Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
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From the Editor


Plus Letters to Good Times

The view from above is good. I had another chance to experience just that, as did many Cruzans, last weekend at a successful bash celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Santa Cruz Downtown Association—tossed atop the Rittenhouse Building. Strolling the balcony there while filming coverage of the event for GTv, it was hard not to marvel at how unique our Downtown actually is. It’s also a reminder of how much it’s endured and how the city has proven itself to be filled with inventive, determined souls committed to making some good happen here—especially after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. A good event, all around, with Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers on hand. Plus: Stellar food and cocktails. Before heading to a fundraiser for the Derby Girls, I secretly—maybe not so secretly—wished for a Banana Republic to materialize in the vacant quarters of the Ritt. Some day, perhaps.

Speaking of the Derby Girls, comedian Kathy Griffin, who hit the Civic earlier this week in a festive show, commented that she never shared marquee space with the likes of Bill Cosby and our dear Derby gals. She also teased that the Civic wasn’t a traditional performing arts center. Well, she didn’t need to convince me of that. I still scratch my head wondering why, in all our inventiveness, we can’t manage to produce a more suitable performing arts theater in Downtown Santa Cruz. That, and a nice hotel—as in rethinking the use of the El Palomar. But don’t get me started. A prominent local was discussing that topic with me recently and it mirrored my own thoughts. And that’s a good thing. Because if the thoughts are out there, there must be a way to explore if they can be manifested into something grand that would benefit all.

Good stuff to ponder in the week ahead. In the meantime, enjoy this week’s issue. Onward ...

Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief


Letters to the editor

High on Measure H
Chief Justice Marshall is known for his famous quote, "The power to tax is the power to destroy." In Econ 101, students learn about "dead weight loss," the premise which reveals that increasing taxes does not necessarily increase tax revenues. Why the opposition to another tax hike with Measure H?  Looking at the numbers helps.
The city of Santa Cruz is reportedly comprised of 56,124 people, as of 2008.  General revenues and transfers (mostly taxes) for the city in 2009 amounted to $62 million dollars. For every resident in Santa Cruz, that means about $1,105 per year. In other words, out of each wallet and each purse, on average, city residents hand over 11 crisp $100 bills.
Have city policies helped local businesses? Unfortunately, private business has all but left the top 10 employers' list in the city, even if you include the Boardwalk, the Crow's Nest and UPS. 

According to the City's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city was the third largest employer in 2009 with 1,108 people or about $56,000 in taxes and transfers per employee. According to the same report, nonprofits and municipal entities comprised nearly 84 percent of the employees working for the top 10 employers in the city. Private business amounted to only 16 percent, and most of those employees came from lower wage entertainment and restaurant business sectors.
Rather than raise taxes, perhaps a better alternative is to look at how they are spent. Naturally, everyone wants a safer city. Has the city looked at closed-circuit TV cameras for downtown? Many other cities have found CCTV systems to be a significant and cost-effective deterrent to crime.  Perhaps it's time for the city to take advantage of its intellectual capital.
Peter Verbica
Santa Cruz

WASP World
Yesterday, I leafed through Santa Cruz Magazine in the library; this slick sheet offering might best be called White Bread, W A S P, as I suggested above, or Caucasion Digest.
You must be aware of the diversity in just the city's professionals' profile alone. There are Asians, Latinos, Afro-Americans serving this community as doctors, dentists, teachers, lawyers, hospital workers, retailers, greengrocers, etc., and I have yet to see them featured in this magazine. The most recent omission of minorities in Santa Cruz is the mural down near the Boardwalk serving as a directional into the city. That was approved through the Community Foundation as well, wasn't it? What's with the whitewash?

Kathy Cheer



Best of The Online Comments

On Measure H
Huh? Tario outlines a thoughtful, rational explanation of the position against Measure H, and Cynthia Mathews dismisses it as anti-government, anti-tax? She's outlived her political usefulness if it was ever there in the first place.
And to top it off, Tario—a Nexter, is comfortable pulling away from the tax-and-spend liberal crowd? Looks like I might have to re-think the possibilities of Next.
Dyann Lauter

On ‘Unplugged’
Gary Patton has made his life off the backs of locals while playing to the politically correct and students from elsewhere. And, like Gary says, he's always been compensated, while the community as a whole has not been compensated. That's because Gary's ilk are always coming back to those same P.C.'s and students to take more tax dollars ... and more tax dollars. So, in effect, Gary was getting paid not so much for advocacy as his own spewed propoganda.
Now, if KUSP, in its loss (of Patton’s radio show), decided to get non-compensated advocates for both sides of specific arguments, they might, in fact, grab a new audience and increased listenership.
So to KUSP, I'd add: thanks for doing disconnected locals a favor.
Steve Hartman

Land-use is the most misunderstood environmental issue influencing every aspect of our community, and nobody understands the complex implications more than Gary Patton. What a loss if KUSP withdraws its support of Gary's radio spots.
Barbara G
Comments (1)Add Comment
Clever omissions
written by Don Lane, October 22, 2010
Peter Verbica's clever selection and omission of details about Santa Cruz's largest employers painted an interesting but incomplete picture. He made it appear that local economic development efforts were insufficient by omitting the fact that UCSC dominates the local employment market. UCSC employs almost as many people as all the other members of the local top 10 employers list. Of course, leaving out that minor detail that makes it look like the proportion of private sector employment is low. Do we want UCSC to leave our community and lay off 4600 people just so our private sector employment ratio can go up?

His further dismissal (by omission) of Plantronics, Costco, and Santa Cruz Biotechnology as top employers -- all in the private sector--also helped him make his political point but did so at the expense of a full picture of the local economy.

The Santa Cruz City Council in the past several years has an excellent record on economic development, responsiveness to business concerns, and budget management. A complete description of this work can be found here on the City's website:

I invite readers to fully inform themselves on these issues before assuming that clever letter writers are presenting good information.

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