Brace yourselves: It’s nearly over—2011 that is. So, what have we learned? Certainly, 2011 has been a fascinating year for Santa Cruz on a number of fronts. Most notable may be the fact that two of our own generated national attention that also shined the spotlight on Santa Cruz and the unique creative shire that it is—James Durbin and Chris Rene. Durbin turned heads this year for getting to one of the final top spots on American Idol last spring. A lavish homecoming captured national attention, too. The singer’s first solo album hit the charts last month. As for Rene, the 28-year-old local singer stunned Santa Cruz by making it to the Top Three on TV’s new hit, The X Factor. News of his final nights on the show—and whether he grabbed the top prize—were unavailable at press time for this issue, but regardless, Rene, like Durbin, came out a winner, exposing a depth and humanity that aren’t always that present in most performers in televised talent competitions. The way we see it: Durbin and Rene are two of Santa Cruz’s top local heroes for 2011.
What else happened in 2011? Too much to replay here, but the biggest loss may have been the Coastal Commission’s voting down of the proposed La Bahia Hotel renovation. That decision certainly raised eyebrows and offered yet another glimpse into the quirky inner workings of some of our local politics.
In the meantime, the year ahead promises new hopes, new ideas and new possibilities. My hope is that Santa Cruz County, and the officials elected to serve it, take advantage of some of the ripe opportunities in front of them. Perhaps some wiser choices in 2012 could create a powerful and positive ripple effect to remember.
As for you, the GT reader ... thank you for reading. We couldn’t do this without you.
Here’s to a prosperous 2012. Enjoy ...
Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief
Letters to the Editor
Feel The Waves?
Regarding the SmartMeter debate (GT 12/15), I am not paranoid, but the little man inside my head disagrees. When I noticed the newly-installed SmartMeter on the side of my home, I was sent spinning with fears that I would soon go sterile, lose all my hair and develop rickets. PG&E reassured me, however, that the electronic signal emitted by their new device was no more harmful than the one transmitted by the cellphone which has been irradiating my testicles all these years. Their argument, it seems, is that if my nuts actually do drop off I should sue AT&T, not them. I was momentarily soothed.
After several days—time spent carefully examining myself for radiation burns—it occurred to me that the more alarming feature of the SmartMeter is its ability to communicate with (and possibly control) modern household appliances, ostensibly to facilitate greater energy efficiency. This is presented as a means of reducing my energy bill and lessening the environmental impact of domestic electricity production.
Since all of my appliances were manufactured during the Carter administration, I was—at first—unmoved, but what does it mean that we are inviting PG&E into our homes to start pushing buttons and reprogramming our devices? Will they be able to set the correct time on my microwave?
Now I recognize that PG&E has no obvious sinister motive to control the temperature of my vegetable crisper or dry my undies on “Knit/Delicate,” but I am unable to shake the fear that I might someday be forced to listen as my toaster-oven testifies against me at my own sedition trial. Et tu, ToastMaster?
At the same time, I find it difficult to understand their motive for convincing us to reduce consumption. What industry is interested convincing its customers to use less of its product? Something evil must be afoot.
When PG&E reacted to a visit by a dozen of its customers attempting to return their SmartMeters to the Capitola payment center by calling the cops and locking the doors, my fears were confirmed. Why would they act in such a plainly defensive manner if they have nothing to hide? I'm not paranoid, PG&E acts suspiciously. Perhaps the entire controversy would have simply faded away if they weren't stammering like a bunch of sixth-graders caught smoking behind the gymnasium. It would probably also help if they hadn't burned eight people to death so recently.
Still, it is hard to understand why PG&E is pursuing the SmartMeter program so doggedly. Is it one facet of an elaborate government plan to ferret out the purveyors of dissent? Is it a plot to render us all completely dependent on Big Brother to manage our lives and operate our domestic appliances? I often have trouble distinguishing between state-sanctioned corporate monopolies and bald-faced dictatorships. But enough of my own cognitive shortcomings. In any event, the line between government and commerce has become so blurred that we can't even really be sure which one of them is screwing us at any given time.
The paranoid cannot—by definition—be self-aware. As soon as you decide you are paranoid, you aren't. Delusions recognized cease being delusory. I believe all of the conspiracy theories surrounding SmartMeters; but then, I am the sort of person that believes in things that aren't true. Just ask the little man in my head.
Best Online Comments
On ‘Water in the Hood’ ...
I think this is an opportunity to stop the UCSC growth plan. We don't have the water to support it. My concern is that the money from normal rate payers who prefer conservation and less growth will be paying for the desal plant, and taken away from need infrastructure repairs. If the pro-growth and high-end ag users want water, they should foot the bill for the desal plant, plus cost to run it. The ignorance by the City and UCSC is aggravating when there are really better options. There are existing desal plants, like Morro Bay, which are full of problems.
That Downtown Window Decorating Contest
And the winner is ...? Stripe, the popular Downtown Santa Cruz portal nabbed the top votes in this year’s Winter Wonderland Window Decorating Contest. The online voter that won the readers’ side of the contest in a random drawing: Joanie Vigil, who nabbed $100 in Downtown Dollars.
Congratulations to all. Visit Stripe at 107 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-9252, stripedesigngroup.com). Log onto goodtimessantacruz.com for more special online exclusives.
Holiday Deadlines GT offices will be closed Thursday, Dec. 22 through Friday, Dec. 30 in observance of Christmas and New Year’s.
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