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Sep 02nd
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Santa Cruz News

Environment

A Natural Step

A Natural Step

GT chats with John Laird about his new post as Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency
From his 23 years experience as an elected official, beginning with the Santa Cruz City Council in 1981, John Laird has earned a statewide reputation as a progressive yet pragmatic politician, with a mastery of both process and details of legislative compromise.

Before arriving in Sacramento, Laird was a UC Santa Cruz graduate (1972) and former Santa Cruz City Council member (1981-90) with two stints as the city’s mayor.  He went on to serve the maximum three terms as State Assembly Member (D-27th District, 2002-2008), during which time he was appointed chair of the Assembly’s Budget Committee (2006).

Over the summer of 2010, in a hotly contested, off-cycle special election, Laird lost the race for the 15th District State Senate seat, vacated by Abel Maldonado’s appointment as lieutenant governor, by a slim margin to Republican Sam Blakeslee. But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens: On Jan. 5, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Laird’s appointment as Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.

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Local News

No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

What’s driving some local women to choose home births?
Halfway through her first pregnancy, Doña Bumgarner made a bold move: she decided to give labor and deliver in her own home. Not only was she rising above common cultural fears about the safety of homebirth (what if the baby is breech, or not breathing? What if the mother hemorrhages?), she was choosing to undertake the toughest, messiest, most primal work a woman’s body can do—without monitors and painkillers at the ready.

Her choice was unorthodox even in rootsy Santa Cruz, where a landslide majority of births happen in hospitals. In the 11-year period charted by the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency’s 2010 report, a mere 2 percent of babies were born outside of a hospital—and that’s double the national average. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nationwide, the percentage of out-of-hospital births has remained about 1 percent for several decades.

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Local News

Getting Out and Staying Out

Getting Out and Staying Out

Santa Cruz County puts federal grant toward reducing recidivism
Every month, 1,100 adult offenders are released from local jails and back into the Santa Cruz County community. These individuals will return to jail an average of six times throughout their adult lives.

With this in mind, a collective of Santa Cruz County agencies, nonprofits and community groups jumped at the chance to fight for the highly competitive Federal Second Chance Act Mentoring Grant when it became available through the U.S. Department of Justice last year. Their enthusiastic effort paid off—in November, Santa Cruz County was awarded the $750,000 grant for its proposal for a project called Reduction Through Research-Based Rehabilitation and Reentry, or R5. On Tuesday, Feb. 8, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors officially approved the use of the grant funds for the R5 program.     

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Local News

Peer to Peer

Peer to Peer

Funding uncertainties force mental health services to change approach
For Mental Health Client Action Network’s Matt Davis, overcoming the way the world viewed his schizophrenia diagnosis was just the first step of recovery. Now, helping others face similar challenges is his cure and life’s work.

“The world tells you if you have a mental illness, you’re weird, damaged, or flawed,” says Davis during a brief break from assisting clients at MHCAN’s front desk. “I don’t feel like that [since] I started coming here.”

At MHCAN, the stigma of mental illness is nonexistent. The organization was founded in 1992 by a group of Santa Cruz residents who were involved in the mental health consumer rights movement, some as ex-patients and others as survivors of mental health abuse. MHCAN became a nonprofit in 1995.

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Local News

The Santa Cruz Love Project

The Santa Cruz Love Project

Second annual fundraiser celebrates love and benefits local LGBT youth support program
One night last spring around 8 p.m., Harbor High School teacher Ron Indra picked up his ringing home phone. The high school student on the other end of the line told Indra he had 15 minutes to convince him not to take the bottle of his mother’s Ambien and drink the bottle of Jack Daniels sitting in front of him.

“He told me he was gay [and that] he could not come out to his parents—they had just left for the movies,” says Indra, who has taught for 28 years, oversees the Harbor High School Gay Straight Alliance, and is coordinator for the Safe Schools Project of Santa Cruz County. The Safe Schools Project is a program initiated by the Queer Youth Task Force (QYTF) that teaches tolerance and handling of harassment to students and staff in Santa Cruz County middle and high schools.

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Town Hall

Congressmember Sam Farr

Congressmember Sam Farr

Republicans have dubbed the healthcare bill the “job-killing” or “job-destroying” healthcare act. What is your response to this? What are the bill’s actual impacts on jobs and the economy?

To the dismay of folks across the country, Republicans have opted for the status quo and have continued to operate with their same old games and political rhetoric.

Bottom line—the healthcare reform is not about killing jobs. It’s also about our dire need to address healthcare costs and our national deficit. It’s about creating jobs for millions of Americans, and strengthening the middle class for hard-working families.

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Local News

A Meaty Endeavor

A Meaty Endeavor

New local butcher shop provides an outlet for regional, family-farmed meat
For Chris LaVeque, it’s all in the details. Bronze-coated sausage link handles open the door to his new shop in the Swift Street Courtyard, where a 1960s cherry-red Butcher Boy meat saw sits prominently on display, welcoming customers to a new source for all things carnivorous.

“It adds to the experience of coming into a real-deal butcher shop,” says LaVeque of his refurbished saw, which was a gift from his father. “Every meat eater should experience from start to finish what they’re eating.”

After gracing Santa Cruz’s farmers’ markets for the past year, El Salchichero butchery formally opens shop  on Friday, Feb. 11. Santa Cruz has lacked a locally owned and sourced specialty butchery since the closure of Severino’s Community Butcher in 2007, which LaVeque worked for.

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Environment

Bag Lag

Bag Lag

The Central Coast Sanctuary Alliance pressures local government to adopt a single-use plastic bag ban
Nature photographer Terry McCormac recently had a typical day photographing a mother and baby sea otter near Moss Landing take a turn for the worse when the playful otter pup found itself trapped inside a plastic shopping bag.

“The baby got all panicky and started screaming,” McCormac remembers. “Then the mom started screaming. The mom went over there and got [the baby] on its chest and was trying to pull it off. Neither of them knew what to do. It was very heart wrenching.”

Helpless, McCormac continued to snap photos. The distressed mother and baby disappeared behind a boat, and then reappeared without the plastic bag. McCormac was relieved the otter pup’s misadventure had a happy ending, but he was determined to use the photo to help fight against plastic bag pollution in the ocean.

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Town Hall

County Supervisor Greg Caput

County Supervisor Greg Caput

Santa Cruz County is currently suffering 13 percent unemployment, and the South County area hovers around 25 percent. What measures will be taken to improve these numbers?
The difficulty in combating high unemployment is something shared across the nation and most parts of the world. The contraction of the economy on account of reckless financial decisions being made in both the private and public sectors has made life much harder for local jurisdictions. Much of the unemployment in the Pajaro Valley can be attributed to the failing housing market, which has not only resulted in a reduction in home sales but also in jobs related to construction, carpentry, roofing, painting, landscaping—you name it. In addition, there have been cuts in the service sector, government sector, and so on. So the problem we have at hand is finding all these displaced workers new jobs.

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Environment

Green to the Grave

Green to the Grave

Will there be a greater demand for ‘green’ burial practices?
For those who spend their life dedicated to reducing their environmental footprint, it can seem contradictory for their final act of recycling to be having their bodies pumped full of toxic chemicals and buried in a metal casket that will take longer than an SUV to biodegrade.

According to Joe Sehee, executive director of the New Mexico-based Green Burial Council, this realization is leading an increasing number of people to re-think their final footprint and seek more sustainable alternatives to standard funeral industry burial practices.

This environmentally conscious demographic, says Sehee, considers the “industrial-preservative” standards of embalming and burial in vaulted metal caskets as misguided, resource intensive overkill in trying to delay the natural processes of decomposition. In addition, they disapprove of mining, processing, and then burying hundreds of tons of metal and concrete in traditional cemeteries each year.

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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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Foodie File: Beer Thirty

Cups runneth over at Soquel’s new beer garden

 

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.