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May 23rd
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Environment

From Military Service to Nature Conservationist

From Military Service to Nature Conservationist

State Conservation Corp initiates first veterans’ backcountry trail crew
Assimilating back into society after serving in the military is anything but an easy process. But thanks to a new partnership between a California agency and the Veterans Green Corp (VGC), there’s a new, nature-filled way for veterans to spend this transition period—and give our state parks some much-needed TLC while they’re at it.

This year, the California Conservation Corps' (CCC) Backcountry Trails Program, which is aimed at preserving California's wilderness areas by making them safer and more accessible to the public, partnered with VGC to establish the first ever veterans’ Backcountry Trail Crew. The crew is comprised of 15 men and women, including nine military veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Local News

Pride in Our Diversity

Pride in Our Diversity

Santa Cruz Pride marks the anniversary of the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) equality. Forty-two years ago this June, the Stonewall riots in New York were a turning point as queer people declared they would no longer stand for the status quo of harassment and persecution. California’s Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird’s article from Good Times (May 26) paints a compelling picture of the LGBTQ movement’s progress over the last 40 years. We owe trailblazers like Laird a debt of gratitude for their tireless commitment to equality and fairness.

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Business

Plantronics Hits the Big 5-0

Plantronics Hits the Big 5-0

Tech giant honors past, looks forward to future
When we recount the milestones in our county’s history, one event in particular truly stands out. It was July 21, 1969 and Neil Armstrong’s famous words, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind,” were transmitted from the moon—via a Pacific Plantronics SPENCOM headset.

Today, the largest private employer in Santa Cruz County is celebrating its 50th anniversary—a half century of communication innovation, beginning with headsets and expanding into Bluetooth. Since taking several trips to the moon, Plantronics products have become internationally recognized—they were named the official headset of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, and they continue to lead the pack in mobile communication technology.

To show Plantronics’ appreciation of Santa Cruz for its decades of loyalty and support, the company hosted an anniversary event on May 26.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

The death of Osama bin Laden has initiated a conversation about our role in Afghanistan and the money that has been spent. Are you in favor of reducing defense spending? If so, by how much?

The death of Osama bin Laden not only landed a major blow against threats posed by al-Qaeda, but it gave comfort and some sense of closure to thousands of families that were affected by the devastating 9/11 attacks. And for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that have unflinchingly marched into countless battles in Afghanistan, it gave them a renewed sense of pride and purpose for their service and sacrifice.

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Environment

A Green Blueprint

A Green Blueprint

New 25-year conservation plan looks at the county’s ecological future
A long history of environmental protection in Santa Cruz County has helped spare much of its land from development. More than a century ago, Big Basin—the first state park in California—was founded in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saving a large number of old-growth redwoods from logging. Today, 27 percent of the county’s land is in parks, public land, or is otherwise protected through conservation easements.

Nevertheless, many in Santa Cruz see the natural environment as under threat. The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, a local environmental nonprofit established in 1978, estimates that by 2035, the population in the Monterey Bay region will increase by 146,000, 35,000 of which will be in Santa Cruz County. More people means increased urban and rural development—more houses, more roads, and greater stress on already taxed natural resources. Add to this the unknowns of climate change, and Santa Cruz County could be facing a challenging future.

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Environment

Shuttering State Parks

Shuttering State Parks

Come September, Castle Rock, Twin Lakes, Portola Redwoods and Mission Park will be closed
The bad news Californians were expecting was finally released by California State Parks on Friday May 13, when they announced the list of 70 state parks scheduled for closure next fiscal year. The closures result from the $11 million cut to the Park Department’s operating budget, which was adopted by the legislature and signed by the governor in March. Regional state parks scheduled for closure in September include Castle Rock State Park, a favorite of rock climbers and hikers up on Skyline Drive, Twin Lakes State Beach, which means the state will no longer be providing lifeguards, Portola Redwoods, and Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

What were some of the positive and negative items contained in the governor’s May Revise of the 2011-12 State Budget?

One positive in the governor’s May Revise is that state revenues received this year exceed prior projections.

In January, California’s estimated budget deficit was $27 billion. In March we made $14 billion in extremely difficult cuts, leaving a $13 billion deficit to be resolved by June 15.  The increased revenues have reduced the anticipated debt during the 2011-12 Fiscal Year from $13 billion to $9.6 billion. While these revenue increases are an indicator of California’s slow economic recovery, we should not look at them as being sufficient to address the state’s ongoing debt and funding needs. 

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Business

Worker Worries

Worker Worries

AFSCME workers wonder how UC budget cuts will further impact their jobs
Budget cuts have meant cutbacks for nearly every area of the UC Santa Cruz campus, impacting students, faculty and staff alike. For some workers the reality of just how deep the past several years of cuts have been has never been more obvious or unnerving than now. Along with furloughs and increased costs for everything from healthcare to retirement, some UCSC workers are also facing the dual pressure of an increased workload and the fear of losing their job in the next round of layoffs.

One UCSC employee of more than 20 years, who wishes to remain nameless, says she has watched her work as a custodian become increasingly more difficult over the past few years. She is now required to clean twice the number of areas she would have cleaned two years ago in the same amount of time.

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Local News

Holistic Holdup

Holistic Holdup

California nutritionists’ ongoing fight to maintain legal legitimacy
What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian? This may sound like an menial question to some, but ambivalence about this distinction sent holistic health professionals across California into a flurry of phone calls, letters, and public consternation regarding a piece of recently proposed legislation know as Assembly Bill 575.

Due to sizable disapproval over the written logistics of AB575, which was proposed by Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward), it was tabled on May 4 for revisions. However, the debate it sparked brings to light an ongoing controversy in the world of nutritional healthcare.

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

Town Hall with Supervisor Ellen Pirie

After several recent hearings, the Board has established requirements for medical marijuana dispensaries in the county, and will establish a working group to review other issues, including whether testing of marijuana should be required. With these decisions in mind, what is the Board’s long-term vision for medical marijuana business in Santa Cruz County?
While there is no cap on the number of medical marijuana outlets allowed in the unincorporated county, they must operate as nonprofits. Advertising, labeling, and record-keeping will be regulated. Further, an 800-foot buffer is required between two dispensaries, and dispensaries must be located at least 600 feet from schools.
Once established, a medical marijuana cooperative must meet certain performance standards. Doctors or other medical professionals will not be allowed to write recommendations on-site, and on-site use of the medical marijuana products is prohibited. A working group will be established to consider testing and other issues for possible addition to the regulations at some future time.

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Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
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Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival