A tax of one cent per ounce of soda has been proposed to generate revenue and curb over consumption of the sugary staple beverage. Also, many schools across the country are currently restricting or banning the sale of sodas in vending machines on their campuses. According to the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a 20-ounce serving of soda contains around 17 teaspoons of sugar, and a child’s risk of obesity increases by an average of 60 percent with every additional serving of soda. “Bubbling Over,” a recent study by Yale University’s Rudd Center, reported that 41 percent of Santa Cruz children and 56 percent of Santa Cruz teens drink one or more soda or other sweetened beverage a day.
On Feb. 8, Assemblymember Bill Monning proposed a bill to protect the California public from potentially hazardous pesticides. Monning proposed the bill partly as response to chemical sprayed in the Santa Cruz area two years ago to eradicate the Light Brown Apple Moth. “The lack of information about the inert ingredients used in the aerial spray program caused a great deal of fear and mistrust among the public,” says Monning in a press release. “I believe that people have a right to know what they are eating, drinking, and breathing and should be allowed to make informed decisions based upon full disclosure.” California Senator Mark Leno proposed the same legislation to the state senate.
Out of all of the fury and concern over the Golden State’s budget failures this past year, perhaps one of the issues Californians took most to heart was the threat of budget cuts to its precious state parks. As a result, the November 2010 ballot will include The State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, a statewide measure that would provide free day use access for Californians, require wildlife conservation and “create a stable, reliable and adequate source of funding for the state park system,” according to Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks. The local group has collected more than 2,000 signatures in Santa Cruz County so far.
Defense Officials, Local Congressman Speak Out Against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
The top two defense officials in the nation announced their desire to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a Feb. 2 hearing. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that they support repealing the 1993 law that prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military, but they need more time to review the impact and how to carry out the change in policy. Gates testified that he has appointed a "high-level working group" to do the review, which will take about a year. In the meantime, the military is moving toward enforcing the existing policy "in a fairer manner," according to Gates.
Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Michael Barton has announced he will be hanging up his robe and retiring. Watsonville attorney Rebecca Connolly hopes to step into his shoes, having recently filed for the upcoming election for his seat. Connolly has experience in federal law and as an assistant Santa Cruz District Attorney. “It’s a tremendous honor to run for Superior Court Judge in Santa Cruz County,” Connolly stated in a Feb. 1 press release. The filing period for candidates to declare intention to run ends Feb. 10. The election will be held June 8, 2010.
Robert Steffen, featured in the Jan. 21 issue of Good Times for his recent interest in city politics and a seat on the city council, has announced his plans to withdraw from the Santa Cruz City Council race in November. For other candidates such as Councilmember Lynn Robinson, who plans to run again, and David Terazzas, who is strongly considering it, the race is just getting started. In an email to GT, Steffen cited health concerns for his decision to drop out. “I am sorry to disappoint those among your readers who are my supporters, but, as I am certain they will understand, one's health must come first,” he writes. “Perhaps another time.”
The beloved Santa Cruz County Veterans Memorial Building closed indefinitely starting on Jan. 21 after an “architect and engineer surveyed the Veterans Memorial Building...and identified potential issues and damage to structural elements,” according to executive director Tim Brattan. An integral hub for the Santa Cruz community, the Vets Hall is a center for veterans, but also for yoga and dance classes, community events, concerts and much more. The fate of the Hall remains uncertain. Look for more coverage on its closure in next week’s Good Times.