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Oct 22nd
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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

What is currently being done at the state level to address the foreclosure crisis?

Several weeks ago, California and 48 other states agreed to a $25 billion legal settlement with the nation’s five largest banks based on their illegal practice of robo-signing foreclosure documents. As a result of this settlement, five pieces of legislation known as the California Homeowner Bill of Rights have been introduced in the legislature to enact aspects of the agreement.

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Local News

The Crisis Continues…

The Crisis Continues…

Foreclosures may increase in 2012

Despite the nationwide legal settlement announced last month between 49 state attorney generals and major banks over fraudulent foreclosure practices, and despite a downward trend in the number of homes entering the foreclosure process both locally and statewide compared to this time last year, the damage done by the collapse of the housing market continues in Santa Cruz County. More than 100 Notices of Default and 120 Notices of Sale are issued (on average) by banks each month.

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Business

Money Man

Money Man

The new financial director looks into the future of Santa Cruz’s economy

Following the retirement of the City of Santa Cruz’s financial director, Jack Dilles, in 2011, Santa Cruz County local Marc Pimentel came out on top of a nationwide job recruitment search.

“He competed really well with some very strong candidates,” says City Manager Martin Bernal. “He’s a strategic thinker, not your run-of-the-mill accountant. We wanted somebody that can identify trends and issues in place in the city, look at what might be affecting the city in the future, and be proactive instead of just reacting.”

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

What is your position on the National Defense Authorization Act?

After more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is one very important lesson our nation must acknowledge: Our national security cannot live and die by the sword. Tanks and bombs alone will not ensure peace and security at home or abroad. It is time that our national security strategy and defense budget reflect these realities.  

Our nation’s brave men and women in uniform have served with an unwavering commitment to defend our country’s ideals and way of life. After years of sacrifice, we now owe them a path home. I am encouraged that President Obama has announced a timeline to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, but I hope this is only the start of a new direction for our national security.

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Local News

Education Occupied

Education Occupied

Protestors and allies discuss the future of public education

The California legislature adopted the Master Plan for Higher Education in 1960 with the primary purpose of ensuring the accessibility, affordability, and accountability of higher education for all eligible California residents with a high school diploma.

Marilyn Walker, member of the UC Santa Cruz Academic Senate and professor of computer science, says she is seriously concerned that the master plan for education is in danger of “going down the tubes.”

In the last two years, the state has incrementally decreased the budget for public education systems, from K-12 through higher education, in response to a statewide budget crisis. With revenues more than $2.2 billion below projections in December 2011, California Gov. Jerry Brown said the state has to cut another $1 billion in spending this year. The California State University and University of California systems each lost $750 million in state funding in the 2011-12 academic year and further cuts are pending.

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Environment

Step by Step

Step by Step

Styrofoam ban may expand its reach

The City of Santa Cruz’s “Environmentally Acceptable Food Packaging Ordinance” (EAFPO), passed in January 2008, boiled down to 15 “findings and intents,” 14 “definitions,” and one major enemy: polystyrene foam.

Polystyrene foam is found in many forms: the cup that breaks into a million pieces; food containers that get tossed aside; and the seemingly endless fluorescent sea of squeaky peanuts that fill delivery packages. The material has found its way into our everyday culture, usually as a means for convenience.

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Local News

Open-Source Democracy

Open-Source Democracy

Hackers try to help the city communicate

Rob Mylls was waiting for planning department signatures on a building permit when City Councilmember Hilary Bryant attended the grand opening of his gym, Bike Dojo, in February 2011.

The dual high and low water fountains required by the second agency to review his remodel were already installed.  The planning department had told him a single low-standing fountain was adequate to meet handicap accessibility requirements. The city, however, outsourced those overseeing duties to a group in San Jose that had different standards, according to Mylls. He was ready to open shop, but still waiting for final signatures on the permits. A planning department official noticed the grand opening and delivered the signed permit within days.

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Environment

The Faces of Fishing

The Faces of Fishing

Local fishing family hopes to bring the Fishermen’s Association into the 21st century

Exposure to the elements, manual labor, and sleepless shifts that can last for days on end make fishing a rare career aspiration in this digital day and age. In fact, Captain Joe Stoops, the newly appointed president of the Santa Cruz Commercial Fishermen’s Association (SCCFA), calls his much-loved career “a thing of the past” and says he went through 14 deck hands in 2011 alone.

“There’s not a lot of young kids getting into this,” he says. “People don’t have calluses anymore.”

Stoops, motioning with his visibly callused hands, adds that the amount of fishermen in Santa Cruz today is less than a third of the number present 20 years ago.

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Environment

A Salty Vote

A Salty VoteWith desal heading toward the ballot, the debate rages on

In Santa Cruz, which relies almost entirely on surface water, scarce rainfall and a warm winter have water department employees and residents, alike, worried about the year’s water supply. The recent dry spell tied in interestingly to the prevailing debate over the city’s proposed desalination plant, which they insist will be necessary to protect the city from inevitable droughts.

The proposed Westside desalination facility—a joint effort of the Santa Cruz Water Department and neighboring Soquel Creek Water District—would produce 2.5 million gallons of water per day by removing salt and other minerals from seawater and making it safe for human consumption. But many are worried about the project’s impacts on both the taxpayer’s wallet and the environment.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

The Regional Transportation Commission has several big projects in the works, including on Highway 1. What will these accomplish, and when can residents expect completion?

There are several important projects under way through the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC). One is the Soquel Avenue/Morrissey Boulevard auxiliary lanes project on Highway 1. That’s a project that will add one lane on each side of the freeway between Soquel Avenue and Morrissey Boulevard. On average, that section of Highway 1 is used by more than 100,000 vehicles per day. The expectation is that these auxiliary lanes will reduce congestion and make entering and exiting the freeway safer in that area.    

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Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
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Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay