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Sep 01st
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Environment

From Military Service to Nature Conservationist

From Military Service to Nature Conservationist

State Conservation Corp initiates first veterans’ backcountry trail crew
Assimilating back into society after serving in the military is anything but an easy process. But thanks to a new partnership between a California agency and the Veterans Green Corp (VGC), there’s a new, nature-filled way for veterans to spend this transition period—and give our state parks some much-needed TLC while they’re at it.

This year, the California Conservation Corps' (CCC) Backcountry Trails Program, which is aimed at preserving California's wilderness areas by making them safer and more accessible to the public, partnered with VGC to establish the first ever veterans’ Backcountry Trail Crew. The crew is comprised of 15 men and women, including nine military veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Local News

Pride in Our Diversity

Pride in Our Diversity

Santa Cruz Pride marks the anniversary of the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) equality. Forty-two years ago this June, the Stonewall riots in New York were a turning point as queer people declared they would no longer stand for the status quo of harassment and persecution. California’s Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird’s article from Good Times (May 26) paints a compelling picture of the LGBTQ movement’s progress over the last 40 years. We owe trailblazers like Laird a debt of gratitude for their tireless commitment to equality and fairness.

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Business

Plantronics Hits the Big 5-0

Plantronics Hits the Big 5-0

Tech giant honors past, looks forward to future
When we recount the milestones in our county’s history, one event in particular truly stands out. It was July 21, 1969 and Neil Armstrong’s famous words, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind,” were transmitted from the moon—via a Pacific Plantronics SPENCOM headset.

Today, the largest private employer in Santa Cruz County is celebrating its 50th anniversary—a half century of communication innovation, beginning with headsets and expanding into Bluetooth. Since taking several trips to the moon, Plantronics products have become internationally recognized—they were named the official headset of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and they continue to lead the pack in mobile communication technology.

To show Plantronics’ appreciation of Santa Cruz for its decades of loyalty and support, the company hosted an anniversary event on May 26.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

The death of Osama bin Laden has initiated a conversation about our role in Afghanistan and the money that has been spent. Are you in favor of reducing defense spending? If so, by how much?

The death of Osama bin Laden not only landed a major blow against threats posed by al-Qaeda, but it gave comfort and some sense of closure to thousands of families that were affected by the devastating 9/11 attacks. And for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that have unflinchingly marched into countless battles in Afghanistan, it gave them a renewed sense of pride and purpose for their service and sacrifice.

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Environment

A Green Blueprint

A Green Blueprint

New 25-year conservation plan looks at the county’s ecological future
A long history of environmental protection in Santa Cruz County has helped spare much of its land from development. More than a century ago, Big Basin—the first state park in California—was founded in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saving a large number of old-growth redwoods from logging. Today, 27 percent of the county’s land is in parks, public land, or is otherwise protected through conservation easements.

Nevertheless, many in Santa Cruz see the natural environment as under threat. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, a local environmental nonprofit established in 1978, estimates that by 2035, the population in the Monterey Bay region will increase by 146,000, 35,000 of which will be in Santa Cruz County. More people means increased urban and rural development—more houses, more roads, and greater stress on already taxed natural resources. Add to this the unknowns of climate change, and Santa Cruz County could be facing a challenging future.

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Environment

Shuttering State Parks

Shuttering State Parks

Come September, Castle Rock, Twin Lakes, Portola Redwoods and Mission Park will be closed
The bad news Californians were expecting was finally released by California State Parks on Friday May 13, when they announced the list of 70 state parks scheduled for closure next fiscal year. The closures result from the $11 million cut to the Park Department’s operating budget, which was adopted by the legislature and signed by the governor in March. Regional state parks scheduled for closure in September include Castle Rock State Park, a favorite of rock climbers and hikers up on Skyline Drive, Twin Lakes State Beach, which means the state will no longer be providing lifeguards, Portola Redwoods, and Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

What were some of the positive and negative items contained in the governor’s May Revise of the 2011-12 State Budget?

One positive in the governor’s May Revise is that state revenues received this year exceed prior projections.

In January, California’s estimated budget deficit was $27 billion. In March we made $14 billion in extremely difficult cuts, leaving a $13 billion deficit to be resolved by June 15.  The increased revenues have reduced the anticipated debt during the 2011-12 Fiscal Year from $13 billion to $9.6 billion. While these revenue increases are an indicator of California’s slow economic recovery, we should not look at them as being sufficient to address the state’s ongoing debt and funding needs. 

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Business

Worker Worries

Worker Worries

AFSCME workers wonder how UC budget cuts will further impact their jobs
Budget cuts have meant cutbacks for nearly every area of the UC Santa Cruz campus, impacting students, faculty and staff alike. For some workers the reality of just how deep the past several years of cuts have been has never been more obvious or unnerving than now. Along with furloughs and increased costs for everything from healthcare to retirement, some UCSC workers are also facing the dual pressure of an increased workload and the fear of losing their job in the next round of layoffs.

One UCSC employee of more than 20 years, who wishes to remain nameless, says she has watched her work as a custodian become increasingly more difficult over the past few years. She is now required to clean twice the number of areas she would have cleaned two years ago in the same amount of time.

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Local News

Holistic Holdup

Holistic Holdup

California nutritionists’ ongoing fight to maintain legal legitimacy
What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian? This may sound like an menial question to some, but ambivalence about this distinction sent holistic health professionals across California into a flurry of phone calls, letters, and public consternation regarding a piece of recently proposed legislation know as Assembly Bill 575.

Due to sizable disapproval over the written logistics of AB575, which was proposed by Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward), it was tabled on May 4 for revisions. However, the debate it sparked brings to light an ongoing controversy in the world of nutritional healthcare.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

After several recent hearings, the Board has established requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries in the county, and will establish a working group to review other issues, including whether testing of marijuana should be required. With these decisions in mind, what is the Board’s long-term vision for medical marijuana business in Santa Cruz County?
While there is no cap on the number of medical marijuana outlets allowed in the unincorporated county, they must operate as nonprofits. Advertising, labeling, and record-keeping will be regulated. Further, an 800-foot buffer is required between two dispensaries, and dispensaries must be located at least 600 feet from schools.
Once established, a medical marijuana cooperative must meet certain performance standards. Doctors or other medical professionals will not be allowed to write recommendations on-site, and on-site use of the medical marijuana products is prohibited. A working group will be established to consider testing and other issues for possible addition to the regulations at some future time.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.