Blog Archives

October 4 – 10, 2023

Highlights this week:

Bratton…What’s up?  Santa Cruz Chamber Players. Greensite….will be back next week. Steinbruner…Our Downtown Our Future, injecting sewage water, Aptos Village, declining population, student housing, desal water, Lydon-Ow interview. Hayes…flowers for fall. Patton…a phenomenal culture of welcoming. Matlock…playing catch up with the hands of time. EaganSubconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week. Quotes…”Towers”


SANTA CRUZ 1948. One of the first noticeable changes we can see here is the absence of trees. Thanks to so much good work and planning our tree population has increased substantially. But as Gillian Greensite notes so consistently and patiently the officials are still cutting them helter skelter.

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

DATELINE October 2

WHAT’S UP? I don’t remember a time since I arrived in Santa Cruz (in 1970) that the political scene was as bitter and divided as it is right now. Name calling and label slinging and out and out lying seem to have become the way of life each day. Is this a result or spinoff from our National Trump scene or is it the after effect of years of masks and covid? And on the same page UCSC’s ceasing of providing us with so many attractions of live stage, movies, and concerts has made them more of a factor to work AROUND instead of joining. Like so many others I’m going back to live concerts that are filling our music and churches again with happy and community connections.

SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS. Present their concert #1 of this season titled Music of Hope. It features Rebecca Jackson, violin…Jessica Chang, viola… Samantha Cho, piano…  Katie Youn, cello & concert director. They will be performing music by Brahms, Enescu, Mahler, Nazaykinskaya, Shaw, Simon, and Wie on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 7:30 PM and SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 3:00 PM. As usual the concert will be at Christ Lutheran Church 10707 Soquel Drive, in Aptos uphill from the CHP Headquarters. The four women players are part of “SAGE, a musician’s collective appearing with the Santa Cruz Chamber Players for the first time, will perform music that paints a vivid portrait of the emotional consequences that the pandemic has had on us all. The concert begins with works about COVID-19 by SF composer, educator, and performer Jungyoon Wie and Composer-in-Residence at the JFK Center for the Performing Arts, Carlos Simon. Also featured is Caroline Shaw’s Limestone and Felt, which Shaw writes, “may represent two opposing ways we experience history and design our own present”, and Polina Nazakinskya’s Hope. The program, which includes Mahler’s Piano Quartet, Enescu’s Aubade for String Trio, and Brahms’ Piano Quartet in c minor, creates an astounding vision of our shared experience—one that transcends boundaries and inspires hope! Go here for tickets and data   Santa Cruz Chamber Players, Music of Hope  once again, that’s SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 7:30 PM and SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 3:00 PM.

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 and usually co-hosted  by Kaos and Calamity Kyle.

FORGOTTEN LOVE. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.6 IMDB).***   A well-meaning and nearly famous doctor / professor who lost his memory after an attack on the street by some thugs spends his days inundated by friends and neighbors who need his doctoring. It’s a sad unveiling of the difference between the rich and the poor. A bit corny and predictable but magnetic and you’ll stay with it.

THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR. (NETFLIX MOVIES) (7.5 IMDB) **** Wes Andersen took three stories by Roald Dahl and made simply fabulous and totally engrossing movies from them. First there’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” (39 minutes) which stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley and Dev Patel. Immediately next on Netflix is “The Rat Catcher” (6.7 IMDB) featuring Rupert Friend and Ralph Fiennes. Licorice lovers should heed advance warnings on that one! The Dahl & Anderson 3 movie set closes with “The Swan” (18 minutes) (6.9 IMDB). Again starring Rupert Friend and Ralph Fiennes, The Swan deals and nearly faces some gruesome facets of human depravity…go for the three of these by all means.

SONG OF THE BANDITS. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.2IMDB).**   An unusual slice of history when the Japanese attacked and murdered more than 5000 Koreans in 1915. This movie comes across almost like our westerns when the cowboys murdered our Indians. It’s fast moving, much blood and the violence is almost in the comedy department. Worth checking out.

THURSDAYS WIDOW. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.01 IMDB). ** This production has a point to make and it’s aimed at the differences or maybe the similarities between the rich and the poor. It all happens in Mexico and throws in plastic surgery, lots of politics and bold statements against the hired help. It will result in your thinking about the class differences you’ve seen in your lifetime.

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 and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

INFAMY. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.1 IMDB). A movie from Poland that hammers on us the terrible local prejudices against the area Gypsies. There’s a 17 year old girl who has to face the hatred and pain in being a minority. It’s a simple movie with lots of amateur mugging and posing, but it does get the point across.

HOW TO DEAL WITH A HEARTBREAK. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (4.0 IMDB). They list it as a comedy drama and it sure is both. This woman author tries hard to write her book. Then her dad dies and returns to help her write the book. So yes there are laughs/snickers but she’s 34 years old so we do lose patience with her.

SUSPECT X. (NETFLIX SERIES) (NO IMDB YET). Her husband disappears but he was an evil sort and this film from India makes quite a story out of it.  She has a math teacher as a neighbor, he’s loved by all and helps her hide the truths behind the husband’s disappearance from the police. It’s a bit overdone and heavy, but worthwhile.

BURNING BODY. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.7 IMDB). A policeman is found burned to death in his own police car. The acting is well done and it’s done mostly in Spanish and in Barcelona.

It’s based on a true and well known case that happened a few years ago. It’s mostly centered on the woman or women in his life and is worthwhile watching.

October 2

Gillian will be back next week.

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 2


Affordable housing…what can we really do that will fix this problem in Santa Cruz?  Is that even possible? Please join the great discussions hosted by the Our Downtown, Our Future folks on Saturday, October 14 at the London Nelson Center to hear and participate in thoughtful discussions with three panels of local public leaders, with a range of opinions and perspectives.

Please sign up to inform the organizers about numbers so there is plenty of food for the lunch provided.


Are you comfortable having Soquel Creek Water District inject treated sewage water that could contain nitrate and unregulated contaminants into the pristine groundwater the Midcounty area residents depend upon for clean drinking water?

You need to send written comment to the Central Coast Water Quality Board by October 11. This Permit Application is likely the final opportunity for public comment on the Project’s impacts to the groundwater quality and potential marine impacts.

I have reserved the meeting room at the Capitola Library (2005 Wharf Road) for Saturday, October 7, 3:30pm for a public study session and discussion.  I hope that any who are interested in this Project and potential impacts on the groundwater quality and marine habitat near the pipeline outfall will attend and submit informed comment to the Regional Water Quality Control Board by October 11.

The District has applied to the Regional Water Quality Control Board for a permit to inject treated wastewater into the MidCounty Groundwater Basin. Here is a link to the Permit application document for the Proposed Order No. R3-2023-0033

I have not been able to get a clear answer from the Water Board whether or not a legally-required Final Anti-Degradation Analysis has been approved to verify this injected water will not adversely affect the high-quality groundwater.  (Santa Cruz City’s injection of potable water into the aquifer in a pilot program caused arsenic spikes in water retrieved.)

However, according to recent correspondence from Mr. Harvey Packard at the Water Board, it won’t matter if this Permit to Inject Recycled Water is approved by the Board on December 14-15.  The Board staff seems willing to accept Soquel Creek Water District’s interpretation of draft analysis and sign off on any further study:

“If the board adopts the injection permit, there will be no further need for anti-deg analysis, and we will consider the district’s report final.”

What bothers me is that the District’s vague analysis would allow 3.5 mg/L of nitrate in the “product water” to be injected into the groundwater, and there would only have to be a “Best Practices Plan’ in place for how this could affect the MidCounty Groundwater Basin. There is no link provided at all to any actual Final Anti-Degradation Analysis report to verify any of the vague statements made in the Proposed Permit R3-2023-0033 (see page F-19 / page 137 of the document)

Public Comment on this application is due October 11.

Although the Proposed Permit Fact Sheet (page F16-19) gives a summary of Soquel Creek Water District’s findings regarding ANTI-DEGRADATION ANALYSIS, there is no link to the actual study to verify any of the vague claims that the Water Board seems willing to accept.  There is no evidence that the Water Board has reviewed and approved any such detailed Analysis that will ensure the protection of the high-quality waters of the aquifer.

Please note that on page 25, there is information about the permit conditions not filed under EPA Clean Water Act, and time-sensitive appeal:

11.3. These requirements have not been reviewed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and are not issued pursuant to Clean Water Act section 402. 

11.4. Any person aggrieved by this action of the Central Coast Water Board may petition the State Water Board to review the action in accordance with California Water Code section 13320 and CCR title 23, section 2050. The State Water Board must receive the petition by 5:00 p.m., 30 days after the date of this Permit, except if this date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or State holiday, then the petition must be received by the State Water Board by 5:00 p.m. on the next business day. Copies of the law and regulations applicable to filing petitions may be found on the internet or will be provided upon request. The provisions of this Permit are severable, and if any provision of this Permit, or the application of any provision of this Permit to any circumstance, is held invalid, the application of such provision to other circumstances, and the remainder of this Permit must not be affected.

Also, please note the conditions causing the Board to Reopen the Permit on page 26:

12.1. The Central Coast Water Board may reopen this Permit to include the most scientifically relevant and appropriate limitations for this discharge, including a revised Basin Plan limit based on monitoring results, anti-degradation studies, or other Central Coast Water Board or State Water Board policy.

The City of Santa Cruz is also applying for a separate permit to discharge the concentrated treatment brine from the PureWater Soquel Project into the Pacific Ocean via the City’s sewage treatment outfall pipe, also open to Public Comment, and due October 12.  Here is the link to that PROPOSED ORDER NO. R3-2023-0001 and NPDES NO. CA0048194

The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board will consider both applications at their December 14-15, 2023 meeting.

Here is the link to the Water Board website for full information on both applications and comment procedure: Tentative Orders, Permits, Complaints and Resolutions | Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board

Please attend the Saturday, October 7 3:30pm study session at the Capitola Library if you have questions, but above all, submit your comments to the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board by October 11 for the injection well permit, and October 12 for the ocean outfall brine effluent.


Last weekend, I happened to travel through the Aptos Village Project Phase 2 construction zone, which is happening on both sides of Aptos Village Way. A strange water connection near the road caught my attention.  See the photo below:

Is this “service connection” legitimate?  Who, if anyone, is paying for the water?  Is this connection being assessed a hefty monthly service connection fee, like all the other ratepayers have to pay?  What about vandalism, and potential leaks and geysers (that happened in the Phase 1 construction) and contamination….

This is what happened last weekend in the Aptos Village Project mess.  Since Swenson removed all parking along Aptos Village Way between Parade Street and Aptos Creek Road, and the County Public Works staff is fine with allowing the contractor to fill up Aptos Creek Road with construction vehicles and mobile office space, things are not so rosey in the Aptos Village Project area.  This vandalism happened just a few yards away from that strange water service connection pictured above.

Write Soquel Creek Water District and ask about this strange water service connection: Board of Directors

Write Matt Machado at Public Works about the significant and adverse impacts on local traffic caused by Swenson’s construction and encroachment into Aptos Creek Road.  It is quite a hazard, and Swenson linked arms with then-County Supervisor Ellen Pirie to assure the public would have plenty of free parking, even for Nisene Marks State Park visitors (their limited parking fills up quickly).

Matt Machado (

Why is Swenson allowed to encroach into Aptos Creek Road with fencing, creating this real safety hazard?  Can you see the bicyclist that was quickly exiting Nisene Marks State Park on the right of this intersection at Aptos Village Way?   How do you think this encroachment would affect a fire evacuation out of the Park?  Yikes!

Please contact State Parks Chris Spohrer (,  Central Fire District Fire Marshal Mike DeMars ( and Sheriff Sgt. Zach West (  (831) 454-7760  and ask that the construction fencing be  relocated out of the public roadway, and re-establish 200′ line of sight visibility at the Aptos Creek Road and Aptos Village Way intersection for public safety and fire evacuation needs.


Last Wednesday, the County Planning Commission met to discuss not only the County Housing Element draft update and RHNA mandates, but also the County’s Annual Growth Goal.  The Commission ran out of time to discuss the latter, which will come back next month.

The Planning Dept. staff report included a very interesting analysis of the 430-unit subdivision planned for the Par 3 Golf Course next to Highway One, near State Park Drive.  That analysis had not been included in last week’s Housing Element presentation to the County’s Housing Advisory Commission.  Likely, it was quickly drafted to address a legal threat by The Aptos Council, sent to the Board of Supervisors in early September, pointing out many major CEQA violations.

Planning staff assured the Commissioners there will be an environmental Addendum made available soon, hopefully by the Planning Commission’s  October 25 Public Hearing on the Draft Housing Element Update.

The Commissioners also wanted to know why the Planning Dept. factored in an additional 10% buffer in the number of parcels to be rezoned for high-density development, four -six stories tall. The total unit goal jumped from 4,634 to 5,098 units to be built within the next eight years, with many parcels having to undergo re-zoning.

“We need to have HCD believe us.” said the planner.

“Can the Cabrillo College 640-bed project be included in the RHNA number response?” Commissioner Andy Shiffrin wanted to know?

“NO” said Planning Director Stephanie Hansen, because student housing is considered “temporary housing” and cannot be counted.  Commissioner Renee Shepherd pointed out that the UCSC and Cabrillo students occupy a lot of permanent housing, and certainly have an impact.

During public comment, Central Fire Protection District Chief Jason Nee spoke about how the District has been planning to purchase the parcel at 41st Avenue and Soquel Drive for a new fire station, replacing the flood-prone station in Soquel Village.  However, now that the County has identified the parcel as a re-zone location for very dense and tall housing, the owner raised the sales price such that the Fire District may not be able to afford to buy it.

Does any of this make sense?

Take a look: Population Trends

According to the Census and the State Department of Finance (DOF) population estimates, the unincorporated area had a growth rate of -1.3% in 2022 and is estimated to have an approximate -1.0% decrease by the end of 2023. In 2021 the unincorporated growth rate decreased by an estimated -3.4%. However, US Census data from 2020 indicates that population in the unincorporated area had steadily increased over the last decade. By comparison, the county as a whole decreased by -0.2% in 2021 and -1.1% in 2022. The state population also decreased by -0.5% in 2021 and -0.4% in 2022. These rates reflect the recent decline in state population estimates since the COVID-19 pandemic began and mark a major shift in the state’s historical trend of continued population growth.

Take a look at page 20, where Table 2 shows AMBAG’s approved population projections show a 1% increase in the County’s population between 2015 and 2045

So, why would AMBAG mandate a 300% increase in housing units in the 6th Cycle of RHNA?  Hmmm…

Some feel that the State Housing & Community Development Dept. (HCD), the agency tasked with forming these RHNA mandates and whipping municipalities into breakneck process to meet their approval deadlines, has been captured by special interests.  Learn more about this and start asking questions of local legislators.


Ten years ago, the local Desal Alternatives successful citizen initiative petition called for the ability of Santa Cruz City voters to decide whether or not to move forward on a desalination plant (in partnership with Soquel Creek Water District).  The group rightfully raised the red flag on  the exorbitant energy demand the process would require to produce potable water for the area, and demanded alternatives be examined.  The City Council immediately backed away from the Project, leaving Soquel Creek Water District to move in a feverish pace to adopt the PureWater Soquel Project (modified many times without EIR) that will instead use massive amounts of energy in an attempt to clean up sewage water and inject it into the pristine groundwater.

Now, new technology has drastically lowered the energy required for desalination.

Bill Maher recently interviewed Elon Musk. When Maher claimed that we are running out of water, Elon replied that “Earth is 70 percent water.” Maher shot back that “you can’t drink that.”  Musk calmly replied that desalination is “absurdly cheap.”

Can desalination save a drying world?

Think about this.  Should the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors been so quick to jump on the best-available grant funding for what is known as Indirect Potable Re-Use of this sewage water when energy technology for desalination was making big strides in efficiency, and the State of California was quickly moving to allow Direct Potable Re-Use of the recycled water instead of injection into the aquifer?  The State Waterboard is due to approve Direct Potable Re-Use by the end of this year.  That means Soquel Creek Water District customers could be drinking the stuff directly….soon.

I would welcome your thoughts.


Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the history of the Chinese in shaping Santa Cruz County, sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Public Library, this Saturday, October 7 at 10am-12:30pm. It’ll be at The 418 Project, 155 River St S, Santa Cruz, CA, 95060

“Experience the history of Chinese Americans in Santa Cruz with Author Sandy Lydon in conversation with George Ow. Lydon’s groundbreaking local history, “Chinese Gold” will be transformed into a multimedia book discussion by artist and educator Rui Li. Li presents additional interviews with Lydon and Ow in addition to a treasure-trove of images of old Chinatown. Copies of the book will be available for purchase in both English and Chinese.”

Write one letter.  Make one call.  Expect elected officials to answer your questions and make sure they do.  Make a big difference this week by just doing something.



Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.

Email Becky at



October 1


One native plant’s flowering is more enigmatic than any others for representing Fall on California’s central coast: coyote bush. This easy-to-identify and quite common shrub has so many stories to tell that it might serve as a gateway plant for those otherwise uninterested or unfamiliar with the native plants and plant communities that surround us.

Coyote Bush: the Trickster

For those of you who are following the series of columns where I’ve named native flowering plants each month in 2023, this is October’s flower. Unlike the others, this species is easy to find, so I’m letting you (and me) off the hook on that front. Instead, I present a different kind of challenge: sorting out the boy coyote bushes from the girl coyote bushes. This tricky shrub has separate female and male plants; I’ve never heard of a hermaphrodite, but there’s yet another challenge for the intrepid. The flowers of this shrub are tiny; there are no petals to be seen. But, there are so many flowers that the masses stand out. Male plants produce clusters of flowers bedecked with yellow pollen. Female plants apparently make nectar but more evidently make lots of white fluff, the ‘hair’ for which the plant is named.

Associated Wildlife – Mice!

My favorite mouse, the teeny tiny harvest mouse, loves coyote bush for many reasons. From film footage I’ve collected, it appears that harvest mice make use of meadow vole highways. And, meadow voles (aka meadow mice) love to use coyote bush as cover. Vole runs are at the soil surface and fan out like spokes in a wheel from a coyote bush into the surrounding prairie. Voles are voracious grazers and families of voles claim large areas of prairie as their grazing grounds, establishing what becomes a highway system, hidden just below a grassy roof. My Vole Cam footage barely catches the voles as they rocket so quickly back and forth on those highways. They jet down their transportation system in search of fresh hay, which they harvest until their mouths are fat with it, and it hangs out in all directions. Once full up, they rocket back home, dropping bits and pieces of their hay. They are very messy, and by the end of their foray, their trails are littered with criss-crossed grass pieces.

After the voles settle down in their holes for a rest, the harvest mice appear, sneaking in from hidden side roads and onto the messy vole highway. The harvest mice meticulously clear the litter from the vole highway and, by the time the voles wake up again, the harvest mice have left a clean trail for them to run up and down again. The voles put up big wads of hay in food chambers. I haven’t figured out if the harvest mice store food or just eat it on the spot. But, I have found very interesting harvest mouse nests, up in the boughs of coyote bush.

Coyote Down Nests

Harvest mice gather the ‘hair’ from female coyote bushes and weave the softest of tear-drop shaped nests where they raise their babies. Perhaps they weave in the longer down from thistles, as well. However they make their nests, they are small, intricately woven, and about 2′ up in coyote bushes…maybe even right above the coyote bushes that serve as home central for the vole family with which they associate. The harvest mice nests have a hidden or tiny doorway, which I haven’t figured out, yet. Perhaps they seal them shut coming and going, and I suspect I know why: alligator lizards.

Alligator Lizards in the Air…in the Air!

If the title of this section makes you mysteriously reminisce, perhaps you should listen to the America song, Ventura Highway one more time. The songwriter was sharing an ecological insight: aerial alligator lizards are a real thing. When seeking harvest mouse nests, I encounter alligator lizards perched in coyote bushes. They are often on the sunny side, perhaps basking while they seek their prey. No doubt that harvest mice are one of their meal items, and no doubt they seek out the nests within the canopies of coyote bushes. There’s so much going on in those coyote bushes!

Unwelcome Coyote Bush

Even with that wildlife story, and there are many others, humans don’t always welcome coyote bush: it’s an invasive species! For 2 million years, a diverse menagerie of large herbivores roamed California’s grasslands, grazing the grasses, uprooting trees and massively setting back shrubs. Much more recently, native peoples tended grasslands using fire and other tools that kept shrubs and trees at bay, stewarding the very species rich grasslands along California’s coast where coyote bush would have otherwise blanketed thousands of acres. Without tending coastal grasslands, coyote bush quickly invades. From seedlings to a continuous canopy of coyote bush takes only 20 years. The hundreds of grassland-dependent species don’t like that. Livestock managers don’t like that, either. And, parks and open space managers don’t like it: there goes the view and here comes a bad fire danger!

Flaming Bush

Coyote bush isn’t always easy to burn, but burn it sometimes does. When the fire weather calmed down after the worst of the Lockheed Fire in 2009, I watched hundreds of thousands of dollars get wasted as fire agencies tried igniting swaths of coyote bush to create a containment line and supposedly to make a study of this as yet unstudied fuel type. They dropped lots of different types of igniting devices on that stand from helicopters and from ground mounted guns. After hours of such play, the choking smoke that rose out of those areas blanketed Santa Cruz for days, but hardly anything had burned, there was no containment line, and, try as I might, I could never get any word about the results of their fuels modeling study.

Years later, in 2020, as I watched the CZU Lightning Complex Fire advance towards my home, I was able to witness how wildfire interacts with coyote bush. As the fire backed down a hill across from me, long swaths of coyote bush would smolder at first and then roar alight, followed by the next downhill swatch and so forth…the fire marching towards me. After the fire, the trunks and thick branches of the coyote bush remained, dead. 90 percent of those burned shrubs resprouted from their bases. The skeletons 3 years later are still pliable, not easily broken off…really difficult to negotiate on a walk. Soon, that and many other coyote bush stands will be green again…green with a continuous standing dead fuel load waiting for the next fire.

Coyote Bush Nursery

On the other hand, some people really welcome coyote bush. They say, ‘up with coyote bush! It’s a nurse plant!!’ They claim that coyote bush shade and shelter helps other species to establish. After the initial invasion of coyote bush in our native grasslands, up shoots poison oak, blackberry, oaks, monkeyflower, and California sagebrush. Whether or not those species really needed coyote bush to nurse them along remains a mystery, but the march of new, woody species into our endangered coastal prairies is fairly predictable after that initial wave of coyote bush. Tromp into a stand of coast live oak sometime – see if you spot old skeletons of coyote bush in the understory. They might be telling you a story of ecosystem change.

Your Turn

Whatever you do, please do try to get out and look carefully at coyote bush. Can you spot a female vs. a male? Also, crush some leaves in your hand and take a big sniff- you won’t soon forget the delightful piney scent of the foliage.

Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at:

Email Grey at


October 2
#275 / A Phenomenal Culture Of Welcoming

Pictured above is our “Wall” at the United States’ border with Mexico, as seen from Nogales, Arizona.  Mexico is right on the other side. I took the picture in May, 2021, and I was appalled. I have never forgotten my visit to that border, and the statement that this border wall represents.

This picture documents how our fear and rejection has been made into a barrier of concrete and steel, with the razor wall making clear that the penalty for trying to come across that border will likely be death. Most recently, Texas has installed a floating barrier-wall in the Rio Grande River, also including razor wire. The news story from which I took the image below said this:

The Mexican government reported for the first time Wednesday that a body was spotted along the floating barrier that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott installed recently in the Rio Grande, across from Eagle Pass, Texas. Mexico’s Foreign Relations Department said authorities were trying to recover the body, and did not know the person’s nationality or the cause of death. Many had warned about the danger of the barrier, because it is designed to make it more difficult for migrants to climb over or swim under it.

You probably remember the statement that the United States has, historically, provided to those who would want to come here from another country:

The story from which I took the above image of the Statue of Liberty said this:

In the early 1900s, Georgina Shuyler was one of many to point out that the statue’s proximity to Ellis Island, and its visibility for ships and boats coming ashore, made it a powerful, welcoming symbol for immigrants entering the United States. In response to this new interpretation, the words from Emma Lazarus’s poem The New Colossus were famously etched into a plaque at the base of the statue in 1903, including the words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” It became recognized as a symbol of America’s rich multicultural history, founded by people from around the world.

I thought to write this blog posting about the topic of immigration because, as is so often true, a single phrase from a newspaper article caught my attention. The article was authored by David Oshinsky, who is director of the Division of Medical Humanities at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and a professor in the NYU Department of History. The article appeared in the Saturday-Sunday, September 30 – October 1 edition of The Wall Street Journal, and was titled: “The Nobel Prizes Need A Makeover.” In his article, Oshinsky noted the disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes that have been awarded to Americans:

If one were to make a composite of the typical Nobel Prize winner in science, it would be a middle-aged American man, nurtured in elite surroundings, whose eureka moment occurred about 15 years or so before winning the prize. The U.S. has dominated these competitions, winning close to half the science Nobels since 1901…

America’s dominance can be partly attributed, in fact, to its role as a haven for scientists seeking freedom and opportunity. What began as a trickle in the 1930s with the arrival of refugees from Nazism became a steady stream by the 1960s, as the U.S. liberalized its more restrictive immigration laws. Since then, the number of Nobels in science won by Americans born elsewhere has skyrocketed. Immigrants have accounted for close to 40% of the prizes awarded to Americans in the 21st century. “The U.S. has built a phenomenal culture of welcoming,” says Stefano Bertuzzi, an Italian émigré who heads the American Society for Microbiology (emphasis added).

Please let me say that I endorse the thought that a “culture of welcoming” is a positive for this nation. Wouldn’t you agree?

Let’s not forget that!

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

Email Gary at

October 2


The black and gold 16-foot clock seen in the photos of Trump Tower in New York City was erected on the sidewalk over twelve years ago without the required permits and city officials are now attempting to collect those fees. The ten-year permit for this type of clock installation is usually billed at $300 per year; and though the city’s oversight on the matter was not an issue until 2015, pursuit was dropped when Donald Trump became a presidential candidate and was then successful in his election to the office. NYC’s Department of Transportation wrote the organization recently to remind them that the clock and other “structures continue to be encroachments on the public right of way and are subject to enforcement.” It remains to be seen how this might be enforced with Manhattan Judge Arthur Engoron’s dissolution order for the Trump Organization last week…it may mean that removal of the ‘Trump‘ moniker from the tower as well as from the four faces of the intruding timepiece is in the offing. The attorneys for the former president were in court the day after the ruling asking for more clarity, but were denied, with the justice saying to check back later…stand back and stand by, if you will.

This is a monumental coup for New York Attorney General Letitia James in her lawsuit against Trump’s golf and real estate organization, which includes his two sons, TweedleDumb and TweedleDumber, and the executives who have been party to the perpetuation of years of fraud. Engoron made an early decision, after three years of pre-trial investigations and litigation, that Trump’s fraudulent inflation of his worth to banks and insurers added approximately $3.6B in fictional value to his annual net worth. Those knowledgeable about such matters have termed the ruling “the corporate death penalty” because it orders the cancellation of state ‘certificates’ allowing the Trump Organization and the hundreds of underlying trusts and LLCs to function as corporate entities. The order specifies that within ten days, Trump’s attorneys must submit names of three possible “independent receivers to manage the dissolution of the cancelled LLCs” to the court, which means selling corporate properties. However, the judge honored the request of the attorneys for thirty days to agree to a receiver, which then brought up the name of retired judge, Barbara Jones, an independent monitor currently, to assume that role.

This is a unique case for which there is little guidance to dissolve a multi-billion-dollar company, assets which range from not only Trump Tower, but home addresses held as LLCs, as well. Sticking points such as these led the judge say he was not prepared to make a ruling, leaving the two Tweedles with roofs over their heads for the time being. The state has alleged fraud involving two of Trump’s residences: Mar-a-Lago and the Trump Tower’s 10,000 square feet triplex penthouse where he lives on occasion…which was fraudulently tripled in size to 30,000 square feet in financial statements. Banks relied on the accuracy of this information to collateralize and maintain the hundreds of millions of dollars in Trump Organization loans. The court found that Trump valued Mar-a-Lago at $739M based falsely on the premise that it was free of any development restrictions, which gained him a generous tax benefit for which he was to give up residential development rights. Actual value of this property should have been around $75M, as estimated by the attorney general. Denying that the valuations were fraudulent, Trump’s attorneys claim that The Don was a “visionary” who saw value beyond what non-visionaries could see, as they prepare to fight fraud accusations and appeal the dissolution order. So, who gets the $25M clock?

Likely it won’t be Melania. Being the visionary that she is, she has recently renegotiated the marital pre-nuptial for the third time to protect the financial interests of Barron, her 17-year-old son, as his father’s legal troubles multiply and his financial future becomes questionable. “Melania is most concerned about maintaining and increasing a substantial trust for Barron,” a source said, as she hopes to secure “a specific amount at minimum,” and even as she seeks more money and property for her own security. Bill Palmer writes on his The Palmer Report, “Donald Trump is going to prison. His fate was sealed the minute the goons breached the Capitol.” The hype from both sides of the aisle about how he will escape prosecution and take over the country again, after four indictments and 91 criminal charges, is now looking grimmer by the day, and even Trump understands the predicament he faces. His posing questions to those around him concerning prison itself…state or federal, orange jumpsuit or not?…point to his behavior as the equivalent of a child who is realizing the enormity of his indiscretions. Yet the media is still playing his game that somehow he will remain politically viable, furthering their own game of selling cars, shampoo, miracle cures, and McDonald’s fast food – which, by the way, is not allowed in a prison populace!

Palmer goes on to say that Trump’s bragging in a civil trial deposition that his properties are worth much more than his current evaluations, resulting in a windfall should he be forced to sell, is showing that the influence of his ‘babysitters’ have prepped him for that very eventuality, by a liquidation at the end of Letitia James‘ civil trial. Being so far gone in his senile and delusional state, he’ll just accept that scenario as being real, always at the ready with another set of lies. Palmer concludes, “As always, the key part of the story is just how far gone Trump is cognitively. Based on how he now comes off in his public appearances, he seems to be at a point where his ‘babysitters’ could probably convince him of anything. That now apparently includes convincing him that his properties aren’t being forcibly sold off as part of liquidation, but are instead being sold off because he’s a financial genius. Anything to soften the blow on the way down.”

Trump’s defense in Georgia took a blow last week when Scott Hall, a bail bond business owner and one of the nineteen indicted in the Fani Willis conspiracy case, pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts, the first to do so. His plea agreement in Judge Scott McAfee’s hearing resulted being sentenced to five years’ probation, a $5000 fine and 200 hours of community service, and, being forbidden to participate in any “polling activities” while on probation. He is required to write a letter of apology to the citizens of Georgia and must testify honestly in any future proceedings in the case. Hall’s case centered on his breach of a Coffee County election office on January 7, 2021, along with a group who conspired to “intentionally interfere with and hinder and delay” the duties of another co-defendant, Misty Hampton, who was Coffee County’s election supervisor. The group’s goal was to “unlawfully access all election machines in said county in order to obtain proprietary data or property of Dominion Voting Systems used in the administration of elections in the state of Georgia.” Sidney Powell is likely in need of smelling salts, and Rudy Giuliani’s hair dye rivulets are out of control by now.

Perhaps in anticipation of being on the skids, Donald Trump, Jr. is branching out with his business acumen. He has been seen on Xwitter hyping a brand of coffee, called Blackout Coffee, a brand with conservative values! In a video from his podcast, Triggered, DonnyJ says, “You don’t have to choose between what you believe and what you buy. You’re gonna be drinking coffee anyway, and if you do, show support for a brand aligned with your conservative values. It’s American-made, it’s family-owned. And, they support what we believe in,” adding, “So, from sourcing beans, to roasting the coffee, and that processed customer support, and shipping, Blackout Coffee will never compromise on taste or quality, and they do it all while supporting freedom-loving values.” One Xwitter user wrote in response, “How does coffee become conservative…do they plant the beans in a MAGA hat?” Another user added, “Junior is gonna have to sell a lot of coffee to cover Big Daddy’s legal bills. I never thought I’d see the day when Presidential candidates have to sell coffee, t-shirts and gimme hats to get elected to the formerly greatest office in the world…” The brand’s website also offers mugs that read, “Give me coffee, or give me death,” and “Pro life-god-guns, and coffee,” among other catchy kitsch keepsakes.

Melania Trump, while keeping a low profile for the most part, managed to surface recently, making a sales pitch for – Christmas ornaments! We all remember her disdain in handling the White House Christmas decorations, as recorded by former friend and aide, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, when she infamously said, “I’m working my ass off at Christmas stuff. You know, who gives a f*** about Christmas stuff and decoration, but I need to do it, right?” True, she did sell ornaments last year, but has added “a corresponding digital collectible” to the current $35 to $45 offerings. Some have suggested she engrave the ornaments with her past utterances about the holiday. Ah, anything to keep the home fires burning.

The Flaxen-Klaxon-Hair-On-Fire, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, is still managing to stir things up online with her antics. She recalled a recent air terminal experience with an airport worker, posting, “Friendly airline employee smiles and says, ‘tell President Trump that African American Muhammad says hello and is with him!” Xwitter users jumped her for fabricating her tale, one posting, “I’ll take things that didn’t happen for $200, Alex!” Another called her out by saying, “Racists always use adjectives to describe a person for the purpose of stating that they are not racist (i.e., “African American Muhammad”); however, it’s not necessary to do so, if you’re NOT racist, because actions speak louder than words.” “Jamal must have been on a break…they love that name for their imaginary black friends,” wrote one user. Then Ms. Jewish Space Lasers got her Jewish holidays mixed up by picturing a Chanukah menorah in a posted Yom Kippur message to the Jewish community. Why does she bother? She promptly deleted the post, but not after being called a meshuggener, along with other names for her ridiculous post. One person joked that she acted quickly in order to avoid Nancy Pelosi’s Gazpacho Police. Meidas Touch’s co-founder, Brett Meiselas, punched back with, “Frankly, Jews don’t need an antisemitic maniac who gives speeches at Nazi events sending out holiday messages in the first place.” Democratic Representative Jared Moskowitz of Florida adds, “Yom Kippur is where you atone for your sins. Lord knows you will be very busy.” TV comedy writer, Frank Lesser, says in Marge’s defense, “She thought it was an eight-pronged Jewish space laser.” And to help the befuddled Georgia-Marge-In-Charge in her future endeavors, SnarkTank99 designed her an Easter greeting for later posting, with a cartoonish Santa waving jovially with his bag of gifts.

Representative Andy Ogles of Tennessee gifted the former president with a new handle last week when he accidentally referred to him as “President Chump” as he spoke on the floor of the House. He quickly corrected this Freudian slip, but just as quickly it spread on the internet. “Sir, you had it correct the first time,” posted one responder. We may recall Ogles having to defend his Second Amendment-family Christmas card in 2021, as the group posed with their guns…shortly after The Covenant School in Nashville suffered a mass shooting in which six died. “No regrets,” he said at the time. And, Chris Christie during the GOP presidential debate last week gave Trump a new nametag…to the chagrin of the Disney Corporation, no doubt. Trump’s no-show status at the debates…dodging any controversial embarrassments with his competitors, earns him the honorific of “Donald Duck.”

A customer goes into a bookstore, asking the clerk if they stock Trump’s new book on how to deport aliens. The offended clerk tells him, “Get the hell out and don’t come back.” The customer replies, “Yes, that’s the one…do you have it in paperback?”

Dr. Dana Ménard informs us, “The cat who was completely obsessed with my bump when I was pregnant is quite uninterested in the baby now that she’s out. It’s a weird way to find out my cat is a Republican.”

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


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

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


“The collapse of the Tower of Babel is perhaps the central urban myth. It is certainly the most disquieting. In Babylon, the great city that fascinated and horrified the Biblical writers, people of different races and languages, drawn together in pursuit of wealth, tried for the first time to live together – and failed”.
~Neil MacGregor

“Living in a community with very wounded people, I came to see that I had lived most of my life as a tightrope artist trying to walk on a high, thin cable from one tower to the other, always waiting for the applause when I had not fallen off and broken my leg”.
~Henri Nouwen

“The whole imposing edifice of modern medicine is like the celebrated tower of Pisa – slightly off balance”.
~Prince Charles

“A man’s mind is wont to tell him more than seven watchmen sitting in a tower”.
~Rudyard Kipling


Television in the 50s. The product promotion, the smoking, the everything – this is a fascinating glimpse from an episode of “I’ve got a secret”

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