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Nov 27th
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Homeless Census Unveiled

Homeless Census Unveiled

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE
Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey reports growing numbers

Every two years, early on a cold and dark January morning, a small army of volunteers and trained homeless guides canvas Santa Cruz County to take a headcount (or point-in-time count) of the area’s homeless population. This year, on Jan. 25, a grand total of 2,771 homeless persons were counted.

 

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Local News

A City Divided

A City Divided

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.

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Local News

Feeding More than the Meter

Feeding More than the Meter

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.”

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

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.

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Local News

Santa Cruz to Gaza

Santa Cruz to Gaza

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.

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Environment

Wells for Women

Wells for Women

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.”

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

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.

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Local News

Attached at the Hip

Attached at the Hip

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.

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Environment

Where to Turn?

Where to Turn?

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.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor John Leopold

Town Hall with Supervisor John Leopold

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.

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Good Times Holiday Giving

Giving Where It Helps

 

Giving Thanks: The Thought-Form of Solution

We are in the time and under the influence of Sagittarius, sign of the wanderer, good food, good music, and the joy (Jupiter as ruler) that occurs from giving to others while simultaneously giving thanks from our hearts. Having the Thanksgiving holiday during the month of Sag is not a mistake. No other sign understands joy (an aspect of the Soul) as Sag (except Pisces when not in despair). “Sag is a beam of directed and focused light. The beam reveals a greater light ahead, illuminating the Way to the center of the Light,” emitting the Ray of Joyfulness. Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude; in the form of prayers, thoughts, feelings, wishes, hopes and greetings. Gratitude is something we still need to learn. Gratitude creates goodwill. Together, gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution” for humanity and our world’s problems. Gratitude and goodwill are the prerequisites for the reappearance of the Christ, the Aquarian World Teacher. In Ancient Wisdom texts it is written, “being grateful is the hallmark of one who is enlightened.” Gratitude comes from the Soul—the characteristics of which are love and wisdom (Ray 2). Gratitude is scientifically and occultly (mental, not emotional) a releasing agent. Gratitude liberates us and everything around us. Also a service to others, gratitude is deeply scientific in nature, releasing us from the past and laying open our future path leading to the new culture and civilization, the new laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarian, the Age of Friendship and Equality. The Hierarchy lays much emphasis upon gratitude. Let us be grateful this year and this season together. And so now the days of light illuminating the darkness begin (December’s festivals and feast days). Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am grateful for all of you, my readers.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of November 28

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Round About Now

The glory of persimmons, plus Ivéta scone mix and lunch at Assembly

 

What charities would you like to see people support this season?

Judy Allen, Scotts Valley, Consulting

 

Big Basin Vineyards

I was just in the process of purchasing a bottle of Big Basin’s 2012 Homestead in Vinocruz when Matt Ryan walked into the store. Ryan manages the tasting room, sales and the mailing list at Big Basin, and, considering the popularity of their wines, he’s a very busy man.

 

Ashby Confections

Local chocolate maker talks chocolate and self control