Blog Archives

October 7- 13, 2019

Highlights this week:

BRATTON… whistleblowers, MAH, and the Nissan project… GREENSITE…on Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women forgets its charge. KROHN… yoga, the political journey, and self-care. STEINBRUNER… on water PATTON… on books EAGAN… old favorite from the Deep Cover vaults JENSEN… on Molly Ivins BRATTON… also on Molly Ivins – don’t miss this film, closes Thursday! UNIVERSAL GRAPEVINE GUEST LINEUP. QUOTES… “WHISTLEBLOWERS”
                                 

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TWO WAY TRAFFIC ON PACIFIC IN 1953. It really should be made a closed Mall, but here’s what it used to look like. Remember too, it had out of town corporations like Bank Of America, Woolworth’s, Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penneys, B.F. Goodrich, and plenty more.

                             

photo credit: Covello & Covello Historical photo collection.

Additional information always welcome: email photo@brattononline.com

INVISIBLE DRUMS…
PEOPLE FALLING OFF LADDERS

DATELINE October 7

“Curmudgeons speak up because they have to, because it’s become critically important for them to tell the truth as they see it. Telling the truth is as natural to them once more as it was when they were children. The fact that no one cares to listen is inconsequential. Curmudgeons speak up, raise their voices, stand for something too right to be silent about anymore, whatever the cost, despite a world that deals with what it doesn’t want to hear by crucifying the messenger. Increasingly these days, they’re being called by another name: whistleblower.”

Lionel Fisher 

Whistleblowers at MAH…

STILL MORE ABOUT MAH. I received an email asking why I’ve spent so much time dealing with MAH’s problems — saying MAH has provided a good influence on a young person she knows. I’m completely convinced that MAH still provides grand services to much of our community. Let’s hope it can stay in existence, with the financial flaws so many MAH insiders have been whistleblowing. I’ll confess right here that probably 96 % of the topics I write and raise on air come about because I hear of their troubles from the inside, and making them public has changed their operations…for the better. As I once wrote, it’s like throwing out the books and making all our county libraries into Community Event Centers. It’s the same old plea “don’t shoot the messenger”. When I get so many pleas and reactions, from groups such as the decades of MAH Board members and attendees, that tell us something is very wrong I think the public should know about it.

ANOTHER LETTER ABOUT MAH & NINA SIMON.  I received this letter on OCT 3:
“Of the many local Boards on which I’ve served, never have I seen such rapid turnover as I did among MAH Trustees during the Simon era. Because constant changes on the Board paralleled very high turnover among staff, I’ve tried in vain to get a list of all those who’ve served as a Trustee since Nina took charge. If MAH was doing so exceptionally well why did so many leave the ship? Is one of the reasons Nina stopped producing annual reports about 2012 because it would have made Trustee turnover too obvious?”  

THE NEXT STEP FOR THE COUNTY. As per Ryan Coonerty’s suggestion, I sent the following questions and pleas — assembled from MAH Board members — to Jason Hoppin Communications Manager for Santa Cruz County…

MAH QUESTIONS TO RYAN COONERTY:
What are the specific provisions of the current lease agreement between the County and the MAH? The director renegotiated the agreement sometime after her arrival in 2011. The agreement involves some sort of financial payback to the County. Were any monies owed to the County forgiven based on the past or current agreement? How is the revenue from leasing office space split? Is there an annual accounting of the expenditure of public funds and how does this translate into a public benefit? Does the full museum board have any idea? Why is it so difficult to obtain this information, and what is the reason for the perceived shroud of secrecy? Also, currently the MAH receives annually a grant of about $154K from the County Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services Department. What is the reporting mechanism for this expenditure, and how is it evaluated? Years ago Nina Simon turned MAH into a community center. Aside from what that did to ruin our Art and History community, we need to straighten and make the operation transparent and functional so that it has a healthier existence.

CVS – WHAT’S IN A NAME? I use CVS a lot and as a chain operation it’s ok, but just for fun —next time you’re in one, ask any employee “what does CVS stand for?”  I haven’t found any one who knows!!!

SOQUEL NISSAN PROJECT COMING TO VOTE OCT. 22. As if Soquel traffic isn’t bad enough, the proposed Nissan Car dealership at 41st and Soquel would make it worse. Here’s what the Sustainable Soquel folks sent out.

Santa Cruz County Supervisors are to Vote 9 am October 22nd on Soquel Nissan Project Please write ALL Supervisors and ask them to: VOTE “NO” to the Nissan Dealership.  On May 2018 the Supervisors approved a flawed EIR for the Nissan dealership.* March 2019 Sustainable Soquel’s EIR lawsuit prevailed in court.* July 2019 the Revised Nissan EIR released.This project is in Supervisor John Leopold’s district. Sadly, he still chooses not to embrace the forward-thinking Sustainable Plan that he approved in 2014 which:* Recommended maintaining the community commercial zoning for this location. * Encouraged local development which would promote walk able neighborhoods and workplaces. *Create a community commercial environment that shortens car trips.*Encouraged designs that improve and lower greenhouse gas emissions. * Encouraged designs and concepts to enhance the unique characteristics of the community.

Supervisors to Vote 9 am October 22nd on Soquel Nissan Project Please write ALL Supervisors and ask them to: VOTE”NO” to the Nissan Dealership and “NO” to a Zoning Change 

For further information please contact SustainableSoquel@gmail.com 

SHOPPERS CORNER &  MEAT & PLASTIC? A very concerned reader (and talented artist) asked me to include a very all too common question… “Why does the main meat handler at Shoppers Corner continue to use PLASTIC bags on every piece of meat. Here we are trying to cut back on plastic and help save the planet and this guy insists even after requesting, to use plastic, plastic, and plastic.” 

October 7

START BY BELIEVING

The city Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women has decided to weigh in on the highly charged issue of censoring council members Glover and Krohn for one instance each of violating the city’s Respectful Workplace Conduct Policy. In a recent opinion piece to the Sentinel, the chair of the Commission, Kevin Grossman attacks Krohn for not attempting to stop “victim shaming” comments from some members of the audience towards staff members (the victims) who spoke at the last council meeting. Apart from the fact that Krohn said he didn’t realize it was going on and apart from the fact that it’s the Mayor’s job to keep order, the Commission is fomenting this issue which is not its mandate. There is nothing in Ordinance 81-29, which created the Commission that gives it authority to involve itself in workplace conduct issues outside of sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence and stalking. None of these issues is involved in the charges against the two council members.

The Commission was established as a result of a citizen’s Initiative in 1981 and as such is unique. Its powers and duties include recommending a comprehensive plan for the prevention of rape and domestic violence in the city of Santa Cruz, hearing citizens’ complaints about city police department service to women who have been raped or battered and making recommendations about police training and service. One entry in the Ordinance states that the prevention of rape and domestic violence shall be one of the city’s highest priorities. Not that that has ever happened. As one of the co-founders of the Commission, its first chair in 1982 and chair again in 2004 and 2005, I was unceremoniously dumped from reappointment after uncovering serious neglect and malpractice on behalf of the SCPD towards those who reported rape. This research was met with hostile pushback from the police and indifference from the council of the time. As I pushed back harder, staff to the commission accused me of bullying but couldn’t remember any examples when I met with her and her supervisor. Nonetheless, this was sufficient for council member Mathews to block any further appointment of me to the Commission to this day.

Last year there were 34 rapes reported to SCPD. There have already been 52 domestic violence calls in Santa Cruz County received by emergency dispatchers from October 1st. to October 7th. ( October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month). Yet the Commission’s sole Sentinel opinion piece in years has nothing to do with these issues. Its topic is outrage about the tabling of a censure motion against Krohn and Glover. That all five who lodged complaints against the two male council members are women is suggestive but not in itself grounds for Commission involvement. No complainant approached the Commission for support and no complaint involved issues of sexual harassment, rape or domestic violence. 

On its agenda for Wednesday October 9th the Commission is poised to discuss and vote on a policy labeled “Start by Believing.”  I know the originator of this slogan and national program of the same name, retired Sergeant Joanne Archambault whom I brought to Santa Cruz to conduct training for SCPD in 2004. The slogan is a good one, confronting centuries of suspicion and disbelief towards women who report rape but in the hands of the current Commission majority I fear it will be a club to further bash the two male council members. The agenda report even situates it in “the political agenda on city council.”  The report also states, “As a commission, we believe women.” It continues with the proposal that if a commissioner does not behave or make public statements in the framework of this principal, they need to step down from the Commission.  

This is dangerous stuff if you believe in justice. By all means start by believing. But if the facts don’t support the accusation, then perhaps there was no crime committed. Innocent until proven guilty is not a tiresome technicality. To “believe women” as proof of guilt ignores the scores of black men lynched or incarcerated on false claims of rape by white women. Such tragedies are not the norm across the spectrum of rape but they exist and they counsel caution on assigning guilt based on emotion and slogans. 

I’d advise the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women to get back to its mandated focus on rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence for all genders. Leave workplace conduct to those who are paid to attend to such issues. The investigator found no basis for a charge of gender discrimination. Start by believing. 

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 7

ON RECONCILIATION, RENEWAL, AND RE-GROUPING.
A recent acquaintance, Taj, asked me during the Global Climate Strike march, which was followed by a rally on the Downtown Commons space, what I do for self-care. “No, I mean really, how are you taking care of yourself during these troubled times,” he asked. His two young children tugged at his pant-leg and he was headed to 99-Bottles for an early dinner. I was quick to say I’ve been practicing yoga, I ride my bicycle up the hill to UCSC, and I run along the San Lorenzo River path. I did not have time to say more as he was being pulled away for dinner. So Taj, this is what I would’ve said if we have more time…

Political Journey
The 2016 campaign for city council was intense, lots of candidates and lots of issues. I was inspired by Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialist campaign of real issues–healthcare for all, tuition-free public colleges, $27 dollar political contributions and eschewing corporate PAC money, inclusion, the anti-racism and gender equity platforms as embodied by Killer Mike the rap artist Nina Turner the former Ohio state legislator, and finally, the sheer mad enthusiasm of young people for this 70-something Brooklynite-turned-Vermonter was intoxicating. It was nothing short of a new lease on life for me. Four of us ran together that year and we called our group, The Brand New Council to honor Bernie’s urgent mission to the Whitehouse bringing with him a Brand New Congress. I became sure after attending the July Democratic National Convention. Running for city council was not something I necessarily wanted to do again (I was on the council from ’98-’02 and was Mayor in 2002), but hearing Bernie’s call to elect judges, senators, congress, schoolboard, and city council members was inspiring and life-changing. We can do this was his bottom line.


Free Sunday morning (8:30am) Yoga continues at Patagonia on River Street…a little self-care for you and your community.

Self-Care
I know, at first blush the term, self-care, might sound like self-absorbed or even bordering on narcissism, but I have not been deterred. What it is essentially is taking care of yourself so that you can take care of others and in my case; help carry forward the work and hopes of those who have not always had a voice at city hall. It was during the 2016 council campaign that I turned to yoga and meditation on the recommendation of my fellow Brand New City Council candidate, Steve Schnaar. I had already been an avid bicyclist and runner, but I soon found that those pursuits were quite different than yoga–breathing first, then stretching, then breathing into the stretch some more, and meditation, which is succinctly encapsulated by a bumper sticker I oncesaw decades ago while driving south toward San Diego on the I-5: Meditation, it’s not what you think. So, for the past 3 years I have been using yoga and meditation to maintain calm and quiet the never-ending appeals to be anxious, and to remain in reasonably good health. People often ask me, especially during this recall time, how are you doing? And I really appreciate their concern. They are sincere and they look into my eyes with are real sense of caring and outreach and I usually say, pretty good, thanks for asking, which sounds run of the mill, like a sound bite. But what I really want to say is that I am in this for the community to win and while the seas are stormy now, if I can take care of myself and with your help we can move on to more pacific waters as we do the people’s work, together. Breath. We can do this. Breath. I am not alone. Breath. We shall overcome. Thank you everyone for caring.

By the Way, there’s also a City Council Meeting This Week…

The big issues I have my eyes on for the upcoming city council agenda are:

Item #8, a 10% pay raise over three years for the city’s executive class. These are the top-earners in the city and adding 10% to their $200k salaries (much more than the simple math of $20,000, also add CalPERS and other perks) makes little sense to me in terms of closing our budget gap and directing our scarce city resources to those lowest paid workers so that they may just find a way to live here. It might be an opportunity to set an example. The 400-plus SEIU city workforce would certainly sit up and take notice if the execs said no to a pay increase, or were denied it by a majority of the city council. 

Item #10 Adoption of Biarritz, France as a Friendship City. I am all for offering “Friendship City” status to any city, except maybe Riyadh or Pyongyang, unless we could somehow get them to change their human rights policies. But, I would think Ferguson, Mo. or Staten Island for human rights connections; Ashville, N.C or Berkeley for bohemian purposes; or on the international rights front surely Sana’a, Yemen, or Hong Kong might qualify for Friendship City status, possibly all ahead of Biarritz, “a luxurious seaside tourist destination…” They do surf there and the weather is good, but one of its most important economic interests is “spa tourism,” according to Wikipedia. The median income for Biarritz-ans between the ages of 25 and 64 in 2010 was well over $80,000 a year. By the way, Sister City status is only achieved by going through a “Friendship City” relationship first, for two years, and then each city determines whether it will enter into the coveted Sisterhood realm. Onward.

Item #15 Declaring October Co-op Month. This is an important opportunity to offer a boost to the dozens of Santa Cruz businesses that already operate, and struggle, as cooperatives. Of course, there is “no fiscal impact” for this item, which usually means it will be relegated to the ceremonial dust heap of history, unless present and future councilmembers keep bringing it back during May budget hearings as an Assistance for Local Businesses line item to help the Co-op movement grow and thrive. Let’s all remember to do that come May budget meetings.

Item #17 Rental Inspection Ordinance updates. Wow, this is really one the council needs to zero in on. I for one am in favor of abolishing this mean, nasty and brutish–for both renters and landlords–program. We heard it during the campaign, I hear it from students on campus, and I definitely hear it from people evicted, not for purely “health and safety” reasons, but for other city code violations. Here’s an idea: what if the city simply uses the current Housing Authority rules and regulations? In addition, focus on health and safety first and make this ordinance “complaint-driven,” instead of having inspectors traipse through neighborhoods hoping to find violators of their city codes? After all, my understanding is that this was brought up in 2008-9 by UCSC officials who feared a vacancy problem within their already super-expensive ($1100-$1300 per month to share a double or triple room on campus) dormitory system. Through negotiations, the city put the rental inspection program into place in 2010 and it has now become a millions of dollars per year bureaucracy, taking in inspection fees and fines, which are passed on to tenants without much to show for it. More scrutiny from both council and the general public is warranted if this program is to continue. Raise your hand if you are in favor of a study session on the Rental Inspection Ordinance?

Item 21 Appeal (by Councilmember Meyers on request of 2nd floor tenant Bob Cagle) of Kaiser-Permanente’s approved application to set up a clinic on the 2nd and 5th floors of the Cooper House. Folks, I’m scratching my head here. Why is there opposition to this move against an organization that will likely stay in Santa Cruz for many years, is helping underwrite the local basketball team, and is willing to bring hundreds of patients to downtown Santa Cruz? The opportunities for additional spending on the part of these patients in frequenting downtown businesses before and after their appointments are numerous. I was told by the Kaiser CEO for San Jose and Santa Cruz counties that 13 doctors would be moving into this space along with dozens of staff to support the clinic. So, what’s going on? I suspect there are chess moves being made to further the interests of real estate and condo developers. Seems like the city’s own Economic Development department is also heavily involved. I also suspect, given the interests surrounding the library-in-a-garage, the 205 unaffordable units at 208 Laurel, and hundreds more condos planned for Front Street right along the river that there exists some Master Plan ,at least in a few people’s minds. Further chess moves by these forces have perhaps been narrowed by a council majority that is staunchly driven by the community needs of affordable housing. But, I am still not sure on the totality of this picture. Help me out.

Item 22–Censure. I do not believe it has any place on this or any past or future agenda. Having written that, I urge supporters of Councilmember Glover and myself to attend Tuesday’s meeting with dignity and grace. I urge you to speak up and speak out about the need for reconciliation in this community. The city body politic is resilient and will get through this, but only if we choose to take a step back from our local council dais abyss and project an air of forgiveness, hope, and carry on with our active work ethic that embraces equality, social justice, equity, and fairness. We cannot now be deterred my friends. We have much work to do. Please join us on Tuesday, October 8th at 4pm (time is approximate) and stand with the council majority that you elected. 

(BTW, it is Yom Kippur, the day of “atonement” and the meeting will definitely end before sundown, which is by 630pm.)

Down, but definitely not out…

“Money is not speech. Corporations are not people. And you shouldn’t have to beg the rich and powerful for money to run for office. Today we are releasing our plan to get corporate money out of politics.” (Oct. 7) Nice!

(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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October 7

SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT RATE INCREASES ARE UNFAIR AND HURT FAMILIES
Join over 450 people who have signed this online Protest Petition against Soquel Creek Water District’s outrageously high rate increases….due to happen every year for the next four years, and possibly beyond! 

Many ratepayers feel this Board is out of control, spending money on expensive outside contractors, such as the $42,000/year (for five years!) contract with CapitalEdge to lobby for a federal grant for the District’s expensive and unnecessary plan to inject 1.3 million gallons/day of treated sewage water into the drinking water supply for the MidCounty area.  Ratepayers have also paid the bill for the Board and the staff who have made many trips to Washington, D.C. to glad-hand with officials, and ratepayers have also paid for the CapitalEdge lobbyist to fly to San Jose for meetings with staff in exclusive hotels for the “PureWater Soquel Project Team“.

The next Board meeting is Tuesday, October 15, 6 pm, at Capitola City Council Chambers.  Public Comment is at the very beginning.  Let them know your thoughts on these outrageous rate increases that are hurting families that have already done all they can to conserve water.  In 2017/2018, the Board heard information from their Finance Director, Ms. Leslie Strohm, that District rates were second-highest in the state for a water municipality of their size.  The Board promptly voted to increase rates 17% to pay for capital improvements because customers continued to conserve water and revenues were down.  On November 6, 2018, the Board approved further annual rate increases over the next five, possibly eight years, to pay for the PureWater Soquel Project, with estimated construction cost of $90 Million but with debt service, could be closer to $200 Million.  That is the rate increase that is now stinging customer budgets, and is unfairly penalizing families due to the low Tier rate thresholds.  

The District mailed out information to rate payers about the impending rate increases….stating that over 70% of the customers would only see an increase of $5 or less/month.  Not so!  Many are shocked by their bills jumping over $100 or more….and continue to conserve, and have no leaks detected.

Write the Board of Directors bod@soquelcreekwater.org

PUREWATER SOQUEL PROJECT IS NOT NECESSARY!
Join Water for Santa Cruz County this Wednesday, October 9, at the Aptos Library (7695 Soquel Drive) at 7 pm to learn the truth about this issue.  Why hasn’t Soquel Creek Water District asked the City of Santa Cruz Water Dept. to buy excess water when it is available…Loch Lomond is still nearly full!   Although District Manager Ron Duncan has publicly stated the District has “sent three letters to the City” to ask for water, a Public Records Act request to the District revealed that those letters are all old….October 20, 2011, April 4, 2012, and June 25, 2015.  There’s nothing recent, even though Director Bruce Jaffe has stated multiple times during Board meetings that he will personally ask.  

Why hasn’t the District pursued applying for water rights to the San Lorenzo River, as they were told they could in 2015 by County Water Resources Director, Mr. John Ricker, based on a legal analysis by Best, Best & Krieger, LLP, outlining several legal and potentially very feasibly supplemental supply options for regional surface water conjunctive use to allow groundwater levels to continue to improve.

A group of thoughtful and well-educated local residents, under the leadership of Mr. Scott McGilvray, continue to bring well-researched and public documents to the Soquel Creek Water District and City of Santa Cruz Water Commission to point to the publicly-available facts that indicate there is plenty of water regionally to send to the District without the need for customers to spend outrageous amounts of money to fund an energy-hog and technology-dependent PureWater Soquel Project that would not even come online for three years.

Find more information here

REGIONAL WATER TRANSFERS WILL BEGIN THIS NOVEMBER
That’s right…the water can be flowing now and will be flowing this winter between these two utilities thanks to an intertie connection to allow water to go both directions in emergencies or to assist with supply needs.  That was built shortly after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake to address water emergencies regionally.  

The Santa Cruz City Water Commission will hear a report regarding the continued Regional Surface Water Transfer Pilot Project on Monday, October 7.  Look for the audio/video recording of that meeting on the City website.  The same report will be presented to the Soquel Creek Water District Board on October 15, 2019, 6 pm in the Capitola City Council Chambers. Last year was the first year of the Pilot Surface Water Transfer, and the service area will be expanded this year. 

So, the infrastructure is already in place for Soquel Creek Water District to accept water from the City….they just have to be willing to ask.  WHY DON’T THEY JUST ASK??? 

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WILL CONSIDER MEASURE J RE-WRITE FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING GUIDELINES
This Tuesday’s Board Consent Agenda includes Item #37, a proposed re-write of the landmark Measure J affordable housing ordinance passed by County voters in 1978 when developers were in a building craze that landed this Santa Cruz as the fastest-developing county in the state.  Voters then stood up and demanded the environment and prime ag lands be saved, and mandated a 15% affordable housing component to be included in any subdivisions because there was an affordable housing crisis.  Sound familiar?

Well, the Planning Dept. has been busy whittling away at these mandates via Ad Hoc discretionary planning processes, and even Supervisor Zach Friend publicly stated that “Measure J is old” and should no longer apply.  That explains why the County Planning Dept. is trying to sneak the edited version of the existing Measure J document (29 pages) through APPROVAL BURIED IN THE CONSENT AGENDA as Item #37, allowing no public scrutiny of the new 59-page version.  The staff report claims the County Housing Advisory Commission had comments when the group reviewed the document in early last month, but those comments are not publicly available.  The Commission’s meetings are not audio or video recorded.  Minutes are not available until the following month, and are only Action Minutes and make no note of any content of discussion, participation by members of the public (unless it is a developer who submits their version of what they want to have happen, as did Sibley Simon awhile back..which became the basis for the Commission’s actions).

Also, the Commissioners do not have to declare Ex Parte communication with any parties involved in the discussion items, as do the Planning Commissioners and even the Historic Resources Commissioners.  Hmmm…

Below is text of a letter I wrote to the Board of Supervisors re: Consent Agenda Item #37:

Becky Steinbruner ki6tkb@yahoo.com

To: Ryan Coonerty, Greg Caput, Zach Friend, John Leopold, Bruce McPherson
Cc: Becky Steinbruner
Oct 7 at 5:12 PM

Dear County Supervisors,

Please pull Item #37 from the Consent Agenda and refer it to the Planning Commission for further public review.  I am not certain that the Proposed 59-page document will help streamline the process for Measure J applicants and developers as it is written.

In giving this matter further thought, I want to relay to you that the Measure J process seems to already be a challenge to navigate for those who are lucky enough to qualify.  I heard this from people who attended the Campaign for Sustainable Transportation Conference at Cabrillo College last Saturday, and it comports with what Ms. Julie Conway, Santa Cruz County Housing Planner, has explained relative to the Aptos Village Project Measure J units. 

On August 19, 2019, in reply to my question about this matter, Ms. Conway responded:

“The buyers of the five Measure J homes in Phase 1 have all been determined to be eligible, have secured financing and will close escrow on their homes in the next couple of weeks.  There will not be additional publicity on the Phase 1 ones.”

It has been nearly eight weeks, and there still has been no publicity about any of the five Measure J occupants moving into their new affordable homes.  Therefore, I have to wonder if the delays are related to a cumbersome process, but regardless,   wonder why no Measure J units are yet occupied in the Aptos Village Project Phase I when the process began well over a year ago, in February, 2018?   

I feel this relates to the proposed Measure J document before you October 8, and bears witness to the need for this document to receive greater public scrutiny.  PLEASE PULL ITEM #37 FROM THE CONSENT AGENDA.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Becky Steinbruner

On Monday, October 7, 2019, 8:04:24 AM UTC, Becky Steinbruner wrote: 

Dear Supervisors,

I am submitting comment re: Consent Agenda Item #37 on the October 8, 2019 Board Agenda.

I do not think this item should be on the Consent Agenda to be accepted and approved.  Although the Housing Advisory Commission is said to have reviewed the proposed document, the minutes of that meeting are not included in the Staff Report, so the public has no information regarding what comments the HAC made or if changes were incorporated.  I think the Planning Commission should also review this document before your Board considers further action.

I note the following:

  1. The Proposed document is 59 pages whereas the existing form of the document is 28 pages.  This is a significant change to a critical affordable housing document that should not be merely swept through on the Consent Agenda with approval that would not include thorough public discussion.
  2. There are discrepancies in information for Maximum Monthly Rents for Affordable Rental Units.  On page 14 of the Existing document, the rates are about $200-$300/month less than the rates shown in the Proposed document on page 59 for the same matter.  Why are the rates listed differently when the criteria and date of information are the same?
  3. I see not clear discussion in the Proposed document regarding standards that Measure J units must meet, but in th existing document, on page 22, it states that Measure J units must meet HUD Section 8 requirement.   Is this requirement being eliminated or buried in the Proposed document?
  4. In the Proposed document (page 57) there are significant fees charged to buyers and sellers, but I saw no such table of fees in the current document.  Are these new fees?  If so, that does not serve the purpose of the affordable housing goal to help people get into housing that they can afford.
  5. Finally, why limit the percentage of inclusionary affordable housing to 15% for deed-restricted  home  buyers?  The City of Watsonville requires 20% affordable units in developments.  Why has the Planning Dept. allowed developers who are building rental housing to not abide by the 15% inclusionary affordable unit requirement?  This favors the developer’s profit margins, but hurts the affordable rental market available to those in our community who really are struggling. Overall, I think the existing document is much simpler to read and yet provides the necessary information in a more clear and concise manner.  

Please send this Item to the Planning Commission for their thoughtful review, post comments of both that Commission and the HAC with the Item when it returns to your Board as a Regular Agenda item for better public discussion.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Becky Steinbruner

Well….we shall see what happens…tune in next week.

COUNTY SUPERVISORS WILL VOTE WHETHER OR NOT TO PAY ATTENTION TO PUBLIC INPUT FOR A SUSTAINABLE SANTA CRUZ COUNTY 
In two weeks, on October 22, the Supervisors will vote on whether to approve the re-worked Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Nissan auto dealership at 41st Avenue and Soquel Drive in Soquel.  This is Ad Hoc planning at its worst, with a developer waving money under the nose of the County and the Planning Dept. making interesting deals behind closed doors, many of which were brought to light by the Sustainable Soquel group who sued and WON because the EIR was such a sham.  Now, the County Public Works Dept. has magically come up with the Half a Million Dollars needed to pay for a new traffic light in the area that will supposedly address traffic problems inherent with the auto dealership.

This just stinks.  Doesn’t the County care about the massive amount of money and countless hours spent in community outreach meetings to develop the Sustainable Santa Cruz County Plan that would put housing and public amenities at this very busy intersection?  That Plan has been stalled by the Planning Dept. (I suppose they have been busy with several other closed-door sessions) but finally has gone to Dudek Consultants to begin the EIR process, over five years after it was approved in concept by the Board.  

WRITE THE BOARD about this

WRITE ONE LETTER.  MAKE ONE CALL.  ATTEND ONE PUBLIC MEETING.  MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

BUT JUST DO SOMETHING THIS WEEK! 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 KI6TKB@yahoo.com

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October 6 #279 / Indian Country

I have already written about my enthusiasm for the essays of George Scialabba. Wikipedia describes Scialabba as a “free lance book critic,” and most of his essays are, indeed, formulated as relatively brief reviews of recently-published books. My earlier recommendation that people read Scialabba was based on my own reading of Slouching Toward Utopia

Let me now extend my recommendation to Scialabba’s book, Low Dishonest Decades: Essays & Reviews 1980-2015. His essay, “Indian Country,” included in that book, was written in 1983. In this essay, Scialabba turns his attention to television, and specifically to “Vietnam: A Television History,” produced by the Public Broadcasting Service in October 1983.” Apparently, it would cost you over $200 to buy the DVDs. Reading Scialabba’s essay will cost you a lot less, and may be more thought-provoking. Scialabba’s main point about the television series is that it is impactful as a “presentation,” truly showing the horrors of the Vietnam War, but is much less satisfactory as an “analysis” or “criticism.”

Here is a brief excerpt from the “Indian Country” essay:

One episode opens with the narrator observing that “American combat troops went into Vietnam to prevent the Communists from taking over.” That’s one way of putting it. Here’s a different way: “American troops went into Vietnam to consolidate its takeover by a corrupt repressive ruling elite, in opposition to what even American policy makers recognized was the only popular, honest, competent, genuinely nationalist political movement in the country.” The latter formulation is no less accurate, as the documentary makes clear. But imagine hearing it, flat-out like that, in a narrator’s authoritative baritone voice, on national television. Though true, it would sound stilted, strident, propagandistic. In the ideological universe of American mass media, radical truth risks sounding like propaganda.

The point is worth insisting on – it may well be the most important of all the lessons of Vietnam. Only recently, Stanley Hoffmann, at the far left of the political mainstream, could write in the New York Review of Books that America’s purpose in Vietnam was to “protect a small country from aggression.” This perfectly commonplace statement is almost Orwellian in its neat reversal of the facts … If it is still not possible on national television to apply the words “aggression” and “invasion” to American behavior in Indochina, then the government has won and the peace movement has lost its unequal battle for American hearts and minds.

Later on in the essay, Scilabba lets us know the reason for his title:

American barbarism and American innocence come together for an instant during Vietnam: A Television History. The narrator says: “The Vietcong and the North Vietnamese army controlled large parts of South Vietnam. GIs called these areas ‘Indian country.'” … This remark appears out of nowhere and leads nowhere. Yet it leaves one breathless. After all, most of what GIs and the rest of us know about Indians comes from cowboy movies and TV shows. “Nation building” was what Americans frequently told themselves they were doing in Vietnam; the building of an American nation, in opposition to indigenous non-whites, was what those movies and TV shows mythicized …

Television’s mythic power is precious. But myth needs to be controlled by criticism – the world cannot afrord much more American innocence. Central America is literally “Indian country.” And if the Rapid Deployment Force invades the Middle East, Arabs will soon be the new redskins …
Written in 1983! Very prescient, Mr. Scilabba!
Read what Scilabba has to say, in “Indian Country” and in his other essays. Those who care about the future of American democracy, and who yearn for a world at peace, actually cannot afford to lose the battle for the hearts and minds of America. We can’t assume, either, that we have truly “lost” it. We need to keep trying.

If we continue to consider the entire world to be “Indian Country,” and believe that it is our American duty to tame and subdue it, the bodies of the dead will be piled ever higher. Unless we can first admit, and then change, our historic commitment to “aggression,” we will also experience a lesson that is absolutely contrary to what we have been told in the cowboy movies.

Those we have allowed ourselves to think about as the “Indians” will come to say (and a lot of them already think it) that the “only good American is a dead American.” You can probably recall a different formulation of that statement, popularized by former President Theodore Roosevelt.

Think about it! Turnabout is always fair play, and history is just about ready to turnabout on the United States of America. The more we keep asserting that everywhere else is “Indian Country,” open for our aggression and domination, the more quickly that turnabout day will come.

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. Just a peek at what makes everythings so obvious and confusing. scroll downwards.

EAGAN’S DEEP COVER. See Eagan’s ” Classic 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 WITH NEW COMMENTS RE IMPEACHMENT!! 

LISA JENSEN LINKS. Lisa writes: “She was an Amazon among us puny mortals. Now the late, great, sharp-witted, joyfully irreverent political journalist Molly Ivins gets her own irresistible movie, Raise Hell, this week at Lisa Jensen Online Express (http://ljo-express.blogspot.com )!” Lisa has been writing film reviews and columns for Good Times since 1975. 

 

RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS. I laughed more during this great documentary of the great Molly Ivins than I have at any film in years. Not only was she supremely funny, she was brilliant, with a grasp on USA politics unlike any we’ve ever seen. You’ll even feel the link to today’s Trump sinkhole, and see her unique role in G.W. Bush’s White House. Don’t miss it by any means!!! CLOSES THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10!!

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.

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.

AD ASTRA. Brad Pitt is much more than his usual cute self in this 2001 type space adventure. Shocking but it’s true that film critics liked it more than “audience” on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics gave it 83, audience gave it 45!! Tommy Lee Jones plays Brad’s mysterious and missing father, and Donald Sutherland has a bit part. It’s a serious film about humans, genetics, space, dying, and it’s worth every bit of admission. See it soon.

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. 

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. The more movies you’ve seen in your lifetime the more you’ll like Quentin Tarantino’s latest. With Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in the leads and it all happening in L.A. in 1969 it almost can’t miss. Slightly under the cuteness of the relationship between Pitt and DiCaprio is knowing that the film ends with the Manson Family killings of Sharon Tate and four other characters at the house that she shared with her husband, Roman Polanski. Add Al Pacino for about two minutes to all of that and you’ll be forced to like it.

BRITTANY RUNS THE MARATHON. Actress Jillian Bell plays Brittany and I could not like Jillian Bell no matter how hard I tried. In real life Jillian even lost a lot of weight so she could give a better performance, I didn’t care. As promised she doe run the NY marathon …no she doesn’t win it. The movie is supposed to be a comedy I didn’t laugh once. 

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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. Tuesday, October 8th has Becky Steinbruner talking about the many issues both environmental and developmental that face our county. Then Phyllis Rosenblum director of the Santa Cruz Chamber Players discusses their 2019-2020 season. Mariam Gafforio and a friend from Extinction Rebellion will talk about XRSC and their goals and accomplishments on October 15. 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 

This family looks so much fun!

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. 

    “WHISTLEBLOWERS”

“Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance.”
Barack Obama

“Every country needs its whistleblowers. They are crucial to a healthy society. The employee who, in the public interest, has the independence of judgement and the personal courage to challenge malpractice or illegality is a kind of public hero.”
Fuad Alakbarov 

“Specific protection must be granted to human rights defenders and whistleblowers who have in some contexts been accused of being unpatriotic, whereas they perform, in reality, a democratic service to their countries and to the enjoyment of human rights of their compatriots”. Alfred-Maurice de Zayas 


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
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