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Apr 24th
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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor John Leopold

Town Hall with Supervisor John Leopold

The 2011 Community Assessment Project Report was released in November, examining various quality of life indicators in the county. What stood out to you as areas we excel in, and what struck you as areas we need to most work on?

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Business

Inside Occupy Santa Cruz

Inside Occupy Santa Cruz

Public nuisance or radical experiment in direct democracy?

The mood at Occupy Santa Cruz (OSC) General Assembly meetings was angry and defiant early last month, especially after protesters heard eyewitness accounts of the violence in Oakland and Berkeley. But the atmosphere became noticeably calmer and less defensive after the City of Santa Cruz’s injunction to shut down OSC was appealed to federal court on Nov. 15. The decision by U.S. District Judge Howard R. Lloyd whether or not to hear the case, and the arguments relating to federal jurisdiction, principally the First Amendment, is scheduled for Jan. 3, 2012 in San Jose.

The appeal delayed a State Superior Court hearing scheduled for Nov. 16 in the Santa Cruz County Court House, which seem to cool down the militant rhetoric of preparing for an eminent, forcible eviction of the Occupiers of San Lorenzo Park. The appeal to federal court of what Santa Cruz City Attorney John Barisone described as a “routine public nuisance suit” has also gained the web-based attention of Occupy movements across the country. It is a big question, after all: Does the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly include OSC?   

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Business

A Very Fair Trade Holiday

A Very Fair Trade Holiday

Local Fair Trade boutique celebrates one year, reopens for the holidays

Trade As One, an online Fair Trade sales company based in Santa Cruz, first opened their boutique store on the Westside on “Black Friday” last year. Now, a year later, the boutique store has reopened its doors for the holidays, extending their business hours until the end of the year.

Nathan George, the founder and CEO of Trade As One. started the business with his wife, Catherine George, when the couple moved from England to Santa Cruz five years ago. They’d hoped to tap into the surge of success and growth that Fair Trade was experiencing in Europe at the time. George, who spent 18 years in the software industry prior to opening Trade as One, confesses that it’s “not a surprise that Santa Cruz embraces Fair Trade.”

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

The realignment of state prisoners to county jails began in october—how does Santa Cruz County’s handling of the shift compare to in other parts of the state?
While I am not familiar with what every county in the state is doing with regard to implementing public safety realignment, I can definitively state that based on what I have seen and heard from community members, Santa Cruz County is doing a good job and should be commended on the innovative open process it has established to administer realignment.  
The county has been a pioneer in developing successful community based alternatives to incarceration for non-violent juvenile offenders and is working to duplicate some of these successes with the adult incarcerated population.  In addition, local law enforcement has partnered with the County Office of Education to establish the Broad-based Apprehension Suppression Treatment and Alternatives (BASTA) Program. The BASTA Program is a committee of community groups that are working together to develop a curriculum for offenders that includes education as an alternative to incarceration.

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Environment

Getting Crabby

Getting Crabby

Civility goes under as crab season opens

Santa Cruz crab boat captains who break strikes being held by the Half Moon Bay Fisherman's Association (HMBFA) risk having their equipment cut loose at sea and their boats sank, according to some fishermen.

This is what some think happened to skipper Chris Eatinger's vessel, Tonita, on the night of Nov. 12 while it was docked at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay. It was three days until crab season opened and a strike was not yet confirmed. Those who suspect foul play say the act was likely in retaliation for Eatinger crabbing during past strikes.

“There was clearly criminal intent,” says Eatinger. “This could cost me more than $50,000 to rewire everything, and I might have to pay fines for oil spilled into the harbor. The worst part is I catch red rock crab, which is a commercially unimportant species.”

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Local News

The Big Four-Oh

The Big Four-Oh

Planned Parenthood celebrates 40 years in Santa Cruz

When the first family planning and birth control clinic opened in Brooklyn in 1916, it operated for nine days before its founder, Margaret Sanger, was arrested for breaking laws that prohibited the distribution of contraceptives.

It was one of many controversial actions the early sex educator and Planned Parenthood progenitor took to push for women’s reproductive rights.

“That was a very conscious civil disobedience. She was trying to provide services and change the law,” says Cynthia Mathews, a former Santa Cruz mayor and the first executive director of Planned Parenthood in Santa Cruz. Sanger’s earlier rebellions meant that by the time Mathews and a committee of 15 or so colleagues brought the organization to Santa Cruz in 1971, it was hardly a contentious arrival.

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Local News

Technically Speaking

Technically Speaking

Four SmartMeter questions answered

Since their mass installation across California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)’s SmartMeters have received much attention from media and a skeptical public. Ten million SmartMeters are slated for installment by the end of 2011. Until recently, the roll out of these new wireless utility meters left many technical questions about their wireless technology unanswered.

At a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) meeting on Sept. 14, entitled “SmartMeter Opt-Out Workshop,” questions about the wireless meters were raised in front of a CPUC judge. On Oct.18, the CPUC ruled that PG&E—along with a list of other relevant utilities companies—must release a public “clarification” with answers to CPUC’s specific technological questions about SmartMeters.

 

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Local News

‘No Way’ to Two-Way?

‘No Way’ to Two-Way?

The fast-tracked traffic plan for Pacific Avenue comes to a halt

As November began, a proposal to make most of Pacific Avenue in Downtown Santa Cruz a two-way street was speeding through votes of approval. But, by the end of the first week of the month, support for the idea had come to an abrupt stop.

The Downtown Association (DTA) and several city council members advocated for the proposal, which would have opened up the portion of Pacific between Cathcart and Church streets to two-way traffic by Dec. 2, as a way to increase downtown spending in time for the holiday shopping season. This expectation stemmed from a recommendation made by Michigan-based retail consultants Gibbs Planning Group, which reported that shifting to two-way traffic could increase sales by 30 percent because of increased visibility of storefronts.

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Environment

The Desal Divide

The Desal Divide

The debate continues ...

What started as a public Water Study Session on Nov. 1 shifted into a continuation of the longstanding debate over building a desalination facility on the shores of Santa Cruz.

“It felt like for the first time in a long time there was actually a civil discussion that was focused on the issues,” says Bill Kocher, Santa Cruz Water Department director. “It was great.”

But not all participants came away as satisfied.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

You recently signed a letter, along with six other congressional representatives, to President Barack Obama questioning the federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries. What was your message for the president? What do you hope he will do in this regard?

Our message is simple: President Obama has the opportunity and authority to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule II or III drug administratively, or he can support the adoption of legislation that would change federal stature to achieve the same goal.

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We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
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Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise