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Apr 26th
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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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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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We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
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Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise