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Sep 02nd
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Local News

A Black Sheep from the Street

A Black Sheep from the Street

A former Salinas gang member dedicates his life to educating local youth on healthy life choices

By the time Willie Stokes was 14 years old, living in East Salinas with his aunt and three sisters, he was deeply entrenched in gang life. Stokes was addicted to hard drugs, and would not think twice about robbing someone or breaking into a home. He spent much of his childhood in and out of juvenile hall, spent the subsequent 17 years in and out of penitentiary, and ultimately served 10 years at the maximum security Pelican Bay State Prison.

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Mark Stone

Assemblymember Mark Stone

Looking back on your first year in office, what were the highlights, and, looking ahead, what are your plans for next year?

I worked hard during my first year in office to serve my constituents, and I look forward to another year of helping vulnerable Californians and leading the fight to protect our environment.

I’m pleased that the legislature passed an on-time, balanced budget last year, and for the first time in many years, the state did not have to make drastic cuts to programs that help foster youth, the elderly, and the disabled. While this is good news, these Californians continue to suffer as billions of dollars in budget cuts from previous years decimated essential services they need. As a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, this year I will continue to advocate for critical programs on which so many Californians rely.

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Business

Covering the Difference

Covering the Difference

Will Covered California equalize the county’s health insurance disparities?

Healthcare has been a fixture in the headlines for several years now—from the passage of President Barack Obama’s flagship Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 and the House Republicans’ constant attempts to repeal it, to the recent rollout of the online insurance marketplace and the glitches that characterized its launch.

The take-home message has been that healthcare will become more accessible for all Americans, who will need to attain some form of health insurance under the new law by the end of March 2014 to avoid a penalty.

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Environment

Blazing the Trails of Science

Blazing the Trails of Science

UC Santa Cruz’s top scientific breakthroughs of 2013

By Aric Sleeper Being second in the world for university research influence is a big reputation to live up to. But UC Santa Cruz—which was given the impressive status by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2012-2013—was up to the challenge, pumping out loads of noteworthy research and findings throughout 2013.

In the eyes of Scott Brandt, vice chancellor for research at UCSC, the “excellent year for research at UC Santa Cruz” was exemplified when President Barack Obama awarded a Slug faculty member with a nationally significant science honor back in February.

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Local News

Getting Warmer

Getting Warmer

Pogonip Jane’s identification could pave the way for progress in other local cold cases

Santa Cruz police recently identified one of the county’s most famous unidentified homicide victims using a new technology—a process authorities hope can also be used to make a break in other local cold cases.

Two hikers discovered the body of so-called Pogonip Jane while searching for mushrooms in the Pogonip area back in January 1994. For more than 15 years, Santa Cruz police were at a loss as to who she was. The petite teenager had been bludgeoned to death and was naked in the middle of a trail when her body was found.            

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Local News

Citizens 2.0

Citizens 2.0

In the third installment of GT’s Civinomics coverage, we look at how online users’ civic initiatives are gaining traction

If the new online startup Civinomics, which is based in Downtown Santa Cruz, is making one distinct impact on the community's civic dialogue so far, it is with organization.

As people become more active on the website, which is designed for users to post civic initiatives, share information, challenge or promote each other's ideas, and vote on those ideas, one of the most notable results has been the platform's capacity to chronicle—in an organized, navigable manner—an expanding landscape of citizenry attitude.

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Local News

On Track

On Track

Plans for Santa Cruz County’s Scenic Rail Trail chug along

The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail is now closer to becoming a reality thanks to the approval of $5.3 million in funding.

At its Thursday, Dec. 5 meeting, The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) voted to approve $14 million in state and federal funding for 26 projects. This includes $5.3 million for three sections of what’s known colloquially as the Rail Trail. Those segments include a 2.4-mile portion from Natural Bridges Drive to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, a stretch from Fifth to Seventh avenues along East Cliff Drive in Twin Lakes and a portion connecting Lee Road to the slough trail system in Watsonville.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Rep. Sam Farr

Town Hall with Rep. Sam Farr

The idea of raising the federal minimum wage has been gaining national support. Where do you stand on that issue?

It is a shame that our country has not raised the minimum wage so that all American workers can earn a livable income. When Democrats first took control of Congress after the 2006 election, we made wage reform one of our top priorities and passed the first minimum wage increase in years.

Inflation has unfortunately slowly eaten away at that raise. When adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is now lower that it was several decades ago. If the minimum wage was indexed for inflation, it would be worth almost $11 today. Instead, the current rate of $7.25 per hour leaves workers with just $15,080 a year to pay their bills.

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Local News

Pain Management

Pain Management

Is one of the most common treatments for long-term chronic pain doing more harm than good?

Medications that contain hydrocodone—an extremely addictive opioid found in commonly prescribed painkillers such as Vicodin—are causing more lethal overdoses in the United States than heroin and cocaine combined, according to Bill Morris, a local palliative care doctor for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF).

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data indicates that drug overdose death rates, the majority of which are from prescription medications, have more than tripled in the country since 1990, and the CDC has classified prescription drug abuse as an “epidemic.”

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Environment

Charting New Waters

Charting New Waters

Fishwise celebrates 10 years, authors white paper on human rights

When the founders of the Santa Cruz-based nonprofit Fishwise began their uncharted journey in 2003, they had one goal: to provide retailers with the information and tools they needed to give customers the ability to make informed decisions about the seafood they put on their table.

Partnering with New Leaf Community Markets for their initial pilot program, Fishwise found that the people of Santa Cruz County not only appreciated knowing the environmental impact of the seafood they were buying, but they actually bought more.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Foodie File: Beer Thirty

Cups runneth over at Soquel’s new beer garden

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.