Blog Archives

October 29 – November 4, 2018

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Greg Larson and other scares, Santa Cruz and the rich vs. the poor, Terrazas and my 2011 prediction, Halloween and our police state. GREENSITE…on Town and Gown Rents. KROHN…about rent control and detractors, minority politics and a new majority council. STEINBRUNER…No on Measure H and big money, zoning code changes, No on measure G because it’s deceptive, vote for Gary Lindstrum, Rancho Del Mar needs night lights. PATTON…about Gandhi and Satyagraha and political sickness. EAGAN…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. JENSEN…reviews Happy Prince and Tea with The Dames BRATTON…I critique Free Solo, The Sisters Brothers, Tea with the Dames, Mid 90’s, Happy Prince and Halloween. UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES…about “November”.


MARK ABBOTT MEMORIAL LIGHTHOUSE. Not a real lighthouse, it was built in May 1967 as a tribute to Mark Abbott, who drowned 2/28/65. The sign on the lighthouse says “Milt Macken general contractor”. It became our Surfing museum in May 1986. The original — and real — lighthouse was California’s 12th lighthouse.                                                    

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

DUMBO OCTOPUS IN MONTEREY BAY. Another Ralph Davila discovery and current too!
Jack Teagarden & Louis Armstrong doing “Old Rockin’ Chair”
TOP TEN GREATEST STREET PERFORMERS. They missed the Karamavovs and Tom Noddy but these are pretty good too!

DATELINE October 29, 2018

BEWARE OF GREG LARSON AND OTHER SCARY ITEMS. Never in my 48 (forty eight) years of voting in Santa Cruz have I watched a more desperate candidate than Greg Larson. I’ve never seen more money spent by an individual than Greg Larson, either. We need to ask why he has such desire, drive and — and such questionable financial backing. That includes every major developer, and of course the Boardwalk, franchises, the real estate conglomerate…think for a second what that means for Santa Cruz’s future. Larson has a long history in dealing, controlling, and manipulating city governments. He’ll apply that manipulation around our Council and staff, making even Cynthia Mathews decades-long backstage maneuvers look like Mary Poppins stuff. Larson lied about getting Democratic endorsements, he treated a woman Council candidate crudely and unfairly…what’s really behind Greg Larson’s driving campaign? Can we afford to find out? Think at least twice before voting next week or whenever.

DIVIDING SANTA CRUZ…THE RICH VS. THE POOR. Santa Cruz has changed a lot in the last 50-plus years, going from a quiet Republican town to a bustling Democratic University City. It is now changing from a middle class income level to land lords & land owners versus the working class. Look again at the campaigns against Rent Control…it’s the home owners and real estate investors against the students, staff, strikers, and it’s sad. We are seeing Santa Cruz go belly up to Silicon Valley’s selfish, demeaning and demanding territorial claims. It’s not the Santa Cruz so many of us moved here to support. Think about that too when you vote.

A TERRAZAS PREDICTION. Way back in my February 7-13 2011 “BrattonOnline” I wrote…

“TERRAZAS BET. WHAT HE WROTE, WHAT HE’S PLANNING. David Terrazas fooled a lot of friends and folks during his first campaign. They thought maybe, just maybe he would represent the progressive part of our community. I never did, and now we’ve just begun to see his pro-development, pro-business stand. Terrazas’ op-ed in Sunday’s Sentinel when he said things like “Enhance our town’s business environment”, and “simplify the process to obtain business permits” means just that. Like Berkeley’s Developing Democrats both Terrazas and Ryan Coonerty will be teaming up to bring us more big time development than we’ve seen in decades. Locally owned — hah! Watch and see. I shuddered when one friend even thought Terrazas was “naïve”. Not so, watch his pro-LOBA, pro-Chamber of Commerce votes and positions from here on out. I’ll tell you what, why don’t we make a bet…every time Terrazas votes WITH Ryan Coonerty on a meaningful issue, you pay me $5, every time he votes against RYAN I’ll pay you $5. Sure, add in Hilary Bryant and Lynn Robinson as part of RYAN’s voting followers”.

What I didn’t predict was how many photo-ops Terrazas would sneak into. Probably even more than Hilary Bryant…and she was much easier to look at than David. Before I forget…just what did Terrazas accomplish while in office? Like for instance Don Lane brought us the Police Bear Cat.

HALLOWEEN AND OUR POLICE STATE. Speaking of Santa Cruz City changes, doesn’t anyone dare point out that every step up in “POLICE REINFORCEMENT” produces worse results? Just like our local police dealing with Fourth Of July issues, these “situations” get worse instead of better each year. Can’t the city take some new stand or position in dealing with two of our supposed-to-be -un holidays? Fences, patrol wagons, batons and spotlights are not signs of a friendly city!

October 29

When the UCSC Student Union Assembly (SUA) planned to circulate a campus wide email in support of the rent control ballot Measure M, the administration stepped in to (correctly) inform them that the use of university resources is not allowed for non-university political campaigns. The SUA is allowed to take a position on Measure M but not allowed to inform students who elected them of that position.

While UCSC spokespersons have not weighed in on Measure M, my assumption is they would be opposed to stabilizing rents in town. That is because UCSC depends on the smallest gap possible between town and gown rents to entice students to live on campus. In other words, a rise in town rents is essential to keep the gap small as campus rents rise which they do with every new campus housing development. Campus rent increases motivate a rise in town rents as landlords adjust accordingly. This upwards rental spiral is endless so long as UCSC continues along its growth path. Build more housing on campus as a rallying cry from the town will not solve the cost of housing crisis but paradoxically will worsen the situation, absent some form of rent control and/or UCSC capping its enrollment.

The reason for this unfortunate situation is twofold. It is expensive to build on campus for a variety of reasons involving a complex geology of underground caves and fragile soils. The cost to build on-campus housing is paid for by the students who subsequently live in them. Ever since the campus started to expand with College Eight (Rachel Carson College) then Colleges Nine and Ten, the rent for students has risen each year, fuelling a rise in town rents. The other reason is that in order to keep the costs as low as possible on campus, every bed must be filled or as close to full capacity as possible. This is called the occupancy rate and ideally is at 98% or higher. If the occupancy rate falls, then fewer students are shouldering the debt, meaning higher costs per individual student. If the gap between gown and town rents widens, more students opt to live off-campus, lowering the occupancy rate and raising campus rents for individual students, further motivating students to move off-campus. A vicious cycle if there ever was one!

The occupancy rate should not be confused with the percentage of the student body living on or off-campus. This proportion has historically hovered around the fifty % mark, which UCSC never tires of telling us is the highest in the UC system. Maybe, but it’s still only half and half of a future projected goal of 28000 students is 14000 students looking for off-campus housing. Currently approximately 18500 students attend UCSC and 8-9000 of them rent off campus. Ask yourself…can we accommodate another 5000 students on top of the current 9000 looking for off-campus housing if UCSC continues to grow? The town sent a strong message in the negative with the passing of Measure U, which so far has been largely symbolic. Add to the equation that city planners, city planning commissioners and current city council majority seem favorably inclined to essentially re-zone single family neighborhoods with second units, remove parking requirements and re-define owner occupancy to cover family members. If you don’t think there are wealthy UCSC students’ parents who can well afford to buy a house, add an ADU and have Junior and friends rent for four years and then flip the house then you don’t know the entire spectrum of UCSC students’ economic status. The discussion at planning commission meetings never includes the above scenario but is couched in terms of a poor property owner with ADU who has to enter a nursing home and so needs a family member to occupy one of the dwellings and pay rent, a violation of the current ADU Ordinance and part of the proposed changes. These changes plus the hundreds of market rate units about to be built downtown plus whatever Measure H adds in housing stock are more about housing students than housing low income work force. If the city wants to refute that claim, then they should conduct a survey of all housing complexes built over the past two decades and assess the percentage rented by students. It’s no coincidence that such developments offer 9-month leases.

As the campus gears up to develop 3000 bed spaces on the west side and build on the sacred East Meadow (pictured), the city is embarking on a similar growth path. The resulting increase in rents on and off the hill should test that old saw of supply and demand. The demand is bottomless. The supply rides roughshod over a town that is fast losing its character along with its working class.

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 29

The seven members of the Santa Cruz city council vote unanimously often. It’s probably 80% to 90% of the time on issues concerning water, sanitation, traffic, and public safety. But it is that other 10%-20%, the stuff of ideology, common sense, and political ill will, that can really fire up the base and likely contributes to forging the on again-off again iconoclast character of this town. Take rent control, probably the most contentious, debatable, and compelling issue to hit Surf City at least since desalination, remember that? Rent control is the former desal debate on steroids. Can’t get away from it, at New Leaf, Staff of Life, the Nickelodeon, strolling on Pacific Avenue, or standing in line at CVS, the conversations rage on while signs are torn down and landlords openly deny their tenant’s rights of putting up signs the owner disagrees with, even if state law deems it political free speech. A huge, perhaps long-festering wound has been opened anew in Surf City. While many university classes teach and preach about class struggle, all students need do is walk around town and there it is, “No on M, too expensive, too extreme.” For who? Thank goodness, the election season has an ending, although later and later each year. I queried Gail Pellerin, our county clerk who counts all the votes, when she might be finished itemizing results. She was quick to point out that she has 30 days after Nov. 6th to certify the election, and from what I gathered she will want the whole month. So, Dec. 6th is thirty days out from Election Day, and by then we should have the final results.

Minority Politics, What’s Been Done?
This will likely be my last column before the Nov. 6th election, so I want to recall what has been possible to accomplish as a member of the often 5-2, sometimes 4-3, minority on the Santa Cruz city council. Of course, I am hoping for majority days ahead with the results of the upcoming election, but now might be the right time to see what was actually accomplished by the political maneuvering and negotiating by the minority, usually Sandy Brown and myself. I will follow this by what might be possible if Drew Glover and Justin Cummings can join us in the next term. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the 2016 Brand New Council Campaign was getting a rent freeze and a just cause eviction ordinance enacted. The freeze passed with a unanimous 5-0 city council vote earlier this year after much community organizing and political wrangling, and although Councilmember Cynthia Mathews and me could not vote on the rent freeze, as we rent out property, the city attorney ruled that we could vote on the just cause eviction ordinance. Neither of these two laws had ever been passed in the city of Santa Cruz by anyone’s recollection. Another never-before-done successful resolution was the establishment of a first-time city sanctioned campground for the homeless. Even though freighted with a hefty monthly price tag (around $80k-90k) the experience proves that a homeless campground can operate viably in the city and not be a recurring annoyance to neighbors and constant concern for the police. The majority, prodded by the minority, came to see all three of these measures as necessary in doing our job and protecting the most vulnerable residents of our community. Maybe the sleeper “big issue” is the 76% yes vote that Measure U received in the past June election. Through the elbowing, pushing, and sometimes rhetorical outcry of both the community and our council minority this issue got in front of the people of Santa Cruz and the clear message was: stop the growth now, it’s too much, and the community would like the council to push back. On this issue, clearly the majority and minority agree that the growth of the university is at the root cause of every major traffic, housing, water, and transportation issue in this town. What’s the next council going to do about it?

Other Minority Stuff
This is my top ten list of issues that just might never have arrived to the city council agenda unless two members of the Brand New Council, which ran in 2016, were not elected.

  1. Sanctuary city ordinance was passed. It prohibits city employees from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
  2. Sanctuary city resolution declares Santa Cruz a Sanctuary city, which means in essence we—local government, police, and community—have an obligation to assist, protect, and shelter undocumented people living and working in Santa Cruz.
  3. The community came together after the ICE raid and demanded answers because of the organizing of SC4Bernie. Councilmember Sandy Brown and myself asked questions of the police such that then police chief, Kevin Vogel distanced himself from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on National TV, and in the pages of the NY Times. He denounced DHS’s detentions of Santa Cruz residents during the February raid in Beach Flats. We were able to expose the fact that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) had a desk at the Santa Cruz Police Department.
  4. We brought a resolution forward supporting the Standing Rock Sioux community in North and South Dakota and stated that the community of Santa Cruz, Ca. opposes the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) going through the reservation’s property.
  5. A resolution supporting the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and to “recognize, acknowledge, commend, and fully support the Amah-Mutsun Ohlone Tribe (Amah Mutsun Tribal Band) and other California tribes, bands, and nations, in their stand to obtain formal recognition at the Federal level and by the United States Congress…” was also passed. It was a first for the tribe!
  6. We were also able to maneuver the SF Mime Troupe through the red tape thrown up by this city’s Planning Dept.–two years in a row–so that they were able to perform two shows in the San Lorenzo Park each year. 
  7. Restated that juggling is NOT a crime in Santa Cruz and got a fine rescinded and downtown deputies made aware of this non-law.
  8. Arranged a meeting between former Seattle chief of police and now police reformer, Norm Stamper, and our city manager Martin Bernal and police chief Andy Mills in order to discuss “community policing.”
  9. With the assistance of the Branciforte Action Network, Save Santa Cruz, and the Community Water Coalition Councilmember Brown and I were able to get the city council and Planning Department to begin rethinking the Corridors Plan (“on hold”).
  10. Although the “library-garage” plan on the site of the current Farmer’s Market passed in September, we were able to get planners to contemplate including affordable housing as part of the project.

What Could a New Majority Do?
Wow, wouldn’t that be something to get Dr. Justin Cummings and Drew Glover elected to the Santa Cruz city council? My friends, you can help make it happen, especially if you are interested in any of the following issues:

  1. The new majority could reshape the recently passed “library-garage” project and bring greater scrutiny and advocacy to maintaining the library exactly where it is and making a permanent home for the Farmer’s Market right there at the corner of Lincoln and Cedar Streets.
  2. The next council can negotiate with the Seaside Company and purchase the entire Beach Flats Community Garden for the people of Beach Flats and the city of Santa Cruz.
  3. The next city council can demand 25% affordable inclusionary units in every market-rate housing development that takes place in the city.
  4. The new majority council will designate and open a 24/7 homeless facility.
  5. The new city council will negotiate with the regents of the University of California a no more growth policy between the city of Santa Cruz and UCSC.

The next city council has the opportunity of making the golf course pay for itself; pursuing co-op housing and “tiny homes” projects; pairing social workers with police officers in every car; putting Planning Commission meetings on Community Television; revamping the city’s bail schedule; and perhaps revisiting one of the bigger elephants in the room, returning the BearCat Tank to where it came from, the Dept. of Homeland Security. A lot is on the table in this election, not to mention, the implementation of rent control. Please vote and please volunteer for Justin or Drew or Measure M or ALL 3!

Volunteer, donate, VOTE!

“Currently California cities and towns aren’t permitted to pass rent control measures to address the affordable housing crisis. That should change. Municipalities should have the freedom to deal with the decline in affordable housing and rising rents. Let’s pass Prop 10.” (Oct. 28)
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, former Santa Cruz City Councilmember (1998-2002) and Mayor (2001-2002). He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 12 years. He was elected last November to another 4-year term on the Santa Cruz City Council).

Email Chris at

October 29

The County Board of Supervisors agreed to put a proposed $140 Million bond measure debt burden to all property owners on the ballot as Measure H.  Who is behind that effort?  Big money.  Monterey Bay Economic Partnership is the group that ran all the “community meetings” last year for Fred Keeley and Don Lane, crafters of the initiative, while they also had FREE administrative help and meeting space support by the Santa Cruz Community Foundation.  

Who is the money behind Yes on Measure H? Take a look!

Why would PG&E donate $50,000?  Out-of-town developers and construction companies have contributed tens of thousands of dollars and local developer contributions are well over $20,000. There is big money to be had in any future San Jose-like boom growth that the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership is also pushing.  According to the website, that group of bankers and developers partnered in 2016 with Housing Trust Silicon Valley to create Monterey Bay Housing Trust.  They have since raised over $12 Million and funded three projects.

Vote NO on Measure H because it violates State law (AB195) by omitting the duration of the debt to voters, is vague and poorly-written, and would place yet another 35+ year debt burden on every single piece of property in the County, residential and commercial alike, with NO exemptions for seniors, fixed incomes or disabled property owners who struggle now to pay mounting property tax assessments.

Now, how does this fit with the concurrent push by the Santa Cruz County Planning Department to shove through massive changes to zoning codes that would allow developers to decide where to build extremely dense (30 acres/unit) multi-story infill projects that do not event have to be within the Urban Services Line?   Again, look again to the Monterey Bay Economic Partnerships group, who recently held a Community Meeting on October 17 at Simpkins Swim Center in Live Oak.  This meeting was announced by Supervisor John Leopold at the October 16 Board of Supervisor meeting as a method of familiarizing his constituents with the proposed Enhanced Density Bonus and R-Combining District changes to County Zoning Codes.  He made the announcement in response to a citizen public testimony revealing that the Board’s Consent Agenda Item #25 setting a Public Hearing for November 20 to consider these massive changes to codes did not even describe what the changes are, but rather simply listed “consider changes to Santa Cruz County Chapters 13.10, 13.10, 17.10 and 17.12 and declare CEQA exemption”.

The meeting Supervisor Leopold announced was in fact organized by Monterey Bay Economic Partnerships, a private non-governmental organization, with an opener by Supervisor Leopold.  Here is the website for Monterey Bay Economic Partnerships, but the October 17 meeting was recently removed from the “events” listing
Where is government transparency? 

Do you feel like Santa Cruz County is being sold out to big development with the complicity of local elected officials?   I do!  Santa Cruz City is also moving forward on identical sets of changes, and in fact, refers to recommendations of County Planning Department proposals to make City proposals consistent.  Contact your County Supervisor and / or City Council representatives to ask about why such changes are being pushed through.   The common answer is that it must be done to comply with new State requirements, but the fact is, many changes are admittedly beyond those requirements. 

For example, the new changes would not only allow developers to get direct permission from the Board of Supervisors to designate selected areas as R-Combining Districts that would be extremely dense in-fill and not necessarily be served by sewer or water districts or with good transit connections, but would also allow developers many concessions (increased height and size of structures, less parking, and reduced setbacks from neighboring property lines) for initially including affordable housing in the mixed market rate housing project.  However, developers could later decide NOT to build all of the affordable housing but keep the benefit of the concessions.  Another proposed change is to allow developers to delay paying project impact fees (road improvements, sewer improvements, park and school impact fees) until AFTER the units have sold and are occupied.  And it would all be CEQA exempt, to allow fast-tracking.

You can listen to Supervisor Leopold’s announcement during Public Comment on the Consent Agenda Items (#25) following the comments that I made.

I urge all to attend the November 20 Public Hearing before the Board of Supervisors, 5th Floor, 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz.  Why is this Public Hearing not being held during evening hours so that more people can attend???

County Supervisors: 831-454-2200

The Planning Commission wisely asked the Planning Department to continue a Public Hearing earlier this month when virtually no one from the public attended.  These are significant changes in development. The Commission asked that the Planning Department notify potentially affected groups.  That Public Hearing went before the Commission on October 24, and brought a vocal contingent from Pajaro Dunes and other coastal dwellers, but few others (possibly because the groups notified by the Planning Department, such as the Fire Safe Council, had not met yet). 

Those who attended pointed to the complexity of the 700-page document staff initially presented to the Commissioners on October 10.  Commissioners were perplexed about the late updates to the proposed changes they were being asked to now consider due to the fact that Planning Director Kathy Molloy had sent them out at 7pm only the night before.  Copies were not made available for the audience to view, but Commissioners asked for a recess to give Planning staff the time to make copies of the document for the 20+ people in the audience..  Thanks to the Brown Act, the Commissioners could not take action but had public discussion on these very significant issues included in “The Public Safety and Hazard Management General Plan, Local Coastal Program and County Code Amendments”.  These changes would also be CEQA-exempt, so regular public noticing may not be required. Thankfully, the  next continuance of the Public Hearing will be December 12 before the Planning Commission.

These County Code changes affect all parcels in the County, whether in the mountains (new fire defensible space requirements and road clearance issues),  coastal and riparian areas, and all others (new noise levels that are often the result of developers invading neighborhoods or commercial permits being given to rural area businesses, such as wineries and breweries).  Take a look at the October 24 Public Hearing documents here.

You can view the October 10 documents and also listen to audio recording of the meeting by clicking on related links here.

Please attend the December 12 Public Hearing before the Planning Commission, 9am, 5th Floor, 701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz. 

If you have not voted yet, I urge a NO vote on Measure G, a half-cent sales tax increase for 12 years countywide.  The language is deceptive, leading voters to believe that the tax increase would benefit fire departments, but the truth is, none of the fire departments are funded from the County General Fund.  Measure G sales tax increase would NOT benefit County Fire Department’s budget.  For those of you living in the rural areas, a County Service Area (CSA) 48 increase was prepared to be on the November 6 ballot, but was shoved off the table until next spring’s elections by County Administrative Office (CAO) Carlos Palacios, with no notification to County Fire Administration.  Doing so allows the CAO to prey upon current public concerns about fire danger in order to pass the proposed sales tax increase. 

The proposed Measure G sales tax increase would fund some County Parks projects, such as Aptos Village Park, where such improvements should have been funded by developer fees associated with impacts of the massive Aptos Village Project but for which the County Planning Department waived all park development fees ($1000/unit).  The County also granted the Aptos Village Project developers FREE drainage easement rights across the park’s land for storm water events, dumping parking lot and roof drainage water into  Aptos Creek.

The proposed Measure G sales tax increase would also pay to replace a pedestrian foot bridge at the Farm Park in Soquel.  According to local residents, that bridge fell apart in the 1980’s.  The County currently has a monstrous bridge stored in the backyard view shed of locals in the Hardin Way neighborhood at the site that is not at all in keeping with what the County staff had assured them at Community meetings.  Residents were told there would only be a small foot bridge but the County later abruptly brought in a crane and hauled in the five sections of 20’+ wide metal beam bridge “that was a good deal”.  Now, residents report that civil engineers visiting the site report major concrete abutments would have to be constructed to support the weight of the “good deal” bridge, and it may not even fit together properly or fit the site.  Some “deal”, huh? 

Why throw more money in this with Measure G sales taxes?

Sadly, the wonderful LEO’s Haven All Abilities Park on Chanticleer Avenue would suffer with a NO on G vote, but with all the hard work the supporters have done to raise nearly $2 Million, surely CAO Palacios can find the money in the Budget to fund this great park. 

If you or someone you know is a Soquel Creek Water District ratepayer, vote for Gary Lindstrum, candidate for the Board.  Here is why:

Soquel Creek Water District Board is moving fast to shove through the very expensive and risky PureWater Soquel Project to inject 3+ million gallons/day of treated sewage water into the area’s drinking water supply.  Staff and the Board have refused to allow the issue to go to ballot, to canvass ratepayers who will be saddled with over $200 Million debt at a time when District rates are already second-highest in the state for a system its size. 

Gary has studied the water transfer agreements with Santa Cruz City, and is supportive to the Pilot Project that will begin November 26.  The safety studies showed no problems, and the infrastructure is in place…the valve just has to be opened.  Groundwater studies have shown the local aquifer is remarkably resilient and even in drought, the levels rose with good conservation.  Gary insists that pursuit of the regional solution first, coupled with better use of rainfall when it comes via stormwater collectors, would be a wiser plan than burdening ratepayers who already struggle to pay their water bills.  PureWater Soquel would impose an additional $200+ Million debt and an increase of $2.5 Million to the annual Operations Budget, along with health risks. The only other candidate to even ask “What will this mean for our ratepayers?” is Bruce Jaffe.

I have been happy to see the “Erik’s Deli Now Open” signs on Soquel Drive in Aptos at the Rancho del Mar construction site.  I am sure people who want to go there at night would appreciate TRC Retail turning on the parking lot lights to give customers and tenants a sense that it is indeed open and secure.  Contact TRC Retail Project Manager Scott Grady and demand security lighting be re-established. Read the article here and support these brave tenants if you can

Cheers, Becky Steinbruner

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

Email Becky at


Sunday, October 28, 2018 #301 / The Cure

An article on Gandhi that appeared in the October 22, 2018, edition of The New Yorker suggests what we must do to restore and revivify our failing political order:

Activists fighting for the environment, for refugees’ and immigrants’ rights, and against racial discrimination and violence continue to be inspired by satyagraha, Gandhi’s neologism meaning nonviolent direct action. The aim of satyagraha was to arouse the conscience of oppressors and invigorate their victims with a sense of moral agency…. 

Satyagraha, literally translated as “holding fast to truth,” obliged protesters to “always keep an open mind and be ever ready to find that what we believed to be truth was, after all, untruth.” Gandhi recognized early on that societies with diverse populations inhabit a post-truth age. “We will never all think alike and we shall always see truth in fragments and from different angles of vision,” he wrote…. 

No one would be less surprised than Gandhi by neo-Fascist upsurges in what he called “nominal” Western democracies, which in his view were merely better at concealing their foundations of violence and exploitation than explicitly Fascist nations were. He thought that democracy in the West was “clearly an impossibility so long as the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry millions persists”…. 

True democracy, or swaraj, involved much more participation from citizens, he believed; it required them to combine self-rule with self-restraint, politics with ethics. Turning his back on his middle-class origins, he brought millions of peasants into political life. To him, the age of democracy—”this age of awakening of the poorest of the poor”—was a cause for celebration, and he conceived of democracy as something that “gives the weak the same chance as the strong,” in which “inequalities based on possession and non-possession, colour, race, creed or sex vanish.” …. 

His unabashed invocation of quasi-religious values in politics and his key value of self-sacrifice are also likely to disconcert many readers today. Such assertions as “Just as one must learn the art of killing in the training for violence, so one must learn the art of dying in the training for non-violence” set him in stark opposition to the utility-maximizing premises of Western political economy. But Gandhi’s radically different conception of the human being, and its relationship with others, gives his ideas an inner coherence…. 

At every point, Gandhi still upends modern assumptions, insisting on the primacy of self-sacrifice over self-interest, individual obligations over individual rights, renunciation over consumption, and dying over killing…. 

Karl Polanyi, a refugee from Fascist Europe, became convinced that Fascism, “the most obvious failure of our civilization,” was the consequence of subordinating human needs to the market, and he called for “freedom from economics.” Gandhi likewise argued that, “at every crucial moment, these new-fangled economic laws have broken down in practice. And nations or individuals who accept them as guiding maxims must perish.” 

Gandhi was obsessed with the dangers to human freedom from hyper organized states, economic calculus, and technocracies, and he anticipated the many mid-century American and European intellectuals who grappled with the most obvious failure of their civilization: the eruption of barbarism in the heart of the modern West…. 

All this seems far removed from the rational debates and discussions that we assume are the way to build public consensus and inform government policy in democracies. But Gandhi realized that democratic politics, as the philosopher Martha Nussbaum has pointed out, “must learn how to cultivate the inner world of human beings, equipping each citizen to contend against the passion for domination and to accept the reality, and the equality, of others.” Moreover, a profound philosophical conviction lay behind the communal endurance of pain and the refusal to retaliate. Gandhi believed that society is much more than a social contract between self-seeking individuals underpinned by the rule of law and structured by institutions; it is actually founded upon sacrificial relationships, whether between lovers, friends, or parents and children.

What is wrong with our politics? It is not the fact that we are “divided.” We are inevitably “divided,” and politics is the arena in which we seek to make collective decisions notwithstanding the fact that we do not agree, and must nonetheless live together, despite our disagreements. The secret to a decent politics is that our struggles must be motivated by that “neologism,” satyagraha, “holding to the truth.” We must respect those with whom we have differences, and acknowledge that we may be wrong about our own position, but never stop clinging to what we believe – unless and until we are convinced that it is we, not those with whom we disagree, who are in error.

Are we willing, in fact, to sacrifice our own lives to advance what we believe to be the truth? By that I do not mean, primarily, our continued physical existence, though Gandhi did counsel that we should be prepared even for that. By “our lives,” I mean the conventionalities of our existence, our “routines,” our normal expectations and assumptions.

It does not take much by way of research to realize that we are in extremis. Our human civilization, which respects no limits (also mentioned in the article about Gandhi) is destroying the Natural World upon which our human civilization depends. Our willingness to allow the incredible productivity of our organized human efforts to benefit not most of us, but only the smallest slice of us, those 1%-ers at the top, will lead to violence, repression, and social and economic breakdown. It is already leading to death and disease around the world, and in our own country, too, the richest nation in history.

The cure for the life threatening political sickness that afflicts us will require radical change. Those who see a way towards a truth that can change our current realities must cling to that that truth strongly, and give it “agency” within the human world we share in common.

That does mean me. That does mean you.

Gary 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

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. See Ava, The Boys and still deeper in this week’s classic Subconscious Comics…just a scroll away.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “National Health Alert # 22 ” 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. Read “Fork It Over” a brief treatise on taxes , the rich and us too!

Sunday, November 4 at 4 p.m. is the 40th Anniversary Shebang for The New Music Works and The Santa Cruz Chamber players. It’ll be at Peace United Church 900 High Street. Special foods by India Joze, Tickets at

BOOKSHOP SANTA CRUZ’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. The Bookshop celebrates 52 years in business on Friday November 9. Bookshop readers card members will receive a 20% discount all day. That night there’s a birthday cake and ice cream for everybody plus the annual and once per year only appearance of The Hot Damn String Band. That’s Jim Reynolds guitar, Annie Steinhardt fiddle, Gary Cunningham string bass, Dave Magram banjo, Stuart Evans mandolin and as per usual I’ll be playing washboard. see you there!!.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “Things aren’t so cheery for Oscar Wilde in The Happy Prince, a disturbing, yet utterly engrossing look at the disgraced author’s final days, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express ( ).  Meanwhile, acclaimed British actresses Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Eileen Atkins, get together for an afternoon of tea and conversation — always, trenchant, often hilarious — about life, love, friendship, and the craft of acting. Refresh yourself at Roger Michell’s irresistible documentary, Tea With the Dames.” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

FREE SOLO. A National Geographic documentary of young Alex Honnold free-climbing El Capitan in Yosemite. It is beautiful, terrifying, and the most tension you’ve ever felt from anything ever on screen. He climbs the three thousand-plus feet in a little over three hours. It’s a nearly perfectly-made film, on a topic you’ll never forget. See it on the big screen at the Del Mar…you won’t regret it, trust me!!! Oh yes 98 on RT!!.

THE SISTERS BROTHERS. An unique film starring — and really, really starring — Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as two cowboy brothers in California’s gold rush in 1851. Also in the cast (but not much) are Jake Gyllenhaal, Carol Kane and even Rutger Hauer! It’s funny, serious, preachy, bloody, and has some deep moments that will surprise you. Go prepared, but go see it!! 85 on RT

TEA WITH THE DAMES. Yes, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Joan Plowright are formidable actresses and Eileen Atkins probably is too, but I couldn’t remember seeing “anything of hers” in this documentary. The four sit and talk about their careers. Joan Plowright never reveals anything much about being married to Laurence Olivier. Folks still wonder if Laurence was gay and in love with Danny Kaye. Maggie Smith has never watched any of Downton Abbey! And Judi Dench has gained a lot of weight. Other than that, there’s no reason to go see this waste of time. CLOSES THURSDAY NOV.1ST.

MID 90’S. Comic Jonah Hill directed this mid 1990’s near-documentary of skateboarder teen agers coming of age in Los Angeles. My grandsons are going through the same period of life, and in the same area right now — but I could not sense what point or comment Jonah Hill was trying to make with this short (84 minutes) drama. The story seemed disjointed and pointless, but maybe that was the point?

THE HAPPY PRINCE. Rupert Everett wrote the script, and plays Oscar Wilde in this sad, dreary, tragic, depressing, story of Oscar’s life after his two years in prison for being gay. Colin Firth, Emily Watson, and Tom Wilkinson are in it too…but to no avail! It is the saddest and most unrewarding film I’ve seen in years. Besides all that, it looked to me like Rupert Everett had very fake looking stuffing to make him look like a depressed Wilde. But 70 on RT!. CLOSES THURSDAY NOV.1ST (AND A GOOD THING IT DOES!)

HALLOWEEN. Yes, Jamie Lee Curtis and her nemesis Michael Myers are back in another awkward attempt to make money…not cinematic progress. The usual scare attempts are used over and over, and they just plain flop. There isn’t a single reason to see this latest version of the 1978 original. Save your money for Candy Corn.

OLD MAN AND A GUN. Sissy Spacek (and her well-known nose) play foil to Robert Redford, in what he says will be his last movie. He’s 82 (and was born in Santa Monica, by the way). Sissy is 69 years old and is from Texas. Based on a true bit of muck, this movie has Redford as an old man who can’t quit robbing banks, or being very nice to everybody involved. Tom Waits is in it but I didn’t notice him! Casey Affleck is Redford’s foil, and does a brilliant low-key job. Danny Glover is in it too, and it’s good to see him working albeit in a very small part. Don’t miss this film. It’s cute, charming, friendly, and nicely done.

COLETTE. Dominic West from HBO’s The Wire (filmed in and centered in Baltimore)  Eleanor  Tomlinson from Demelza Poldark (filmed in and centered in England), and the lead Keira Knightly all play French people but have British accents. The music score is by Thomas Ades who was here once with the Cabrillo Festival of Music. It’s an almost trite and overused true story of a woman who does all the writing while her husband gets the credit. It’s veddy, veddy British, clever, lightweight, fun, go for it.

FIRST MAN. 88 on RT. Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong steals this saga about our landing on the moon in 1969. He’s nowhere near the type of human that Armstrong seemed to be, or must have been, to carry off this moon landing, marriage, fame, and some failures too. Claire Foy (The Queen) is wasted here as Neil’s wife. The movie is tense at times, nerve-wracking at others and is a full two hours and 18 minutes long. Armstrong died in 2012. It is such a tribute to our US space program, and such a hunk of our national pride, that it’s impossible not to enjoy. Go see it. Nope, they didn’t include the planting of the American flag.

A STAR IS BORN. Yes, the crowds are right: Lady Gaga is a genuine actor now. She takes almost all the movie away from Bradley Cooper. Cooper directed, financed most of it and plays and sings too. It’s a saga, a melodrama, and shares almost zero with any of the other 4 or 5 Star is Born flicks. Go see it, even if like me you’ve never seen or heard Lady Gaga before. According to Wikipedia… Lady Gaga is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (born March 28, 1986 in NYC)

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE. Once upon a time there was a hotel at Lake Tahoe named the Cal Neva. That’s because it was located right on the state borderlines of California and Nevada. It was cheap, shady, and gaudy — and so is this movie. Jeff Bridges plays a former bank robber dressed as a priest, and Jon Hamm is an FBI agent who for some reason uses a terrible southern accent. Chris Hemsworth plays a weird killer, and for some reason that makes the plot even odder. Its two and a half hours long and has more plot holes than I’ve seen in years. Don’t go unless you love old Motown hits and soul and rock n roll.



UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE. Each and every Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. I host Universal Grapevine on KZSC 88.1 fm. or on your computer, (live only or archived for two weeks… (See next paragraph) and go to WWW.KZSC.ORG.  Jack Bowers and Dennis Morton describe their prison Art and poetry programs followed by City Councilmember Chris Krohn talking about voting and still more local issues on October 30. Environmentalist Grey Hayes takes the full hour on Election Night November 6. UCSC teacher Maria Herrera and her student talk about campus issues on Nov. 13. They are followed by Ken Koenig and Judy Allen discussing the Common Ground part of Santa Cruz Indivisible. November 20 has author George Fogelson talking about his book, “Jews Of Santa Cruz”. Bookshop Santa Cruz’s traditional night featuring the winners of their Young Writers Contest happens Nov. 27. Tandy Beal talks about her special performances on Dec. 4th. Then Carla Brennan shares news about her Insight Meditation workshops. OR…if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go here You have to listen to about 4 minutes of that week’s KPFA news first, then Grapevine happens. Do remember, any and all suggestions for future programs are more than welcome so tune in, and keep listening. Email me always and only at

This week’s fun and useful! 🙂

UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE ARCHIVES. In case you missed some of the great people I’ve interviewed in the last 9 years here’s a chronological list of some past broadcasts.  Such a wide range of folks such as  Nikki Silva, Michael Warren, Tom Noddy, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, Anita Monga, Mark Wainer, Judy Johnson, Wendy Mayer-Lochtefeld, Rachel Goodman, George Newell, Tubten Pende, Gina Marie Hayes, Rebecca Ronay-Hazleton, Miriam Ellis, Deb Mc Arthur, The Great Morgani on Street performing, and Paul Whitworth on Krapps Last Tape. Jodi McGraw on Sandhills, Bruce Daniels on area water problems. Mike Pappas on the Olive Connection, Sandy Lydon on County History. Paul Johnston on political organizing, Rick Longinotti on De-Sal. Dan Haifley on Monterey Bay Sanctuary, Dan Harder on Santa Cruz City Museum. Sara Wilbourne on Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre. Brian Spencer on SEE Theatre Co. Paula Kenyon and Karen Massaro on MAH and Big Creek Pottery. Carolyn Burke on Edith Piaf. Peggy Dolgenos on Cruzio. Julie James on Jewel Theatre Company. Then there’s Pat Matejcek on environment, Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack on the Universe plus Nina Simon from MAH, Rob Slawinski, Gary Bascou, Judge Paul Burdick, John Brown Childs, Ellen Kimmel, Don Williams, Kinan Valdez, Ellen Murtha, John Leopold, Karen Kefauver, Chip Lord, Judy Bouley, Rob Sean Wilson, Ann Simonton, Lori Rivera, Sayaka Yabuki, Chris Kinney, Celia and Peter Scott, Chris Krohn, David Swanger, Chelsea Juarez…and that’s just since January 2011.

QUOTES. “November”
“Wind warns November’s done with. The blown leaves make bat-shapes, Web-winged and furious.” Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems
“There is October in every November and there is November in every December! All seasons melted in each other’s life!”  Mehmet Murat ildan
The house was very quiet, and the fog—we are in November now—pressed against the windows like an excluded ghost.” E.M. Forster, Howards End

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