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Apr 26th
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Environment

Rethinking Receipts

Rethinking Receipts

The shift toward BPA-free receipt paper continues

Last year, Daniel Feldman was working the cash register at Gateways Books & Gifts when a customer alerted him to a surprising fact: “You know,” he told Feldman, “if you’re using thermal receipts you probably have BPA in the receipts.”

Feldman, a local tai chi and qi gong teacher and vice president of the Live Oak Grange, already knew of and avoided other products, like plastic water bottles, canned food, and other food packaging, that are known to carry bisophenol A (BPA), an estrogen-mimicking synthetic compound used to make plastic products. But receipts were a new discovery for him. He inquired with the store’s manager and learned that they were, in fact, using “regular thermal receipts,” which contain BPA.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Following the debt ceiling increase debacle, how do you feel about the ability of the congress to conduct business effectively?

There is one reality that is certain—our divided government must compromise to move our nation forward. With the economy in such a fragile state and millions of Americans still looking for work, the stakes of not reaching sound compromise have never been higher.

I want to reaffirm that Democrats continue united on the need to get our economy moving. But unfortunately despite the story told by high unemployment rates and depressed economic indicators, Republicans continue to prioritize political gamesmanship over real legislation that gets people back to work.

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Local News

Diverging Numbers

Diverging NumbersIs private funding an answer for fiscally-challenged services?

The economy has taken a toll on the Santa Cruz Homeless Services Center (HSC) in recent years.

Over the past three years, they have seen their funding from the City and County of Santa Cruz drop nearly 30 percent, while the 2011 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey compiled by Applied Survey Research says the number of homeless people in the county has jumped 22 percent since 2009. Fifty-two percent of the survey’s respondents reported that this was their first time experiencing homelessness, citing joblessness as the main cause—indicators, says ASR, of the recession’s influence on homelessness.

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Local News

La Bahia: Over Before it Started

La Bahia: Over Before it Started

The Coastal Commission’s ruling against the La Bahia Hotel project spawns a collective ‘Now What?’
After hours of public comment and deliberation, the California Coastal Commission voted 6-4 against the plan to build La Bahia Hotel, a 125-room hotel and conference center, at their Thursday, Aug. 11 meeting.

The hotel, a project of Barry Swenson Builder, would have gone in the Beach Flats neighborhood where the iconic—but currently dilapidated—La Bahia apartments have stood since 1926. The hang-up that led to the commission’s ruling was the height of the proposed hotel: 15 percent of the planned building would be 14 feet above the Local Coastal Program (LCP) limit.

Plans for the hotel were in the works for more than a decade, with Barry Swenson Builder spending about 10 years and $2.2 million working on it. The city council approved the plan in 2009.

“We’re extremely disappointed,” Mayor Ryan Coonerty tells Good Times. “This was a very good project that would’ve created jobs and was consistent with the values of Santa Cruz.”

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Local News

What We Lost With La Bahia

What We Lost With La Bahia

A guest column from the city’s mayor: For 20 years, the City of Santa Cruz has worked on a plan to transform the beach area into a year-round destination that showcases our incredible community, creates jobs and ensures a stable tax base.  Millions of dollars, thousands of pages of reports and studies, and hundreds of hours of public testimony were invested.

Sadly, last Thursday afternoon, Aug. 11, after a one-day hearing at which the Santa Cruz community overwhelmingly showed up in support, the Coastal Commission rejected the necessary amendment to our coastal plan to develop La Bahia on Beach Street from a shabby residence to a beautiful 125-room conference hotel. 

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

How will the newly adopted California voting districts affect your bid for the state senate in 2012?
As this response goes to print, I am encouraged by the California Redistricting Commission’s proposed lines for a coastal Senate district which will be numbered as Senate District 17 and which will include all of Santa Cruz County, portions of southern Santa Clara County, western Monterey County, and all of San Luis Obispo County. The proposed Senate district incorporates virtually all of the communities in my current Assembly District while adding the cities of Morgan Hill, Watsonville, and all of San Luis Obispo County. Based upon my review of the final lines, an assessment of any legal challenges, and my continuing discernment process, I will make a formal announcement regarding my candidacy soon. [Editor’s Note: Monning officially announced his bid for the state senate on Monday, Aug. 15.]

how will California be affected financially in the short and long run by the debt ceiling agreement?

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Business

History in the Un-making

History in the Un-making

‘Gay textbook bill’ faces public veto as communities react to looming history curriculm

Less than two weeks after Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s “gay textbook bill” into law, opponents of the FAIR Education Act (SB 48) proposed a veto referendum.

Approved by Secretary of State Debra Bowen at the end of July, the referendum must now receive 505,000 supporting signatures before it can be placed on the June 2012 ballot. If approved by voters, the referendum will overturn the first law in the nation requiring teachers to discuss the role of gay citizens in history.

The controversy has left people on all sides of the debate wondering what curriculum changes the law might spur.

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Local News

Homeless on the Home Front

Homeless on the Home Front

Homeless veteran numbers are down, and a veterans housing assistance program picks up steam
Half of the 274 homeless veterans counted in Santa Cruz County earlier this year fought in the Vietnam War. The same proportion has no more than a car or sidewalk as their bed at any given time.

Forty years after returning from combat in the United States' second longest war, these veterans are being joined on the streets by soldiers returning from the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers coming home from tours in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom account for 30 percent of the homeless veterans in the county, according to the 2011 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Mark Stone

Town Hall with Supervisor Mark Stone

The results from the 2011 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey were released recently. What did you learn about homelessness in your district?
The report was just released and is very comprehensive. There’s a lot to digest, and I’m still reviewing it to better understand the full gravity of our homeless situation as it exists today.

If you looked at this issue on a district-by-district basis, the picture’s incomplete. For instance, the data for the San Lorenzo Valley shows that homelessness has actually decreased significantly from previous years, though the number of homeless for the county as a whole has risen. This tells me that we need to keep working on a countywide basis with local governments and nonprofits to reduce homelessness.

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Environment

The Science of SmartMeters

The Science of SmartMeters

Exactly what is known about the safety of SmartMeters?
Penelope Joaquin has been a kindergarten teacher in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District for 15 years, and, this past year, she thought the stress was finally getting to her.

“I started to get this noise in my ears,” she says. “You know, that noise you get right before you go to sleep or like champagne bubbles? It’s hard to explain. It’s not even that loud, but it’s all the time.” The sensation Joaquin noticed turned out to be tinnitus, which is usually described as a ringing noise, high-pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing, humming, tingling or a number of other continuous or intermittent noises in the ear.

“It was the end of the school year and I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep and so forth so I thought, ‘Oh it’s probably just because I’m overworked, tired and stressed,’” Joaquin recalls. “I figured as soon as the school year ends and I start getting some sleep I’ll be fine and it’ll go away.” The school year ended and Joaquin’s tinnitus persists. Having eliminated stress as the cause of her fairly mild symptom, she started looking elsewhere. 

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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