for, YES on measure O, Tim Eagan’s new book GREENSITE…on Rape Awareness and Anniversaries. KROHN…Students interests, past and present. STEINBRUNER…County Fair Board firings and issues, Soquel Creek Board to Denmark?, County Supes and their commissions, Laurel Street bridge, county not flying the flag, electric rail Watsonville and Aptos. HAYES…Voting for the environment. PATTON…Please vote YES on measure O. MATLOCK…Pillow-talk reigns supreme(s) in basketful of deplorables. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS’…pick of the week – 30 years, and what has changed? QUOTES…”Halloween Quotes, part 2″.
DATELINE October 24
MORE ABOUT VOTING.
Just a bit contrary to what you might have read I’m urging a YES vote on Measure K and Measure L the bond issues to improve Santa Cruz schools and also YES on Measure N the Empty Homes tax. That’s a definite and necessary YES on Measure O the Library Garage/Save the trees and Farmers Market issue. A definite support vote for Gail Pellerin for State Assembly and be very sure to vote for Joy Schendledecker for our new Mayor. Fred Keeley continues to be the slick, non-committal pro politician with too many ties to development money. These huge growing differences between Justin Cummings and Shebreh and Justin will do a much better job especially in and for the complicated 3rd District.
YES ON MEASURE O FORUM.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel photo caption error last week didn’t help clear the details about the Library and Farmers Market future, especially the threatened trees. All the facts and details will be discussed at this Thursday’s October 27 forum titled “Yes on Measure O!” It’s odd that former Santa Cruz mayor Don Lane should be so against Measure O. He was the mayor that brought the armor bearing Bear Cat vehicle to Santa Cruz. It’s also quite obvious the Nesh Dhillon the manager of the Farmer’s Market isn’t taking sides on this issue…he wants the market to succeed no matter where it’s located. We just need to get out and vote YES ON O and preserve what we have.
Save the date, hope to see you there!
Thursday, October 27, 7pm
London Nelson Center, room 3
301 Center Street
Join your neighbors! Learn about the measure! Get on the list for a yard sign! The Pro Measure O people meet every Saturday at London Nelson at 9:30a.m. until November 5th. It’s a great way to meet more of the team, learn the message, and gather materials for walking with flyers.
TIM EAGAN’S NEW BOOK. “HEAD FIRST”. It would be too easy to say Tim Eagan’s new book “Head First” has finally hit the ground. Readers of Eagan’s Subconscious Comics will love this piece of art immediately. Unlike most books Head First is at least three or four dimensional as it follows a guy falling through space through almost all of its journey. It is a beauty and even the cover has a special fourth dimension. Tim drew it based on a fall he actually experienced many years ago. See and buy it now at Bookshop Santa Cruz and there will also be a book signing set for Wednesday, Nov. 2 from noon till 3 at Atlantis Fantasyworld.
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.
THE LOST CITY. (PRIME MOVIE) (6.1 IMDB). Sandra Bullock is back and takes the lead in this supposedly comic movie. The world seems very serious to me right now and I think we need better fun movies than this big budget half laugh. Daniel Radcliffe plays the evil zillionaire searching for a lost city and Channing Tatum is Bullock’s leading man. Brad Pitt has about 6minutes on screen but that’s about enough. It’s gross, not clever but mildly absorbing.
AMBULANCE. (PRIME MOVIE) (6.1IMDB). Jake Gyllenhaal has about the only role that speaks or actually shouts in the 99% truck and ambulance chase movie. It’s a crude action and digitally enhanced vehicle chase all around and around downtown Los Angeles. There’s a bank robbery gone wrong, then there’s the FBI, the Los Angeles police, etc.,etc. It makes no sense and Gyllenhaal is the bad guy for a change.
RAYMOND & RAY. (PRIME MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). They’ve marketed this as a dark comedy and while it is dark there’s not much comedy. Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor are brothers from a different mother and probably from many different fathers too! It’s quirky, weird, lots of mugging but it’s creative in plot. It just takes more to be truly funny nowadays.
THE STRANGER. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.6 IMDB). Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris play two guys who meet on an airplane trip. It’s all in Australia and while their friendship gets deeper and deeper there’s some secrets they both let out very slowly and carefully. There was a young boy who was murdered and it all becomes more and more complex. Go for it, you’ll become glued.
THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB). Definitely a fairy tale movie for kids up to about age 10. Huge budget, great special effects, plus witches, cyclops, King Arthur’s round table and Charlize Theron as a witch in charge. Laurence Fishburne and Cate Blanchett mug their ways through it too. Not for viewers past 10 years old.
DOLL HOUSE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.9 IMDB). A film in the Filipino tradition unfortunately. Poor acting, simple plot, predictable story. There’s a rock band and the lead singer has a daughter and they go to Amsterdam and I stopped watching after 42 minutes.
SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.
ROSALINE. (HULU MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). Rosaline was Juliet’s cousin from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This comedy is based/stolen from that classic and the gimmick is that they mostly use modern English slang when they speak. Minnie Driver gets a chance at movies again but can’t do much here. Romeo is a doofus and when you are using a master Like Shakespeare to steal from you need more of his brilliance to pull it off. If you’re wondering like I was/am it may be possible that William Shakespeare actually had a woman in his life named Rosalind or Rosaline according to scholars.
THE WATCHER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.9 IMDB). An unlikely couple Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale buy a mansion with a history and a serious mystery. Some dis embodied voice sends letters and all kind of messages to Naomi and bobby about their being watched. It’s slow moving, and not at all exciting. Neighbors seem to be involved and so does Mia Farrow (from Woody Allen) and Jennifer Coolidge (from White Lotus) but no reason to get excited or involved.
BLACKOUT. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (3.9 IMDB). This absolutely miserable attempt at a mystery has Josh Duhamel waking up in a hospital and not knowing how and why he got there. An old Nick Nolte (81) does his best to learn Josh’s secret and that’s about all of the plot. It’s Mexico and the cartel is involved but I stopped watching after 30 minutes…let me know if it got any better.
OLD PEOPLE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (5.0 IMDB). This German horror movie uses every trick in the cinema world to make us believe that old people in their 70’s and above have some sort of haunting evil ghost thing inside their bent bodies. For an obvious reason old people don’t scare me at all. This plodding, slow moving is brutal, boring and just isn’t scary. There’s no tension, no danger, no threats just plodding. I won’t reveal the ending because I couldn’t watch anymore and didn’t care what happened.
DAHMER. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.2 IMDB). What is/was a surprise to me is that this movie is the second most viewed English language movie in Netflix history. Like so many other hit movies nowadays this too is very deep into violence. It’s the true story of Jeffrey Dahmer the serial killer from Milwaukee who brutally murdered 17 teen age boys. Evan Peters does a very good job as Dahmer and it’s a well-produced movie. It is however extremely violent, full of gay tragedy, cannibalism and how Dahmer would keep his victims hearts in special bags. Richard Jenkins plays Dahmer’s father as the drama tries to expose all the problems that Dahmer had while growing up. Only watch it after careful thinking.
GIRL IN THE SHED. THE KIDNAPPING OF ABBY HERNANDEZ (HULU MOVIE) (5.7 IMDB). A genuinely deep and twisted apparently true story of the kidnapping of a 14 year old girl by a right wing militia member. He tries his best to be kind to her and she works very hard to become his friend so she can escape. The FBI gets involved and we find out that he got sentenced to a 45 year sentence in prison.
RAPE AWARENESS & ANNIVERSARIES
This year is the 40th anniversary of the City of Santa Cruz Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and the 10th anniversary of my introducing rape awareness and prevention to teachers’ colleges in Tanzania and Malawi. The photo was taken at the end of the three-day training in Tanzania in 2012. Pictured besides myself are two teachers from Monduli Teachers’ College and a representative from the Ministry of Education. The event was coordinated by my friend and colleague, Dr. James Lees from South Africa who invited me to conduct the trainings. I had to go to sub-Saharan Africa to have my rape prevention work embraced by those in positions of power sufficient to make a difference. Santa Cruz is a long story of city leaders marginalizing and burying the issue of rape, along with the messenger.
Last Tuesday, as an afterthought, I was asked to give a five-minute history of the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women at their kick-off event. This I did, before the film screening at the Del Mar and after Mayor Brunner had read the city Proclamation commemorating the Commission’s 40th anniversary. Below is what I shared, a tempered down version of the actual history for the occasion, which after all was a celebration.
Brief History of the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women
- Congratulations to Santa Cruz on the 40th Anniversary of the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and a huge thanks to all those who have organized this celebration.
I’ve been invited to share a very brief history of the Commission. I was a founder of the Commission and its first chair from 1982 until 1984 and again in 2003 until 2006.
- The late 70’s and early 80’s in Santa Cruz were buzzing with activists around the issue of rape, including Women Against Rape, Men Against Rape, Women’s Crisis Support/Defensa de Mujeres and UCSC Rape Prevention Education which I headed for 30 years.
- In 1981 a few of us thought that there should be a more coordinated community effort to prevent rape in Santa Cruz, which had and has one of the highest incidences of reported rape in CA and uniquely, a far higher than average proportion of rapes committed by complete strangers. Together with activists in local electoral politics we drew up Initiative Ordinance No. 81-29 which gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Rather than putting it on the ballot, the council of that day decided to adopt it. The Ordinance is a radical document. Any citizen may bring an action in court to enforce its provisions.
- The Ordinance requires the city to make the prevention of rape and domestic violence one of its highest priorities; to develop educational programs towards this goal; to make recommendations to city council regarding police training and to hear citizens’ complaints and recommendations about the Santa Cruz Police Department’s (SCPD) response services with respect to rape.
It has authority to call upon members of the SCPD to offer full and open communication to the Commission. It requires an annual report to council from both the Commission and the SCPD.
- A common thread throughout the 40 years of the Commission’s history has been push back from the SCPD whenever the Commission has examined the Department’s practices with respect to rape. Despite serious issues with investigations, report writing, training and arrest rates, the SCPD and the various city councils have stonewalled any serious examination of these issues. This was true in 1981, also in 2004 and it seems to be true today. I read the latest Commission Annual Report which covers years 2014, 15 and 16. The new initiative for 2017-18 from that report states and I quote “to change the ways in which our police department and the DA’s office are able to pursue cases of sexual assault and rape in our community.” This suggests an ongoing problem. Even available data on rape on the SCPD’s website has gone from a relatively detailed look at monthly statistics, arrests etc. right up to 2017 and since then, reduced to a one -figure entry of the number of rapes reported on a quarterly basis.
- Another common thread is the way the City Manager’s office, without protest from any city council has marginalized the commission. In 2004, the commission had a storefront office on Cedar Street (public property sold and now the site of Penny Ice-creamery), a dedicated, trained 30 hours per week staff and a decent budget. Today’s commission resources are a shadow of those years. Gone is the dedicated 30 hour a week staff, gone is a visible independent office; gone is most of the budget; gone are the free, community self-defense classes; gone is the annual Teen Women’s Day that packed the Civic.
Nobody ever said working against rape would be easy. Every one of you can get involved, support the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, hold it accountable to follow and enact the Ordinance that made its existence possible, and make a difference.
|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.|
STUDENTS INTERESTS, PAST AND PRESENT
UCSC student politics have changed markedly since I was an undergraduate back in the mid-1980’s. While the US proxy wars still abound—Nicaragua, Grenada, El Salvador, Iraq they have been exchanged Yemen, Korea, and Ukraine today—and apartheid and US out of Central America have been replaced by climate change politics and serious gender and race identity discussions. Local political issues important on campus back in the ‘80’s were electing a progressive slate, following strict environmental protocols, and rent control. While rent control has been defeated four times, 1978, 1979, 1982, and again more recently in 2018, perhaps it is a focus on housing issues that unites students, past and present because the landlord class is still having its way with students.
Past as Prologue
The housing market that students are facing today is nothing like the 1980’s, ‘90’s, or early 2000’s. Back then few students that I knew, who lived off campus, felt like they had to share a bedroom. Now, three students sometimes share one bedroom and to avoid it, they turn the living room into a bedroom too. In 2002, the city issued a “community profile.” In chapter two on page 14 is a table in which rents are detailed. A studio rented for $743 a month; a one-bedroom, $980; two-room, $1,384; and a three-bedroom rented for $1,983 per month. Today, at Five55 Pacific Avenue there are only studios and one-bedrooms for rent and on their main web site it no longer lists prices, but says to call instead. On the site, Apartments.com, it states that there are no apartments available at Five55 Pacific Avenue. On Rentable, it lists studios and one-bedrooms there going for $2,065-$2,715. At Hidden Creek Apartments at 200 Button Street, a place that would not even return calls from my doctor when she was looking for a place, a “1-Bed Loft” is going for $2,850 and a one-bedroom is $3,105. Apartment.com says rents at Pacific Shores, on Shaffer Road for “1-2 bd” goes $3,134-$5,783, while at Cypress Point on Felix Street, monthly rents for “Studio-2 bd” are $2,745-$5,161. But topping all of these outlandish prices are the UC Regents’ recently-acquired Hilltop Apartments on Western Drive. A one-bedroom apartment currently rents for $4,045 according to the Hilltop website. Shame on the UC Regents!
As a result of these sky-high prices, students at UC Santa Cruz have become a grizzled and roughhewn bunch when it comes to housing issues. Groups on campus such as Yimby (Yes in My Backyard), the YDSA (Young Democratic Socialist of America), and the Student Housing Coalition seem to agree on one thing: this town needs more housing. I believe there has never been this amount of organizing around the housing issue, even in the heady days of the first progressive city council and an early rent control movement that barely lost at the ballot box. The collective belief among these student groups seems to be that all housing is equal and that if you build more, the price will come down. But as recent housing market additions, Five555 and Nanda on Pacific Avenue reflect, housing prices have only gone up. Nanda actually tops the UC Regents’ Hilltop Apartments by a few dollars, $4,166 for a “1 bed, 1 bath, 506 sq. ft.” rental. In recent years these student groups have ramped up pressure on a tin-ear UCSC administration, mostly because of the lack of housing on campus, but they do not usually protest over the high dorm rents charged to students. Only those qualifying for full financial aid packages along with the very rich can afford campus housing, while the financially-strapped middle-class students have to endure the stress of the community rental market. Of course, local landlords generally see what campus charges and sets their rates a bit lower. A single dorm room in a university apartment can cost almost $2,000. And some students cram so many of their fellow colleagues into collective off campus housing that those individual rents can be as low as $600 per head.
For years I have been asking UCSC Environmental Studies interns a couple of questions each year. First, where do you get your news from, how do you get your news? Second, do you have an environmental hero? Every year I learn of new and unique sources of news and also about people I previously knew anything about. So, beyond the usual National Geographic, New York Times, Democracy Now, Guardian, NPR, Tik Tok, Trevor Noah, Radio Lab, and This American Life sources, I learned about Ad News, Today Explained on Vox, @theprogressivists on Instagram, @uksruna an indigenous activist, site and Hasan Piker. The “favorite environmentalist” question was interesting this year too. Of course, Rachel Carson, Sylvia Earle, John Muir, Alice Waters, Jane Goodall, and Greta Thunberg were mentioned often, but I also got introduced to Lawrence Anthony, Amelia Fortgang, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Paul Nicklen and Jane Jacobs. Surprisingly, out of the 100 or so students who responded, more than 50% did not have an environmental hero.
A densely-packed camp formed in the Benchlands along the San Lorenzo River as more and more people arrived. Now, the city says everyone must vacate. Where will the houseless migrate to next? We know there were at least 400 homeless people who were camping here and the city acknowledges it has space for only 150. Where will everyone else go?
Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at email@example.com
Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
PAJARO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT CANCELLED BUS TRANSPORTATION
How can kids get to school if their bus is cancelled? The answer is simple…someone drives them if there is a vehicle and driver available, or they just don’t go. How can the Pajaro Valley Unified School District allow this to happen?
SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT TOP DOGS GET FREE TRIP TO DENMARK…BUT WHY?
Why would the Danish Government Consulate provide Soquel Creek Water District General Manager Ron Duncan and Board President Tom LaHue an all-expenses-paid vacation to Denmark? Buried in last Tuesday’s Soquel Creek Water District Board packet, the claim is that it will be a “fact finding and knowledge exchange mission regarding water resources” and will be a week-long trip (November 12-19, 2022). The General Manager and the Board President will be participating on behalf of the District and provide an update in a future meeting.
I asked at the Board meeting for public discussion of what knowledge the two District representatives might hope to gain and when the public might learn about this beneficial exchange? NO answer. None of the Directors asked either. Hmmm….
ARE COUNTY SUPERVISORS DOUBLE-DIPPING WITH PAID SERVICE ON COMMISSIONS?
In the recent edition of the Aptos Times, County Supervisor Zach Friend featured a list of all the public commissions on which he serves.
All of the Supervisors serve on all sorts of Commissions, but how much do they really know about the subject matter? They do get paid for being on some of them; the Santa Cruz Metro Commission and Regional Transportation Commission being some examples.
Take a look here for a partial list: ‘zachariah friend’ search results | Transparent California
I don’t think these public servants should be paid twice for their work, do you? All of these Commission meetings happen during business hours.
PUBLIC HEARING FOR ELECTRIC RAIL TRANSIT CONNECTING WATSONVILLE AND APTOS
I happened to see an ad in the Sentinel that a Public Hearing will happen on November 3 at 9am for the Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) to consider environmental and design analysis for electric rail transit and trail for Segments 13-20, connecting Watsonville with Aptos. Wow.
The Public Hearing also includes Rail and Trail Segment 12 in Aptos Village, Highway One Bus-on-shoulder/auxiliary lanes between State Park Drive and Freedom Boulevard, as well as San Lorenzo Valley and Boulder Creek Complete Streets considerations.
The Hearing will be part of the RTC hybrid meeting, held in the County Board of Supervisor Chambers (5th floor of the County Gov’t Bldg. at 701 Ocean Street).
There is nothing on the RTC website to alert people to this important Public Hearing, but you can find the virtual access information for the Commission meeting here:
This is a big step to get things moving for relief to South County commuters. It involves changing two train overcrossings in the Aptos Village area as well as constructing the pedestrian overcrossing at Mar Vista Drive.
Make sure you participate in this important Public Hearing and make your thoughts known.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
At the October 6 Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) approved revised plans, specifications, and Engineer’s estimates for the Pajaro River Bridge Rehabilitation Project. The Pajaro River Bridge at Mile Post (MP) 1.06 connects the track portion of the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line in Watsonville active with freight to the main line in Pajaro, providing freight customers access to the national rail network.
In May, the Commission rejected a construction bid for the Pajaro River Bridge Rehabilitation Project as unreasonable.
This project, as I understand it, would help support connected passenger rail in the County to the main rail line…maybe someday, a CalTrain station in Pajaro? Wouldn’t that be nice?
In 2016, when the RTC was deliberating how to place the new Measure D sales tax on the ballot, dividing the money pot, renovation of the Pajaro Train Station was included. However, with a mysteriously quick change of plans, that project was dropped in favor of giving more money to Metro and ParaCruz. I remember being amazed that Fourth District Supervisor Greg Caput seemed absolutely unconcerned and not surprised at the action that obviously deprived benefit to his constituents.
I later asked him if he knew that change was going to happen? “Yes” he said.
So much for the Brown Act prohibition of back door meetings.
A LANDSCAPE BUILT TO BURN
The Santa Cruz Public Libraries are offering some interesting programs this month, focusing on fire issues. This Thursday, 5:30pm-6:30pm at the Felton Library Community Room, Mr. Tim Hyland will speak about the impacts of the CZU Fire and the future of State Parks. He is the Natural Resource Program Manager for the Santa Cruz District of California State Parks.
Attend if you can. Request the program be recorded: (831) 427-7708
6121 Gushee St.
DRILLING A SYSTEM OF NINE NEW MONITORING WELLS TO CHECK GROUNDWATER LEVELS
This week, crews are working at Aptos Village Park to drill and develop a new 80′ deep groundwater monitoring well that will provide information about groundwater levels for the MidCounty Groundwater Agency into the future. The crew had planned to drill down to 150′, but was suddenly asked to change to a more shallow monitoring well.
Another similar monitoring well has been installed near Spreckels Drive and Highway One, and there are others along upper Soquel Creek.
The monitoring wells will be equipped with electronic devices to send information on groundwater depths near streams to correlate data between stream flows and groundwater status.
Here is a map of the geologic structuring in our area. The crew working at Aptos Village Park said the 80′ deep well can help monitor the F layer of the Purisima Aquifer.
The soil samples taken at various boring depths are laid out on the tarp in the fore ground. I was surprised that the contractor had not been told the site is an archaeologically sensitive site, and in fact, a potential Native American gravesite. All of the Aptos Village Project is also a known archaeologic site.
SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT PROJECT CHANGES THE LAUREL STREET BRIDGE
|Take a look at how the Laurel Street Bridge has been altered, in order to accommodate the 14″ blue pipe and 6″ purple pipe the Soquel Creek Water District plans to attach as part of the PureWater Soquel Project.|
|Here is what the light post attachments looked like before.||And here is what they look like now.|
|Notice that the lower concrete pillars of the light posts have been removed in order to make space for a 14″ blue PVC pipe with purple tape spirals do denote recycled water, and a 6″ pipe that could be either purple or green, depending on how Soquel Creek Water District decides to claim the concentrated contaminated “brine” really is.|
|You can see here just how much of the thick concrete element was removed from beneath all light posts on both sides of the Laurel Street Bridge.|
According to the Soquel Creek Water District PureWater Soquel Project update for the week;
Laurel Street Bridge
“Crews are now laying out anchor points, conducting rebar scan, drilling anchors, and installing back framing and supports. It’s anticipated that this work will continue through November 3, with pipe installation on the bridge expected to start on November 4. Overall work on the bridge is expected to continue into December.”
None of this major concrete removal work was ever analyzed or even mentioned in the Project EIR, certified December 18, 2018. The plan then was to tunnel under the San Lorenzo River but the District changed course when the State Regional Water Quality Control Board denied the permit application, but contingent upon the District providing further information. Instead, the District decided to attach the pipes to the Laurel Street Bridge, and somehow, that mollified the Water Board.
But where was the legally-required collaboration with California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife? That agency, according to Public Records Act requests, was never consulted.
It was only due to the good work of private citizen Ms. Jane Mio that the work was delayed over the summer so as not to harm the Cliff Swallows who fly here all the way from Argentina to build mud nests on that bridge and raise their young. Good work, Citizen Jane!
THREE Santa Cruz COUNTY FAIR BOARD DIRECTORS NOW GONE
Three of the nine Directors of the Santa Cruz County Fair Board are now gone, following the termination of former Fair Manager Dave Kegebein by the Board on October 4. In my opinion, this is an improvement and here is why.
Last week, former Directors Ms. Loretta Estrada and Ms. Jody Belgard received notice from the Governor’s Office that their appointments to the 14th District Agricultural Association (DAA) would not be renewed. Also, former Director Bill Barton is no longer included in the Fair Board of Directors information:
These three Directors had chronically failed to do their jobs to provide oversight of the Fairgrounds financial operations and Livestock Committee operations, which included oversight of the Fairgrounds Manager, Dave Kegebein. Director Barton and Director Belgard chaired the Financial Oversight Committee, but never presented a report of their oversight work…because there was none.
Director Barton publicly admitted he never bothered to look at the financial reports that Manager Kegebein included in the Fair Board packets, and never even checked to see if there were receipts to verify Mr. Kegebein’s claimed expenses. Director Belgard was always silent.
Had these two professionals taken the time to examine checks being written, they might have questioned Mr. Kegebein’s untethered use of the 14th DAA credit and debit card for personal gasoline, food and unexplained personal purchases over the course of many years.
They could have, and should have questioned Mr. Kegebein’s contracts, especially the one he made with the Ocean Speedway race track on fairgrounds property, wherein he required the race track owner to pay nearly half of the contract rental amount directly to the Fairgrounds Foundation, a non-profit run by Jeannie Kegebein, and thereby directed rental money away from the 14th DAA bank accounts.
They could have, and most certainly should have questioned why the Fairgrounds Foundation suddenly took over all beer sales at all events at the fairgrounds, including at the race track, even though it violated Fairgrounds Policy. This is a very lucrative matter, yet the Fairgrounds Foundation failed to report their profits to the Board, and did not pay the required commission to the 14th DAA.
But Directors Barton and Belgard questioned nothing.
Director Estrada served on the Livestock Committee, along with Director Stephanie Fontana. Both were well-aware of the fact that Fairgrounds Manager Dave Kegebein directed volunteers to make major structural changes to the two livestock barns, using $33,000 funding given by the Fairgrounds Foundation (run by Jeannie Kegebein) but never brought before the Fair Board of Directors for approval or public discussion of the design. The State requires all building improvement and demolition plans to be reviewed by the California Construction Authority (CCA) prior to action.
Director Estrada was well aware of Mr. Kegebein’s actions, but responded to members of the public questions about the structural integrity only with anger that we would dare question anything that Mr. Kegebein would do. Mr. Kegebein was equally arrogant, and chose to not answer questions if asked.
That left the public no choice but to file Public Records Act requests in order to learn the truth. Sometimes those answers took over a year to get, but it was that level of public questioning that caused the California Dept. of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) legal staff to pay closer attention to the red flags raised.
Mr. Kegebein’s cavalier actions, funded by the Fairgrounds Foundation without Fair Board review, resulted in the CCA declaring the two livestock barns “Unstable and Unsafe” in early 2022, only after allowing use of the barns for the 2021 Fair with special conditions. Mr. Kegebein failed to share the special conditions with any of the youth, their project leaders, the Board, or the public in advance of the 2021 Fair. One of those special conditions was to evacuate the barns if it became windy.
He failed to take timely action as directed by the CCA to correct the structural problems before the 2022 Fair arrived, thereby causing the goat and sheep exhibits to be under large, very expensive tents.
For over six months, high-level State officials have been driving from Sacramento to attend the Santa Cruz County Fair Board meetings, participating in Closed Session with the Board each time. The Board would receive instructions as to what improvements were necessary, and how to accomplish them.
With the exception of Director Don Dietrich, none of the Directors seemed to make any effort to improve, and continued their failure to question Mr. Kegebein about anything.
Early this year, the CDFA conducted a Performance Audit of the 14th DAA operational procedures and finances for years 2017-2019. The results were shocking, and led to the State requesting the Board call a meeting on October 4, after the Performance Audit became public. The CDFA Legal staff sent the Final Audit to all Fair Board Directors on September 30.
At the October 4 Board meeting, it was very clear that none of them, except Director /President Dietrich, even opened their Fair Board e-mails in advance of the meeting, but argued anyway that they had not seen the Final Audit.
During Closed Session, after reviewing the Final Audit, the Board voted to terminate Mr. Kegebein as 14th DAA Fairgrounds Manager. The vote was 7:2, with Director Estrada and Director Belgard voting no.
Read about what happened here: Aptos Times: October 15, 2022 — Times Publishing Group, Inc.
After President Dietrich announced the Closed Session action upon reconvening, these two were overheard amongst the crowd later to angrily state they would resign.
However, they did not. It was said they “wanted to stay on and fight.” Fight? Not work to improve things? Not acknowledge that Mr. Kegebein had acted improperly and that they had not performed their responsibilities to see that and right the ship before it crashed? Not work to recover the more than $200,000 in public funds the Final Audit found in question?
- Nothing of the sort.
That is why, in my opinion, it was a good thing that last week the Governor’s Office notified Loretta Estrada and Jody Belgard that their appointments to the 14th DAA were terminated.
It was necessary. Maybe there should be more relieved of their appointments, but it remains to be seen what will happen.
With President Don Dietrich now acting as Interim Fairgrounds Manager of the 14th DAA, I am confident that this valuable community resource is in good hands. The Fair Board meets Tuesday, October 25, and will discuss many things, including recruitment of a new Fairgrounds Manager.
Things are already improving, with the Board packet inclusion of complete public correspondence. That has not been happening for a long time.
Some Community members have questioned the involvement of the State in this matter. The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds is actually owned by the State, along with about 57 others throughout California:
WHERE IS THE CALIFORNIA STATE FLAG AT THE COURT AND COUNTY BUILDING IN SANTA CRUZ?
For several months, I have asked the Board of Supervisors to explain why the flag of the State of California no longer flies in front of the County’s State Superior Courthouse and the County Government Building? NO answer.
Last week, I decided to try asking General Services Dept., which oversees the operation and maintenance of the facility. Staff there sent me to State Senator Laird’s office, down a few doors, in the collection of offices for state and federal representatives, as well as LAFCO. Even though well after the lunch hour, all doors were closed, and no one responded to my knock on their door.
However, Mr. Emmanuel Garcia, an analyst for Congressman Panetta happened to exit his office, so I asked him why there continues to be no California State flag flying, having recently been replaced with the black Prisoner of War flag.
He told me that after the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, people protested in front of the County Courthouse. Some decided to cut down the flag pole ropes, and shred the flags. Mr. Garcia said that when the angry mob moved over to begin spray painting “All Cops Are Pigs” on the Courthouse, he ran down from his office to retrieve the shredded flags. He told me he surrendered them to the District Attorney, who may be prosecuting some of the protesters for the vandalism and injury to one man who tried to stop them.
I wrote to Senator Laird about replacing the California State flag on this pole. No answer yet, but maybe you can write him, too. Contact him here.
Flag pole in front of California Superior Court in Santa Cruz County last week…the California Stat Flag has not flown for months.
What about the black and white POW/MIA flag now flying there? You may be interested to know this: “President Donald J. Trump expanded where and when the POW/MIA flag would fly by signing new legislation into law in November of 2019. Before 2019, the flag was flown only at select federal sites or on certain days like Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, or POW/MIA Remembrance Day.
But the 2019 law expanded the continuous flying of the POW/MIA Flag at a majority of federal sites, including VA hospitals, post offices, cemeteries, and national parks.
Veterans groups across the country backed the bipartisan measure. “This is a historic victory for every man and woman who courageously defended this nation and remain unaccounted for,” said VFW National Commander William “Doc” Schmitz at the time of the signing.”
SAVE THE HERITAGE TREES DOWNTOWN
Please share with your friends and neighbors who are registered to vote in the City of Santa Cruz that they need to tune in this Thursday at 7pm to hear the TRUTH about Measure O and how it will SAVE THE HERITAGE TREES in Lot 4 if passed.
The Santa Cruz Sentinel committed an outrageous mistake on the front page of last Sunday’s paper by erroneously claiming under the photo of a heritage tree that if Measure O passes, the heritage trees in Lot 4 will be cut down. The truth is exactly OPPOSITE! Although the new Editor Thomas Wright, responded that the online paper was corrected, and Monday’s Sentinel featured a correction on page A1, it was an unacceptable and gross error that potentially influenced voters.
Please share the information below, and ask the Sentinel to feature a Notice of this event, as well as a front page story about it as a follow-up:
Editor Thomas Wright email@example.com
SAVE THE HERITAGE TREES DOWNTOWN
Thursday, October 27, 7pm
London Nelson Center, room 3
301 Center Street
MAKE ONE CALL. WRITE ONE LETTER. GO TO A POLITICAL FORUM AND LEARN MORE ABOUT CANDIDATES AND ISSUES BEFORE YOU VOTE. VOTE IN PERSON, BUT VOTE.
JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.
Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com
VOTING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Isn’t it interesting what political candidates are willing to say about their environmental platforms? If they are good at running for office, they gauge what they say carefully in reflection of what they think will be supported by the majority of voters. So, what political candidates are saying is as much a reflection of who we are as who they are. Let’s look at some of the things that District 3 Supervisorial candidates have been saying about how they will conserve wildlife and protect parks in northern Santa Cruz County. And, let’s reflect about how what they say reflects on Santa Cruz County residents.
Wildlife Protection and Parks Conservation
Let me start by outlining the main threats to the County’s wildlife and parks so that it is easier to put candidates’ positions into context. The main threats to wildlife and parks are as follows: loss of social support for wildlife conservation, loss of habitat, loss of landscape-level habitat connectivity, mismanagement of recreation on conservation lands, mismanagement of disturbance regimes on conservation lands, and invasive species. County Supervisors have the capacity to influence all of these threats, some more than others. It is important that anyone elected to office in our region understand these threats and have well-formed ideas about how they can help.
I have yet to meet anyone in District 3 who does not hold wildlife conservation and parks protections as among their highest level of concerns. And yet, for many years they did not reflect those concerns in their support for a Supervisor to represent them. Let’s consider the present two District 3 Supervisorial candidates’ recent statements and what that says about District 3 voters.
I cannot find any mention from either candidate that they recognize the peril that lack of social support is creating for protecting wildlife and parks in the County. In their positions as elected officials, they have had the opportunity to use their positions as megaphones for the importance of wildlife conservation. During their campaigns, they could mention the importance of healthy wildlife populations to County residents’ quality of life. Instead, Shebreh’s campaign notes that she will create a very mysterious ‘conservation academy,’ but no description of this academy is anywhere to be found. So I’m not sure of what problem will be solved through this effort. It has been a long time since any County Supervisor has championed wildlife conservation: why are they embarrassed to do so?
Habitat Loss and Habitat Connectivity
I cannot find any mention that loss of habitat in the County or habitat connectivity within and around the County are things that either candidate is concerned about. County Supervisors can influence these issues by working with the Planning Department to assure enforcement of existing sensitive habitat and open space ordinances and by pushing for General Plan amendments/updates to bring the County up to modern standards to address these critical issues. Supervisors have been remiss about these issues for years, resulting in widespread loss of sensitive habitats and loss of habitat throughout the County.
Poor Recreational Management in Parks
Parks recreation is the one area that both candidates have something to say. Shebreh mysteriously notes that she will “prioritize safe and accessible parks and beaches for everyone to enjoy.” What the heck does that mean? But it sounds good, right? Justin has said will “work on infrastructure issues related to beach access”…”bathroom facilities and adequate trash collection.” Both candidates have a lot of media about their strong support for keeping parks free of litter.
Neither of the candidates’ statements come anywhere close to addressing the grave situation facing conservation lands due to poorly managed recreation. Business interests and recreational off road biking coalitions have been important forces in creating a wildlife habitat crisis due to overuse and degradation of conservation lands. County Supervisors could broadly galvanize support to better protect conservation lands while alleviating traffic, safety, fire and other impacts related to poor parks recreation management. Supervisors could also help County Parks to better manage beaches to protect endangered beach-dependent wildlife, something that is dearly needed.
Poor Habitat Management
Mismanagement of disturbance regimes on conservation lands and invasive species are the last two major threats facing wildlife in the County. For these, only Justin has anything to say: he supports creating a “countywide vegetation management program” so that fires “serve their role in the ecosystem.” How Justin could do that as Supervisor is not clear. But, if you can ignore that detail, his statement shows some wisdom and a nod to the importance of managing intentional fires. Shebreh has nothing to say about how she can help better manage habitats and invasive species in the County.
There is a lot that County Supervisors can do to help to better manage wildlife habitat in the County. They can fund and otherwise incentivize County Parks to better manage habitats and control invasive species. They can also work with County Public Works to better manage invasive species along roadsides. And, they can provide leadership to work with the State and County Agricultural Commissioner to ban the sale of invasive species at nurseries. And, they can work with fire response agencies to do more intentional burning to reduce fuels. No Supervisor has been leading in these ways recently.
What Candidates Are Saying Says About Us
For wildlife conservation and protection of open space, is it true that all we really care about is trash and restrooms in parks? It seems so, because that’s all our District 3 Supervisorial candidates think they need to address in their political messages! What does that say about how vocal we are about these issues? Can we do better?
Look Around You
If you examine our success with wildlife conservation and open space protection, what the candidates are saying seems to be enough to get them elected.
Lots of people volunteer for beach cleanup: so, that seems like a good group of constituents to speak to. County residents have worked hard to protect open space, to create and make accessible our beautiful parks, another thing to mention that garners votes. The successful politician knows to focus on these two non-controversial and positive environmental areas.
The problem is, once parks are “protected,” open space advocates disappear and there aren’t many conversations about how to manage parks so that wildlife remain in those spaces for generations to come. In that vacuum steps in business and recreational interests that commodify nature and destroy wildlife values. No number of toilets or bags of trash collected on beaches will mitigate those impacts.
I believe that Justin knows about all the threats to wildlife and open space conservation I outline above. Maybe he feels he would lose support if he mentioned the things that he could do as supervisor to address them. However, he has said some critical things that show that he understands at least some of the issues. He also has the training needed to understand all the issues. Shebreh could likewise be in a position of not seeing any advantage of a more nuanced platform for addressing environmental threats. But, Shebreh does not have any training in environmental conservation, and she has chosen not to say anything about any environmental action she could take to address the threats to wildlife conservation and open space degradation in the County. The contrasts I’ve drawn between the two candidates should be enough for those of you vote for the environment to make an informed decision for this election.
Voting is probably the easiest way to let our concerns be known that wildlife conservation and open space protection are our priorities for elected officials. You get few chances to vote for Supervisor. Once this is done, I’ll outline next steps for your political actions to help make our County a better place for wildlife conservation and open space protection.
Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am feeling pretty “political,” nowadays. Not only am I worrying about what is going to happen on the national level, and on the state level, I am worrying about what is going to happen, politically, right here in my own hometown.
I have already used one of my daily blog postings to provide advice on the Santa Cruz County Third District Supervisor race. In case you missed it, I am strongly and unequivocally urging Third District voters to elect Justin Cummings to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors.
I represented the Third Supervisorial District on the Board of Supervisors for twenty years, from 1975 to 1995. The Third District includes most of the City of Santa Cruz (Prospect Heights and Carbonero excluded), most of the UCSC Campus, Bonny Doon, Davenport, and the North Coast. If you are a voter in the Third District, I hope you will take my advice, and vote to elect Justin Cummings to the Board of Supervisors. It would be pretty hard to overstate how strongly I feel about this upcoming supervisorial election.
My concern about local political issues, however, goes beyond this upcoming vote on the Third District Supervisor seat. I am also urging voters in the City of Santa Cruz to vote “Yes” on Measure O. I am not alone in making this recommendation. The Santa Cruz Sentinel is also asking for a “Yes” vote on Measure O. And so is poet and journalist Stephen Kessler.
Measure O is an initiative measure, put on the ballot by city voters. A “Yes” vote on Measure O will reverse a City Council decision to build a parking garage, and then a new library, and then an affordable housing development, and then (most recently) a childcare center on what is called “Parking Lot 4,” the current location of the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Market, at the intersection of Cedar and Lincoln Streets.
Here is a link to the ballot argument in favor of Measure O, which I have personally signed, along with former Mayor (and former librarian) Katherine Beiers. If you click right here, you can get all the official documents.
The picture I have placed at the top of this blog posting, as far as I am concerned, illuminates one of the main reasons that a “Yes” vote on Measure O is so important.
The picture shows a city notice, recently posted, announcing that the city has issued a permit to cut down nine heritage trees on “Parking Lot 4,” effective October 28, 2022. That means that the City is notifying the public that those trees will be cut down even before the November 8th election, in which the voters have an opportunity to turn down the proposed development on “Parking Lot 4.” Of course, if Measure O fails, and the city’s plan for a massive new development on that “Parking Lot 4” goes ahead, those trees will certainly be cut down, so saving the trees is certainly one good reason to vote “Yes” on Measure “O.”
Saving those trees, though, isn’t really what I am mainly thinking about when I say that the city’s recent posting of the tree removal notice “illuminates one of the main reasons to vote ‘Yes’ on Measure O.” My main point is truly a “political” one – it’s about how community decisions are currently being made in the City of Santa Cruz, and what we need to do about it. Hang on to the end, and let me address that point last. Before I do that, however, let me list what might be called some “substantive” reasons to vote “Yes” on Measure O.
THE LIBRARY: If you would like to have a newly-renovated Main Library located where our current Main Library is located, across the street from City Hall, and kitty-corner from the Civic Auditorium, in what is our current “Civic Center,” then you should vote “Yes” on Measure O. This is, incidentally, what voters said they wanted when they voted in 2016 to approve Measure S, a bond measure to renovate and upgrade libraries, throughout the county. That bond measure provided money to renovate our current Main Library, in its current location – the place where our Main Library has been for the last 100 years or so. The funds authorized by that bond measure, to renovate our existing Main Library right where it is, are now being deployed to carry out a new plan, with the current Library abandoned, and a new library being added on to a Parking Garage on “Parking Lot 4.” No vote of the people authorized that!
THE PARKING GARAGE: If you don’t think the city should be borrowing money for a new parking garage to provide parking spaces for the developers of a proposed luxury hotel on Front Street (largely without any parking at all), or to provide public parking to serve the massive new residential buildings either approved or in the wings that the City is allowing to move ahead without having to provide adequate parking (and in some cases “any” parking) then you should vote “Yes” on Measure O.
THE FARMER’S MARKET / A PUBLIC PLAZA: If you don’t want the City to move the existing Farmer’s Market from “Parking Lot 4,” which is a sunny, south-facing, congenial and successful spot for the Farmer’s Market, in order to place the Farmer’s Market in a north-facing parking lot on Front Street, which has lots of traffic and access issues, not found at the current location, AND if you would like to have south-facing “Parking Lot 4” officially designated for future public uses, then you should vote “Yes” on Measure O.
FUTURE USE OF THE CURRENT LIBRARY SITE: If you are concerned that the city wants to move the Main Library to “Parking Lot 4,” with no plan whatsoever (or no plan that has been disclosed to city residents, at least) about what will happen to that key site, right in the heart of the city’s “Civic Center,” then you will want to vote “Yes” on Measure O.
FUTURE USE OF OTHER CITY PARKING LOTS: If you want to make sure that the city will be required to use other city parking lots for affordable housing (not luxury hotels or residential towers for mostly wealthy investors) then you should vote “Yes” on Measure O.
SAVING HERITAGE TREES: Of course, if you don’t want those heritage trees cut down, you are definitely going to want to vote “Yes” on Measure O.
Now that we have returned to the trees (and that tree removal notice pictured at the top of this posting), let’s talk about what I think is perhaps the most important reason to vote “Yes” on Measure O.
A “YES” VOTE ON MEASURE “O” WILL MAKE CLEAR THAT MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC, NOT CITY INSIDERS, BUREAUCRATS, AND WEALTHY DEVELOPERS, GET TO MAKE THE KEY DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN OUR CITY!
Here is the chain of events that has gotten us to where we are:
#1 – The public voted to renovate the existing library. That was a VOTE, and we put ourselves in debt to raise the money to do the renovations. Suddenly, that money is now proposed to be diverted to a whole new idea, discarding the current library, which has been in the same spot for something like 100 years. But WHY is this suddenly being proposed? It certainly wasn’t mentioned when Measure S was passed.
#2 – WHY? Because the City Manager and the Planning Director and the Economic Development Director want a big, new parking structure. Before there was any talk of moving the Main Library, the City Manager had proposed a huge (and perhaps unnecessary) PARKING GARAGE on our “Parking Lot 4” site. THE PARKING GARAGE IS WHERE THIS ALL STARTS. The original proposal was to convert “Parking Lot 4” into a large parking structure, which would allow developers to omit any parking in the buildings they are proposing on our downtown area. BUT… the city needed money to do that, so the City Manager came up with the idea to move the Main Library to “Parking Lot 4,” to help build the parking garage for the developers. The PEOPLE voted to renovate the existing library. The city staff came up with the Parking Garage-Library plan. What happened then?
#3 – The public did not much like this Parking Garage – Library plan. So, the city retreated into “study mode,” and the City insiders then suddenly decided that adding on an affordable housing proposal might be able to put this Parking Garage, then Library, then Affordable Housing combination over the hump, in terms of political acceptability. That’s when the affordable housing got added.
#4 – However, lots of members of the public still didn’t like this plan and began work on an initiative measure (the initiative being the way the public could express its own views of what it wants for the future of development downtown). The initiative is not called the “Our Downtown/Our Future” initiative for nothing. That is really what this is all about, in the end – who makes the big decisions about the future of our city.
#5 – The clear signs that city residents were not sold on this Parking Garage + amenities plan did not cause the City Manager, Planning Director, and Economic Development Director to take a pause. Instead, they spent lots of money to do a near final design on the library, as a way of showing those members of the public who don’t like the plan that the city bureaucrats are unwilling to wait to hear from the voters. City officials added in a childcare center, too, since both affordable housing and a childcare center are wonderful. Wonderful – but they don’t, of course, have to be placed on “Parking Lot 4,”and the Main Library can stay right where it is!
#6 – Let’s get back to those signs about the tree removals. Our elected officials did not vote to have the city issue those permits. The city officials who issued those permits, and directed that they be posted, were essentially telling the residents of the city, and specifically city voters, who are right now in the process of deciding whether or not they want this Parking Garage-Library-Affordable Housing conglomeration, that they weren’t going to wait for the vote, they were going to allow the developers who are part of the plan to chop down those trees right now. [They won’t get to, prior to the vote on Measure O, only because an appeal has or will be filed]. This tells me that what this whole project is ultimately about is who runs this city. Is it the public, the voters, or it is the city bureaucrats, who are responding, as is ever more clear, to the desires of the developers (with the current City Council – Council Members Cummings and Brown excepted – going along for the ride).
#7 – Check out who is funding the “NO” on Measure O campaign. The “NO” campaign is massively funded by wealthy property owners and developers, including the Seaside Company, Barry Swenson Builder, Devcon, the Dream Inn, and Owen Lawlor – the developer of the massive new residential project under construction at the corner of Front and Laurel.
I, personally, think that the opposition of the developers to Measure O is related to those provisions in Measure O that require existing city parking lots to be used for affordable housing projects (because developers would like the city to be able to build projects on our city lands that cater to the high-end market). Whatever the reason, though, it’s very clear that a “No” vote on Measure O is a vote in support of city bureaucrats and the developers that are receiving such a warm welcome at City Hall these days.
Your “Yes” vote on Measure O tells city officials – and specifically including our Mayor and Council Members – that the city needs to get public support for development proposals, before they start allocating time, money, and resources to projects that the public may well not support at all.
I am strongly recommending your “Yes” vote on Measure O.
Gary Patton is a former Santa Cruz County Supervisor (20 years) and an attorney for individuals and community groups on land use and environmental issues. The opinions expressed are Mr. Patton’s. You can read and subscribe to his daily blog at www.gapatton.net
Email Gary at email@example.com
PILLOW-TALK REIGNS SUPREME(S) IN BASKETFUL OF DEPLORABLES
Regardless of the historicity of the current times, with the House J6 Committee perhaps attempting to have an even bigger consequence than were the Watergate/Nixon hearings of the seventies, in regard to the criminalities of Donald Trump’s presidency, it is hard for many to see whether any progress has been made…especially with the shortcomings of James Comey and Robert Mueller, and even with the later b.s. pronouncements of Attorney General Barr. If we were truly a democratic country, The Don’s demands that Georgia find him 11,000 votes to swing the 2020 election would have had him in an orange jumpsuit by now. Consequently, the J6 hearings are simply a diversion in our undemocratic and unequal system of governance. To the disappointment of many, the Former Guy will probably spend not one day behind bars, as we look to history and see that accountability did not fall on those responsible for crimes and shortcomings during the Korean and Vietnam wars, or to Nixon for Watergate, or to no one in the GWBush government for the short-sighted War on Terror with its torture of detainees. This same American affliction of short-sightedness will absolve Trump of his egotistical destruction of our political system for the present, and only historians will have the prevailing word amid the shifting opinions of the future. And we can only imagine how history will be altered, how the decisions of current legislators and judges will be degraded if Trump and his lackeys end up in the driver’s seat once again.
No matter how loudly the cries that the former prez is erratic, unprincipled, and contemptible, totally unfit to lead this country with two impeachments on his résumé, and even with Hilary Clinton’s “basketful of deplorables” warning in 2016, influence on the electorate was spotty and likely remains so, especially with his base. Is anybody really interested in a destructive insurrection in 2021 when inflationary forces are wreaking havoc on families and their lifestyle, or toward their very survival? It is unlikely that any opinions about DJT will be changed at this late date…he is either an angel/savior or a devil/destroyer, and who doesn’t like a good spectacle, whether it’s O.J. Simpson, Harvey Weinstein, Johnny Depp, Elon Musk, a school shooter, or Benedict Donald?
Bessner and Burgis of The Nation write that “liberals can continue to do what they did under President Trump and imagine themselves as a noble group fighting off a fascist threat. The reality is that Republicans aren’t going to overthrow our half–democratic institutions in some 21st-century re-enactment of Mussolini’s March on Rome. The threat they pose is that they’ll win elections – or sometimes steal them, as in Bush v. Gore – impose on the American people their agenda of deregulation, environmental devastation, union-busting, and cruel laws that target marginalized groups. And whatever liberals might want to believe, that threat isn’t going to be countered by appealing to establishment respectability or by conjuring notions of noble resistance. The only way to defeat reactionary populism is with a better appeal to the populace.”
While the J6 Committee drove home the strong evidence in the baseless assertion of ‘Trump’s Big Lie,’ the claim that the 2020 election was ‘stolen or rigged,’ and that his base refuses to drop, it felt at times that the House members were simply shouting into an echo chamber…nine hearings later. They presented evidence that our Blitzkrieg Bozo knew his charges were false, publicly insisting that he won, yet privately admitting he had lost, but finding a ready and willing audience that wanted to keep fighting to overturn the election results. The committee’s investigation may have changed some minds, but the Republican hierarchy has ignored the hearings or attempted to discredit them in favor of Trump, with a large percentage of the electorate falling in line behind them. “I think the truly lasting damage of the Big Lie is not January 6, as traumatic as January 6 is, but the loss of faith by a significant portion of Americans in the architecture of their democracy,” says Asher Hildebrand, a public policy professor at Duke University. “And it’s more than just a loss of trust — it’s an emerging belief that the election is only legitimate if their side wins.”
Many Americans now have little faith that their votes will be counted properly, with nearly a third of the electorate, and a majority of Republicans, not recognizing Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. ‘Election Integrity’ is a new buzzword in Republican circles as election deniers attempt to “ensure secure and legitimate election processes,”, a strategy headed by Trump attorney, Cleta Mitchell, who was instrumental in the scheme to overturn the presidential election. Their actions entail training poll observers who look for suspected election law violations, whereby they overwhelm local elections boards with requests that make it difficult for officials to carry out their normal responsibilities. The phrase, ‘Election Integrity,’ has been used in the past as Republican lawmakers attempt to justify suppressive legislation, evidenced by the restrictive voting bills that have recently been introduced since the 2020 election. So, it’s hardly a surprise that voters have less respect for the legitimacy of our elections with the baying of supposedly respectable officials telling them to be suspicious. While the J6 Committee has provided a mountain of evidence from which we might hope is a path to some accountability and much-needed reform, it hasn’t put a damper on ‘The Big Lie‘ as it seems to slide into commonness.
After January 6 and its destructive and deadly riot, Trump was suspended from Facebook and Twitter, but his own Truth Social presented his baseless claim of a rigged election to about 8000 followers, and from that it sped through other social media platforms, podcasts, talk radio and television, anyway. Within 48 hours of his false post, more than one million readers saw or heard of his claim according to The New York Times. Despite efforts by the media, academics and responsible social media companies to face the problem, it metastasized into a widespread and pervasive problem as we approached the mid-term election season, with many experts declaring it to be getting only worse. About 69 million have joined Parler, Gab, Truth Social, Gettr, Telegram, and Rumble which purport to be conservative alternatives to the better known ‘Big Tech‘ platforms from which many of the cross-over members had been shown the door because of their inflammatory views. “Nothing on the internet exists in a silo,” said Jared Holt, a senior manager on hate and extremism research at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. “Whatever happens in alt platforms like Gab or Telegram or Truth makes its way back to Facebook and Twitter and others.”
The disinformation landscape which started in earnest during the 2016 election with Russia covertly spreading false and divisive posts seemed like an abnormality, a hiccup, in our election process; but, today we see that foreign interference is a regular attribute. Based on the conspiracy theories from the right-wing media, our state and county officials are imposing new restrictions for voting, with the electorate having to weed through the cascade of falsehoods and lies about the candidates and their platforms, but also, when, where and how to vote legally. And, even with that officials selected as fraud-fighters may refuse to recognize election results not to their desires. A case in point is Republican candidate for Arizona governor, Trump–Toady Kari Lake, who says she will not contest the election outcome “because I’m going to win.” When pressed about facing a loss, she has no comment, except to say that she has “detected some stealing” before the actual voting had started. A lesson from Agent Orange?
Chinese tech giant, ByteDance, through its TikTok video-hosting service, is another source of disinformation. NewsGard, an organization that tracks this problem online discovered about 20% of its videos contained false or misleading information on topics such as school shootings and the war in Ukraine. “People who do this know how to exploit the loopholes,” says Katie Harbath, a former director of public policy at Facebook, who now leads Anchor Change, a strategic consultancy. During the mid-term election season, the major platforms have all pledged to block, label, or marginalize violations of their company guidelines, to include disinformation, hate speech, or encouragement of violent acts. Even with these promises, most think these enterprises aren’t effectively controlling the problem, as many continue to undermine trust in our democratic system by intensifying ‘election denialism.’
For weeks now, Senator Lindsey Graham has been fighting a subpoena from Georgia’s Fulton County D.A. Willis, to appear for questioning in their investigation of DJT and his crime syndicate to disrupt the state’s 2020 election results. Graham’s legal team claims that a sitting senator is shielded from such common/lowly investigations, since his actions were legitimate legislative activity, but the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said, “Nope, ya gotta come on down,” as they narrowed the range of questions that can be posed to Graham. Willis wants to hear Graham’s answers regarding calls to Georgia election officials following Trump’s election loss, not as an investigative target, but as a witness. Failure to demonstrate that this will violate his rights under the Speech and Debate Clause, led Graham to appeal to the Supreme Court, even though the lower court ruled that he may still assert his rights if there is a dispute about the questioning. Graham’s attempt to avoid having to testify in a case that has entangled cohorts and associates of the Former Guy, such as John Eastman, Kenneth Chesebro, Pat Cipollone, and Rudy Giuliani, who faces possible criminal charges in the probe.
Now we learn that Justice Clarence Thomas dba Ginny Thomas (Big Lie & Affiliates), has just raised its ugly head to at least put a hold on Graham’s order to appear before the grand jury as his appeal to the high court proceeds. Prosecutors must respond to the senator’s request to abandon their subpoena by Thursday, with Justice Thomas being the designee to hear emergency requests from the 11th District. In typical fashion, his one-sentence hold against the lower court reads, “order is hereby stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court,” to prevent further legal rulings, or maybe ‘liberal interference,’ before the Supremes can review the case; if indeed that happens…Thomas has the option to handle Graham’s petition himself or refer the proceeding to the full court. DA Willis had no comment regarding the Thomas hold, with the grand jury being inactive until the mid-term elections are over. Final decision will be made pending the Thomases pillow-talk.
But, the Grand Old Party rolls along, with the J6 Committee unanimously voting to subpoena Trump in order to finish up their work. They have outlined 19 areas of inquiry and are asking for relevant documents by November 4, summoning Trump to appear for a deposition beginning November 14. “The committee treats this matter with great seriousness,” Liz Cheney said on NBC. “And we are going to proceed in terms of the questioning of the former president under oath. It may take multiple days. And it will be done with a level of rigor and discipline and seriousness that it deserves.” As to be expected, Trump has persistently criticized the group of “pursuing political purposes,” and it remains to be seen if he resists the subpoena. “We have many, many alternatives that we will consider if the former president decides that he is not going to comply with his legal obligation, a legal obligation every American citizen has, to comply with a subpoena,” Cheney told NBC’s Chuck Todd on ‘Meet the Press.’ “He’s not going to turn this into a circus,” when he asked if Trump’s testimony would become a “television spectacle.” “This isn’t going to be his first debate against Joe Biden and the circus and the food fight that that became,” Cheney continued. “This is a far too serious set of issues, and we’ve made clear exactly what his obligations are. And we are proceeding with that set out.” Popcorn, peanuts, t-shirts, baseball caps and Trump University diplomas at the door!
Dale Matlock, a Santa Cruz County resident since 1968, is the former owner of The Print Gallery, a screenprinting establishment. He is an adherent of The George Vermosky school of journalism, and a follower of too many news shows, newspapers, and political publications, and a some-time resident of Moloka’i, Hawaii, U.S.A., serving on the Board of Directors of Kepuhi Beach Resort. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. View classic inner view ideas and thoughts with Subconscious Comics a few flips down.
EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Deep Cover” down a few pages. As always, at TimEagan.com you will find his most recent Deep Cover, the latest installment from the archives of Subconscious Comics, and the ever entertaining Eaganblog.
“A mask tells us more than a face.”
“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”
“Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue”.
“There Is A Child In Every One Of Us Who Is Still A Trick-or-treater Looking For A Brightly-lit Front Porch.”
It’s been 30 years since this interview with Tupac Shakur, and it’s only worse now…
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