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Dec 18th
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Boardwalk Bound

Boardwalk Bound

The Seaside Company gears up for their summer season, hiring more locals than usual
For more than two decades, the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, which owns the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, has been rounding out its summer staff of high school students and seniors by hiring foreign students with the right skills—English fluency and, for some, basic math. But this summer, says the Seaside Company, the foreign Work & Travel program will be running at a minimum in anticipation of increased local interest in jobs at the Boardwalk.

“Because of the economy, we can hire a lot more locals,” says Carol Siegel, the employment manager at the Seaside Company. “To have local people working is a really positive thing for our community.”

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Town Hall

Supervisor John Leopold

Supervisor John Leopold

You hosted a rally to “keep funds local” on Feb. 15, where the state’s plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies was discussed. What projects has the county’s redevelopment agency brought to fruition in your district? What sort of comments did you get from constituents who attended the event?

Over the last 24 years, the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) has made it possible for Live Oak and Soquel to have sidewalks, curbs, gutters and adequate drainage in our neighborhoods. RDA funds have been used to build the Simpkins Swim Center, the Live Oak Library, the Animal Services shelter and parks such as Anna Jean Cummings and Brommer. County redevelopment funds have also been the single largest source of funding for affordable housing, providing $47 million to construct more than 1,300 units of affordable housing throughout the county.

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Environment

Water to Share

Water to Share

Desalination is in the spotlight, but whatever happened to a regional water exchange?
Jan Bentley worked for the City of Santa Cruz Water Department for 15 years. For 14 of those years, from 1994 until he retired in 2008, Bentley served as the city’s Water Production Manager. Among his duties, Bentley was responsible for monitoring water intake, treatment and distribution. As such, he came to know the ins and outs of the Santa Cruz water supply—how much was available, from which sources, and how much was used.

The city relies solely on surface water and is heavily dependent on rainfall. But in the winters, Bentley says he would watch as millions of gallons went unused each day. “They [the city] do maximize summer use, but they don’t maximize winter use,” he says. “There’s a lot of excess water to be had in the winter.”

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Local News

Where are the Jobs?

Where are the Jobs?

A look at the tricky Santa Cruz job hunt, and where job seekers might have the best luck
With mid-length brown hair, impeccable teeth and a warm smile, Amy Sheppard is an upbeat Santa Cruz resident who originally came to town for college and now calls it home. But, like approximately 14 million other Americans, Sheppard is unemployed and struggling to figure out what to do about it.

She looks for work every day.

Sheppard wants to use her psychology degree to work in the nonprofit sector with at-risk youth, but has not secured a paid position since graduating from UC Santa Cruz in March of 2007—almost four years ago.

In today’s brutal job market, it’s not enough to ask yourself, “What do I want to do?” One also has to be savvy about job-hunting by evaluating growing industries and job availability.

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

As we await the outcome of Gov. Jerry Brown's state budget plan, many local jurisdictions are looking for ways to protect their redevelopment agencies (RDAs) from being dissolved. On Feb. 8, the Santa Cruz City Council approved a $53 million indebtedness contract with the city's RDA in order to protect its future projects. What is your response to the reactions of municipalities across the state to the prospect of losing their RDAs?

Under the governor’s proposal, existing redevelopment agencies (RDAs) debt would be paid, thus the City of Santa Cruz’s recent decision to incur a $53 million debt would be honored.

Many readers may be aware that local governments across the state are opposed to the governor’s proposal to eliminate state RDA funding and direct these funds to local governments in order for them to be used to fund local law enforcement, fire protection, road maintenance, libraries, and parks. However, I think it is important to point out that in exchange for the loss of state taxes, the governor would allow local governments to place tax increases dedicated to continuing local redevelopment before local voters to approve with a 55 percent majority vote. 

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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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Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
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Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire