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Jan 28th
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Town Hall

Town Hall With Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall With Congressman Sam Farr

What did you make of the strategic announcements for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in the president’s Wednesday, June 22 speech? Had you hoped he would announce a different plan—such as a full drawdown of U.S. troops?

Our service members are now going on 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan, with the heaviest price being paid with the lives of thousands of men and women. After nearly a decade of war, at a cost of almost half a trillion dollars, it is time for our involvement in this unsustainable war to come to an end.

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Local News

The State of the City

The State of the City

Santa Cruz dishes out its first annual city report to residents and businesses
The City of Santa Cruz is broke. It’s also anti-business, too strict (or too lenient) with the homeless, is controlled by UC Santa Cruz, and has an unsafe downtown. In Mayor Ryan Coonerty’s eyes, these are the five biggest myths about Santa Cruz.

In part, he believes that these ideas are perpetuated because they are “stories we’ve been telling ourselves for a long time,” that, although untrue, help “simplify the world.”  But he also blames them on the city’s poor communication skills. “I don’t think we have done a good job of communicating what we’re doing,” Coonerty says.

He’s been attempting to debunk these myths at his Mayor’s Academy workshops (the last of which is on July 27 at 7 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce), and also has a new trick up his sleeve for reaching out to the public: the city’s first ever State of the City report, which will arrive at every city household and licensed business on Friday, June 24.

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Local News

Breaking the Code

Breaking the Code

City hopes to integrate technology with government through partnership with nonprofit Code for America
Code for America, a nonprofit aimed at “helping governments work better for everyone with the people and the power of the web,” announced earlier this month that Santa Cruz made the list of finalists for its 2012 city partnerships.

Santa Cruz joins nine other cities, including Austin, Texas, Detroit, Mich., New York, N.Y. and Macon, Ga. as finalists for the CfA partnership, beating out Balboa Park in San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Clarita, Calif., as well as the U.S. Department of State, among others. However, Santa Cruz is not yet guaranteed a spot; following a fundraising period, CfA will narrow down the finalists and announce the selected five to eight cities this fall.

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

State Democratic legislators are still working to get the necessary Republican votes needed to pass the budget. What is the current status of the budget?

Last week the governor vetoed the majority vote budget passed by Legislative Democrats. The governor’s veto message states that he still wants a vote by Californians on the question of whether to extend existing revenues in order to balance the state budget.

Since January, we have been working on a balanced approach of cuts and revenue extensions to address this year’s budget and the state’s long-term budget deficit. This responsible approach was rejected by Republicans. Because there was no more time left for negotiations, Legislative Democrats passed a majority vote budget that was responsible and balanced. While our budget made additional, difficult cuts to higher education, the courts, and local redevelopment programs, we avoided an “all cuts budget” that would have further targeted education, health and human services, and public safety program, as well as protected jobs and future job creation.

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Environment

Learning to Adapt

Learning to Adapt

Climate change is happening—how prepared is Santa Cruz to deal with the impacts?
When Chuck Tremper wrote his book “As the Oceans Rise: Meeting the Challenges of Global Warming” in 2008, he had hopes that the tome would soon be outdated.

But, three years later, seated on the sunny deck of Ecology Action’s new headquarters (Tremper is the nonprofit’s vice president of general services), he laments that his earlier vision proved too optimistic. “The remarkable and sad thing about the book,” he says,  “is that almost nothing has changed—I could write that book today and it wouldn’t be very different.”

We may not be a sustainable “Civilization 2.0” quite yet, as the book anticipated, but Tremper admits that the Santa Cruz area has made some strides. Among them was the 2007 Climate Action Compact, a commitment to leadership on climate change signed by the city and county of Santa Cruz and UC Santa Cruz, and its subsequent effects.

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Environment

Water Talks

Water Talks

An academic approach to the water conservation conversation
Water municipalities are like submarines. They bumble along with abundant supplies and little concerns until they hit a rock, or maybe several rocks—or at least so says Australian researcher Zoe Sofoulis. In her analogy, these “rocks” are things like environmental changes and public awareness. It's when that submarine hits those rocks that the structure begins to give way and shift.

Sofoulis, an adjunct research fellow at the University of Western Sydney, recently put an academic spin on the issue of water conservation for the three-dozen Santa Cruzans who gathered at India Joze Restaurant on Wednesday, June 8 to hear her speak. The event was titled "Changing our Relationship to Water," and was organized by Transition Santa Cruz.

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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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Force of Nature

Santa Cruz’s Carlie Statsky brings her love of the natural world to the hyper-personal art of wedding photography

 

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

The magical time of Mercury’s retrograde cycle is here once again, until Feb. 11, and then some. The Mercury retro cycle actually lasts eight weeks when we consider its retrograde shadow, giving us six months a year for review. We know the rules of Mercury retro: Be careful with everything; cars, driving, money, resources, friends, friendships, groups, interactions, thinking, talking, communications. Avoid big purchases, important meetings and important repairs. Mercury retrograde times are for review, reassessment and rest. Our minds are overloaded from the last Mercury retro. Our minds need to assess what we’ve done since October—eliminating what is not needed, keeping what’s important, preparing for new information in the next three months (till mid-May). Mercury in Aquarius retrograde … we reinvent ourselves, seek the unusual, we don’t hide, we’re just careful. We live in two worlds; outer appearances and inner reckonings, with both sides of our brain activated. Yet, like the light of the Gemini twins, one light waxes (inner world), the other (outer realities) wanes. Like Virgo, we see what’s been overlooked—assessing, ordering and organizing information. It’s an entirely inner process. When speaking we may utter only half of the sentence. We’re in the underworld, closer to Spirit, eyes unseeing, senses alerted, re-doing things over and over till we sometimes collapse. Because we’re in other realms, we’re wobbly, make mistakes, and don’t really know what we want. It’s not a time for decisions. Not yet. It’s a time of review. And completing things. Mercury retro: integration, slowing down, resolution, rapprochement.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of January 23

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Bye Bye Benten!

Benten closing, plus Award-winning gin, a massive burrito and chocolate review

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Scanning the shelves of Deluxe Foods of Aptos, which carries an impressive selection of local and imported wines, I picked up a bottle of Trout Gulch Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, described as “a local favorite” by the busy market.

 

Cremer House

What’s old is cutting-edge again in Felton

 

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