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Dec 19th
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Santa Cruz News

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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Local News

‘Spring’ into Action

‘Spring’ into Action

Local orgs push ways to help after the holiday-giving rush

The war against hunger is at its peak in the first three months of the year, says Danny Keith, chief development and technology officer at Second Harvest Food Bank Of Santa Cruz (SHFB). He says donations to SHFB “atrophy” between January and March, as the press coverage received during its holiday food drives dies down.

“After the holiday period everybody goes through this retraction,” says Keith. “I don't think it's intended. It is more of a reflection of how the economy has been built for the last hundred years. January, February, [and] March is hard for everyone.” But as giving slows down and the weather gets warmer, hunger doesn't retreat.

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Local News

Shift Happens

Shift Happens

The woman behind Santa Cruz County’s lauded maneuvering of prison realignment

Santa Cruz County, and its longtime chief administrative officer Susan Mauriello, in particular, has received statewide recognition for its effective response to state-mandated requirements for prison realignment. Last year, Mauriello spent a good deal of time in Sacramento explaining to CAOs, sheriffs and chief probation officers from other counties how Santa Cruz County has managed to reduce county incarceration rates, save tax dollars and improve public safety in the process. They’ve looked to her for advice on how they, too, can meet the challenges of the new state law, AB 109, also known as the “Public Safety Realignment Act.”  

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

You will be giving the keynote address at the first-ever Central Coast regional health summit, the “Health from Field to Sea” event on March 9. What will your message be, and what are your near-term hopes for health policy and action in the Santa Cruz area?

The regional “Health from Field to Sea” Summit is a new collaborative effort to support healthy eating and active living, and my keynote address will be to provide an update on the state budget, Medi-Cal, federal healthcare reform implementation in California, and the promotion of health and wellness.  

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Environment

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch

Twenty-year plan for Ocean Street in jeopardy

The corner of Ocean and Barson streets in Santa Cruz is flooded with tourist traffic in the summer, and drowned by average rainfall most winters (although this year has been dry). But the state's decision to close the more than 400 redevelopment agencies across California, including Santa Cruz’s, could mean that residents of the Lower Ocean neighborhood have to wait more than a generation for much-needed improvements around their homes.

The city's redevelopment agency has 37 projects listed as “under way,” meaning they are already funded. However, their ambitious 20-year plan for the Ocean Street area is an example of how unclear the road forward is, even for those items pegged as under way. The city currently has $2.5 million in bonds to spend on this project over the next five years. But City Councilmember David Terrazas says that's a small fraction of the money needed to complete the many ideas in the Ocean Street Area Concept, which was developed by Berkeley consulting group Design, Community and Environment.

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Local News

Oral Health Without Fluoride

Oral Health Without Fluoride

A look at the future of dental health in the wake of the Watsonville fluoridation debate

Ten years of debate over whether or not to add fluoride to Watsonville’s public water supply came to an end on Wednesday, Feb. 1 when the California Dental Association Foundation (CDAF) withdrew its promise to fund the fluoridation project.

“The CDA Foundation notified the City of Watsonville that its planned fluoridation facilities were too costly to be accomplished within the required time frame,” Alicia Malaby, director of communications for CDA, writes in an email to GT. She goes on to say that the foundation would have had the funding necessary if the bids came in at $1.6 million, the estimated cost determined by the original design firm. “Unfortunately, construction bids were significantly higher and additional funding could not be secured within the time frame of the contract,” she adds.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

What was your reaction to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in January? What do you think the take-away message was?

President Obama delivered a State of the Union address with a blueprint for the future of our country that is not Republican or Democrat, but a common sense plan that is simply American. The time for partisan agendas has long ago come and gone, and now these uncertain times call on us all to rise above partisan politics to face the dire issues facing our nation.

As the president delivered his speech in the U.S. Capitol, the unemployment rate continues to hover around double digits in some areas, the housing market continues to operate in disarray and reckless Wall Street investments continue to haunt our financial system and consumer confidence. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are also failing to prepare a future workforce that is ready to enter the 21st century economy; our transportation corridors are in desperate need of improvements; and an out of balance tax code is disproportionately benefiting the most fortunate at the expense of those less well off.  

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Local News

Crowded and Strapped

Crowded and Strapped

Schools dig through sloppy budget for solutions

Back To School nights aren’t just a way for parents to learn how their child is performing anymore. At local schools, they have also become a chance for teachers to post wish lists of essential supplies, including paper and printer ink that the school can't afford to buy.

Teachers wish the situation were different. But because state contributions to the k-12 system have plummeted 18 percent in the last three years, and because more bad news is expected in Gov. Jerry Brown's 2012-13 budget, they say they have no choice but to seek out donated supplies.  

Many teachers even resort to paying out of pocket to keep their lesson plans rolling forward.

“I have always liked to supplement textbooks with handouts, but there have been times over the last few years when the administration has said 'We're out of paper,’” says Mark McConnell, a math teacher at Soquel High School.

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Local News

Predictive Policing in Practice

Predictive Policing in Practice

GT rides along with the SCPD to test acclaimed new policing program

Is it realistic to predict crime and stop it before it happens, or just a science fiction-esque impersonation of Minority Report? This was one of the questions I pondered on a recent ride-along with Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) Deputy Chief of Police Steve Clark. Little did I know I was about to witness a poignant first-hand example of how the “predictive policing” method can be successful.

The department’s adoption of the technology-based predictive policing program has received national and international attention in recent months, with a reporter from Popular Science jetting to Santa Cruz to see it in action and a nod from TIME magazine, which named the fledgling program one of the Top 50 Innovations of 2011. GT set out with these accolades in mind to see for ourselves the result of the department’s six-month evaluation of the predictive policing program, which wrapped up in January.

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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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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

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