Blog Archives

September 6 – 12, 2023

Highlights this week:

Bratton…about “brave and free”, letters to the editor concept, housing for people initiative. Greensite…on rendering rape invisible in Santa Cruz… Steinbruner…Big secret city land purcheses,make less garbage, B40 fire district, local opioid addiction, Aptos Village plot? Cabrillo name change.Hayes…a primer in conserving California’s coastal prairies. Patton…sign that petition!. Matlock…sanchismos, copyrights and rolling the dice. Eagan … Subconscious Comics and Deep Cover. Webmistress…pick of the week: Standup! Quotes “Hawaii”


BEACH BOARDWALK PLUNGE. April 25, 1963. One of almost yearly changes the Boardwalk does to bring in more business. This plunge became their miniature golf course.

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

DATELINE September 4

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR CONCEPT. I decided even before starting BrattonOnline  that Bratton Online wouldn’t deal with “letters to the editor” weekly and that’s been the idea for the almost 20 years we’ve been online. When I ran Keith McHenry’s 4000 word “letter” last week I wanted to give readers a chance to see what Keith was really like. WE read his accomplishments with Bread Not Bombs and his praise for Brave and Free and boasting and bragging… it was an almost auto-biography of one of our most noticeable citizens.

HOUSING FOR PEOPLE INITIATIVE. Steve Bare who is a local activist and much involved community member wrote a letter to Gary Patton. Gary, Steve and I decided that it would help Housing for People to reprint his letter in its entirety right here. Here’s his letter…

“Dear Gary,

This is Steve Bare. You know me when you see me; I’ve been around a long time and been active in peace and social justice efforts.

As you may know, I’m deeply involved with our Housing For People Initiative effort. (Loved the shot of you and our t-shirt!) You also probably realize that the Initiative is a relatively modest one that simply attempts to return some decision-making power to citizen voters and insists on a true 25% “affordable” housing inclusion in new development. It’s not a game-changer; it’s simply a step in the right direction. A step (one you have nobly taken many times in the past) toward retaining livability, community, sustainability, and uniqueness for us and our town.

Gary, this is no longer the unique, accepting, quirky, and eclectic town it was when I moved here over 40 years ago. But it’s still a wonderful place. But for how long? Well, not long at the rate things seem to be evolving. However, folks, and many non-political citizens as well, are shocked and saddened by the changes and the proposed development. The Housing For People Initiative can slow down what is, to my eye, the exploitation and commodification of our precious town. Frankly, what I see is simply an extension of a shameful system of exploitation that harms not helps, profits the few at the expense of the many.

I revere and respect all you’ve done to keep this town livable, civil, and unique. Will you consider giving more help and support to our humble Initiative? We need you, and what we’re doing is an extension of all the effort you’ve made heretofore.

Let’s take the next step. Go to …

Peace, Steve Bare


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.

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.

Been there, seen that...

SPECIAL NOTE….Don’t forget that when you’re not too sure of a plot or need any info on a movie to go to Wikipedia. It lays out the straight/non hype story plus all the details you’ll need including which server (Netflix, Hulu, or PBS) you can find it on. You can also go to and punch in the movie title and read my take on the much more than 100 movies.

THE POPE’S EXORCIST. (NETFLIX) (6.1 IMDB). **** This scary, religious horror movie is taken from books by a Roman Catholic priest who actually did some exorcisms in and around the Vatican community. Russell Crowe is the priest and he’s as good as any actor could be in this touch-feely scary role.

TELEMARKETERS. (HBO) (7.7 IMDB). **** A fake documentary about those damned telemarketers who call all of us saying they are with the police and are trying to raise money for some phony police event or cause. It gives us a comedic view of their lives and how fake and almost illegal it is. Watch about half an hour…you’ll learn enough.

GOLDA. (DEL MAR THEATRE). **** Helen Mirren carries the role of Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan is in it and Liev Schreiber acts as Henry Kissinger. Golda is the first head (prime minister) of the new state of Israel and as you’ll be shown is/was a chain smoker (Chesterfields). It’s absorbing, well made, complex and basically covers the three week Yom Kippur war. Don’t miss it.

SHELTER. (PRIME) (6.6 IMDB) **** Tough to follow this mystery. A man dies in a terrible car crash…but does he die? His high school age son is nearly devastated but endures several other worldly experiences involving his dad. It’s even light and cute in parts and there’s even a Batlady and a character named Dylan Shakes. Watch at your own risk.

JURY DUTY. (PRIME SERIES) (8.3 IMDB) ****   Be very careful this is billed as a comedy but if you’ve ever been on a jury or been excused from serving on one…it’s no laughing matter. This jury selection takes place in Huntington Beach near LA. (or as we know it “Surf City”). It’s done in a pseudo-documentary style and goes through all the legal time and mind consuming legal steps in how a jury is selected. Not too bad a movie but torture if you’ve ever done time on a complex court case.

FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL. (PRIME SERIES) (7.7 IMDB). **** Not a new one, but a good one about the disaster during and after the Katrina hurricane that hit New Orleans in August of 2005. Vera Farmiga is one of the staff and all the acting and special effects are well worth watching.

JESUS REVOLUTION. (NETFLIX MOVIE) (7.1 IMDB). ???? A very sweet, well intentioned Christian feel good and true movie about Los Angeles teenagers in the 1970’s. Kelsey Grammer plays a minister who eventually sees that the hippies around his part of LA mean well and they all join together to worship Jesus in a slightly different way.

September 4


The statement above represents a commitment by the principal and teaching staff of Monduli Teachers’ College in Tanzania to take significant steps to address the serious issues of sexual harassment and rape. Prior to a three- day training for administrators and teachers, which I had been invited to co-facilitate, these issues were largely silenced, hidden by taboos from public discussion and accountability. By the end of the three days, there was a measurable decrease in victim-blaming and an eagerness to publicly tackle both issues that disproportionally affect women and girls.

When I was asked whether the situation is different in my hometown of Santa Cruz, I had to admit that it is. “In Tanzania”, I replied, “you have few resources yet a commitment to highlight these issues and make them public. In Santa Cruz, we have all the resources yet no commitment to highlight and make the issues public.” In Santa Cruz there appears to be a concerted effort to render them invisible. City management and various city councils over the past 18 years have effectively marginalized the city’s forty- year- old Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women, stripping it of resources, programs, and half-time trained staff. Despite an average of thirty reported sexual assaults annually, none is reported in the local media. You could be forgiven for concluding it is a non-issue. My hunch is that is the goal in this tourist town.

One issue of sexual harassment was recently reported in Lookout, Santa Cruz on August 13th, 2023. The story was written by a 16- year-old female high school student who described her experience while waiting for the bus, of being approached by a male who initiated conversation that quickly turned into verbal sexual harassment. She described her reactions, feelings, fears, and criticism of the Metro system for what she saw as a lack of resources to address such intimidation. Regrettably, the Lookout editors allowed a mistake in both the headline and the Quick Take summary of the article to be published. Both erroneously state that the incident took place “on the Santa Cruz Metro” for the headline and “on a Santa Cruz Metro bus” for the summary. This is not a minor mistake and should have been corrected. While the major issue is the sexual harassment, wrongly stating that it took place on a Metro bus not only casts doubt on the integrity of bus drivers to halt such behavior but also potentially discourages other females from taking the bus.

After forty- four years in rape prevention education, my instinct is to listen carefully to how people responded to sexual harassment, and sexual assault. My aim is to help the person lessen self-blame, a common response, while helping them expand their options for any future incident. The self-defense workshops I held at UCSC were titled Alternatives to Fear.  After a gargantuan effort and much student support, we were able to get Women’s Self Defense as a regular PE class at UCSC. One of my first actions as the first chair of the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women in 1981 was to establish Women’s and Girl’s Self Defense Classes through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and later, in city schools. As a balance, educational programs were aimed at males, as allies, as bystanders and as potential perpetrators. I’ll never forget the words of a young male, found guilty of rape and expressing remorse, who at his sentencing said, “I crossed a line I didn’t know existed.” With sex education non-existent in most states and most families, young males need more than slogans, peers, and popular media to navigate the sexual terrain. Most males don’t rape. And some who do are beyond education. However, look into the family dynamics of men convicted of rape and you will find another male figure who paved the way.

As recently as 2015, most universities and many communities across the country had some version of a Women and Girls’ Self-defense program. Such programs are not traditional martial arts, in fact they are distinctly different from a martial art. Women’s self-defense includes verbal assertiveness as well as simple physical techniques best described as “dirty fighting.” You aim for, not avoid, the vulnerable parts of the attacker. The verbal training helps the transition from a passive “why are you doing this? please don’t” to a loud “back off!!” That, and to trust one’s instincts. I’ve lost count of how many students shared their stories of avoiding an overly intrusive or threatening male by drawing on one or more of these options.

Thus, I was greatly frustrated when I first heard about Women’s Self-Defense no longer supported across the country because of the latest ideological posturing that self-defense was not “primary prevention.” Apparently “primary prevention” means you stop a male raping. How that is achieved gets a bit vague. When I pointed out that a female getting out of a situation by kicking a male in the groin is “stopping that male raping” I was told that,” no, he will go on to rape somebody else.” Such is the absurdity of ideology versus reality. One of the results of this misguided activism was the ending of self-defense classes at UCSC plus those funded and organized by the city of Santa Cruz.

I thought of all this history as I read the 16-year-old’s experience of sexual harassment at the bus stop. When she wrote “I hoped and prayed that maybe my instincts were wrong this time, that I misjudged him,” I could only bow my head in defeat. Trusting one’s instincts is the sine qua non of Women’s Self Defense.

If I return to do rape prevention work in Tanzania and am asked if things have improved in Santa Cruz, reluctantly I will have to say things have gotten worse: that the issues of rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment have been further marginalized and rendered invisible. The example I will use is the recent council approved Strategic Plan. Under the Public Safety section there are eight entries. Not one addresses these issues even though the 1981 Ordinance that created the Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women mandates” that the prevention of rape and domestic violence shall be one of the city’s highest priorities”. Noting the absence of these issues in the first reading of the Plan I spoke at city council, reminded council members of the Ordinance requirements, and asked that these issues be added to the Public Safety section of the Strategic Plan. At the next meeting, final reading, and unanimous council vote, they had not been added.

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

September 4


Project Documents


There has been much talk in the news recently about a group of ultra-wealthy investors, one of whom has a residence in Santa Cruz County, buying large tracts of farmland in Solano County and aggressively forcing farmers who do not want to sell their land to enter into legal settlements.  Solano County leaders say the deals have been secretive until recently, and worry about the security of such a new subdivision, Flannery Associates LLP’s “California Forever”, that would border Travis Air Force Base.

Do you think such a thing could happen in Santa Cruz County, say in some of the CZU Fire areas where few have been allowed to rebuild and costs to do so are climbing higher by the minute due to more studies the County wants and wide paved roads CalFIRE requires?  Or maybe on land owned by Lockheed Martin, also ravaged by the CZU Fire?  Hmmm…  Consider this below.

‘California Forever’: Company behind land purchases near Travis Air Force Base launches website, details plans

Below is a list of news sources from Wikipedia on the “Mystery Company” purchase:

  1. Peterson, Kristina; Gillum, Jack; O’Keeffe, Kate (7 July 2023). “Investors Bought Nearly $1 Billion in Land Near a California Air Force Base. Officials Want to Know Who Exactly They Are”The Wall Street JournalISSN0099-9660. Retrieved 22 July 2023.
  2. ^Sierra, Stephanie (21 July 2023). “‘Mystery company’ buys $800M worth of land near Travis AFB, raising concerns about national security”KGO-TV.
  3. ^Dougherty, Conor; Griffith, Erin (25 August 2023). “The Silicon Valley Elite Who Want to Build a City From Scratch”The New York TimesISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 26 August 2023.

Many local landowners are getting sued for not caving in to Flannery Associates LLP’s aggressive land grab tactics: ORDER signed by District Judge Troy L for Flannery Assoc. LLC v. Barnes Family Ranch Assoc., LLC et al :: Justia Dockets & Filings

According to a Settlement document filed by all parties in the lawsuit (U.S. District Court, Eastern District, Sacramento Division Case 2:23-CV-00927-TLN-AC), the legal action is on hold while there is  discussion about a possible settlement, due to be complete by October 17, 2023.

Here is a map of current Flannery Associates holdings and areas pending takeover

It adjoins not only Travis Air Force Base, but also the Grizzly Island Wildlife Refuge

Learn more about that Wildlife Refuge here

Would nearby Jepson Prairie and Vernal Pools be affected? Jepson Prairie | Solano Land Trust : Suisun City, CA

The point that concerns me is that the artist’s rendering of this utopian California Forever project reminds me a lot of how the Aptos Village Project was sold to the public, and how easily (and secretively) deals are made behind closed doors to benefit the wealthy and the County coffers.

What would California Forever look like? Here are artist renderings from the developer

Now, think about what the north coast’s Cemex Land and CZU Fire areas look like now, and how the County is making it nearly impossible for anyone but the wealthy to rebuild.  Just think about it, and pay attention.


Santa Cruz County’s Buena Vista Landfill has only a few years left before it will be full and will be closed.   Where will our garbage go then?  The plan is to truck it to Marina.

Last week while visiting the County Building, I happened to spot the agenda posted outside for the Santa Cruz County Local Solid Waste Task Force meeting on September 7.  I know some of those Committee members who work hard to help businesses and the general public to reduce, recycle and reuse, and am grateful for their good work.

What impressed me most about the agenda is the thorough review of all State legislation pending that manages to address how we can better handle the piles of garbage by just not creating so much in the first place,  recycling what we can and holding commercial enterprises accountable for reducing packaging.  Take a look at the Sept. 7 agenda, and participate if you can: Local Task Force


Santa Cruz County LAFCO Executive Officer Joe Serrano responded to my Request for LAFCO to reconsider the August 2 approval of a Resolution that was wrought with errors and provided inaccurate voter numbers for the Branciforte Fire District area in the face of a move to dissolve their District.  Basically, he corrected the erroneous dates, arbitrarily shortened the Protest Period by a week, and claimed the updated voter registration numbers were irrelevant because County Elections had not notified him of any changes since he had last asked in May, 2022.

Claims of notices posted in the Sentinel have not been proven, and I could not find them in recent editions of the newspaper.

Initially, the Protest Hearing date of September 27 for the Branciforte Fire District Dissolution was shown on the LAFCO meeting website as “Protest Hearing for RO 22-07”.  How’s that for transparency?  Luckily, the project was described after I asked that this be done.

So, what’s the cause behind this feverish rush and clouded action?  Maybe transfer of tax monies to Scotts Valley Fire District in order to be collected by tax bills for 2024?  Maybe the Director’s application for an award to LAFCO for getting a consolidation accomplished in Santa Cruz County in two years?  Hmmm….Stay tuned. [Staff Report]


The County will receive about $26 million over the next 18 years as part of a class-action settlement against opioid manufacturers, distributors and retailers who settled for $51 billion.  What do you think would be the best use of that money to actually make a difference for people addicted to opioids?

“County Director of Substance Use Disorder Services Casey Swank explained that the Health Services Agency facilitated a community survey in August among Medi-Cal beneficiaries and substance use disorder treatment providers who were asked to rank core strategies within the eligible high impact areas defined in the settlement.”

Public shares priorities for Santa Cruz County opioid settlement spending

The County’s survey of 238 agencies and care providers yielded this:

“…the top three core strategies were treatment and recovery support for people involved in the justice system, reliance on substance use disorder wellness centers to divert people away from the justice system and treatment for individuals in the justice system.

Preferred uses among the 181 providers that responded to the survey are, in order of preference, crisis stabilization centers as an alternative to emergency rooms, peer support specialists or recovery coaches in emergency departments and substance use disorder wellness centers for youth and adults.”

What do you think?

I think the County would do well to launch a pilot project using Ibogaine to address and reduce addiction problems, as is being done in Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa under medical supervision: Ibogaine for addiction: Research, benefits, and more

Studies are showing it is effective and could remove addictive tendencies.

Then, I think we need to give these folks life skills to help manage money and learn new job skills that help them become independent, self-respecting people, and maybe have a farm modelled on the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz to help them along the way.

Notice that I did NOT mention Safe Injection Centers or handing out free needles.

Please let me know your thoughts.


A front-page article in the September 4  San Jose Mercury News caught my eye, reporting that State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara may be making deals with insurance companies in hope that Californians will be able to get insurance coverage in the future.  But at what price?

Anxiety builds as coverage dissolves [article]

At issue is that insurance companies who claim they can no longer afford risky coverage in California are now leaving the state, not renewing existing policies and refusing to write new policies.  The claim is that this is brought on by Prop. 103, passed by the voters in 1988 (by 51%), that regulates what insurance providers can charge, subject to approval of the State Insurance Commissioner, which became an elected position rather than appointed.  Insurance companies were required to roll back their rates by 20%..

Information Sheet: Proposition 103 Intervenor Process

What can you do if you have a mortgage and are required to have insurance, but no companies will issue a policy?  The State’s FAIR Plan is the last resort, but is expensive and restrictive.  It is not a government or public tax-funded program but rather high-priced, narrow policies underwritten by a consortium of all insurance companies doing business in the State and that is administered by the FAIR Plan agency.  About FAIR Plan

FAIR Plan Insurance

What is of interest is that State Insurance Commissioner just approved an increase of 15.7% for FAIR Plan rates, yet rates for private insurance companies themselves is being held down.

The article in the Mercury News, California insurance companies have to base rates on historic losses rather than using predictive computer climate model numbers.  That prevents insurance companies from being able to recover their own insurance for large payouts in disasters, which they buy for their own economic survival.

What consumer watchdogs feel is happening is that Ricardo Lara is making deals with legislators to ease the restrictions on insurance companies.

The bottom line is that something has to be done to help those who are receiving non-renewal notices.

Participate in the online presentations on this topic as it relates to wildland fire risk

Listen in online to your local talk program “Community Matters” on Santa Cruz this Friday (9/08) 2pm-4pm for a discussion with local insurance and real estate agents about this issue affecting Santa Cruz County. ( State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and staff have been requested to participate.


When neighbors work together to reduce wildfire risk, it makes a big difference in favor of safety.  When those neighbors join together to become a nationally-recognized FireWise Community to expand that cooperative work and education, many insurance companies now recognize the effort and grant a discount on insurance policies within the FireWise neighborhoods.

Even the FAIR Plan now recognizes the value of FireWise Communities.  Below is just such information, sent by California Insurance Commissioner’s Office staff, Ms. Mary Beth Bykowsky, forwarded by Ms. Lynn Sestak, FireWise Coordinator  of the Santa Cruz County FireSafe Council:

—– Forwarded Message —–

From: Bykowsky, Mary Beth
Sent: Monday, August 28, 2023 at 06:43:30 PM PDT
Subject: New FAIR Plan Discounts

“I wanted to let all my Fire Safe Council, Firewise Communities and other concerned communities members know that the Department of Insurance has already approved the FAIR Plan to begin offering insurance discounts starting yesterday, August 23, and expects to have other companies approved by the end of the year. The FAIR Plan has offered a 10% discount on policies in a participating Firewise Community since May 2018. Now, the FAIR Plan is offering two more wildfire hardening discounts: one for Protecting the Structure, and another for Protecting the Immediate Surroundings of the dwelling. When applied, these discounts will reduce the wildfire portion of the policy’s premium by 10% and 5% respectively. Depending on your level of wildfire risk, this can be a large component of your overall premium. Contact your broker to find out what this means for your premium, how to qualify, and when you could receive a discount.”

Learn more here: Firewise USA Recognition Program


A friend sent me this note over the weekend:

“Parade Street in Aptos Village will be open to all traffic on Tuesday, Sept. 5 while the Bayview Railroad Crossing will be closed to all traffic from this date forward! ?? Please be prepared for potential traffic congestion as Parade Street reopens and Bayview Railroad Crossing closes. Make sure to plan your commute accordingly and explore alternative routes if possible.”

I wonder why this boondoggle had to happen on a school day, when traffic is already choking the area?

What will be done to close the historic Bayview Hotel private entrance?  At the time of this writing, neither Swenson nor the County has contacted the owner of the Bayview Hotel about what will be happening there.

Contact Santa Cruz County Dept. of Public Works Director Matt Machado<> with your thoughts about Aptos Village traffic issues.


The Board of Trustees voted last month to pause on taking further action on selection a new name for Cabrillo College.  There continues to be thoughtful Letters to the Editor in the Sentinel regarding the matter.  We all need to keep paying attention and offering written and public testimonies with solutions to the Board of Trustees because it is important to our Community.

The next Board meeting will be Monday, September 11 at 6pm in the Horticulture Bldg. at the Aptos Cabrillo College campus.

[Board meetings and dates]




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

September 4


California’s coastal prairies are super-diverse habitats that (barely) still exist around the Monterey Bay and deserve careful attention by public and private landowners alike if we are to conserve these habitats for plants and wildlife for future generations.

What are Coastal Prairies?

Coastal prairies are dominated by herbaceous species (grasses, grass-like plants, and broadleaved plants aka ‘forbs’) where there is incursion of summer fog. Old growth coastal prairies are where human plows have not ‘turned over’ the soil, mixing the lower levels with upper levels and permanently altering the ecology. Old growth coastal prairies are extremely rare because people have historically farmed so much of what they primarily saw as productive prairie soils. Secondary coastal prairies have been intensively plowed and have a different ecology that requires different management approaches. Beyond the split between old growth and secondary coastal prairies, there are many, many types of coastal prairies.

Hydrogeomorphology Drives Diversity of Coastal Prairie Communities

Understanding soils and the corresponding differences in geology and hydrology will help with understanding of how beautifully complex coastal prairie classification can be. There are three geomorphic subdivisions that have been used to help to start classifying coastal prairies: flat, hillsides, and shallow-soiled ‘balds.’ Because water doesn’t drain quickly off of flat areas, coastal prairies found in such places often support extensive wetlands, some of which are only very wet in the most rainy of times. And, because soil doesn’t erode rapidly from those flat areas, deep soils typically develop under coastal prairies’ productive plants, which are so diverse as to have some species growing in every season. Hillside coastal prairies are better drained, and soil more readily erodes, so these drier, less productive prairies have a different ecology. And, at the top of those slopes there is frequently no soil at all…these areas are called ‘balds’ because only certain plants can grow there among the oft-exposed and bald-looking rock.

Let’s add two more levels of geomorphic complexity to this coastal prairie stew, both related to oceanic activity. Tides strongly influence the rarest types of coastal prairies, which thrive only where floods and King Tides inundate areas, with very salty and occasionally quite wet soils. These areas are also known as ‘saline wet meadows.’ Some line estuaries and lagoons and some are located even far inland where salts have accumulated over eons, like the flat areas where the Pajaro River wends its way across the valley north of Hollister. The ocean’s waves and tides carved stair-step flat areas, aka ‘marine terraces’ into the ocean-facing hills in the Big Sur and Santa Cruz mountains. You can see that terrace formation in action as you watch waves chiseling at the land across wide flat tide-pool-dotted rock: the soft-rock cliffs fall apart, Public Works drops massive piles of boulders, and someone inevitably proposes the ultimate boondoggle, a “sea wall.” Episodically, there’s an ice age, the ocean recedes, and tectonic uplift elevates the lowest marine terrace above the force of waves. There are at least 6 terraces, each with its own diversity of different-age soils and correspondingly diverse different coastal prairie types.

Managing Diverse Coastal Prairies

To conserve plants and wildlife, people looking to manage the bewilderingly diverse coastal prairies have a lot of work to do. The first rule in managing coastal prairies is: steward what you have, not what you want. We know diddly-squat about introducing new species to new places, but humans are apt to want to superimpose ideas from elsewhere on the spot they are looking at: that’s a common mistake. The second rule: manage for the thing you have that you want, not what you don’t want. Those two rules require you to start by cataloging everything. Get to know your place, make lists and maps…ask for help! People love cataloging and mapping species; iNaturalist, CalFlora, eBird, and other platforms offer increasingly easy platforms to help with this. Each species is in each place for its own reasons, and we are just getting to know coastal prairie species, so understanding why species are where is important to understanding how to conserve every species for future generations. For instance, we are beginning to understand that some species are only going to thrive in old growth coastal prairies. Other species require specific amounts of moisture. For decades, I have been working with a research team that has been documenting the importance of cattle grazing in conserving native annual wildflowers of California’s coastal prairies. Grazers can reduce vegetation height and the depth of dead plant material, both critical factors to allowing some species to thrive. Other species like taller, denser vegetation.

Indicator Species

Rightly or wrongly, and this is quite contested stuff, humans gravitate to looking at a small subset of species to indicate whether or not they are good land stewards. Because the citizens of the USA strongly support wildlife conservation and believe in conserving all species, we have national and state laws and policies that provide for the protection of rare, threatened, and endangered species. That focus makes these “listed” species the most commonly used species to inform land stewardship, and they have proven their value as such over and over again. Other government policies provide impetus for other biotic indicators. The California Coastal Commission at times designates suites of species as indicators of legally protected ESHA, Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas because of either their rarity or function. Wetland plant species serve as indicators of the most common ESHA and coastal prairie species have also served in that capacity in some places. Also, the Antiquities Act allows for US Presidents to provide for protection of species, ecosystems, or habitats. In the Monument Proclamation that provided protections for Cotoni Coast Dairies, there are several coastal prairie species listed that will also be used as indicator species for the BLM managers on that property.

Species Indicators of Coastal Prairie Management Success: a case study at Cotoni Coast Dairies

There might be enough policy-mandated indicator species in the coastal prairies at Cotoni Coast Dairies to adequately protect all the species that require those habitats. The Monument Proclamation lists the following species found predominantly in coastal prairies at the Cotoni Coast Dairies site: California buttercups, brown-headed rush, meadow vole, American kestrel, and white-tailed kite. The California Coastal Commission hasn’t yet weighed in on ESHA designation at Cotoni Coast Dairies, so we’ll have to wait and see how those designations change which species are used as indicators. Protections for rare, threatened and endangered species add a few more species to the list: Point Reyes Horkelia, Choris’ popcornflower, American badger, golden eagle, northern harrier, short-eared owl, grasshopper sparrow, and western pond turtle. It is fortunate that BLM is required to manage for, and monitor, so many coastal prairie indicator species: with this wealth and diversity of species, there is a good chance that many other species will be conserved. But, managing for this extensive suite will not be easy.

What’s the Management Recipe?

Each species has its own stewardship requirements. Managing for healthy buttercup populations requires managers to maintain wet meadows, most typically found on the terraces, but also in seeps on hillsides. Conservation of brown headed rush is similar, but this species likes less disturbance intensity. Meadow voles like dense grass in wet meadows, places that buttercup wouldn’t thrive. Choris’ popcornflower and Point Reyes Horkelia won’t thrive without higher disturbance intensity, which provides the extensive bare soil and lack of light competition that they need to proliferate. None of the coastal prairie indicator species will thrive without the right timing and intensity of grazing, mowing, or fire…which vary by species.

Applying the Principles

The guidance to manage for so many coastal prairie indicator species which are extant at Cotoni Coast Dairies provides a great foundation for rule 1: ‘steward what you have, not what you want’ but what about rule 2, ‘manage for the thing you have that you want, not what you don’t want?’ There is a great temptation for managers to focus on the negative in coastal prairie; too often coastal prairie managers say ‘I don’t want non-native grasses,’ with the ensuing endless stewardship battle as wave after wave of new non-native grasses invade following whatever stewardship attempt there was to control the preceding non-native grass management priority. I call this the exotic plant treadmill: one after the next weed keeps coming unless you focus on managing for what you want, the existing native species, to give them a chance to thrive in those same places.

It will be very interesting to see the BLM’s Science Plan for Cotoni Coast Dairies. I wonder how the science and procedures I outlined above might be applied to the property’s extensive coastal prairies.

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

Email Grey at


FROM GARY A. PATTON  From Gary’s “We Live In A Political World” website…

September 4
#247 / Sign That Petition!

Today’s blog posting is specifically addressed to residents of the City of Santa Cruz. Currently, volunteer signature gatherers are attempting to qualify an initiative measure for the City election to be held in March of next year. Supporters are calling the proposed initiative measure, “Housing For People.” Click that link to find out more about it. You can click the following link, too, to read coverage in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

In essence, the proposed initiative measure would do two things, presuming that the measure qualifies for the ballot and is then enacted by the voters:

First, the initiative would increase the City’s so-called “inclusionary percentage” from 20% to 25%. When developers build new housing units, the City currently requires that 20% of these new units be reserved for persons with average or below average incomes. Given the housing prices that are set by the private market, this inclusionary requirement is one of the only ways that the City can insure that new development actually opens up new housing opportunities for ordinary, working people and their kids.

Unfortunately, the State Legislature is doing everything it can to reduce the ability of local inclusionary ordinances to make sure that at least some significant share of the new development occurring will benefit average and below average income people. Recent state laws essentially reduce the impact of the inclusionary percentages set by the local City Council, or the voters. That is one reason that the initiative measure now in circulation is so important. It is a way to make sure that we get the maximum amount of affordable housing possible, as new development occurs – even as recent state laws act to reduce, not increase, the mandated affordable housing percentage. Upping the local inclusionary percentage works against these state law efforts to reduce local requirements to benefit the developers.

Second – and I personally think that this is also important – the initiative measure, if ultimately enacted, will require the voters to approve any increase to the height limits currently set in the City’s General Plan and Zoning Ordinance.

The City’s Planning Director was proposing new developments in the “South of Laurel” area that would be on the order of twenty-one (21) stories high – more than twice the height of the Dream Inn. Right after his election last year, Mayor Fred Keeley suggested that the Council reduce this to twelve (12) stories, maximum, and the Council backed up that idea. However, no final decision on height limits in the so-called “South of Laurel” neighborhood has yet been established, and it is worth noting that twelve stories (while much less than twenty-one stories) is still about TWICE the height of the new development at the corner of Laurel and Pacific, as pictured in that Sentinel article.

The proposed initiative measure is being promoted on the following basis:

Secure Your Right To Vote On Height

When the Save Lighthouse Point Association took action to “Save Lighthouse Field,” back in the early 1970’s – an effort in which I was personally involved – one of the key ways that voters headed off planning policies that really didn’t take account of what City residents wanted was by passing an initiative measure that was placed on the June 1974 ballot.

Some have told me that our local community is no longer all that concerned about giving voters real power over the future development of the City. I hope that’s not true. In our system of self-government, City voters ARE the City.

So, let’s up that inclusionary percentage! Let’s “Secure Our Right To Vote on Height!”

Sign that petition!

Even better, get a copy of the petition measure, by clicking this link, and get your friends and neighbors involved, too.

Time is short and the stakes are very high!

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

Email Gary at

September 4


While the phrase ’tilting at windmills’ may not apply directly to our disgraced former president, most experts agree that he exhibits the classic paranoid personality disorder in his eccentric, odd behavior. That is borne out by his suspicions of those around him, along with his refusing to take blame for his past deeds. The Orange Don Quixote, who betrayed the country while catering to a long-time foreign enemy, had his Sancho Panza in the person of White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, who proved to be incapable of being a voice of reason in dissuading his master’s delusional treachery, his ‘sanchismos’ not able to break through The Don’s fantasies. VP Pence lost his ‘sidekick’ designation in the game to throw out the election results, making Meadows a most intriguing persona within the coup team.

He knows all the secrets, where the skeletons are hidden, and where the bodies are buried, but was playing both sides as the investigation dragged on, even as his aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, spilled the jar of beans before the J6 Committee. After his indictment, Meadows sought in a hearing to have his case moved to federal court, where he will attempt to assert immunity as a federal officer during which he was simply doing his job under the Former Guy. At this writing the judge has not made a decision on the switch, but either way, Meadows is going to have to make a decision quickly about whether he will take the bullet for Trump. Meadows’ attorney wrote in his court filings, “These and the other acts that form the basis for the charges against Mr. Meadows all fall squarely within his conduct as Chief of Staff. This is precisely the kind of state interference in a federal official’s duties that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibits, and that the removal statute shields against.” Advantages for Meadows in moving to federal court would widen the jury pool to an area more GOP-heavy, plus a televised trial is not likely which would expose him to more embarrassment during the trial.

For the above hearing, DA Fani Willis subpoenaed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and two others who were present during the infamous “find 11,780 votes” phone call that precipitated two charges against Meadows. In court filings, it was noted that a government watchdog agency found Meadows and other Trump officials in their political activity prior to the election violated federal law. “Since the defendant was forbidden by law to use his authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election or otherwise participate in activity directed toward the success of Mr. Trump as a candidate for the presidency, every single one of these activities fell outside the scope of his duties, both as a matter of fact and as a matter of law,” prosecutors wrote. Should these activities be adjudged to be in the scope of his duties, Meadows must then prove he has a tenable federal defense.

A brief written by eight prosecutors and federal officials backing the prosecutors in the Georgia case, all having served in GOP administrations. One of the individuals was J. Michael Luttig, a former federal appeals court judge with whom we are familiar from his appearance before the J6 Committee and numerous talk shows. The eight wrote, “The purpose of federal-officer removal statute – to protect federal operations by preventing retribution in state court for locally unpopular exercises of federal authority – would not be served by removal here. To the contrary, removal would be perverse, as this prosecution arises from interference with state-government operations and seeks to vindicate Georgia’s voice in a federal election, the very contest from which federal authority flows.” If the judge rules in favor of Meadows‘ move to the federal court, others indicted in the case will attempt to do the same and it is feared that all co-defendants will automatically be moved, as is being argued by indicted former Trump Justice Department official, Jeffrey Clark, whose hearing is scheduled for September 18. We can be certain that Trump is watching closely, though he unsuccessfully tried to move his New York hush money case to federal court, which is under appeal.

A commenter on the Quorum website says, “In a shocking roll of the legal dice, Mark Meadows preemptively put himself on the stand during pre-trial motions in a desperate attempt to convince a judge that participating in a wildly illegal and extremely clumsy conspiracy to overthrow our democracy with a crackpot team of America’s worst lawyers and ideological sociopaths was somehow “part of the job” of being Chief of Staff to the president…riiiiiiiiight!” Bill Palmer on his blog writes, “It’s one thing for Meadows to try the low percentage play of trying to get his Fulton Country criminal charges moved to federal court. Even though he’s unlikely to win, it can’t hurt to try, right? Actually, it can hurt to try, quite a bit, when you’re as much of an idiot as Meadows is. Meadows made the ground-breakingly stupid decision to take the stand under oath during the hearing about moving the trial. During that testimony he appears to have committed perjury, which can disqualify his request and get him hit with additional criminal charges. But it gets stupider. Meadows’ stated reason for going along with Donald Trump’s criminal plot to overthrow the election? He said that if he didn’t go along with it, ‘I know I would get yelled at’ by Trump. No really, he said this, on the witness stand. This admission wipes out a whole range of reasonable doubt defenses that Meadows might have tried to use. Meadows just made it a whole lot easier to convict him a trial. Meadows keeps proving himself to be astoundingly stupid. Fiction writers would have a hard time coming up with this character and making it believable.” As Sancho would say, “Hope is a good breakfast, but a bad supper.”

The aforementioned judge J. Michael Luttig in a recent appearance on Nicolle Wallace’s MSNBC show, claims that he has never been a “political person, or a political partisan” though he held the views, beliefs and principles, and the policy positions of the GOP during his lifetime. He is troubled by the current position and direction of today’s Republican party and is hopeful that it will come to its senses, both collectively and constitutionally. Together with Harvard’s Laurence Tribe, Luttig penned a column in the New York Times explaining their belief that Trump can be barred from holding office by using the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Both the Attorney General and the Secretary of State of New Hampshire announced that they are seriously considering barring Trump’s name from the state ballot, based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which states that those who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” may be disqualified from running for office again…for which Trump has been indicted.

Or how about, as Bocha Blue writes on the Palmer Report, that Trump be tried as an axe murderer? He quotes Georgia Republican and former Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan’s harsh words about Trump and Republicans in general as saying, “Trump has the moral compass of an axe murderer.” Sans axe, Trump managed to kill hundreds through his COVID-19 negligence, and his fomenting of the insurrection resulted in the death of one rioter and eventually several Capitol police officers. Blue says, “So yes, there is blood on Donald Trump’s hands. I thank Duncan for these remarks, not that they will have any weight with the Republican party, but in this case, it’s the thought that counts.”

The Lincoln Project website points to people trying to compare the Georgia case, with Trump and the 18 co-conspirators, to Watergate, but analyzes it as going much deeper because it indicts every member of the GOP…senators, congress members, staffers, the RNC, big money donors…corruption that goes to the very core of the GOP. And that’s why the Former Guy is being defended so vociferously…the whole bunch is tainted! President Nixon had to reckon with his own party, which had a moral conviction in evidence which has long since disappeared. Trump’s criminal enterprise is so feared that it’s easier to go along, in an attempt to legitimize the lies and false conspiracies. Sadly, these ignoramuses have the ear of a good portion of the American electorate who are scarfing up those “Never Surrender” mug-shot mugs, posters and t-shirts following Trump’s surrender.

SiriusXM radio host Dean Obeidallah thinks a legitimate legal case can be made against Trump, that he has violated U.S. copyright laws by hawking merchandise using the Fulton County mugshot. Indictment Don bragged that $7M flowed into his coffers from the $34 t-shirts and $25 mugs as soon as they were offered, but the rightful recipient of that money may be the Fulton County Sheriff’s department, an entity which could use a huge influx of funds for its ailing, poor conditions. According to a 2022 article in the University of Georgia School of Law’s Journal of Intellectual Property Law, “In the context of photographs taken by law enforcement during the booking process, the author of the mugshot photograph is the law enforcement agency.” So, does Fulton County want to see The Don in court…again…over copyright infringement?

Aldous J. Pennyfarthing writes, “After being mugshot (mugshouted? mugsharted?), Trump returned to X, which is what nobody calls the platform formerly known as Twitter, to send an X, which is what nobody calls a post formerly known as a ‘tweet,’ to his supporters in the death cult, which is what many of us call the party formerly known as the GOP. The sweet included Trump’s mugshot and a grift summons. Remarkably, QAnon folks saw something in it other than a surly, glowering weirdo who looks like he’s on Day Two of a three-day Strawberry Yoo-hoo cleanse. ‘It’s always darkest before the storm,’ one Trump supporter tweeted in response to the mugshot. ‘Tsunami Trump is coming for the swamp.'” Aldous J. questions the statement with, “Wouldn’t a tsunami make swamp immeasurably worse? Shouldn’t that be Wet Vac Trump? Or Intracranial Stent Trump?” It has been said that Donald Trump can be described as “a poor man’s idea of a rich man, a weak man’s idea of a strong man, and a dumb man’s idea of a smart man.” Touché! As Steve Schmidt said, “America has had its share of president’s who were crooks (Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon), bigots (Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan), and incompetents (Andrew Johnson, George W. Bush). But never before Donald Trump have we had a president who combined all these qualities.”

Trump, in one of his Fox News & Agitprop interviews recalled the cognitive test he took during his presidency, under the supervision of White House doctor Ronny Jackson, and indicating that he had taken another test recently. “If you’re in the office of the presidency, we have to be sharp. The exam was 30 or 35 questions. The first questions are very easy, the last questions are much more difficult.” And we all remember the to-do he made earlier over the memory portion, of his being able to recall the words, “person, woman, man, camera, TV” Trump went on to say that his results impressed the medical staff, “They say, ‘Nobody gets it in order.’ It’s not that easy, but for me it was easy. And that’s not any easy question. They say, ‘That’s amazing, how did you do that?’ I do it because I have, like, a good memory. Because I’m cognitively there. Joe Biden should take the test.” Court, jury, verdict, prison…repeat those words several times, Donny.

After Trump’s mugshot was released, Georgia artist Chris Veal began painting a large mural on a building in Atlanta, using the photo in his creation, with right-wingers applauding what they thought was a protest against the arrest of the former prez. Veal finished his mural, to which a word bubble was added, which read, “M.A.G.A. My Ass Got Arrested.” The artist says feedback has been positive, with passersby smiling, laughing and giving him high-fives.

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


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

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


 “I thought my book was done, then we went to Hawaii and the whole last chapter happened.”
~Mariel Hemingway

“Hawaii is still the single most frequent fantasy destination, not because of political stability or conveniences, but because Hawaii seduces the imagination. It’s the perfect postcard – no props, no fillers.”
~Robert Wintner

“Hawaii is a paradise born of fire.”-
~Rand McNally


Have some fun! Here’s a bit of standup from Matteo Lane, one of my recent favorites 🙂

COLUMN COMMUNICATIONS. Subscriptions: Subscribe to the Bulletin! You’ll get a weekly email notice the instant the column goes online. (Anywhere from Monday afternoon through Thursday or sometimes as late as Friday!), and the occasional scoop. Always free and confidential. Even I don’t know who subscribes!!
Snail Mail: Bratton Online
82 Blackburn Street, Suite 216
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Direct email:
Direct phone: 831 423-2468
Cell phone: 831 212-3273
All Technical & Web details: Gunilla Leavitt @
Posted in Weekly Articles | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *