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Dec 22nd
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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Greg Caput

Town Hall with Supervisor Greg Caput

How is work on the Pajaro River Levee Reconstruction project going?
Good. County staff has worked diligently on ensuring both the river’s short-term maintenance and long-term dependability. By this October, we at the county are hoping to begin a bench excavation of the Pajaro River, also known as a dredging, which will remove sediment build-up that has formed along portions of the river’s path and will ensure more widely distributed flow capacity. This bench excavation will remove 32,000 cubic yards of sediment while minimally affecting vegetation in the river. Paperwork permitting, the bench excavation will improve the river’s stability greatly.

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Local News

Penny For Your Thoughts?

Penny For Your Thoughts?

With adoption of the next fiscal year budget on the horizon, the city asks residents what they think
The city wants your help.  Council members will adopt the Fiscal Year 2012 city budget next month and, in the meantime, need to figure out how to make up for the looming $2.8 million shortfall. Officials have some ideas (see Good Times’ May 5 interview with City Manager Martin Bernal at goodtimessantacruz.com), but the council is also opening it up for public discussion.

"We're trying to do more to engage the public in helping the city council make decisions about the city budget," Vice Mayor Don Lane says. "We are eager to have people communicate their priorities for the budget."

And a well-informed citizenry makes better decisions, he adds.

It was with these sentiments in mind that Lane, Bernal and Finance Director Jack Dilles broke down the budget at a community budgeting workshop on Tuesday, May 31. They walked whoever would listen through where revenue comes from, how it's spent and why we're in a $2.8 million deficit this year, all in the hopes of getting some helpful feedback. It was the first meeting of its kind for the City of Santa Cruz. 

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Local News

Peace Man

Peace Man

Robert Ellsberg, son of the man responsible for ‘The Pentagon Papers,’ speaks in Santa Cruz
In 1971, at 13-years of age, Robert Ellsberg helped his father, Daniel Ellsberg, photocopy thousands of classified U.S. government documents, later dubbed “The Pentagon Papers.” These papers revealed to the world the government’s conscious pursuit of a losing the war on Vietnam, and earned his father, a former Vietnam War strategist, the title of “Most Dangerous Man in America,” according to then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. More recently, Daniel Ellsberg’s story was the subject of a 2009, Academy Award-nominated documentary.

“I was an early witness to my father’s act of conscience, and the factors that helped inspire him…the power of truth, and the power of non-violence and civil disobedience, particularly the young men who were going to prison at that time to protest the draft, which inspired my father to ask himself to question what he would be willing to do, if he were prepared to go to jail to help end the war,” says Ellsberg, who is currently the editor for Orbis Books in New York. “That set in motion questions I would pursue in my own way, as a writer and editor.”

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Local News

Pool Party

Pool Party

Local swim instructor and community members push to reopen Harvey West pool in time for summer
Swim instructor Jim Booth first started coaching at Harvey West Pool in 1974. Now, nearly 40 years later, Booth is working with other community members to reopen Harvey West Park’s lap pool, which was shut down more than two years ago as part of a series of budget cuts that aimed to fix the city’s deficit.

Booth still gives lessons at the children’s pool, which remains open, but would like to see the main lap pool opened again (it was closed because it requires more energy use, and thus produces a bigger PG&E bill). “It’s tradition,” Booth says. “[When] all of us grew up, our moms and dads dropped us off at the pool in the summer. Thousands of kids have grown up with that pool.”

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Local News

Breaking Out

Breaking Out

The ‘Smart on Crime’ effort seeks to spark changes in the local criminal justice system
The Santa Cruz County Jail earns an average of two stars (out of five) on the popular review website Yelp. Comments range from the serious—“This jail lies in stark contrast [with] the supposed basic rights we are all afforded”—to the facetious. “The jail cooks better than my ex-wife ever did,” one user writes. Yes, it’s absurd to review a jail like you would a coffee shop. It’s a jail, and you don’t get to choose to take your business elsewhere. But if a business garnered similar reviews as the county jail has, the owners of the business would, one hopes, work hard to make changes.

In a way, that is what is happening in the county right now. Arguing that the current incarceration system is inhumane, ineffective and expensive, local politicians, scholars, and leaders are working to find different approaches.

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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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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

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