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Oct 26th
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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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Environment

Berry Dangerous?

Berry Dangerous?

As applications of methyl iodide begin, potential health risks of the pesticide remain unknown
Litigation, restricted materials permits, toxicity reports. These represent just some of the red tape involved in the recent registration of methyl iodide, a new pesticide approved for strawberry production by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) in December.

Just before the new year, an alliance of advocacy groups, including the United Farm Workers’ Union, filed suit to block use of the chemical and urged Gov. Jerry Brown to reverse the decision.

Despite these efforts, the potential side effects for farm workers and nearby residents—the people who spend hours every day exposed to these chemicals—remain to be seen. In agricultural hubs such as Watsonville and Salinas, which together produced a volume of nearly 90 million trays of strawberries in 2010, according to the California Strawberry Commission, the new pesticide is sure to have a large presence.

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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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Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

A huge part of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week has always been about offering a great dining experience for an affordable price. For some locals, the $25 flat-rate cost has provided the opportunity (or the excuse!) to try new spots, and indulge in Santa Cruz fine dining in a way they might have thought too pricey before.

 

Scorpio Sun, New Moon Eclipse, Mercury Direct

The Sun enters Scorpio’s mysteries Thursday under a new moon and partial solar eclipse (something essential has come to an end, its purpose completed). In Scorpio we harbor secrets, are devoted to something deep, dark and hidden. Sometimes it’s ourselves. We can bring great suspect to our assessment of others. Scorpio is the scorpion, the serpent and the eagle—three levels of development. As the serpent we take shelter in our beliefs. Sometimes we bite (or sting). The eagle vanquishes old beliefs through its sharp intellect, soaring high in the air, seeking to understand through perspective. Understanding releases us from the bondage of fear. The eagle is like the mother soothing feelings of mistrust, offering protection. Knowledge does this, too.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Light Humor

College comedy questions a post-racial America in ‘Dear White People’
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Back Porch

Austin Kaye on backyard dinners and why it’s his favorite time of year to be a chef

 

What’s the most outrageous situation you ever saw at a restaurant?

Damani Thomas, Santa Cruz, Chef/Owner

 

Wine Lust

The Spanish Godello grape, plus arancinis, tender butter lettuce and pork schnitzel at Soif

 

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

Santa Cruz | Teacher