Bratton…about Hawaii diaspora, Mozart lunches. Greensite… on centering girls’ and women’s safety. Steinbruner…is getting ready for the County Fair and will be back next week. Hayes…BLM Overlooking Precious Wildlife Conservation. Patton…the “Law” of supply and demand. Matlock…disagreeing on that midnight train to Georgia. Eagan…Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week. Quotes… “Santa Cruz”.
DATELINE September 11
THINKING ABOUT HAWAII and HAWAIIANS.
I’ve subscribed to Ka Wai Ola for years. It’s the Office of Hawaiian Affairs monthly free newspaper. The September issue had a statement that surprised me…”more Native Hawaiians now live on the continent than in Hawaii”. It goes on to talk about the loss of statehood, the takeover by capitalists and government officials and concludes with the Maui wildfires. I looked up more “news” about the diaspora. Here’s some of what I found…”According to 2021 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the biggest growth of Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander populations was in Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, and Sacramento County, California. The biggest decline of Native Hawaiian residents was in Honolulu”.
Then a quote from NPR…”Residents in Hawaii are spending on average 42.06% of their income on rent, which is the highest of any state, according to a Forbes Home analysis. California ranks second, but at a much smaller proportion of income going toward rent: 28.47%”. Lastly from NPR again…”Estimates from the American Community Survey showed that in 2011, there were about 296,400 Native Hawaiians in Hawai’i and about 221,600 on the continental U.S. Just a decade later, those numbers flipped. In 2021, there were about 309,800 Native Hawaiians in Hawai’i and about 370,000 in other states”.
MUNCHING WITH MOZART RETURNS. The heroic, brave, talented Carol Panofsky is bringing back and recreating the every third Friday noon free concerts to our downtown library’s second floor meeting room. The first return concert will be this Friday, September 15, 2023 from 12:10 – 12:50. It features solos by Ziyue (Amy) Zeng, at the piano. She’ll be playing Johann Sebastian Bach, Sergei Prokofiev, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Liszt.
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.
ABOUT ROTTEN TOMATOES AND IMDB. Some statistics somewhere showed that folks almost always go to critic’s reviews/critiques before attending a movie. I’ve always included IMDB (International Movie Data Base) ratings and since we found out last week that some Rotten Tomatoes critics were on the take and receiving monies from movie companies for good reviews I’m happy to stay with IMDB.
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. (MAX SERIES) (7.2 IMDB) It takes place in 1910 New Orleans and Storyville to be exact. The acting is stylized, the scenes are overly dramatic, and it’s not that kind of vampire. This is about a three way gay love affair and will it work? Much sex, booze, and posing. Roger Ebert called it cheesy, he’s right.
A TIME CALLED YOU (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.4 IMDB). An involved Korean series that I really got caught up in. There’s a plane crash and a girl’s boyfriend dies…or did he? His girlfriend travels back in time to 1998 several times or does she? Maybe she’s actually in 1998?? It’s touching, well-acted and fleeting…don’t miss it.
WHO IS ERIN CARTER? (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.4 IMDB). There’s a hold up in a super market and a killing. But little tension, slow moving, little sympathy for anyone and everyone involved. Spain, Mexico and Britain all get involved but save your time and credit and forget Erin Carter.
SITTING IN BARS WITH CAKE.(PRIME MOVIE) (6.7 IMDB). It’s a lot of LA with plenty of bars with girlfriends getting the brilliant idea of making cakes and bringing them to bars to grab the guy’s attention. Bette Midler is legally in the film but there’s no good reason for her rare appearances. There’s a father with cancer, drinking, anger, a brain tumor, shouting and lots of making out. No reason to watch this one.
ONE PIECE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (8.5 IMDB). Another attempt by a studio to combine live action fantasy with animation. It’s into the pirate world and back again. The actors and voices are as good as you can expect when you’re dealing with a two world set-up like this one. Maybe if you’re aged 5 to 12 you might be thrilled but otherwise it’s too cute and not intelligent enough. It’s only been season one so far…maybe they’ll tighten it up and add tension and better jokes….so go warned.
INVASION. (APPLE SERIES) (6.1 IMDB). Long time movie goers will recognize Sam Neill as the sheriff in this invasion of earth movie. All sorts of clues and warnings that aliens are coming but it’s not very exciting. Much of it is in the telling and re telling of individual’s personal history and their reaction to the invasion. It’s mostly nothing you/we haven’t seen before.
SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to Brattononline.com and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.
THE EQUALIZER 3 (Del Mar Theatre) (7.1IMDB). Denzel Washington (age 69) and Dakota Fanning (age 29) head the cast of this conclusion to the Equalizer series. I can’t find or remember what I wrote about the first two Equalizer series…and this part 3 just left me cold, bored and mystified. Somehow Denzel the Equalizer goes to Italy and gets all involved with the Mafia in order to protect his friends who live there. His background/history are mysterious and only hinted at. Go warned.
MASK GIRL. (NETFLIX SERIES) (7.4 IMDB). Most definitely a Korean film that plays out as a semi comedy and some tragedy. A plain looking but shapely girl decides to wear a mask and performs strip dances online. Her followers work hard to expose her and it’s a foolish but curious use of animated cartoons and dance numbers to tell this foolish story.
THE CHOSEN ONE. (NETFLIX SERIES) (5.6 IMDB). A movie from Mexico (Baja California) about a 12 year old boy who discovers that he has powers like Jesus. It’s almost an amateur’s first attempt at making a movie. He makes wine from water, helps the handicapped folks and makes some momentous decisions about how to live his life. I’ve watched the first two episodes and will ignore the rest.
WE CAN DO BETTER
Continuing with the theme from last week on the stark difference I experienced between Tanzania and Santa Cruz on addressing violence against women, this photo is of a member of Monduli Teachers’ College exploring the topic of how a father might best react to hearing that his daughter has been raped. It applies also to granddaughters. This issue is rarely addressed, both in Tanzania and in Santa Cruz. As that country opens a dialogue on issues of violence against women, the city of Santa Cruz closes it down.
There is no lack of examples of the city’s marginalizing these issues. It was evident when I attended the recent meeting of the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women last Wednesday. To say the meeting was frustrating would be an understatement. This indictment is not directed towards commissioners. Most are largely unaware of how neatly the city has stacked the deck to render them less than effective in their ordinance-mandated role.
In contrast to the first thirty- three years, the long-term dedicated staff position for the commission has been terminated. This was a position we worked very hard to secure. The person hired was trained in the issues and gave a minimum of twenty hours a week solely on commission work. That position has been replaced by a revolving door of city manager employees who are present for the meetings but have limited availability outside those few hours. The latest iteration is a senior member of the city manager’s office who had no clue how to handle a tied vote due to one commissioner abstaining from voting. Nor did the chair know what to do with a tied vote. The staff person left the chambers to look up the by-laws. Meanwhile I’m in the audience, prevented only by decorum from calling out, “you can’t abstain from voting unless it’s a conflict of interest!” After ten minutes or so, they figured it out.
Nor were they aware that a commission (or council) standing committee, in this case the Commission Police Committee must be publicly noticed, with time, place and agenda posted. When the public comment period for that item was recognized, I reminded them of this Brown Act requirement. I never expect a thank you, but a cold stare has a chilling effect.
This is small stuff but signifies a less than functional city body. It appears that valuable past commission records and documents have “disappeared.” There is no institutional memory. The commission recently hired a consultant to tell them what they should be doing, all of which is in the records, if they are ever “found.”
Of more serious import is the issue of commission members’ access to redacted police records of reported sexual assaults, excluding those under investigation. Such access is not only supported by the Ordinance language, confirmed by state law but also has been the practice since 1981, until now.
By reviewing redacted reports of sexual assault and compiling the results, the commission can evaluate the quality of investigative techniques and provide the community with a comprehensive overview of important information about sexual assaults committed: when; what part of town; whether by a person unknown or known; whether an arrest was made; whether there were more or less sexual assaults reported last year or the last five years; whether the city has more sexual assaults reported compared to other similar cities; whether we have more or fewer arrests than other cities; whether we have a higher percentage of sexual assaults committed by strangers than other cities (we do). Such information is crucial for public awareness and safety.
When such information was available and developed by the commission in its required annual report to council, the city of Santa Cruz did not feature well. Our rate of reported rape was higher than average; our rate of arrest was lower than average; our rate of rapes committed by strangers was well outside the norm. The last commission comprehensive report was in 2012. A combined three -year report through 2016 was a one pager but still contained some data- based information. Since that time, reports have been a description of events with no data. When I wrote to council this year regarding the commission’s upcoming presentation of its report, pointing out the lack of data in the Agenda Report, a one slide pie graph of aggregate numbers from the SCPD website was added for the council meeting.
Put on notice (by me) that the commission was floundering, lacking dedicated staff; resources and access to police data, the council at that meeting gave the green light for the commission to send to council its wish-list for what the council could do to be of better support. Since then, the commission has drafted and approved a letter asking for more support, referencing the ordinance language that requires police cooperation to provide information not deemed confidential by state law. However, the city attorney has determined that providing such information will be problematic and has recommended against its provision. He has left it in the hands of the city council.
Message to council and the community: the commission cannot do its mandated work without that information and the public cannot be educated without that information. It’s a long road back to a functioning Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and it starts with this one step. For girls and women’s safety…take it!
|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.|
Becky is at the County Fair and will be back next week.
Becky Steinbruner is a 30+ year resident of Aptos. She has fought for water, fire, emergency preparedness, and for road repair. She ran for Second District County Supervisor in 2016 on a shoestring and got nearly 20% of the votes. She ran again in 2020 on a slightly bigger shoestring and got 1/3 of the votes.
Email Becky at KI6TKB@yahoo.com
BLM OVERLOOKING PRECIOUS WILDLIFE CONSERVATION.
Santa Cruz County’s newest conservation land managers are supposed to conserve the wildlife prioritized by the State of California, but are failing to acknowledge their obligations, which means some of our area’s iconic wildlife species will disappear faster due to lack of Federal cooperation at Cotoni Coast Dairies.
The Bureau of Land Management oversees management of Cotoni Coast Dairies, but it is following much-outdated wildlife conservation guidance. Land management agencies like the BLM are guided by policies and procedures that guarantee that they do a good job of managing wildlife. For instance, BLM has its 6840 Manual “Sensitive Species Management,” which notes:
“The objectives of the BLM special status species policy are:
- To conserve and/or recover ESA-listed species and the ecosystems on which they depend so that ESA protections are no longer needed for these species.
- To initiate proactive conservation measures that reduce or eliminate threats to Bureau sensitive species to minimize the likelihood of and need for listing of these species under the ESA.”
In other words, BLM recognizes that the agency should not be contributing to wildlife species becoming rarer and so receiving more regulatory protection, which would impact private landowners by restricting the uses of their property.
Mouritsen’s Duty, Neglected
To avoid that, BLM California’s State Director Karen Mouritsen is required to, “at least once every 5 years,” review and update the BLM-maintained list of sensitive species in coordination with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). It is unusual for such policy guidance to lay out a specific timeline, which adds clarity to expectations. The last time California BLM’s sensitive wildlife list was updated was in 2010, before Director Mouritsen’s tenure: 13 years ago! A lot has changed in those intervening years, and scientists have recognized that many more wildlife species are in need of protection by BLM.
Repercussions at Cotoni Coast Dairies
What happens when BLM’s sensitive wildlife species list isn’t updated? Let’s look at the Cotoni Coast Dairies example. BLM has already completed a Resource Management Plan that is meant to guide wildlife conservation on the property. Under the guidance and environmental review provided by the RMP, the agency is building miles of trails and parking lots, implementing a cattle grazing program, and allocating funding to other prioritized activities. BLM will soon embark on a Science Plan for the property. The RMP didn’t and the Science Plan will not consider conservation of wildlife species that do not appear on the BLM’s sensitive species list. And so, the following 10 rare wildlife species will receive no attention, pushing them further towards extinction: ferruginous hawk, grasshopper sparrow, Northern harrier, olive-sided flycatcher, American badger, San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat, Western pond turtle, California red-legged frog, American peregrine falcon, and short-eared owl.
A Deeper Dive – Grasshopper Sparrow
Let’s consider one of those species with a little more detail, the grasshopper sparrow. If this species is nesting in an area, under California law they are protected and our state wildlife agency, CDFW, has been charged with their conservation. According to BLM guidance, Director Mouritsen is 13 years overdue in updating the agency’s sensitive wildlife list for California to include this species. As their name suggests, grasshopper sparrows are grassland-dependent organisms. There is an abundance of nesting grasshopper sparrows at Cotoni Coast Dairies.
Without active management such as with carefully planned livestock grazing or fire, all of the grasslands at Cotoni Coast Dairies will disappear, being invaded first by brush and then by trees. This is already happening with extensive French broom and coyote brush invasion.
Already, BLM has planned its livestock grazing and recreational trail uses without consideration of preferred habitat for nesting grasshopper sparrows. Livestock grazing could be taking place to the detriment of the species, already. The construction of recreational trails and parking lots may have already destroyed important nesting habitat. When recreational visitors start using those facilities, it may occur before BLM has a baseline study of the density and location of nesting grasshopper sparrows. So, the agency will be unable to understand how land uses are impacting the species and so will be unable in an informed way to adjust its recreational or livestock management to better conserve the species.
It may well be that BLM’s management of Cotoni Coast Dairies will further reduce nesting populations of grasshopper sparrow, pushing the species closer to the point where they will need to be listed as threatened or endangered. When that occurs, private landowners whose land supports nesting grasshopper sparrows will see increased regulation and oversight by the State and/or Federal government. Their property values will be reduced and their ability to develop homes, farms, or other uses will be diminished.
On the other hand, if the California BLM State Director Mouritsen were to meet her regulatory obligation and update the BLM State Sensitive Wildlife Species List in the near future, a bunch of good would result. First, Cotoni Coast Dairies’ Science Plan could provide guidance for conserving those species. Second, because BLM funding is tied to the number of sensitive species on each property, Cotoni Coast Dairies would be better situated for increased conservation funding. If the Science Plan succeeded in moving forward the conservation of sensitive species like the grasshopper sparrow, BLM’s leadership on these issues could help many other land managers do the right thing for species, contributing to the potentiality of ‘delisting’ species, reducing the potential for increased regulatory burden and loss of private property values.
Do Your Part
I’ve said it before in this column, but I’ll say it again. NOW is the time to write Director Mouritsen to urge her to do her job. She hasn’t replied to any of the numerous letters she’s already received, so evidently she needs more pressure to take this seriously. Here’s some language to send to her via her email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Director Mouritsen,
I care about wildlife and plant conservation on BLM’s Cotoni Coast Dairies property in Santa Cruz County. I write to urge you to help by adding sensitive species found on that property to the State BLM’s sensitive species lists. Only if those species are on the State’s lists will local administrators consider impacts of their management on those species in their analyses and planning for the property. So, I ask that you please:
- Publish an updated State BLM sensitive wildlife list in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as mandated by the BLM’s 6840 Special Status Species Manual.
- This list was last updated in 2010, but you are required to update it at least every 5 years.
- Publish an updated State BLM sensitive plant list to include the State ranked 1B plant species documented at Cotoni Coast Dairies, as mandated by the 6840 Manual.
I would appreciate a reply to this email with details about how you intend to address these issues.
Grey Hayes is a fervent speaker for all things wild, and his occupations have included land stewardship with UC Natural Reserves, large-scale monitoring and strategic planning with The Nature Conservancy, professional education with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and teaching undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz. Visit his website at: www.greyhayes.net
Email Grey at email@example.com
Readers of my blog postings may or may not have heard about a plan, pushed by land speculators and development interests, to turn huge areas of open space and farmland in Solano County into a “new city.”
Click this link to read a recent AP news story about what has been a “stealth” effort by “billionaires” to buy up land for this proposed project. The whole idea – great for the billionaire land speculators – would be fundamentally inconsistent with Solano County’s current land use policies.
An attorney friend of mine – who lives in Southern California – recently wrote me a note in which she made the following observation, with reference to the proposed Solano County development:
I thought the whole point of these housing density bills was to stop sprawl. I wonder if the governor is supportive of this project too? I’m sure these billionaires assume they can just roll the land use laws. This will be a test to see whether the legislature and the governor will finally put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.
My friend’s comment references the fact that the Governor (and the State Legislature) have recently been undermining “local control” over land use. I mentioned that phenomenon in my blog posting last Monday, suggesting that an initiative petition being circulated in the City of Santa Cruz would be an important way to bolster local control over future high-rise developments in the city, besides helping to ensure that developers produce more “affordable” housing units than state law would otherwise make them produce.
The “housing density bills” my attorney friend mentions in her note to me are bills that mandate new density in existing cities, while depriving local elected officials (and local voters) of their ability to try to balance the demands for new development with other important objectives of good land use policy. For instance, preserving farmland and open space is important. So is dealing with issues like traffic, parking, neighborhood compatibility, water availability, etc., as new developments occur inside already existing urban areas. Recent state laws (those “housing density bills”) constrict or remove the ability of local officials to make key land use decisions, as they attempt to establish the right balance.
I wrote back a response to the question posed by my friend. I suggested that the newest efforts at the state level to reduce local discretion over local land use questions is mainly driven by our state’s very real, and very urgent, housing crisis. Unfortunately, the proposed “solution” for this crisis – eliminating local land use discretion and mandating new high-rise and high-density developments – isn’t actually effective in producing more “affordable housing.”
I have a theory why the state is going along with the developers, which I sent along to my attorney friend. She thought it was a pretty good explanation, so I decided I’d pass it along to those who read this blog.
If the so-called “Law of Supply And Demand” were actually a “law,” equivalent to the law of gravity or other such laws that describe the inevitable consequences of some action or condition, then maybe the state’s preemption of local authority would make some sense. But there is no such operational “law,” which is the point I made in the response I sent to my friend (I have also talked about this topic before):
It is my opinion that the political efforts now underway to overturn and undermine local land use controls (to promote “affordable” and “infill” housing) have very little to do with the “smart growth” philosophy that many of us have supported – and that I, certainly, still support. “Smart growth” does require infill, and infill projects, clearly, are more difficult politically (and often economically) than “greenfield” projects that represent the typical “sprawl” style of development that “smart growth” is intended to counter. In fact, genuine “infill” development (as contemplated in the “smart growth” philosophy of future land use development) requires great attentiveness to the “neighbors” who will, inevitably, be impacted by new infill development. Allowing local governments to figure out how to accomplish politically challenging infill projects requires the exercise of lots of local discretion, because the parking, traffic, and utility issues are very real.
In my opinion, the political basis upon which the YIMBY [“Yes” In My Backyard”] argument that the state should preempt local discretion is founded on the implicit claim that there is a reality to a posited “Law of Supply and Demand.” Proponents win the argument in favor of new, high-density development (both in the legislature and in the mind of the public) based on people’s belief that there really is a “Law” that insures that a reduction in housing prices will occur if the “supply” of housing is only increased. The argument that makes acceptable the erasure of rules intended to balance community concerns as development proceeds is based upon a genuine (though terribly mistaken) belief that if the “supply” of housing can be made to increase then the “price” of housing will fall.
The lack of affordable housing is a national, and state, and local crisis. So, to the degree that the supposed “Law of Supply and Demand” will provide a solution, as many believe it will, other important priorities can be disregarded. Of course, in the state legislature, the “pay to play” principle is also a major reason for our state legislators’ recent willingness to sell out the communities they represent for campaign dollars (and in some cases, probably, for personal dollars).
In fact, “demand” is not a constant, so increasing the “supply” doesn’t inevitably mean a decrease in price. The “demand” in my community, for instance, is functionally unlimited. If new housing units are made available in Santa Cruz County, there will be more than enough demand (coming from outside the community and generated by the possibility provided by the new supply) to “raise,” not lower, prices. That’s what is actually going on, but I have observed well-intentioned people say that while it’s “too bad” that local neighborhoods will be undermined by the developments being approved, on the basis of recently-enacted state laws, these outcomes are really alright, and necessary, since it is so important to produce affordable housing.
Regrettably, the state legislature has not mandated universal inclusionary housing requirements (requirements that we instituted in Santa Cruz County in 1978), which might actually help address the lack of affordable housing. Instead, the legislature is backing the “supply and demand” theory that if we just let the developers build more units the price will go down. Ironically, some of the legislature’s newest efforts have actually undermined our local inclusionary housing ordinance, by giving out “density bonus” units to developers that are substituted for what would otherwise be inclusionary affordable units required by our local ordinance.
Anyway, this short rant, stimulated by your inquiry to me, is intended to encourage all of us to try to get local and state officials, and the public at large, to realize that MORE housing does not, absent very specific, and increased, affordable housing mandates, mean more “affordable” housing. Certainly in places like Santa Cruz, California, these new state law mandates for more, more, more – and for higher, higher, higher – have just the opposite effect.
That’s the analysis that I sent to my Southern California friend. For residents in the City of Santa Cruz, let me reiterate my suggestion that we should be trying to get that “Housing For People” initiative measure qualified for the city ballot next March! It would increase the “inclusionary” percentage, locally, meaning more affordable housing, despite what the state has been doing to reduce our affordable housing requirements. It would also “secure our right to vote on height.”
If you care about affordable housing, and want to have more local control over new development, not less, this initiative measure is a step in the right direction!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
DISAGREEING ON THAT MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO GEORGIA
Last week the Fulton County, Georgia grand jury report containing the suggested charges in the election tampering case, with 39 names which had been under consideration for possible indictments by DA Fani Willis wasreleased. Of the names on the list Willis selected 19 for indictments. Former Georgia senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were included, as was South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, but the DA decided to leave them as un-indicted co-conspirators…so far. Her reasoning was likely influenced by the vote tallies of the grand jury members, which were weighted heavily toward indictment but with enough variations which may have presaged problems with future trial jurors, not to mention the complex legal arguments involving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The complexity of indicting Trump national security advisor, Michael Flynn, though the jurors voted 20 to 1 for indictment, may have given him a temporary reprieve with his exclusion. The same explanation might be applied to Trump aide, Boris Epshteyn. One dissenter is noted on each of the votes for Trump’s recommended indictments, and Willis filed several of those charges against him; but, she also included her own charge for the fake elector scheme, not recommended by the grand jurors. Of course, Trump on Truth Social, dismissed the report as having “ZERO credibility.” “Essentially, they wanted to indict anybody who happened to be breathing at the time. It totally undermines the credibility of the findings, and badly hurts the Great State of Georgia, whose wonderful and patriotic people are not happy with this charge,” he whinged.
(Not-a-)Senator(-from-Georgia-) Graham, who appeared before the grand jury after the court ordered him to do so – taking it to the Supreme Court – said he was “totally surprised” to have been on the list and, “The next election, if I have questions, I’ll do the same thing.” Representative Adam Schiff pounced on Graham after he claimed his actions were “consistent” with being a Senator. “I think Lindsey Graham’s explanation doesn’t pass the laugh test,” Schiff said. “You don’t – as a Senator, a House member or another elected official – call a secretary of state in some other state and try to get them to toss out votes. That is not the least part of the job description, and he’s lucky not to be indicted.” Graham reportedly had called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to toss ballots, “not to find votes,” in hopes of giving Trump the state’s electoral votes. The Former Guy’s attorneys filed three lawsuits asking the court to toss out the grand jury report and countermand Willis’s inquiry, along with an effort to sue the DA and Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who presided over the grand jury. A heavily redacted version of the report concluded no evidence of rampant chicanery resulting in a Trump loss, after which The Don’s legal team protested that some of the report’s content might influence a jury. Declining to take up the matter, the Georgia Supreme Court wrote that Trump was simply “circumventing the ordinary channels” for obtaining relief.
Cartoonist Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press portrays the old Proud Boys slogan – ‘Stand back and stand by,’ with the new one – ‘Stand trial and serve time.’ The Boys took a few hits last week with sentences handed down for their insurrectionist incursion on the D.C. Mall and environs on January 6, 2021. As the last of the seditious conspiracy cases wrapped up, which resulted in various charges for over 1,100 rioters, the groundwork is being prepared for the highest profile conspiracy case yet: the trial of un-President Trump, and the 18 others indicted along with him, with another 10 un-indicteds standing in the wings, awaiting their chances. Mary McCord, former federal prosecutor and Georgetown Law professor said, “The cases involving seditious conspiracy and the case in which Mr. Trump is charged federally do all involve an effort to prevent the peaceful transition of presidential power – to overrule or override the will of the voters. Mr. Trump is a different defendant than an ‘Enrique’ Tarrio or a Stewart Rhodes.” The conspiracies alleged are not the same, with prosecutors presenting different cases to a D.C. jury than that of the extremist group leaders.
Trump faces ‘only’ four counts in DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith’s D.C. case, but the cases indicate a cause-and-effect tie with the extremist groups to engage in their various conspiracies according to Stan Twardy, a former federal prosecutor and practicing attorney. “Trump lit the match, and the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys were the gasoline that exploded here,” Twardy says of the indictments. Violence in both speech and behavior were basis of the DOJ’s cases against the Oath Keepers who predicted a civil war and had stashed weapons across the Potomac. The Proud Boys called for “war and revolution” as they dismantled barricades, breached the Capitol building and fought with law enforcement. Proud Boy ‘Enrique’ Tarrio crowed, “Make no mistake…we did this.” Trump’s case will be based on communications, revealing his words and those of his co-conspirators indicating the willingness, and agreement, to commit a crime. Mary McCord says, “Prosecutors will likely present a mix of Trump’s public statements and private ones to make their case. His legal team will likely argue that Trump had no intent to subvert the election results because he honestly believed he was the winner. Mr. Trump maintains to this day that there was fraud in the election. I think he’s tried to make the public believe that if he honestly and truly believed the election was stolen, that essentially, he couldn’t be guilty of anything because he had a right to attack the results of the election.” Trump’s delusional belief won’t necessarily clear him of misconduct as charged in Jack Smith’s indictment, with mention of the riot in which the former president sought to “impair, obstruct, and defeat the federal government function through dishonesty, fraud and deceit.”
Proud Boys, some of whom will be Old Boys by the time they see freedom outside of prison walls, were convicted in May, and last week got sentences ranging from 17 to 22 years. ‘Enrique’ Tarrio, who was seen as “the ultimate leader” by US District Judge Kelly, got 22 years, though he was not present at the J6 riot as he continued to spur his compatriots on. Four other PBs, Nordean, Biggs, Rehl, and Pezzola, got off with slightly lighter sentences, even after the prosecutors sought longer terms all the accused. The judge conceded that the conviction met the guidelines for enhanced terrorism penalties under federal law, saying further, “the terrorism adjustment overstates” their roles in the offense since they did not have the intent to kill or cause mass casualties. Though Tarrio apologized for the harm caused to the Capitol police on J6, the judge felt there was no remorse for those actions for which he was convicted. Judge Kelly said, “I think we’re talking past each other in many ways. There’s only so much that statement can go toward assuring me that deterrence is not warranted.”
Prison sentences will not deter the Proud Boys from infusing their destructive energy into the GOP, and their attempts to alter American’s lives by being in effect the Republican paramilitary force. After Oath Keepers leader, Stewart Rhodes, was sentenced to 18 years for seditious conspiracy, that organization has experienced a decline in numbers; but, Proud Boys draw their energy from the GOP, with Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Roger Stone, Lauren Boebert, and Michael Flynn carrying their banner. Arizona Representative Paul Gosar supposedly recruited Proud Boys to block certification of election results in his state after the 2020 election to no avail. And who can forget President Trump’s call to the Boys in a debate with candidate Biden saying, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by?” Their membership rolls increased as they became his BFFs, and they showed us of what they are capable in their insurrection. Think Trump is starting to feel a bit edgy, now that the court system is showing its power?
A post on Quorum wonders if Florida Judge Aileen Cannon in her drive to absolve Trump of all charges, will continue to risk losing her cushy forever-job, or will she follow the law and precedent? An example of following the law: A jury is picked in Trump’s purloined documents case. Immediately the defense attorneys ask that the charges be dismissed because of blah, blah and blah… only a formality, which most presiding judges decline to honor, but they don’t HAVE to deny the request. So, should Trump’s team begin by saying, “Your honor, we ask that all charges be dismissed because the Moon is in the 7th House, and Jupiter is aligned with Mars.” Judge Cannon, hearing the power and logic of the appeal, might say, “Case dismissed.” Scary enough for you?
In Jack Smith’s D.C. case, he and the Justice Department will examine closely the cases against the insurrectionists, and in particular the verdicts returned against the leaders, which might inform them of the persuasive points, and what jurors will find to be compelling evidence. Former federal prosecutor, Barbara McQuade of the University of Michigan, feels attempts to portray the J6 actions as patriotic is one facet that has been, and will be, rejected by a jury. She said, “Jack Smith can be confident that a reasonable jury can be selected that sees the events of that day for what they were – a profound display of disloyalty to the United States.” Henry (Enrique) Tarrio’s seditious conspiracy conviction lets prosecutors see that a jury understands the guilt of a person who isn’t present at the scene of the crime, since Tarrio was in Baltimore on January 6 after being arrested on separate charges. McQuade warns that no two juries are alike, with just one outlier able to bring it crashing down. Again: the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there is criminality.
Representative Jim ‘Gym’ Jordan got his sore butt handed back to him by Fulton County, Georgia DA Fani Willis last week after he attempted to interfere with her criminal investigation into Donald Trump and his minions. Jordan sent a letter demanding information and communications with the Department of Justice and Executive Branch officials, and information on federal funding the her office receives. The Ohio representative knows full well that Willis is within her rights to proceed with her case with the 19 indictments involving Trump’s four year crime spree of corruption and incompetence, but he and the MAGA crowd couldn’t care less. One writer compared Jordan’s letter to emails from ‘Nigerian princes’ which are intentionally loaded with grammatical mistakes and punctuation errors seeking to scam recipients of money or hard drive data. Smart people immediately know they are dealing with a scammer and hit ‘delete,’ leaving the ‘princes’ with the stupid recipients who won’t catch on until it’s too late…distilled brainlessness! The MAGA messages attempt to accomplish the same thing with their wacko conspiracy theories…smart people move on, or the conmen find a sucker.
Fani Willis is not one to put up with this meddling, and she forcefully responded to Jordan’s letter by telling him, “It is clear you lack a basic understanding of the law, and are overstepping your congressional authority.” The Palmer Report’s Bocha Blue feels it would make a good Saturday Night Live sketch, with Willis being a spirited and fiery woman against Jordan’s sludge-like character. Further, Willis told ‘Gym,’ “Your job as a legislator does not include criminal enforcement.” Blue describes Jordan as a ‘lurker,’ poking his nose into places it shouldn’t be, a person who has an unusually thick skull that doesn’t register phrases like ‘critical thinking skills.’ Willis essentially told the meddler where to stick his inquiry, and that his calling the prosecution a ‘political stunt‘ being related to ‘federal interests,’ does not relate to the interference in state-run elections. The charges against Trump in Fulton County rightfully belong to the state of Georgia, not the federal government! ‘Prince Gym’ tried to come across as knowledgeable, but it all fell flat in the face of Willis’ onslaught, as she pointed out several inaccuracies and misleading statements. She went on to state that his actions offend “each and every one of the settled principles of law,” as he attempted to obstruct the proceedings and advance his own partisan goals. The topper in her response used Jordan’s own words in his earlier letter to the House Select Committee: “This unprecedented action serves no legitimate legislative purpose and would set a dangerous precedent for future Congresses…the American people deserve better.” DA Willis is well-versed in the law and proper procedure, as she proved that Jim Jordan is a complete ass!
Former youth pastor and author, John Pavlovitz, who is known for his progressive social and political writings from a liberal Christian perspective posted an open letter on his website several years ago, which deserves a look-back. He says the phrase, ‘We’re just going to have to agree to disagree,’ is unacceptable, and he refuses the term. His response would be, “I believe you’re deeply, profoundly, and egregiously wrong…this is not a disagreement.” See his post here. Perfect for the after-Thanksgiving dinner-food fight!
Remember what Leonard Cohen said: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in!”
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: email@example.com.
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“Growing up in northern California has had a big influence on my love and respect for the outdoors. When I lived in Oakland, we would think nothing of driving to Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz one day and then driving to the foothills of the Sierras the next day”.
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“My own zigzag path through life led me back to Santa Cruz in the early Eighties, and I have revisited regularly since. The place hasn’t changed: head in the clouds, backside on the hills and feet in the ocean – one of the most decent and beautiful places on earth.
It’s a story of reincarnation, and it’s quite beautiful.
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