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Apr 17th
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Still Stimulated?

Still Stimulated?

Two years later, a look at how the stimulus bill has impacted Santa Cruz
It’s been almost two years since President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on Feb. 17, 2009, pumping $787 billion of federal funds into the economy. But where has that money gone and what was the impact?

In Santa Cruz County—where there were 198 grants and seven contracts awarded for a total of $120 million—the consensus seems to be that the stimulus was a double-edged sword. On one hand, jobs were saved, programs were created, and start-up businesses had better chances of securing loans. But, at the same time, new levels of bureaucracy, limited funds and a distorted public image of ARRA had a crippling effect on some local agencies.

“It was meant to stimulate growth, not to sustain it,” says Rep. Sam Farr (D-17th District). “But public financing is very difficult and with cuts coming down [from the government] people don’t necessarily know where the money is coming from.”

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Local News

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

Leader of the fair trade movement in Palestine to speak in Santa Cruz
Nasser Abufarha, a native-born Palestinian, encountered a fair trade product for the first time in 2002 at a coffee shop in Madison, Wis. Nine years later, he’s at the helm of a business and a nonprofit organization that bring fair trade, certified organic products to the United States and Europe, while also bringing the prospect of sustainable living to struggling farmers in Palestine.

Santa Cruz residents are invited to hear Abufarha’s story—one of fair trade, organic olives, and hope amidst the war-torn Israel/Palestine conflict—on Jan. 17 at the Live Oak Grange.

Abufarha is the founder and driving force behind the nonprofit organization Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA). In connection with his organic delicacies business, Canaan Fair Trade, PFTA works to provide sustainable living to struggling family farmers in the Palestinian West Bank region. Abufarha and the PFTA maintain a longstanding relationship with the Resource Center for Non-Violence (RCNV) in Santa Cruz, which organized the upcoming event.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

What are your thoughts following the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson that left six dead and many more wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona)?
My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff and her constituents. As this tragic event has touched us here at home in a variety of ways, our thoughts are also with the family and friends of Gabriel Zimmerman, a UC Santa Cruz graduate, and by all accounts an individual that touched the lives of many people through his dedicated community service.

A colleague and friend, Gabrielle is a dedicated and focused public servant who has provided a new voice dedicated to addressing issues in her district and across the country. In her young congressional career, Gabrielle has also become a friend to the Central Coast. As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, she visited our area to tour the Defense Language Institute where she praised the work of this institute and its students—and the critical role they are playing in securing our country. 

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Local News

A Fight That’s Far From Over

A Fight That’s Far From Over

Child abuse is declining, but neglect and substance abuse remain problems in local families
There were 527 cases of substantiated child abuse reported in Santa Cruz County in 2009, the last year for which there is data in the 2010 Child Welfare Services Reports for California. That is nine cases of abuse per 1,000 youth.

Jarring as the number is, it is significantly less than the 872 cases reported in 2000, when the Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project (CAP) began tracking the data in its annual report. The number has fluctuated over the last decade, peaking at 923 cases in 2004 and reaching its lowest at 527 cases in ’09.  Since the CAP put forth the community goal “By the year 2010, children in Santa Cruz County will live in safer families and communities” in 2005, the number has decreased by 6 percent. Substantiated cases are those where, following an investigation, it is confirmed that abuse actually did occur.

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Town Hall

Supervisor Ellen Pirie

Supervisor Ellen Pirie

in-home care workers are facing a wage reduction from $11.50 to $8.50 an hour. How Does The county play into this?

In-Home Support Services (IHSS) is a state program that pays people to provide basic in-home services to disabled people. The goal is to allow the disabled person to stay in their home even when they are unable to completely take care of themselves, instead of having to go into a nursing home or other institutional setting.

The people providing the services are called “chore workers” or “care providers.” Although they are not county employees, their wages are paid by a combination of state, federal and county funds. Typical services are preparing food, shopping, and helping with bathing and housekeeping.

Sometimes the care provider is a relative of the recipient and sometimes not.

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

With the change of administration in Sacramento, what will be the effect, if any, on the implementation of healthcare reform?
California’s efforts to implement healthcare will move forward unabated with the transition to the Governor Jerry Brown administration.

Last year, we passed legislation to establish the California Health Benefit Exchange by 2014. In the interim, we are working to expand access to healthcare, promote workforce development, and implement the new Medicaid/Medical waiver with supplemental reimbursement for hospitals that provide medical services to the poor and uninsured.

I have also been re-named as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health by Assembly Speaker Perez and as such, I remain committed to expanding health promotion and education programs. These vital public health programs focus on reducing obesity, which can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other medical complications. 

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Local News

Buzz Kill

Buzz Kill

New findings suggest Santa Cruzans like pot less than we thought
After all the toking that went into making Santa Cruz epitomic of a ganja-loving town, are we turning into … squares?

Our square-factor can’t be quantified, per se, but new data released in the 2010 Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project (CAP) Report does show a significant decrease in the number of county residents who are OK with marijuana use.

The CAP found that only 13 percent of county residents found recreational marijuana use “acceptable” in 2009—the lowest acceptance has been in 10 years.

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Environment

Shelter from the Storm

Shelter from the Storm

UC Santa Cruz’s Energy Service Corps is on a mission to keep homes a little warmer this winter
It’s been a cold and wet winter so far here in Santa Cruz. The outside chill generally prompts an expensive habit of cranking the heater, but, this year, two UC Santa Cruz students are leading the switch to a greener and cheaper option for staying toasty.

On Nov. 18, Adan Codina and Adrienne Borders held a press conference in front of the Boys & Girls Club on Center Street to announce the launch of the student-operated Energy Service Corps (ESC) program, which will offer home weatherizations to hundreds of local homes.

“The goal of Energy Service Corps is pretty simple,” says Borders, co-coordinator of the local ESC branch along with Codina. “It’s to reduce energy used by taking the mystery out of energy efficiency.”

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Local News

Cracking Shells

Cracking Shells

Walnut Avenue Women’s Center helps local youth open up
It’s a quiet Friday afternoon in December at the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center in Downtown Santa Cruz, where the energy is one of a focused nonprofit working with its nose to the grind. The last thing I expect to hear is that, hours later, the locale will look like a bustling social hub.

“It’s going to turn into Club 303,” says Rita Martinico, WAWC’s director of Youth Development Services, noting the organization’s spot at 303 Walnut Ave. “Tonight is a big party.”

Not your usual Friday night soiree, this particular event will turn out to be a chance for volunteer mentors to socialize with prospective youth “mentees,” as Martinico nicknames them, for WAWC’s successful One-on-One effort. It’s a program that provides personal relationships with positive role models for kids ages 12 through 18. Dinner, music, plenty of friendly warmth and streamers as sparkling as the smiles will take over the lounge, which earlier in the day feels stark. The evening will host the beginning of some life-changing experiences.

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Business

Living in a Rental Paradise?

Living in a Rental Paradise?

The debate over a county vacation rental ordinance continues
It’s 3 a.m., you’ve got a big meeting in the morning and the tourists staying in the vacation rental next door are rocking out to “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” You could call the Sheriff’s Office, but since the homeowner lives out of state, it’s unlikely that your simple reprimand will be the end to your sleepless nights.

Scenarios like these are becoming more and more common in Santa Cruz County, where there are a known 570 vacation rentals. With the advent of the Internet, it’s not hard to see why it’s a goldmine industry.

But along with the tourists and supplemental income have come neighborhood complaints of increased traffic, excessive garbage, late night partying and limited street parking. In response to the grievances of locals, Santa Cruz County First District Supervisor John Leopold proposed a Vacation Rental Ordinance to the Board on June 15, 2010.

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Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.