Blog Archives

September 14 – 20, 2022

Highlights this week:

BRATTON…Measure O party, local star up for Emmy awards, movie critiques, Live Here Now. GREENSITE…on heritage tree loss and what you can do about it. KROHN…Follow the money, measure O, measure N, Owen Lawlor. STEINBRUNER…County general plan, county fire codes, Branciforte fire district, fire survivor’s decisions, Yes on O. HAYES…Apples. PATTON…Happy Valentine’s Day in advance. MATLOCK…Summer vacation with your classifieds & Matthew Cole Scott. EAGAN… Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. WEBMISTRESS’ PICK OF THE WEEK…second try…QUOTES…”Queens”

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OLD COUNTY BANK BUILDING built in 1894. There have been some minor adjustments but the building still looks about the same. It is at the corner of Pacific and Cooper Streets.                                                  

Additional information always welcome: email bratton@cruzio.com

                                                                                                             DATELINE September 12

YES ON MEASURE O PARTY.

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With beautiful food catered by India Joze, bubbles created by Tom Noddy, music and art from Russell Brutsche and talks by John Hall, Bob Morgan, Hector Marin, and wrapped up by Gary Patton you couldn’t help having a great time…especially with probably 150 long time Santa Cruz friends. It all happened at Chris Krohn’s house. Measure O was the main topic along with exposing the huge real estate/developer money being poured in to defeat O. I thanked Stephen Kessler who was there for his incisive well done column in last Saturday’s Sentinel, Gary Patton read from it and thanked him too. Read it here…

Read it here…

Another strong point was made by Gary Patton when he talked about saving Lighthouse Point from developers who tried very hard to create an entire convention Center there in 1974. The community rose up and stopped that development (along with stopping 10000 houses on Wilder Ranch) and as Gary stated, it’s time we as a community stop the over development that our present City Council and County Board of Directors so strongly support.

LOCAL STAR MAKING GOOD. Adam Scott the star of Severance has won two nominations for this year’s Emmy Awards. Adam is our only locally born Santa Cruz movie star. His dad is Dougald Scott who taught at Cabrilho College and his mom Anne was a very active and good artist. Adam went to Harbor High. Severance also got nominated as Outstanding Drama Series along with Ozark, Succession and other biggies. Adam faced competition in the Lead actor in a Drama Series from Brian Cox, Jason Bateman and Bob Odenkirk. If the Nickelodeon theatre ever gets back into operation we need to get Adam Scott’s hands and footprints into the cement next to Rory Calhoun’s.

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.

BAD SISTERS. (APPLE PRIME SERIES) (7.8 IMDB). There are five sisters and one of them has a husband who is simply terrible. This British series has laughs, much tension and flashbacks that tell a mysterious and drawn out plot by four of the sisters to eliminate the bad guy. It’s full of surprises, tension and after watching 2 of the 10 episodes I believe it’ll be well worth your time.

DEVIL IN OHIO. (NETFLIX SERIES) (6.0 IMDB). Emily Deschanel leads the casting of this puzzling series dealing with the anti-christ, nearly supernatural back story of a young girl who barely speaks during the first two episodes of this slow moving series. The girl was captive in a cult and the secrets she tries to communicate come very slowly. Well-acted but very slow moving.

LOVING ADULTS. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.4 IMDB). This Danish movie is a very deep dive into marriage and trust and secret sex. There is murder, crimes of passion and a genuine twist that will surprise you about half way through. It’s about how much do we put up with to save our relationships. Go for it, you’ll be mesmerized.

I CAME BY. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (6.1 IMDB). The unforgettable star of this one is Hugh Bonneville the lead actor in Downton Abbey. He’s a powerful leader in London and his home is the target for two taggers who sneak in and paint slogans on the walls. George MacKay whose face you’ll remember is a bad guy tagger is perfect the role. Surprises, tension, cruelty, sadism all add up to a fine film to view. Many surprise and plot twists…don’t miss it.

EVERY LAST SECRET. (HULU MOVIE) (3.3 IMDB). This was Ray Liotta’s almost last movie and he does his usual fine but stylized acting. The plot centers on a 35 year old war veteran who’s suffering from PTSD and he gets very involved with a 17 year old girl who can’t stay away from him. She pursues him in spite of some obvious issues. The plot wanders and it’s difficult to follow especially when it gets into suicide and murder and mental health areas. Don’t expect too much.

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 GOOD BOSS. (DEL MAR THEATRE) (7.2 IMDB).  Javier Bardem has to be the almost best actor on our screens today. Good Boss has won many awards since its release last year and Bardem should be given an Oscar for this one. He plays the boss / owner of an industrial weighing scales manufacturing company. It’s billed as a comedy/drama but I found few places to laugh and it’s still an excellent movie. His attempts to keeping all the employees happy are beautifully carried out. His failures are so human and again Bardem’s acting is so perfect you’ll be mesmerized… don’t miss it.

THE RINGS OF POWER. (PRIME SERIES) (6.8 IMDB). J.R.R. Tolkien was one of a very few genius writers of fables. His Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and a few more will remain our memories probably forever. Now the bastardized version/spinoff The Rings of Power has hit our screens and it’s difficult to watch because we have to forget how entertaining the original was. The huge (CGI) sets look so much like Maxfield Parrish paintings that it’s hard to remember where and “when” we are watching. The cast is interracial and it also has no actors of note. Maybe if we go back and watch Lord of the Rings again we might be able to link and appreciate Rings of Power more.

BELOW THE FOLD. (PRIME MOVIE) (4.0 IMDB). Below the fold refers to the old days when newspapers were made of paper and we folded them!! A young woman reporter and her older partner search back through decades to find out who killed a 12 year old girl who’s been missing for over ten years. Who they interview and what’s involved in the plot is amateurish, the acting is stylized and the production lacks much needed professionalism.

THE CRICKETS DANCE. (PRIME VIDEO) (5.3 IMDB). It takes place in the Deep South state of Georgia. A woman searches for an old diary and then for all the history that goes with it. It’s poorly acted, boring, and nothing you haven’t seen before. Some of the plot comes dangerously close to dealing with the racial issues that existed then and still are with us. You have better things to do than to watch this one.

THE PATIENT. (HULU SERIES) (7.9 IMDB). Steve Carell does his usual fine acting in this very tense well-made movie. He is a serious therapist and Domhnall Gleeson is the psycho serial killer who imprisons him. It’s tense, very deep in both their histories and each episode is only about 25 minutes plus the usual Hulu commercials. Watch it.

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SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS CONCERT. Their next concert will be Beethoven, Bagatelles, and Music for Winds and Piano. Music by Beethoven, Françaix, Ligeti, Jon Scoville, Couperin. It’s happening SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 7:30 PM and SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 3:00 PM. It features Ivan Rosenblum, Concert Director and Piano Lars Johannesson, Flute Peter Lemberg, Oboe Erica Horn, Clarinet Michelle Reem, Bassoon and Susan Vollmer, French horn. It’ll happen at Christ Lutheran Church 10707 Soquel Drive, Aptos

TURLOUGH O’CAROLAN CELTIC MUSIC CONCERT. Turlough O’Carolan was a contemporary of J.S. Bach, O’Carolan (1670-1738) was Ireland’s most famous harper. Though blinded by smallpox at age 18, a patron gave him a harp, a horse and a guide, and he supported himself for 50 years as an itinerant harpist, becoming the most famous of all Celtic composers. Many members of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival will be performing.

Linda Burman-Hall, Director, harpsichord, virginal. Shelley Phillips, harp, Baroque oboes, folk flutes. William Coulter, guitar, bodhran. Robin Petrie, hammered dulcimer. Deby Benton Grosjean, traditional fiddle, Baroque violin. John Weed, fiddle and Barry Phillips, on ‘cello. The concert is FREE and will be at 3pm October 9 Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Hall.

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September 12

LOSING OUR HERITAGE

When I pulled into the gas station on Mission St., near where Chestnut veers towards downtown my jaw dropped and I let out an audible gasp. Not at the price of gas, but because the beautiful, tall Iron Bark tree pictured, that I admired every time I pulled in was missing from the scene. I appreciate the irony of lamenting the destruction of a heritage tree while filling up with petroleum, however we do both at our peril.

Depressed at losing yet another of the city’s remaining heritage trees to the chain saw, I turned to the city’s 2030 Climate Action Plan, on the city council agenda for Tuesday September 13th. Since most school children are aware that big trees inhale carbon, exhale oxygen and store the most carbon until they die or are felled and decay, one might expect that preserving our remaining big trees would be a highlight in the report. Unfortunately, not. Out of the 147 pages, only 2 address trees. Not a single page is devoted to the preservation and care of big trees. The 2 pages on trees refer to planting 3000 new trees, worth doing but far too late in the game, plus forest management to prevent fires and enhanced landscaping. That’s it. For those who think all is well so long as we are planting saplings, consider that a sapling planted today will take 80 years to reach the size of the Iron Bark when it was felled. Do we have 80 years?

A further threat to our remaining heritage trees is the current building boom in Santa Cruz. Most of the city’s heritage trees grow on private property. With new state housing laws promoting dense, mixed-use projects, state mandates that the city somehow build 3700 new housing units in the next 8 years and state law now allowing single family lots to be subdivided to allow 4 houses on one lot, the sacrifice of remaining heritage trees is a given. Some people treasure their heritage trees and care for them. Others regard them as impediments and do all they can to secure their removal and are successful, more often than not. Add to this tree carnage, the hundreds of tree removals associated with the rail trail corridor and the future for big trees and the habitat they provide looks grim.

There are a few glimmers of hope that will require community voices to be raised loudly and strongly. I’m betting there are tree lovers out there who will heed the call.

The photo above is what happens when the Heritage Tree Ordinance and its accompanying Resolution are not ignored. The tree is a Corymbia, an Australian native and one of the highlights on the popular annual Heritage Tree tour conducted by the city urban forester. Front Street used to be lined with such trees before the majority were cut down by the city in the 1980’s. This one survivor, at the confluence of Cedar and Center Streets was saved because the legal language to protect heritage trees was followed. It states (with respect to new construction) that heritage trees can be cut down only if “a construction project design cannot be altered to accommodate existing heritage trees or heritage shrubs.” (Criteria & Standards 1 (3). Most developers are never held to this legal requirement but in this case, they were. Imagine the look of this corner without the tree?

Which brings us to the library/garage/affordable housing project. Lot 4, the space the city wants to develop for this massive project, as you probably know, has a number of heritage trees growing onsite, including the iconic magnolia trees. While some of the trees may be determined to be structurally unsound, many are sound and could be preserved if the city’s consulting architects are required to follow the legal requirement as quoted above. So far, the public presentations on this project have made no mention of the trees, despite specific design renditions shared. On Wednesday September 21st the city will hold a Community Meeting on this project via zoom. You can attend and make sure the heritage trees issue is addressed.

Another occasion needing input from tree lovers will be when the Objective Standards issue is back before council in early November. The group, Save Our Big Trees, who won the lawsuit against the city when the city tried to weaken the Heritage Tree Ordinance, offered a short submittal that would require new project developers to relocate rather than destroy any heritage trees onsite that the development would displace. The city has so far failed to incorporate this submission into their Objective Standards proposal. I asked the nation’s experts in tree relocation to contact the city to discuss, which they did, however so far, no progress.

This may be our last hope to save some remaining heritage trees before the urban multi-family, mixed-use building frenzy begins in earnest. The silence of the Climate Action Plan on this issue is troubling.

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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September 12

ONCE AGAIN, FOLLOW THE MONEY

 “Nobody believed that the people could actually be in charge of the government. In other words, the elected officials—really, it’s not unlike what’s going on in the national campaign right now—the official elected representatives really didn’t represent the people. They represented the people who had money—the business community and the developers.”

Gary Patton on Saving Lighthouse Field

Money Campaigns, Off and Running

Much of the talk around the “Greenway Initiative,” Measure D on this past June ballot, was about money. Where was the money coming from? A lot of it came from the very high rollers of Santa Cruz County, the Ows, Colligans, and Reiters. Well, looks like money is at it again in the Measure N, Empty Homes Tax, and Measure O, Our Downtown, Our Future campaigns. And also again, it is not pretty for those who would like lots of political participation and less money to influence local politics. There’s a lot of money on the Santa Cruz table and that’s why the realtors and developers are coming after these two initiatives. It ain’t softball any more, these folks mean business, and they talk with their checkbooks. Let’s have a look.

Measure O and It’s Discontents

Owen Lawlor is numero uno, on the Our Downtown, Our Future displeasure chart. He’s occupied space in this column before and has slowly and grudgingly become the Santa Cruz bad haircut that will just not go away. You might remember, young Owen, after graduating with a degree from UCSC went off to the big city to attain a Master’s degree from Columbia, in what else? Real estate. He came back to Santa Cruz and after finding he could really work with Economic Development director, Bonnie Lipscomb, became the fixer for many who could just not comprehend or have enough patience to grapple with the Santa Cruz (of old?) citizen-initiated anti-market-rate developer schemes. Yep, brother Owen and sister Bonnie are quite the pair in getting real estate deals done these days. Of course, they needed a government insider and former councilmember, Cynthia Mathews, and she offers that expertise in rounding out the cash machine-trio who seem to be the catalyst for the profit centers of all those ugly buildings going up in town. It wasn’t always so smooth-sailing for Fixer Owen. After losing the city council majority in 2018, his library-in-a-garage development lynch-pin project looked like it might be doomed. But the forces surrounding him, and his several “LLC” partners—Santa Cruz Forward, California Apartment Association, Santa Cruz Together, Craig French, Larry Pearson, Jan Hochhauser, Mike Musleh, and now the throat-clearing, Santa Cruz for Real Library and Housing Solutions—are out for blood, and no 5,000 petition-signers and November ballot measure is going to get in the way of their bank accounts.

Who is Owen Lawlor?

Well, he would very much like to remain anonymous, as evidenced by his recent $5,000 donation to the “No on O” campaign. You have to do some looking around to find out who exactly is “201 Front St. SC LLC.” Turns out this business entity is located at 612 Spring Street, you know, a block from the Pogonip, which is open space that was set aside in a referendum vote by the people of Santa Cruz. When I arrived to the opencorporates.com page, “201 Front SC LLC” is listed the above address along with the “Directors/Officers” as Michael Musleh and Owen Lawlor. Lawlor is listed as “agent 4757347.” The initial filing date of this Limited Liability Corporation was on Oct. 28th of 2020. Now we know how Owen was spending his Covid-19 days. Looks like Lawlor now has about four of these LLCs—Front, Firehouse, Moss Beach Associates, and Santa Cruz Riverfront. (It’s also interesting to note that there is no high-rise, or low-rise developments currently proposed for the Spring Street neighborhood.)

Rogue’s Gallery of Real Estate, Hotel, & Developer $Bling$

People talk about conspiracies. You know, the planning and carrying out secret plots full of intrigue and deception. Well, this stratagem is being carried out by a conspiracy of interests, and it’s happening right under the noses of Santa Cruz residents. No one can tell us a decade from now when we are perhaps sipping cappuccino in Kansas City or Detroit, or even El Cajon that we did not know anything about work of these confederates, like it was all a surprise that they sprung on us at the last minute. Well it’s happening, and it should not be a surprise. This drunken developer moment should be a call to arms to everyone in Santa Cruz who cares about the natural environment, affordable housing, and the future of this city. Standing alongside Lawler on the bow of the realtor-developer pirate ship, the one that’s in the midst of plundering Surf City’s natural beauty and environmental resources are several other high-roller donors. Case Swenson (Green Valley Corporation, San Jose) of the Barry Swenson Builder family, is in for $10,000; Devcon, another developer from Milpitas, threw in $5k last week as did the Santa Cruz Dream Inn, no names attached just the corporate entities because I guess they have personhood now; and a couple of more local people kicked in too, another $5,000 from “commercial and real estate agent,” Reuben Helick and $2,500 from Santa Cruz corporate real estate attorney Caleb Baskin. Watch for more rain to fall from the wealthy developer and real estate class because they have a lot riding on luxury condo development in this town and they will not easily stand aside for some upstart group like Our Downtown, Our Future to stop their capitalist growth machine. This just may be Lighthouse Field fight all over again. Stay tuned.

Stop the Presses Kind of Donations

I found two names on the No on O committee’s list of donors that intrigued me. In for $2,500 was San Franciscan Shige Honjo. Ring a bell? Yes, I believe it is that Shige Honjo, the one who was director of hardware and design for Google Nest. Evidently, Nest was bleeding money when Honjo bailed, according to Fortune. The other surprising name on the donor list I looked at from the Santa Cruz City Clerk’s office is former New York Times reporter, Charles Duhigg who was born in New Mexico and he at least, lives now in Santa Cruz. The Yale and Harvard educated Duhigg is now linked to a “domestic business corporation,” Duhiggalter Corp., which threw in $1,500 while doing business at both 602 Vanderbilt Street in Brooklyn, New York and here in Santa Cruz at 109 Esmeralda Ct.

Addendum

The political “buck” in this case stops at the feet of the electorate. Measure O, Our Downtown, Our Future offers the people of Santa Cruz a choice, one of intense many-story buildings filled with luxury condos, or that road less traveled by the developer-set, the one where we make our collective voices known like back there in the Lighthouse Field days. As my old Community Studies professor, John Borrego from Watsonville, used to say, Ya basta. Enough already. Make your vote count this November with mail ballots likely going out the week of October 10th. It is starting to look like a Who’s Who among the wealthy contributors as they seek to silence of Measure O campaign, but we have people-power on our side.

Next Week

We link the real estate and developer money now opposed to Measure O, Our Downtown, Our Future, to the real estate and developer money opposing Measure N, the Empty Homes Tax. Not such strange bedfellows.

“I stand in solidarity with the 15,000 @mnnurses on strike this week fighting for safer care, fair scheduling, and higher wages. Nurses are the backbone of our health care system. They understand what’s best for their patients.”

Scenes of an overbuilt Santa Cruz

Developer feeding frenzy tour on May 19th on Pacific Avenue. Bonnie Lipscomb has a mike near the bulldozer. Mayor and former councilmember in foreground.

Chris Krohn is a father, writer, activist, and a Santa Cruz City Council member from 1998-2002 and from 2017-2020. Krohn was Mayor in 2001-2002. He’s been running the Environmental Studies Internship program at UC Santa Cruz for the past 16 years. On Tuesday evenings at 5pm, Krohn hosts of “Talk of the Bay,” on KSQD 90.7 and KSQD.org His Twitter handle at SCpolitics is @ChrisKrohnSC Chris can be reached at ckrohn@cruzio.com

Email Chris at ckrohn@cruzio.com

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September 12

THE COUNTY GENERAL PLAN UPDATE IN BITE-SIZED CHAPTERS WILL HELP YOU PARTICIPATE IN WEDNESDAY’S PLANNING COMMISSION FINAL PUBLIC HEARING

What’s Included

Submit your comments to the Planning Commission via Stephanie Hansen stephanie.hansen@santacruzcounty.us and copy Michael Lam michael.lam@santacruzcounty.us

or general comments here:  Get Involved

WHAT WOULD PROPOSED COUNTYWIDE FIRE CODES INCLUDE THAT WOULD BE STRICTER THAN STATE REQUIREMENTS?

Last Thursday, the Central Fire District Board met and considered adopting three resolutions, all relating to updating the District’s Fire Codes, one of which would make them more restrictive than the State’s codes.  However, there was no Strike-Out and Underline copy of the proposed more-restrictive Fire Codes included in the agenda.

At the hybrid meeting, Fire Marshal Mike DeMars announced that the Countywide Fire Prevention Officers had met the day previous and determined that there should instead be comprehensive Countywide Fire Codes developed to make the restrictions uniform throughout the County, rather than different codes in various fire jurisdictions.  He requested that all agenda items (10.3 through and including item 10.5) relating to this issue be tabled. He stated he had submitted a Strike-Out and Underline version of the proposed document, but it was not in the agenda packet.

Item 10.5 troubled me most…making local Fire Codes more restrictive than what the State requires, but no real explanation of what that would involve.  See pages 113-114 of the agenda

Keep your eye on this in your own local fire jurisdiction…more restrictive Fire Codes applied countywide could mean rural dwellers in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) might have new requirements if remodeling and the CZU Fire survivors may find it even more difficult to rebuild than before.

BRANCIFORTE FIRE DISTRICT SURVEY PROVIDES NO INFORMATION BUT WIELDS A LOT OF INFLUENCE

How can the Branciforte Fire District property owners make an informed decision, responding to a Survey asking if they want to spend $50,000 on a financial study, ostensibly necessary to keep their fire station open, when they have no information, or explanation why their Board voted to reject doing so on July 28, 2022?

Strange but true.

The audio recordings promised by County LAFCO Director Joe Serrano to post on the District website are not there.

This Wednesday at 6pm, County LAFCO is holding a virtual-only informational workshop that might help, if people know it is happening.  That workshop is on the eve of the Thursday scheduled Board of Director meeting, when LAFCO’s time line presented at the Sept. 1 Special Board meeting indicates the Board “will adopt the SCI Consultant contract”.  If that approval happens, the District will be on a fast-moving roller coaster to have a Special Benefit Assessment Ballot procedure happen…and the rest will be history.

An online Survey is now posted on the Branciforte Fire District website, asking:

“The Branciforte Fire Protection District (FPD) is faced with insurmountable financial and operational challenges. After due diligence, the Board of Directors has determined that a reorganization with the Scotts Valley FPD is the best way to ensure continued fire and emergency services. 

Survey Question: Should the Branciforte Fire District Board approve a $50,000 study to determine the amount each parcel owner would be assessed, subject to a vote of the parcel owners at a later date, to keep the fire station open?” 

Insurmountable financial and operational challenges???  All this is hinged on the 2021 Santa Cruz County LAFCO Countywide Fire District Report that did not include the second station that serves the farthest-reaching rural areas in the District where trained volunteers are located.

It is notable that the current evaluations by LAFCO do not even mention the volunteers. Even more curious is the fact that the Branciforte Fire District property owners have not been given any opportunity to vote on whether or not they want to merge with Scotts Valley Fire District.

On October 13, 2021, LAFCO approved the Countywide Fire Agency Sphere and Service Review that examined all 13 fire agencies and adopted recommendation that LAFCO:

  1. Reaffirm the existing spheres of influence for Ben Lomond FPD, Boulder Creek FPD, Branciforte FPD, Felton FPD, Pajaro Valley FPD, Scotts Valley FPD, and Zayante FPD with the following condition: The fire protection districts shall coordinate with LAFCO to determine each affected district’s future service area. These discussions should occur by August 2022. LAFCO will consider amending the sphere boundaries based on these discussions no later than December 2022;

(SEE Item 5)

You can find the comprehensive Review beginning on page 12, with Branciforte Fire District’s evaluation on page 86 of the Review, on page 109 of the agenda packet.

Please participate in the September 14 virtual Public Information Workshop at 6pm:

branciforte-fire.com/    and the Thursday, September 15 Regular Board virtual meeting at 6pm.

Please share this information with anyone in the Happy Valley and Scotts Valley area.

MORE HELP FOR FIRE SURVIVORS?

The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) included this potential good news for fire survivors.  Let’s hope that these Senators will be persistent advocates for those like the CZU Fire survivors who are hitting nothing but brick walls with the County Planning Dept. and Permit Recovery Center…supposedly streamlining their permitting process.  Many of these folks have run out of time with their insurance companies and may now be facing having to sell their land.

Padilla, Feinstein to FEMA: Provide Update on Reforms to Disaster Assistance Program

U.S. Senators Feinstein, Padilla to FEMA: Provide update on reforms to disaster assistance program.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER AIMS TO LOWER FIRE INSURANCE COSTS

Here is another potentially good bit of news for all rural Californians.

FIRE EVACUATION DECISION….GO OR STAY AND PROTECT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

After the debacle of the 2020 CZU Lightning Complex Fire, with no After Action Review by CalFire or the Santa Cruz County Fire Department, many like myself feel that next time, we might not be so quick to pack up and evacuate when told.  Here is a good discussion from the New Yorker about that…interviewing local resident LizAnne Jensen.

Here is what I think is golden and local fire officials and the County Board of Supervisors need to take action upon:

Stasiewicz believes that people should be provided with guidance on surviving, as a last resort, in their homes or at refuge points, such as local baseball fields or store parking lots. Some ranching communities in the intermountain West have organized their own volunteer firefighting services, in cooperation with state and federal agencies that provide training and radios.

STATE WATER USE DECLINES 10.6% DUE TO CONSERVATION

Here is some encouraging news…we can now all expect rates to increase because of lowered volumetric revenues.  Hmmm…there must be a better way.

Water use drops 10% in July as California deals with drought

COMMENT ABOUT ELKHORN SLOUGH BIO-LOADING 

If you live near the Elkhorn Slough, or near a slough at all, try to participate in this important Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board public hearing about stormwater runoff issues.  It is a virtual hearing on Monday, September 26.

Notice of Public Workshop and CEQA Scoping Meeting

FINANCIAL TRUTHS BEHIND LIBRARY GARAGE…VOTE YES ON MEASURE O

‘John Hall’ via OurDowntown  ourdowntown@googlegroups.com 

Tue, Sep 6 at 8:42 PM

Rick Longinotti and I were on KSQD at 5 this evening, with Measure O opponents Don Lane and Marty Gomez. It will be archived.

The $2.9 million/year is financing for the parking structure if I’m not mistaken. That requires parking district revenue or it falls to the City to make up the shortfall.

The proposed library is $17 short of funding out of a $42.5 million projected cost [so far]. On that point, even new-library advocate Gomez agreed. That’s more than a third over available funds.

As for the affordable housing, so far, the City has committed $6 million. At least $45 million remains unfunded to date.

The Lot 4 project is anything but “well on its way”!

APTOS LIBRARY GOING UP…COMPLETION DATE JULY 2023

The walls are going up at the new Aptos Library.  I am told the completion date has been set for July, 2023.

Below are the crews using horizontal drilling to minimize road damage.

MAKE ONE CALL.  WRITE ONE LETTER.   ATTEND THE PLANNING COMMISION HEARING THAT WILL SHAPE TTHIS COUNTY’S LAND USE POLICY FOR DECADES.

JUST DO ONE THING THIS WEEK…AND MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

Cheers, Becky

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

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September 12

APPLES

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about apples and want to share a bit about what I know about this wonderful fruit.

A Rose by Any Other Name

Apples are in the same plant family as roses. When you are eating an apple, you are kind of eating a rose hip, only sweeter. Check out an apple flower and you’ll see a wild rose – five petals and a big bunch of stamens. An apple orchard in flower gives off a dusty rose smell. We’re lucky apples don’t have thorns. Other fruits are in the rose family, too: cherries, apricots, plums…

Apple Lore

Wild apples are found in their genetic birthplace in southern Kazakhstan in the Tian Shan mountains. Apples were domesticated at least 1500 years ago from the wild species Malus sieversii. Bears and people spread that wild thing around far and wide and then folks started messing with it to make better fruit. The result was a cultivated variety with different species names, such as Malus pumila, Malus sylvestris, Malus communis or Malus domestica. If you don’t have a favorite variety of apple, there are plenty to try. Worldwide, there are 7500 varieties grown. Locally, you can try more than 70 varieties at the annual apple tasting at Wilder Ranch. This year’s tasting is on October 8th and hosted by the Monterey Bay Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers.

Our Region and Apples

Our region is famous for its apple cultivation. Martinelli’s Gold Medal apple cider has its history in Watsonville. There are still around 2,000 acres of apple trees in the Monterey Bay area and almost all of those apples go to Martinelli juice, which is made primarily of the apple variety Newtown Pippin with some Mutsu (aka Crispin) mixed in. With the many juice taste tests I’ve participated in, Newtown Pippin wins easily, but Mutsu is a close second.  Martinelli is now offering organic apple juice, reminding me of one of the reasons organic agriculture got its boost.

Organic Foods Movement and Apples

One of the earliest boosts for the organic foods movement was due to apples. The Natural Resources Defense Council published a peer reviewed scientific study demonstrating the carcinogenic danger of Alar, a synthetic spray used on apples and found on apples in the store. The news show 60 Minutes carried this story in 1989 and the public quickly stopped buying apples. Lawsuits followed and Congress passed legislation, and then the organic food movement got a big boost.

Growing Apples

It’s not easy to grow any apple for profit but growing organic apples is even more difficult. The labor alone is a wonder. I figure that an organic apple is handled 6 times before you pick one up at the market.

  1. The first touch: fruit thinning

Touch one: fruit thinning. If the farmer is really good, they only touch the fruit a single time when thinning fruit. There can be up to 6 flowers per cluster, and it is best to thin that cluster to one fruit or there are all sorts of problems. Lack of thinning makes for smaller fruit, not a problem if you want juice but a big problem for sales. If you don’t thin enough, there’s too much weight for the apple branches and branches break. Also, without sufficient thinning the tree makes more seeds using more nutrients that then don’t get invested in the next season’s buds. So, you get a tree that bears every other year: aka alternate bearing.

  1. Touch two: harvest

Someone has to harvest the fruit from the tree. These apples go into harvest bags that have to get hauled to the sorting table.

  1. Touch three: the sort

Apples need to get carefully sorted. You make sure that any insect damaged fruit doesn’t go to the store and that the right sizes are in the right boxes.

  1. Touch four: the boxes go into the truck for delivery
  2. Touch five: the boxes go off of the truck at delivery
  3. Touch six: the apples go on display

Apple Soil

Many of us believe that the key to success in apple growing is good soil stewardship. Apple trees grow best in close association with soil fungi also known as mycorrhizae. The tastiest fungal associate of apple trees is the famous morel mushroom, but I don’t know anyone who has successfully and purposefully grown morels and apples together…it’s a dream. Mostly, the fungi that collaborate with apples don’t make tasty mushrooms but they can help the apple trees absorb nutrients and water. There is also evidence that apple trees are healthier if they are aided by their fungal associates. I’ve learned lots about apple growing from the author Michael Phillips. He swore that placing piles of hardwood chips made from the fine branches of trees was key to a healthy orchard as fungi love that kind of wood and, in turn, feed the trees.

Growing Apples and our Climate

The native habitat of apples is not at all like California, so we have to think carefully about how we manage apples in our climate. One major issue is that California has a hot, dry summer. Kazakhstan’s mountains have moist summers, so either we irrigate apples or plant trees where their roots reach moisture deep in the soil throughout the summer. Full sized apple trees have roots that reach 20′ down; dwarfing rootstock is smaller. Full sized apple tree also try to reach their natural 40 feet height, so despite the deep roots the height of the tree can be a real problem. Shorter trees and dwarfing rootstock means more thirsty trees.

The other problems with growing apples in our region have to do with heat. Many apple varieties need enough ‘chill hours’ to be healthy; a chill hour is one hour less than 45 degrees while the tree is dormant. We don’t get a lot of those right around here (especially with warming winters) and areas south of us on the coast are nearly impossible to grow many types of apples because of that. The other temperature issue is hot roots. Apples don’t like warm roots- too warm and the trees aren’t as healthy. The answer is to keep the understory watered and mulched.

Apple Friends

If you grow an apple tree, you are bound to attract critters. There are always birds wanting to eat the fruit: I get acorn woodpeckers, California scrub jays and Steller’s jays pecking away at fruit. Fallen fruit feed gophers and mice. Gray fox harvest fallen fruit or fruit right from the trees. If you are in town, you might also get opossum, rats, and raccoons doing the same. One of my favorite butterflies raises its young on apple leaves: the California sister. But, there are many other species of butterflies and moths that do the same. Finally, you need to watch an apple tree in blossom to appreciate the number of pollinators that celebrate apple blooming season.

Your Apple Tree

I hope you can appreciate the apple tree a little bit more and maybe you’ll be inspired to help care for one. If you don’t want to grow one yourself, perhaps you can help care for one through many of the community orchard projects happening all over town. At the very least, when you see that apple at the market, now you may appreciate the life that it had before it made it to the sales display table. Each fruit has its own story, but apples have a special place in our local history.

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 coastalprairie@aol.com

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September 12

#256 / Happy Valentine’s Day In Advance  

I am a big fan of Rebecca Solnit. Solnit was born the year I graduated from high school, and as Wikipedia tells us, Solnit has “written on a variety of subjects, including feminism, the environment, politics, and art.”

Given my predisposition towards “politics,” I tend to think of Solnit in terms of her political writing. Here is an example of why I have a good opinion of Solnit’s political observations: “The Slow Road to Sudden Change,” from June 2020.

Recently, someone who reads these blog postings, at least sometimes, sent me the following little quotation, which seems to have originated with Solnit:

The person who sent me this quotation added the following comment: “It is interesting that Armenia’s public school curriculum includes mandatory chess lessons.

To the degree that the politics = chess analogy is accurate, the United States of America could do worse than emulate Armenia’s required curriculum. I am not sure, actually, that I completely buy into the suggested analogy, but I am in absolute agreement with what Solnit says when she declares:

A Vote Is Not A Valentine!

That observation applies to votes for candidates and to votes for ballot measures – and let’s remember that we don’t have to wait until February 14, 2023, to put that insight to work. There is an election coming right up – with the last day to vote being on Tuesday, November 8th.

Don’t miss your opportunity to make your move! You can register to vote online. Just click this link!

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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September 12

SUMMER VACATION WITH YOUR CLASSIFIEDS & MATTHEW COLE SCOTT

In spite of Queen Elizabeth‘s third great-grandfather being mad King George III, whose forces the American colonies battled for independence, this country maintains its fascination with British royalty. Upon the queen’s death this week, the media launched a blitz of canned documentaries recounting the 70-year reign of her majesty, all of which were lapped up wholeheartedly by the public as the spectacle of commentators, reporters, and interviews of British citizens on the street filled any lapses between the few commercial breaks.

Unbeknownst to most were the clandestine efforts of the former US president to gain whatever advantage he could from this transformative historical event. Calls to attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell to demand a recount before Parliament fell by the wayside, either from the lack of interest by the two, or from doubts that he would reimburse them their expenses upon return to the States. Of course, the hammer fell when Charles was declared king, well before Rudy got a return call from Four Seasons Total Landscaping to arrange a press conference announcing their intent. Can t-shirts with visages of the queen and the Lord of Orange be on the horizon?

Trump daughter, Ivanka, refused to take further phone calls from her dad, when he attempted to enlist her help in getting an invite to the funeral at Westminster Abbey, with his usual demands for special seating. Husband, Jared, finally answered the persistent ringing of the cell phone to tell his father-in-law that Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud would probably allow him to join the Saudi entourage, as long as he dressed appropriately in the traditional Arab thaub and headdress, and perhaps carry a ceremonial-looking sword made by Mattel. And, his custom Italian shoes would absolutely not be appropriate.

But for The Donald, the clocks of the many pending lawsuits are ticking away, and he should probably stick close to home, and pay more attention in order to learn how many orange jumpsuits he will be issued, even if he doesn’t understand the why. He could have benefitted early on from Queen Elizabeth’s bon mot, “Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us has a monopoly on wisdom,” but, Mr. T had other monopolies in mind, wisdom being far down the list of priorities.

Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon, by granting his legal team’s request to appoint a special master for resolution of the dispute over the 10,000 documents removed from Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, has muddied the waters of the DOJ’s investigation into Trump’s criminality. She blithely suggested that her action should not put unnecessary delay into the proceedings since, after all, he only took EMPTY Top Secret folders, or that DJT plunked his Magic Twanger and declassified them as they exited the White House (he claims – the law team isn’t backing this lie); but, that was quickly quashed when the two sides selected their disparate lists of potential legal experts for the review, and disagreement about which of the documents such a person should review. Both sides agree on shortening the 21-day period allowing for legal review, and for objecting to the special master’s subsequent recommendations; also, they agree that the special master should be able to request and hire a support staff.

The Department of Justice is opposed to Trump’s legal team contention that the former president has executive privilege and that the classified documents should be part of the review, and that much may be protected by attorney-client privilege along with his status as a former president. Payment for the special master and staff is another sore point, which is ultimately Judge Cannon’s decision. Trump’s team wants the tax payers to foot half the bill, while the DOJ believes that Trump and team should pay 100% since they initiated the action. The two sides revealed they will inform the judge of their positions and selections for special master by Monday, 9/12, and now the fireworks are in the air as you read this. As expected, a Monday morning filing by Trump’s legal team suggests the documents in question may not be classified and the client has a right to retain them, as they object to any pause in Judge Cannon’s previous ruling. So, what is DOJ supposed to do? Reveal just one secret to Team Trump to prove the validity of their claim? Listen! Do you want to know a secret? Closer! Can you whisper in my ear? Do you promise not to tell?

Judge Cannon, after her decision to allow a special master, was bombarded with heavy criticism from the legal community about the amateurishness, the apparent lack of knowledge, and the danger to our national security exhibited in her pronouncement. Even former attorney general, William Barr, resurfacing like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, had a few choice comments, and like the rest of us, is wondering why Trump took classified documents belonging to the government, saying he is in legal jeopardy.

In an appeal to Judge Cannon, who ruled that the government would be barred from using the seized material as part of its criminal investigation until assessment from the special master, the Department of Justice is appealing for a partial stay on the ruling, arguing that a special master shouldn’t be allowed to review classified materials, and that investigators would be able to use these sensitive materials immediately in their probe. And, if that isn’t enough for Cannon to chew on, DOJ says it will file an appeal of the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta where cooler heads may prevail, suggesting that Cannon may not be Supreme Court material after all, as some MAGAts are suggesting…just another lawyer who voluntarily jumped in front of the Trump bus. Jokesters are now saying that MAGA stands for Making Attorneys Get Attorneys…soon to be MAGAMAGAMAGAMAGA!

A New Yorker Daily Cartoon this week shows a yellow-haired defendant sitting at a table before the courtroom’s judge, while his defense attorney is saying, “Before we send an innocent man to prison, shouldn’t we let him choose his own judge, bury the evidence, and set the entire system aflame?” Surely, a Judge Cannon inspired creation. This whole scenario seems to be so cut-and-dried…why are the courts letting the tail wag the dog? Just get on with it!!

One story that has been circulating tells of a Trump visit to Paris, and while in the residence of our ambassador to France, the prez spots several pieces of artwork he fancies, perfect for the White House! Taking them back to D.C. wasn’t a crime, since the ambassador’s place is government property, and the diplomat’s role is to serve the president. But Trump’s action was a breach of protocol and basic courtesy, a lack of respect to just take something because HE likes it. I, ME, ME, MINE, MINE, MINE! It would never occur to him that anyone would object and displease him over such an incident, because that’s been his modus operandi for his entire existence. Remaining in the room is the elephant named WHY? Why did Trump take the documents upon leaving Washington? Several opinions suggest that perhaps the purloined government material at Mar-a-Lago contains embarrassing or incriminating facts from the presidential years; or, he planned to sell or trade them for preferential treatment or get leverage at some point; or, they were showpieces for his visitors, both foreign and domestic; or, they bolstered his claim, in his own mind, that he is still president; or, that the material will be needed when (heaven forfend!) he is once again seated in the Oval Office. Some have asked why didn’t he destroy the remaining documents after he voluntarily turned over a trove of boxes to the National Archives earlier in this whole fiasco? And since White House staff members saw no hesitancy in his regularly doing so, tossing them in a wastebasket (or flushing down the toilet) in violation of the law, he obviously wanted the ones he took…MINE, MINE, MINE! It never occurred to his cockamamie mind that he shouldn’t do this, because you know, he’s Donald John Trump, the only one who can fix this…or anything!

Lawrence O’Donnell, on his MSNBC show, marveled at how The Don could leave behind the documents when he vacated Mar-a-Lago for his summer stay in New Jersey. Why didn’t he take the classified material with him, just as the rest of us do when we go away for the summer? Oh well, it made for good reading material for those unfortunate enough to be left behind.

A minor addendum to an ongoing story about a Florida school district’s refusal to accept a donation of dictionaries from the local Rotary Club, as the volumes await approval from the office of the state board official, a position which doesn’t exist as far as we know: Merriam-Webster just announced the addition of 370 new words to their dictionary for September! Imagine how far behind this will leave students, especially if M-W adds even more words by the time Florida’s word czar has read one of the quarantined dictionaries; and who knows when the print date of the suspect wordbooks might be…could be late ’21 or early ’22! Losing ground as we speak! New word additions such as adorable, or laggy will languish in the shadows as Florida’s schools fall further into the dark ages of the DeSantis regime. What can we expect when we have GOP leaders focused on banning books, banning abortion, punishing LGBT teachers, and suppressing the vote, rather than serving the electorate?

Typical Republican behavior was on display this week, when outgoing Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas presented an honorary American flag which had flown above the US Capitol, along with an official certificate, to Dr. Simone Gold upon her release from prison after serving time for her participation in the J6 Insurrection, inflaming rioters through a megaphone in Statuary Hall. Louie termed Gold a ‘political prisoner’ – “Something I never thought I’d see here in the United States of America,” he whines. Poor Louie! He will be out of office well before he can lay his hands on more official flags to bestow upon the +125 rioters who have been convicted, or the 875 who have been charged for their actions. Perhaps gathering flags flown at US jails and prisons would be more appropriate, ya think?

Closing out with a local angle, attention needs to be turned to the plight of Matthew Cole Scott, who was in a motorcycle accident on July 1, sustaining a traumatic brain injury. Matt graduated from Santa Cruz High in 1988, is an artist, an avid disc golfer, and an avid cycler, and was a familiar face working at the Farmer’s Market for years. His “Question on the Street” selections for The Santa Cruz Good Times newspaper have been seen by their wide readership.

His hospitalization since Day One ends on September 15th, but his need for 24-hour care will be a necessity for at least two months or so. Matt’s social page on Facebook: Love for Matt Scott, is available for all to follow his progress, and if people would like to chip in to a worthy cause for a Santa Cruz icon, they can do so at: Matthew Cole Scott’s Journey to Recovery, organized by Jove Shapiro, on GoFundMe.

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: cornerspot14@yahoo.com
 

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

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

    “Queens”

“The Queen is the only person who can put on a tiara with one hand, while walking down stairs”.
~Princess Margaret

“Elvis may be the King of Rock and Roll, but I am the Queen”.
~Little Richard

“The BBC sports department when I was there was seriously to the right of Ghengis Khan, and if people think I am strange, they should have met some of the production staff I worked with. Margaret Thatcher and the Queen were the pin up girls for many of them”.
~David Icke

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This didn’t make it last week; the link turned out to be wrong and I didn’t notice. Therefore, I’m going for it again. Please do watch it!

Taylor Hawkins, drummer in the Foo Fighters, sadly passed away some months ago and a huge tribute concert just took place at Wembley Stadium. The most tear-jerking moment was at the end, when they wrapped the whole shindig with Taylor’s son, Shane, taking over on the drums. See him play “My hero” in this clip. I’m not crying, you’re crying!


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
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