The mainstream media did everything it could to avoid acknowledging voters’ repudiation of Donald Trump in this last election, rushing out a thousand headlines that were some variation on “Blue Wave Turns Out to Be Nothing More Than a Blue Ripple.” Only after weeks of taking in the final results, with Democrats piling up 40 flipped seats in the House, did we start to see headlines like CNN’s “Latest House Results Confirm 2018 Wasn’t a Blue Wave, It Was a Blue Tsunami.”
Here in California, it was a different story—absolutely no one was disputing the victory of progressive politics across the state (even in Orange County!) But many pundits still acted like this result came out of nowhere. Guess what, talking heads, it didn’t! In fact, there have been progressive politicians working hard for years to bring those values back to government. This week, Geoffrey Dunn profiles one of the leaders of that movement, our own State Senator Bill Monning. His story provides the context that has been sorely lacking in the mainstream coverage about the election and the state of the state’s politics.
A few other important things to mention: as always, we’re doing a story every week about one of the local nonprofits you can support through Santa Cruz Gives. Read this week’s story by Georgia Johnson about Watsonville Wetlands Watch in the news section, and then go to santacruzgives.org and give to the group or groups doing the work that is most important to you. Also, voting for the Best of Santa Cruz County 2019 awards begins this week! Go to goodtimes.sc to find the ballot and get your results in early! And another thing you can find this week at goodtimes.sc are the answers to your big questions about Santa Cruz, as researched by UCSC’s Science Communication program students. We’re posting them one at a time, and it’s interesting stuff. Check it out!
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Break the Rules
I loved the profile of Martha Hudson (“Change Maker,” GT 12/5) for many reasons. As a lifelong rule-follower (albeit grudgingly), it allowed me to live vicariously through someone who has chosen a very different lifestyle from my own. And, yes, I’m a bit envious. I also admire her determination to empower other women and non-binary folks to chart their own courses.
As a girl growing up in the Midwest in the ’60s and ’70s, I wasn’t allowed to wear pants to my (public) school until the rules were changed in third grade. Besides severely restricting my playground activities, this incensed my 6-year-old sense of fairness. At my summer camp, girls were forbidden from wearing Speedo swimsuits, because they were deemed too arousing for the boys.
Someday, the body-shaming cultural messages and norms that Ms. Hudson and others are working so hard to counteract will seem as ridiculous as the rules girls of my era were subjected to.
I was trained in CEQA at Cal State Hayward. The Geography Department established a class to learn and practice the law back in the early ’80s. We each had to work up an actual project. I was able to write over 80 pages of comments for a TV transmission tower in the Bay Area. It was obvious to us twentysomethings that the implementation of the law was going to become riddled with abuse. It needs to be reformed, but how? You can’t take away people’s right to use the law and litigation as a means toward the end of stopping a project they do not like or want.
I worked as an environmental protection specialist for a good portion of my career. I observed the gradual expansion of the implementation process, and the increasing abuse that came as part of the deal. Government was looking for more work and revenue. Neighbors were looking to kill projects by a thousand paper cuts and financial extractions. Opportunistic lawyers were looking for an easy mark. I believe CEQA lawsuits are now the number one tool used by project opposition to stop work across the state.
A lot of the abuse happens behind the scenes. Confidentiality and non-disclosure are certainly part of the litigation. It would be interesting to know not only how many projects have been shaken down in public litigation, but also in confidential settlements, and what the ultimate cost is. I had written a comment back in October about “litigation ahead” for the Ocean Street project. I was excoriated for that comment.
Frankly, the majority opinion I see expressed over and over by residents in the county is a desire to chase away any change. We want our exclusive paradise all to ourselves. The City of Santa Cruz is the poster child for this attitude, where the main battle is now a battle to crush rental property owners. The students think they are going to get cheap rent. The joke’s on them. Property values and rents will continue their upward climb, interrupted by the inevitable economic downturns, and a dribble of public money will continue to go toward homelessness, rent subsidies, road expansion, and the other social ills created by the abuse of law to stop any meaningful building of housing.