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Dec 20th
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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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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Zach Friend

Town Hall with Supervisor Zach Friend

Your office has been pushing for expansion of broadband in the county. Why do you see broadband as a vehicle for economic development?

High-capacity Internet is one of the most effective tools communities have at spurring economic development.  The economy of the 21st century is predicated up on data and information, and a large barrier to economic growth for local government is the fact that our data infrastructure is generally outdated. It is important to look beyond the traditional model of economic development, which often relied exclusively on box stores or other major physical developments, toward a less-impactful, higher-return, investment model.

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Environment

H2O in Limbo

H2O in Limbo

After postponing vote on desal, Santa Cruz moves forward in water supply discussions

While the City of Santa Cruz has hit pause on a proposed desalination plant, many are still wondering what that will mean for the city’s involvement with CalDesal.

CalDesal is a pro-desalination advocacy board comprised of numerous water agencies, with a mission of advancing the use of desalination in California. Bill Kocher, the city’s long-time Water Department director, was a founding member. But Kocher retired earlier this year, raising questions as to whether the city would continue its membership with the organization.

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Local News

Live to Serve

Live to Serve

Christine Johnson-Lyons retires from the Community Action Board

After devoting nearly 30 years of her time and energy to fighting for the rights of the poor and disadvantaged of Santa Cruz County, one may expect Christine Johnson-Lyons to have no regrets. But, to the contrary, there is something she wishes she could have done during her time as executive director of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County (CAB): helped more people in need.

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Local News

Homegrown Issue

Homegrown Issue

Census reveals majority of homeless population lived locally before becoming homeless

Last month, the Watsonville-based research organization Applied Survey Research (ASR) released its biennial census of the Santa Cruz County homeless population. While the numbers represent an alarming increase, the percentage of respondents who indicated they lived locally before becoming homeless falls inside of the normal spectrum for other surveyed counties, says ASR Vice President Peter Connery.

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Local News

Eyes on the Courts

Eyes on the Courts

Public Safety Citizen Task Force adopts policy recommendations for City Council

Bryan Matthew Martin—a local recidivist whose rap sheet, dating back to 2003, includes check fraud, meth possession, and felony auto theft—is a name that, for the Public Safety Citizen Task Force, reflects possible negligence in sentencing by the Santa Cruz County Superior Court system.

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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire