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Aug 31st
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Santa Cruz News

Environment

Dry Spell

Dry Spell

Lack of volunteer firefighters, equipment and rainfall may mean a harsh fire year for Bonny Doon

A fire season in California is never good news, inevitable as it is. But the outlook is even worse if an all-volunteer fire department is understaffed and under-geared, and also if the state has been suffering from low rainfall.

This is the situation Bonny Doon currently finds itself in. Located just northwest of Santa Cruz, the isolated census-designated place of about 2,700 people isn’t served by any local fire departments (though it is served by CAL FIRE, a statewide agency that tackles wildfire issues), so it has managed on its own with a team of professional firefighters and EMTs. All of them are volunteers, and their ranks have been thinning lately.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Mark Stone

Town Hall with Supervisor Mark Stone

There are more than 100 foreclosure filings each month in the county. What has the Board of Supervisors done to address this, and do you have any further plans to do so?

The Board examined these two questions at length at our May 15 meeting.  Unfortunately, some hard truths emerged. Beyond the role the county has traditionally played in providing essential health and social services, and beyond our continued support of public and private efforts to provide some form of foreclosure assistance, there is little the county can do now or in the future to prevent a foreclosure from occurring—even a fraudulent one—without a fundamental change in state law. 

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Local News

Election Breakdown

Election Breakdown

A guide to the candidates

With the June 5 primary election around the corner, the race for the county Board of Supervisors, state offices, and congressional seats are heating up. Whether or not you have already made up your mind about who you will be casting a vote for at the ballot box, we hope you will take a gander at the candidates’ responses to four important questions below.

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Local News

Inside Elections

Inside Elections

County Clerk Gail Pellerin on navigating the 2012 primary

Gail Pellerin has the best job in Santa Cruz County—or at least that’s how she feels about her post as Santa Cruz County Clerk, which she has been doing for more than a decade. After paying her way through a four-year degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Pellerin worked at newspapers and on the radio, but found herself longing to be more directly involved in the governmental decision-making processes.

“I remember covering board meetings sometimes and thinking, ‘Why don’t they just do this?’” she says. “So I started working for a member of the state assembly’s office and ended up working in Sacramento for the Speaker’s Office of Majority Services when Willie Brown was speaker. Working for him, I got a great education on how the state is run, the budget, the challenges, and I ran several campaigns.”

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Local News

All About Props

All About Props

A guide to local and statewide propositions on the June ballot

If your knowledge of local and state propositions and measures ends with the number or letter used to identify them, look no further. With the June 5 special election swiftly approaching, we have compiled a handy guide to the propositions and measures you’ll find in the voting booth.

The upcoming election season is looking like a pivotal one for schools, but it’s not higher education that’s getting all the attention this time around. Before we dive into the school-related measures, here is a quick primer on parcel taxes:

Parcel taxes are taxes levied by local units of government. Property owners within the district pay them annually, but senior citizens can apply for exemption. Schools use them largely to supplement government spending, which accounts for approximately 75 percent of public school district funding. Of the 1,042 public school districts in California, about 245 of them have adopted parcel taxes.

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Local News

Paperless Progress

Paperless Progress

Election season is looking a little greener this year
California has 17 million registered voters. All in all, the voting public of California cuts down about 60,000 trees every election season just so we can have our sample ballots (which some of us just toss in the recycling—or, worse, the trash). But there is a more eco-friendly option, or set of options, on the horizon locally.

Enter paperless sample ballots, the first of two tree-saving measures undertaken by the county. Until recently, California voting law required that a sample ballot be sent to every voter; with that law amended, voters can now request that an e-ballot be sent to their email address in place of a physical pamphlet dropped into their mailbox.

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Business

The Long Foreclosure Fight

The Long Foreclosure Fight

County supervisors urge banks to suspend foreclosures

The state legislature is broken. Not only is it broken, but it has also prevented local governments from doing what can’t seem to get done in Sacramento—such as providing homeowners with legal protection from banks conducting fraudulent foreclosures. That was the consensus of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors at their May 15 meeting, when they adopted a resolution “urging” (but not requiring) local banks to suspend foreclosures until beefed-up, borrower protection laws are passed by the state legislature. The laws are known collectively as the “California Homeowner’s Bill of Rights.”

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Local News

Lifting Obstacles

Lifting Obstacles

New federal requirement makes public pools ADA-accessible

Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, disabled people can patronize businesses—including hotels—knowing that they will at least meet basic accessibility requirements. And as of May 21, disabled Americans can now add public pools to the list of places they can count on to be accessible.

An addition to the 2010 version of the act requires all owners of public pools and hot tubs to make them usable by disabled residents. According to a Santa Cruz County Commission on Disabilities press release, “This can involve installing a lift, making a slope or other steps to improve accessibility.”

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Local News

From Field to College

From Field to College

California Strawberry Commission helps children of fieldworkers get to college

Jesus Rios has come a long way. The Michoacan-born 25-year-old went from picking strawberries with his parents in the fields of Salinas to working on his master’s in electrical engineering at Fresno State University. And he doesn’t plan on stopping there: Rios plans to pursue a doctorate in engineering after he completes his Master’s.

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Local News

The Aftermath

The Aftermath

The community searches for answers

He appeared at the Paul Lee Loft Shelter on May 3. He seemed inconspicuous, recalls Homeless Services Center Executive Director Monica Martinez. He was carrying a Bible and expressing a desire to find a Christian community to help him get closer to God. He stayed only during the evenings and showed no aggression or cause for concern.

But four days after his arrival, this man is accused of committing Santa Cruz’s first homicide of 2012.

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The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual