Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey reports growing numbers
Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey reports growing numbers
Congressional redistricting could split Santa Cruz down the middle
UPDATE: Draft maps of California’s new congressional districts reportedly reunified Santa Cruz in a single district through changes made last weekend. The changes will be visible on the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission’s website Thursday, July 28. As recently as last week, the line on the map split the city down the middle. In meetings last weekend, however, the commission moved the lines to the north just enough to reunify the city in Rep. Sam Farr’s district while still honoring restrictions posed by the Voting Rights Act and Marin’s demand to be completely free of influence from San Francisco. The new lines still divide Santa Cruz County, with Davenport and portions of the San Lorenzo Valley remaining in Rep. Anna Eshoo’s district. At 1 p.m. on Friday, July 29, the commission will vote on the most recent update, according to commission spokesperson Rob Wilcox. If this map is approved Santa Cruz City Hall, UC Santa Cruz and the police department will remain in the same district. Stay tuned for further updates.
Santa Cruz’s Westside/Eastside surf rivalry has serious competition in the business of dividing Santa Cruz into illogically small worlds. In fact, in the eyes of some, the surf community may have done a better job of splitting the city than the new Citizens' Redistricting Commission in Sacramento that was put in charge of drawing California's new congressional districts.
While local surf lore identifies the very visible landmark of the San Lorenzo River as the rivalry’s border, the new district line drawn by the 14-member commission is harder to make sense of.
Beginning at the Dream Inn on West Cliff Drive, the line runs down the middle of Downtown Santa Cruz via Center Street, with a short detour onto Washington Street, before curving back to Pacific Avenue at the clock tower.
Imagine Positive Change meters pop up on Pacific Avenue
The City of Santa Cruz calls them Imagine Positive Change meters. To Santa Cruz Vice Mayor Don Lane, the small red receptacles are a chance to educate people. Downtown Association Executive Director Chip believes they’re “providing a way for people to help that’s sustainable and compassionate.” And founder of Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF) Robert Norse mockingly calls them “gentrification meters.”
As for Leo Brown, he hasn’t even heard of them.
Brown has been homeless for about a year and a half now. He had a job doing landscaping but lost his employment due to the recession, and has been unable to find new work. Now he can be seen standing on Pacific Avenue, tall and silent, with headphones in his ears and a cardboard sign with only two words on it: “Diabetes” and “Change.”
With both parties heavily debating deficit reduction, what do you think is the best way to get the debt ceiling passed?
We all agree that getting our country’s fiscal house in order is not a question of if we do it, but how we do it. Deficit reduction is not an issue exclusive to Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, but rather is an issue that affects us all—and one we need to face together as a nation.
But as families continue to suffer from the lingering effects of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, we also have a responsibility to address our deficit through a balanced approach that does not place the sole burden on the backs of seniors and the middle class, or hinder economic growth and job creation.
Secondly, and separately, we have an obligation to pay our bills, and to adequately adjust the federal debt ceiling to avoid default—the same way it has been done on over 70 occasions by presidents of both parties.
A local woman’s experience aboard the Audacity of Hope
Debra Ellis recently returned to Santa Cruz from Greece. While abroad, she joined 36 passengers, nine journalists, and four crew members on a U.S. flagged ship named The Audacity of Hope, in a nonviolent effort to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza as part of an international flotilla. The flotilla, entitled “Freedom Flotilla Two—Stay Human,” set out primarily to draw attention to what supporters deem the illegal occupation of the Gaza Strip region by Israeli forces.
Ellis works at UC Santa Cruz and has traveled and lived among refugees in the Middle East in the past. She returned home from this trip on Friday, July 8 with mixed feelings.
Seeking to change life in a Kenyan village
Therese Hjelm speaks directly and with purpose. Her wide eyes rarely break contact, and her voice is steady and pleasant. With this demeanor, it’s not hard to imagine her easily convincing people to donate to her cause.
That cause is this: she wants to raise enough money to build two wells in the Ewaso Nyiro region of Kenya, so that local girls can spend their time going to school instead of walking six to eight miles each way to the nearest river, where they obtain all of the water their village uses for drinking and for all other purposes.
“The Masai women have an indentation here on their head,” Hjelm says, pointing to the top of her forehead, “because they have a strap that they hook up to the water buckets that they’re carrying. You can imagine walking seven, eight, nine, 10 miles with these on their back. I mean, it’s amazing. The women are so strong. They’re incredible.”
What is your response to FEMA’s denial of Capitola’s request for emergency funds following flooding damages sustained during the spring?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) denial of a Presidential Declaration of a Major Disaster with regard to the series of severe storms that occurred in March of 2011 was a major disappointment. It is important to note that FEMA not only denied Capitola’s request, but that FEMA denied California’s request for all storm related damages in the state, including other impacted areas in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.
The county’s Public Works and Parks departments merge
The County Department of Parks, Open Spaces, and Cultural Centers became an orphan last month after the Board of Supervisors chose not to replace retiring director Joe Schultz.
The decision was part of their plan to erase a $14.7 million deficit for fiscal year 2011-12—a General Fund hole mostly gouged by the sudden disappearance of $12 million in Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funds at the stroke of Gov. Jerry Brown's pen. Nerves were running high as Public Works Director John Presleigh worked 16-hour days the last week of June, learning as much as possible about Parks' operations, which he will now be overseeing.
The question arises for protestors as SmartMeters are installed in Santa Cruz County
Some 90 million SmartMeters are already in use around the world, with more on their way. Santa Cruz County, one of the last places in PG&E’s service area to receive the automated metering technology, had become something of a SmartMeter safe haven.
But although Santa Cruz County imposed a SmartMeter moratorium last June, recent events have gotten locals wondering just how effective that dissenting effort will be in the fight to keep SmartMeters at bay.
There are major changes coming with state prison realignment. How will it affect our county and what can people do to remain informed?
The recently passed state budget includes AB 109, called “prison realignment,” which will shift the responsibility for managing some offenders away from the state prison system to the county level. It requires that individuals convicted of non-violent, non-sexual, non-serious offenses who previously would have gone to state prison if sentenced to more than one year, will now serve their time in county jail for up to three years. State prisoners will not be sent back to county jails, but newly convicted offenders will only go to prison if sentenced to more than three years.