Blog Archives

October 30 – November 5, 2019

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Justin Cummings, Dream Inn Expansion, Tim Eagan Show. GREENSITE…on the 190 West Cliff Drive decision. KROHN…General Plan & zoning, corridors plan, 190 West Cliff Development, Vacate and just cause issues. STEINBRUNER…Soquel treated Water rate increase, water storage problem, Nissan decision and John Leopold, rural Fire tax. PATTON…Trump the Underdog Billionaire EAGAN…Sub Comics and classics. JENSEN…reviews The Current War. BRATTON…I critique Where’s My Roy Cohn?, The Current War, and Lighthouse. UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES… “FIRE”
                                 

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DREAM INN CONSTRUCTION April 26, 1963. You can see the old Sisters Hospital halfway up on the left margin. After some moves, it became our Dominican Hospital. The hospital site became a parking lot for the Dream Inn                                                  

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

LISA MINELLI DANCES (she ain’t no Judy!)
CHINESE SWAN LAKE…or Swans into frogs!!

 

DATELINE October 28

JUSTIN CUMMINGS, WHAT A GUY!!! It seems like only yesterday we thought we had a 4 to 3 progressive majority on our City Council. Then we watched and trembled as Justin Cummings flipped 4 or 5 votes to the Pro Development–Cynthia Mathew’s side. Last week was a pre-Halloween nightmare, as Cummings voted to support The Dream Inn-Ensemble 190 West Cliff expansion. From now on, Santa Cruz will be subject to a 3.5 vs. 3.5 City Council. Of course that places Cummings at the center of all the development pressure. He’s not only new to politics, but conscientious too. It is, as we say…anybody’s guess, as our Silicon Beach city continues to grow. 

DREAM INN EXPANSION, MORE ABOUT. Despite the fact that 22,438 Santa Cruzans voted for Trump in 2016, it’s tough to believe that so many of our “City Institutions’ like the Chamber of Commerce and our Santa Cruz Business Council are so pro-development. Robert Singleton — the sexually-charged executive director of the Santa Cruz County Business Council — sent a report/reaction on their website. Read it all here… 

Cutting to the core of his reaction to the Dream Inn victory, Singleton wrote…

“The Business Council has been working on this project with a myriad of other community partners, from MBEP (Monterey Bay Economic Partnership) to YIMBY (YES in My Backyard) and beyond, because of the precedent this project will set in a truly post-redevelopment world, where there exists very little local funding for affordable housing.

You really need two types of “political cover” in order to get our electeds to support what they all know deep down inside is a great project. The first one is obvious, in that you need a broad coalition of folks from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds to speak in favor of new housing. No ifs and or buts about it, no broad based coalition of more than just old white folks in the room? No housing for you. Said another way: the whole community needs to show up, and even then Chris Krohn is going to vote against it on some bogus environmental reason.

When people get emotionally invested in a project outcome, no amount of facts or studies are going to persuade them. Only those very few and disciplined decision makers seem to be able to rise above the constant back and forth and be able to genuinely synthesize information well into the evening. Obviously members of the public have no interest in overcoming their emotional stances, they came to the hearing to let their elected leaders have it, which doesn’t help frankly. But to constantly question the expert input of staff, lawyers, geologists, hydrologists, traffic engineers, etc.–all of who went to school for many years in order to qualify to give such testimony–is really hard to watch, and slightly demeaning. To take all of their information in and then dismiss it entirely, or nit pick it until you find a minor inconsistency that is usually one poignant question away, that’s just completely regressive”.

BrattonNote…Maybe we should name the new Dream Inn’s Sauna and Spa room The Cummings Cute Calorie Count Court. Plus we should all relax, since UCSC’s Gary Griggs also gave his approval. 

TIM EAGAN SAYS… “Hi everybody. If you find yourself in Santa Cruz in the near future, please come take a look at my plein air oils at the Gabriella Cafe on Cedar St. I’ll be hanging the show on October 31st, and it will run until the end of December. There is also an opening from 3 to 5 on November 3rd. Hope to see you there” .If you want to subscribe to Tim’s blog go to..
http://www.timeagan.com/?subscribe&email=bratton@cruzio.com&code=0d8422df1273fe4dd17422347d63a7a8&action=unsubscribe 

October 28

LET THEM EAT CAKE
We have only 3 city council members who genuinely represent the people and not the “stakeholders.” And two of them are facing a recall. This is not a good time for the common folk. It’s a great time for developers and those whom they suckle. This reality was in full display at the council meeting where the decision to approve the mammoth high-end development at 190 West Cliff Drive was made on a 4 to 3 vote.

Ensemble, the out of town big-scale developer and owner of the Dream Inn had assembled an impressive cast of actors in this high stakes drama. Union members were there in support, hitching their star to the rich. Various housing groups spoke, including the powerful MBEP (Monterey Bay Economic Partnership) and the Santa Cruz County Business Council.  These interest groups remind me of the right to lifers who are so protective of the unborn but couldn’t give a damn about children. Who cares if Clearview Court, the adjacent community of 67 manufactured homes owned by long-time low-income seniors, many disabled, lose their sun, their privacy and in the long run even their homes as this area gentrifies, when what is gained is 79 luxury apartments for over the hill investors, plus a token smattering of minimally required low income units? 

Those of us who spoke against the project were not asking for much. Just an EIR , (Environmental Impact Report) to better assess the traffic, pedestrian and geologic impacts which were understudied in the documents used to approve the project.  Robert Singleton, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz County Business Council laments that those of us who oppose such projects just don’t trust the experts and that for us “to constantly question the expert input of staff, lawyers, geologists, hydrologists, traffic engineers, etc.–all of who went to school for many years in order to qualify to give such testimony–is really hard to watch, and slightly demeaning.” Gird your loins and read more here

If I’ve learned anything from the past 40 years it’s that “experts” make findings consistent with whom is paying their costs. It’s hard to find an expert who gives bad news to their boss.  And sometimes they lie. That is not an opinion. It’s an observation from reading tons of “expert” opinion for myriad projects that I have opposed or appealed, usually involving trees and the environment.

Another clever gimmicky success noted by Singleton is to stack the meetings with people of color to support a development in order to contrast with the aging white folk who turn out to defend their long-time neighborhoods. Works every time. I wasn’t sure why the NAACP came out in support but there they were. This reminded me of the battle over Longs (now CVS) on Mission St. It was controversial so the meeting was held in the Civic. Neighbors came out in force. The argument in favor of the development was that the new Longs aimed to employ many African Americans in its new store so how could white folks stand in their way? CVS today is a shining example of what not to approve and I doubt there are many if any African American employees.

UCSC is adept at co-opting people of color to support their various plans. When we opposed the establishment of fraternities on campus the administration enlisted the support of a black Fraternity to effectively silence the largely white opposition. The same tactic was used with the first building on the Great Meadow, which was originally a Student Center. It failed as such since its location was absurd. The administration offered space for the African American Resource Center and dissent for the project dissolved.

Expect more of this well-organized seduction of people of color and trade unions to support the myriad city projects that are in the planning stage. What is being lost is any notion of class impacts. Research documents that the losers in this in-filling, high-rise, smart growth era are the low-income renters who include significant numbers of people of color.  Council member Drew Glover captured this class affront in his pointed response to the Mayor’s suggestion that if shade from the 55 feet tall development means that the Clearview Court residents can no longer grow vegetables to augment their tiny incomes, then maybe they can be given left-over food from the retail businesses in the new luxury development. Let them eat cake!

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

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October 28

PROGRESSIVES MUST FIND THEIR WAY

Progressive Tip-toe at the Edge of the Development Abyss

The Santa Cruz City Council continues on its unsettling “majority” tip-toe journey into charted and uncharted political territory. Two huge issues were decided by 4-3 votes last Tuesday, Oct. 22nd, and they did not have pretty progressive endings, unfortunately. The afternoon agenda had only one item of real significance. What was innocuously billed as, “Monthly Report on General Plan and Zoning Ordinance Reconciliation Effort” became a city staff recommendation to spend $300,000 to $450,000 to pay for “staff time” and an outside consultant. What’s at issue? From the city staff report:

The Housing Accountability Act and SB 330 

The Housing Accountability Act (HAA) 

The HAA expressly prohibits jurisdictions from requiring a rezoning when there is an inconsistency between the objective density standards allowed on the site under the GP land use designation and those allowed under the Zoning Ordinance. In short, for sites which permit housing development, if a proposed project is consistent with the objective density standards in the GP, but the zoning has not yet been updated to match, the jurisdiction must allow the applicant to utilize the GP’s objective density standards. Once the GP density standards are permitted, the jurisdiction can then require the applicant to meet the remaining objective standards found in the Zoning Ordinance. The HAA requires that, if a housing development conforms to specific objective general plan and zoning standards and a city seeks to deny the project or condition it in a manner that reduces the number of proposed dwelling units, that a decision-making body must make specific findings, supported by a preponderance of evidence in the record, that the project would have a specific, adverse effect on public health or safety. 

Corridors Mistaking, Part II

My problem is that there weren’t any neighbors, or neighborhood groups involved in this rather dramatic action to invest a lot of money into a plan that staff is contending that the state is basically holding a planning gun to our head. If we do not have “objective density standards” in place then the state will impose them? This action flies in the face of what the city council had previously passed, that is, get neighbors and neighborhood groups involved in planning. At least in this case, put off a decision until the next community meeting on Oct. 28th with Save Santa Cruz and other interested parties is completed. But that did not happen. If the council does not allow neighbors and other parties who are not financially invested in how building takes place in our town to participate, then city staff will only replicate the past failed corridors plan. Yes, new state laws have somewhat constrained the power of the city council to decide many land-use decisions, but not totally, and this decision like most would’ve fared better with more input from the public. The message of the community leading the city council and city staff has not yet fully rooted in our local governance structure, but progressives must continue tending the garden. Let it alone for the upcoming election cycle and we will be back to square one with 1) more developer-friendly council-directed plans, 2) more BearCat Tanks, and 3) it is unlikely we will find that permanent home for the downtown Farmer’s Market on Cedar Street.

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

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t fix a corrupt system if you’re taking its money.” (Oct. 28)
(Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and was on the Santa Cruz City Councilmember from 1998-2002. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 14 years. He was elected the the city council again in November of 2016, after his kids went off to college. His current term ends in 2020.

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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STEINBRUNER STATES.

October 27

JOIN OVER 500 SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT CUSTOMERS IN PROTESTING PUNITIVE RATE INCREASES TO FUND DRINKING TREATED SEWAGE WATER

The water bills for Soquel Creek Water District customers have jumped excessively since the Board approved a new punitive rate structure that charges anyone using more than their low 5.99 units/month FIVE TIMES the amount/unit that Tier 1 charges.   Sign the online protest petition here and please share it with neighbors and friends who are affected by this Draconian rate and fee increase: Sign the Petition

The Board needs to rescind their rate and fee increase scheme that will raise rates AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN…four annual increases of 9%/year have already been approved.

All this is to rake in the $90 Million the District wants in order to build the expensive and unnecessary treated sewage water treatment plant in Live Oak and three injection wells in Aptos.  The pipes bringing the effluent from Santa Cruz City Wastewater Treatment Plant will cross the San Lorenzo River and other streams a total of 18 times, and will have to cross under Highway One at least once.  What could go wrong?!! 

Write the Board of Directors bod@soquelcreekwater.org   

SENDING WATER FROM THE SKY INSTEAD
It is widely recognized (except by Soquel Creek Water District) that this County does not have a water supply problem, but rather a water storage problem.  This can be addressed with a regional management approach, but the District lacks the will to pursue it.  I am encouraged by the news that the water transfer pilot project will again happen this year, which is a start toward using existing infrastructure to send water from the sky to Soquel Creek Water District:

Second year of Santa Cruz to Soquel Creek water transfers to continue

Learn more about this common-sense project and how it could be expanded…if only Soquel Creek Water District will agree to accept the water from Santa Cruz City sources: waterforsantacruz.com

WHY IS SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT FAST-TRACKING THE TREATED SEWAGE WATER PROJECT?
That is a question many have asked.  District staff is quick to wave their arms and insist the aquifer is in such overdraft, the sky will fall tomorrow if the sewage water doesn’t get injected in the aquifer immediately.  However, several reports show the groundwater levels have risen to historically high levels because of the conservation measures people took, thereby reducing pumping needs.  Those conservative efforts have held, both in Santa Cruz City and in the District, and production demand continues to decrease.

Here is a good article in which District General Manager Ron Duncan discusses the high groundwater levels:

What rising aquifer levels in Soquel Creek Water District means for customers

Interestingly, at a June, 2019 MidCounty Groundwater Agency Advisory Committee meeting, the expert hydrologist said that “the reason the Basin got determined to be in critical overdraft is that Soquel Creek had already determined that it was, so the State just went with that.”   Wow.  I confirmed that information with the State staff member who had attended the meeting.   He advised me not to file a Public Records Act request for information to verify the State’s critical overdraft determination because “it would be a really quick turnaround, because there is nothing to give you.”

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

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

Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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October 24 #297 / Underdog Billionaire

On October 22, 2019, The New York Times printed an article with the headline (hard copy edition): “Trump’s Base Is Steadfast Even as Troubles Mount.” Why is that, do you think?

My opinion is that our president inspires such fierce loyalty because he vividly portrays, in person and in everything he does, the resentment and sense of betrayal that many Americans feel about their lives in general, and about their government in particular. Whatever happens, Trump claims that some powerful person or agency has “framed him,” or has “betrayed” him, or has “misrepresented” him, or has “downrated” him, or has “ignored” him, or has, in some other way, treated him unfairly. Government employees are always in the wrong. Donald Trump’s sense of grievance is unending. He is truly an “underdog billionaire.” 

Those who have no ability live out the “billionaire” part definitely identify with the “underdog” part. I think that this is key to Donald Trump’s political success (of course, the fact that he communicates, naturally, at a third-grade reading level also helps). 

As I searched for an image to accompany this blog posting, I typed “underdog billionaire” into a search box, looking for images. What came up was the picture above, which accompanied an article from the Trump Times, titled, “Donald Trump, Billionaire Underdog.” It looks like the Trump campaign well understands the phenomenon I have identified as critical to his success. Here, for instance, is a comment from a Trump Times reader: 

Jennifer Sasser says:

May 29, 2019 at 11:42 am 

Yes.. I think that they the Elite are orchestrating and rigging everything and the average Joe Blow democrat has nothing to do with the corruption, they are guilty of being naive and believing the news without question.. Thank you so much … 

Those who are not captured by the narcissistic, “I am abused” message of our current president, should understand that it nonetheless constitutes a powerful appeal to millions of ordinary Americans. Trump’s “underdog” appeal is so powerful because so many Americans are and have been mistreated by the realities of our economic, political, and social situation. In other words, many Americans have a very reasonable case to make, as Jennifer Sasser says, that our “elites” are “rigging every thing,” and rigging it against ordinary Americans.

Donald Trump seems authentically to be on the side of those who feel themselves abused – since the sincerity of Trump’s sense of being abused is beyond question. To beat Donald Trump, an opposing candidate needs to convince the Trump “base” that the opposing candidate is on the side of the millions of Americans who have been abused and ignored by our political system and our elected officials. 

Who are the candidates most clearly trying to make that case, and showing some empathy for those who comprise the Trump “base?” 

I would identify Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I think that is why they are high in the polls

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

Email Gary at gapatton@mac.com

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EAGAN’S SUBCONSCIOUS COMICS. Diving into our psyche and bringing  up details just for us…check out his Sub Cons just a scroll below.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s “Classic Deep Covers ” 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 and his “No One But You”  poem.

LISA JENSEN LINKS. “Powerhouse stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon fuel his tale of the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to electrify America in The Current War, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (http://ljo-express.blogspot.com). Not a lot of flash and dazzle, but plenty of imaginative onscreen storytelling to honor the most enduring by-product of Edison’s genius — the motion picture! ” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975.

 

WHERE’S MY ROY COHN? This documentary about Roy Cohn is a history lesson about how Donald Trump learned to become what he is today. Roy Cohn taught him everything crooked in politics and money. It’s important to see and learn from this film. You’ll learn just how loaded, money driven, and illegal our USA politics are now, and have been for generations. Go quickly; it is another Landmark 6 day showing. CLOSES THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31.

CURRENT WAR. I thought at first this might be about today’s White House and foreign relations. Then I wondered — maybe it’s about swimming against the currents. Could it possibly be about black versus yellow currants? None of above, it’s really about George Westinghouse versus Thomas Alva Edison versus Nikolai Tesla. The war is about direct current or alternating current. Too bad we can’t raise hands to find out how many folks care about the difference between the two. Worse than the boredom is watching and hearing Benedict Cummerbatch doing an American accent. For the first time on screen he is boring. This is the “director’s cut” —  too bad he didn’t cut it much more!!!

THE LIGHTHOUSE. Robert Pattinson plays the young, innocent, naïve new lighthouse keeper wannabe. Willem Defoe works very hard to be the ancient, hard to understand keeper from the old days. Neither are likable, and they don’t like each other either. And I didn’t like this movie, because… they were so unlikable. It doesn’t matter much, but it’s set in the 1890s in New England. It’s screened in black and white and in a small square frame. 

JOKER. Joaquin Phoenix should just be given the Oscar now, instead of all that fuss in January. Yes this is the origin of why the Joker haunts Bruce Wayne (Batman) and it’s so much more than that. The film is deep, dark, brilliant, violent, clever, absorbing, haunting, and will move you into a different perspective. Forget the criticism about protesters; the Joker is insane and magnetic. See this film if you like films beyond what’s acceptable! It just became the biggest – money making attendance record R-rated film ever!!!

JUDY. Renee Zellweger does the best possible imitation of Judy Garland in this dramatic and still musical tribute. Garland transcended the usual fame and popularity and has become a legend. This film starts off in 1968 and ends with Judy’s last days and five husbands later plus drugs. It’s corny and hammy but so was Judy. For some reason Liza Minnelli isn’t in much of it. 

You’ll almost cry at some scenes…so don’t miss it. CLOSES THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31 

DOWNTOWN ABBEY. With an audience score of 96 you can’t go wrong. It topped Rambo and Ad Astra and earned $31 million in its’ opening weekend. I have no way of knowing if those few people who didn’t watch all or most of the Downton Abbey tv years will love as much as we devotees do the movie. Same cast and the plot is centered about the King and Queen of England coming to visit the Abbey. There’s a clash between the Abbey staff and the service crew that the Queen brings with her. It’s grand fun to see all our long time screen friends again. We know so much about each character. Don’t miss the big screen version it just ain’t the same. CLOSES THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31 

LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE. With an audience rating of 99 on Rotten Tomatoes it’s gotta be good…or great! Her politics, talent, integrity plus an amazing voice makes her truly unique in the field of music. She mastered many styles, never gave up and is dying of Parkinson’s right now! Her Mexican heritage, time with Gov. Jerry Brown and sheer guts will keep you surprised as you learn so much about her. CLOSES THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31 

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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. . Lisa Robinson president of the San Lorenzo Valley Museum details the events and news from the museum on October 29 then Julie  Phillips and a friend from Clearview Court sum up what happened with that tragic decision on the Dream Inn expansion.  On November 5 Dean Kaufman Veterans Service Officer talks about the meaning and events happening on Veterans Day. Gail Pellerin Santa Cruz County Clerk talks about voting and elections after Dean on Nov. 5. Paloma Curutenango from UCSC’s Common Ground Center discusses their goals, successes, and history on Nov.12. OR…if you just happen to miss either of the last two weeks of Universal Grapevine broadcasts go herehttps://www.radiofreeamerica.com/schedule/kzsc   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 bratton@cruzio.com 

Mmmm, art!

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. “FIRE”

What fire does not destroy, it hardens”  Oscar Wilde   

The difference between a good life and a bad life is how well you walk through the fire“.     Carl Jung 

Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life”.Terry Pratchett 

 “Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell”.   Joan Crawford 


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

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

Direct email: Bratton@Cruzio.com
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @ godmoma@gmail.com


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