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Feb 27th
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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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Local News

Captivated

Captivated

A conversation with queer author, activist and filmmaker Eric Stanley

There is a rather unsettling folder on Eric Stanley’s computer.

For about six years now, he has filed away “hundreds and hundreds” of cases of violence against trans and queer people in that folder. Many are instances of extremely gruesome murders involving what he calls “overkill”—dismemberment, decapitation, elaborate staging and other malicious actions that go beyond simply killing.

For Stanley, who is a 33-year-old post doctorate candidate in UC Santa Cruz’s history of consciousness program, this trend shows that crimes against LGBT people are more than random.

“It’s possibly about killing that person, but it’s also about killing a certain history or possibility or threat,” Stanley explains. “It’s bound up. … If you’re going to kill, and then do many other things to a person—all of the overkill, the pageantry, the setting the stage—it makes us understand these kinds of violence as something different.”

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Environment

Our World, Under Water?

Our World, Under Water?

New and improved Climate Action Plan gets community and city support, but still has some critics

A bicycle-drawn rowboat glided down Pacific Avenue on Tuesday, Jan. 24, with a school of human jellyfish, anemones and a sea turtle dancing along behind. The aquatic parade, which snaked along the canals of Downtown Santa Cruz, was an “Underwater Tour” that depicted what the city may look like someday if the city does not take all possible actions to mitigate climate change and its impacts.  

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Environment

Meter Moratorium Continues

Meter Moratorium Continues

Board of Supervisors votes to continue opposition of SmartMeter installations

Late last year, the already loud local outcry over SmartMeters rang out even louder, as some residents took matters into their own hands and removed meters from their homes. The action led to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) shutting off several of these residents’ power. Following a flood of public concern at its Dec. 13 meeting, the County Board of Supervisors directed the county’s public health officer, Poki Stewart Namkung, to return on Jan. 24 with an analysis of one month’s research on the health effects of the wireless meters.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Neal Coonerty

Town Hall with Supervisor Neal Coonerty

The state is planning to close Twin Lakes, Seabright and Blacks state beaches this summer. What will this mean for Santa Cruz?  

State Parks plans to close these beaches as of July 1 of this year.  

I am gravely concerned about [this]. This sandy shoreline attracts approximately half a million visitors every year. Locals and tourists enjoy swimming, picnicking, and having family gatherings and bonfires at these beaches.

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Local News

Hanging in the Balance

Hanging in the Balance

K-12 financial security hinges on governor's tax initiative

The financial future of K-12 education in California is murky, to say the least.  

The best-case scenario hinges on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, which would temporarily raise sales tax by a half-cent and income taxes for those making more than $250,000, passing at the ballot boxes in November. If approved by voters, these temporary increases, which would expire after five years, could generate an estimated $7 billion, and go on to fund local schools, community colleges, and public safety realignment.

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Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
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