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Oct 21st
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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has released its report entitled, “Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters.”  What conclusions did CCST reach and what is your opinion about the report’s findings?

A number of constituents have contacted me with their concerns about the potential health and safety effects of Smart Meters. In response to these concerns, Assemblymember Jared Huffman and I asked CCST to study the existing scientific literature on radio frequency exposure standards this past November.

The CCST report concludes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standard based on thermal effects is appropriate and would appear to be fully protective of human health, and that even under “worst case” operational scenarios, Smart Meters produce radio frequency (RF) exposures much lower than the FCC standard.

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Local News

Teenage Dream

Teenage Dream

Lightfoot Industries leads at-risk teens on the search for their ‘soul craft’
A soul craft, according to Carmen Kubas, is the thing that “lights your fire” and “gets you out of bed.” It’s the thing you love to do.

For Kubas, each day brings new challenges as she pursues her own soul craft as founder and CEO of Lightfoot Industries—an original blend of restaurant development, sustainable food and life skills education for at-risk teens.

Her work includes the guidance and mentorship of Lightfoot's 10 high school students as they search for their respective soul crafts. The teens, labeled “at-risk” by educators, have already slipped through the cracks of public education. Most come from Delta High, an independent study charter school linked to Cabrillo College.

But at Lightfoot, the only thing that's “at risk” is whether the chutney is burning or if someone's arms might give out during Camel Pose, a particularly difficult yoga position.

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Local News

UC: University of Cuts

UC: University of Cuts

UCSC faces a big blow from the governor’s new state budget
On what UC President Mark Yudof called a “sad day for California,” Gov. Jerry Brown announced his new state budget on Jan. 10 and a subsequent $1.4 billion budget cut to higher education—$500 million from the UCs and state schools, respectively, and $400,000 from community colleges.

“This is a historic marker of disinvestment in public education that should be disturbing to all Californians—whether they have family members attending a UC campus or not,” Yudof said in an open letter to the UC community.

As a result, Yudof will assign a reduction figure to each of the UC campuses. The schools have until March 1 to outline how they will achieve the amount in reductions. As of press time, UC Santa Cruz spokesman Jim Burns says the school has not received its reduction amount but that they expect it to be between $15 and $30 million. While they wait, he says the administration is “just now beginning the process for determining how the campus will make these reductions.”

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Local News

Sharing the Pain

Sharing the Pain

Where the state budget touches local government
Jerry Brown wasted no time making some big impressions as the new governor. His budget proposal for fiscal year 2011-2012 includes $12.5 in cuts and a shift in responsibility for some services to local governments. Here’s a quick run-through of ways the governor’s budget proposal would impact the city and county of Santa Cruz.

Redevelopment
Gov. Brown’s budget proposes eliminating funding for the state’s 400 or so redevelopment agencies—the thought of which has been a particularly hard pill to swallow for local officials. “Our Redevelopment Agency has allowed us to rebuild downtown, beautify the eastside, build workforce housing, attract companies and create jobs, and improve infrastructure,” says Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty. “There is a tremendous return on investment for the city and the state. It is a short-term savings with a huge long-term cost.”

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Business

Still Stimulated?

Still Stimulated?

Two years later, a look at how the stimulus bill has impacted Santa Cruz
It’s been almost two years since President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on Feb. 17, 2009, pumping $787 billion of federal funds into the economy. But where has that money gone and what was the impact?

In Santa Cruz County—where there were 198 grants and seven contracts awarded for a total of $120 million—the consensus seems to be that the stimulus was a double-edged sword. On one hand, jobs were saved, programs were created, and start-up businesses had better chances of securing loans. But, at the same time, new levels of bureaucracy, limited funds and a distorted public image of ARRA had a crippling effect on some local agencies.

“It was meant to stimulate growth, not to sustain it,” says Rep. Sam Farr (D-17th District). “But public financing is very difficult and with cuts coming down [from the government] people don’t necessarily know where the money is coming from.”

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Local News

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

Leader of the fair trade movement in Palestine to speak in Santa Cruz
Nasser Abufarha, a native-born Palestinian, encountered a fair trade product for the first time in 2002 at a coffee shop in Madison, Wis. Nine years later, he’s at the helm of a business and a nonprofit organization that bring fair trade, certified organic products to the United States and Europe, while also bringing the prospect of sustainable living to struggling farmers in Palestine.

Santa Cruz residents are invited to hear Abufarha’s story—one of fair trade, organic olives, and hope amidst the war-torn Israel/Palestine conflict—on Jan. 17 at the Live Oak Grange.

Abufarha is the founder and driving force behind the nonprofit organization Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA). In connection with his organic delicacies business, Canaan Fair Trade, PFTA works to provide sustainable living to struggling family farmers in the Palestinian West Bank region. Abufarha and the PFTA maintain a longstanding relationship with the Resource Center for Non-Violence (RCNV) in Santa Cruz, which organized the upcoming event.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

What are your thoughts following the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson that left six dead and many more wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona)?
My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff and her constituents. As this tragic event has touched us here at home in a variety of ways, our thoughts are also with the family and friends of Gabriel Zimmerman, a UC Santa Cruz graduate, and by all accounts an individual that touched the lives of many people through his dedicated community service.

A colleague and friend, Gabrielle is a dedicated and focused public servant who has provided a new voice dedicated to addressing issues in her district and across the country. In her young congressional career, Gabrielle has also become a friend to the Central Coast. As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, she visited our area to tour the Defense Language Institute where she praised the work of this institute and its students—and the critical role they are playing in securing our country. 

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Local News

A Fight That’s Far From Over

A Fight That’s Far From Over

Child abuse is declining, but neglect and substance abuse remain problems in local families
There were 527 cases of substantiated child abuse reported in Santa Cruz County in 2009, the last year for which there is data in the 2010 Child Welfare Services Reports for California. That is nine cases of abuse per 1,000 youth.

Jarring as the number is, it is significantly less than the 872 cases reported in 2000, when the Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project (CAP) began tracking the data in its annual report. The number has fluctuated over the last decade, peaking at 923 cases in 2004 and reaching its lowest at 527 cases in ’09.  Since the CAP put forth the community goal “By the year 2010, children in Santa Cruz County will live in safer families and communities” in 2005, the number has decreased by 6 percent. Substantiated cases are those where, following an investigation, it is confirmed that abuse actually did occur.

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Town Hall

Supervisor Ellen Pirie

Supervisor Ellen Pirie

in-home care workers are facing a wage reduction from $11.50 to $8.50 an hour. How Does The county play into this?

In-Home Support Services (IHSS) is a state program that pays people to provide basic in-home services to disabled people. The goal is to allow the disabled person to stay in their home even when they are unable to completely take care of themselves, instead of having to go into a nursing home or other institutional setting.

The people providing the services are called “chore workers” or “care providers.” Although they are not county employees, their wages are paid by a combination of state, federal and county funds. Typical services are preparing food, shopping, and helping with bathing and housekeeping.

Sometimes the care provider is a relative of the recipient and sometimes not.

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

With the change of administration in Sacramento, what will be the effect, if any, on the implementation of healthcare reform?
California’s efforts to implement healthcare will move forward unabated with the transition to the Governor Jerry Brown administration.

Last year, we passed legislation to establish the California Health Benefit Exchange by 2014. In the interim, we are working to expand access to healthcare, promote workforce development, and implement the new Medicaid/Medical waiver with supplemental reimbursement for hospitals that provide medical services to the poor and uninsured.

I have also been re-named as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health by Assembly Speaker Perez and as such, I remain committed to expanding health promotion and education programs. These vital public health programs focus on reducing obesity, which can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other medical complications. 

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Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
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Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay