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Mar 31st
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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

This question comes from a GT reader: Could you speak about the problem of rising costs of health insurance premiums, such as Blue Shield’s upcoming 30 percent rate hike, and what, if anything, new healthcare legislation does to address it?

I want to thank the GT reader for submitting this question, and I hope it can provide valuable information to others concerned with this important issue. After the Affordable Care Act was signed by the President in March 2010, it set off a gradual implementation of the new healthcare reforms. Even though I feel the law has room for improvement, I do believe the ACA—once fully implemented—will see the cost of health care go down and access increased for people lacking quality health care.

I understand that in response to the health case reforms, some folks have unfortunately seen their health care costs and premiums increase. First, let me say that there is nothing in this law that requires an increase in premiums. Much to the contrary, Democrats worked hard to pass a bill that would constrain premium increases.

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Local News

On the Record

On the Record

UCSC public records show that the school spent $6,000 to document student protests
UC Santa Cruz undergraduate Tom Pazo recently received a public records document he requested from the university nearly seven months ago. The returned record consists of two pages: an invoice from private investigator Scott H. Newby for $6,000, and UCSC’s receipt of purchase of Newby’s services to document a student demonstration on May 18 and 19, 2010.

According to the invoice, UCSC contracted Newby for 24 hours at $100 per hour, including post-production and transportation fees from San Jose to Santa Cruz. The May 18 and 19 demonstration  to which the invoice refers was a UCSC Strike Committee-led event entitled “Walk Out to Your Education.” The Strike Committee, a self-defined open collective and coalition of students, graduate students, workers and professors organizing in defense of public education, intended the event as an alternative way to draw general attention toward, and educate students about, the unstable budget situation at UCSC.

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Business

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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Best of Santa Cruz 2015

In 40 years of publishing, Good Times has seen a lot of “bests.”

 

Spring Triangle: Three Spring Festivals—Aries, Taurus, Gemini

The Spring signs Aries, Taurus and Gemini constitute a triangle of force that sets the template for the nine signs that follow and the template for the entire year (Spring 2015 - Spring 2016) ahead. Aries initiates new ideas, Taurus stabilizes the new thinking of Aries and Gemini takes the initiating stabilized ideas of Aries/Taurus and disperses them to all of humanity. It is in this way that humanity learns new things, with the help of Mercury, the messenger. As Spring unfolds, three elements emerge: the Fire of Aries (initiating new ideas), the Earth of Taurus (anchoring the ideas of God through Mercury) and the Air of communicating Gemini. These three signs/elements are the Three Spring Festivals. They are the “triangle of force” forming the template (patterns) of energy for the upcoming new year. After these three we then have the soothing, calming, warming, nurturing and tending waters of the mother (Cancer). Cancer initiates our next season under the hot suns of summer. Planets, stars and signs create the Temple of Light directing humanity towards all things new. March 29 is Palm Sunday, when the Christ, World Teacher, was led into Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (humility). Palms waving above His head, signified recognition of the Christ’s divinity. Palm Sunday is the Sunday before the Easter (Resurrection Festival). Palm Sunday begins Holy Week, the week of capture, imprisonment, passion, sacrifice, crucifixion, death and resurrection of the christ. All events in the Christ’s life represent events (initiations) that humanity experiences through many lifetimes. We turn our attention to these holy events this week. Their concepts portray and reveal to us greater spiritual understanding. Then, Aries, the “light of life itself” shines through us.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Best of Santa Cruz 2015 Editor's Picks

BEST NIGHT CAP WARSAW MULE AT SHADOWBROOK
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Latest Comments

 

Spring Spirits

Sean Venus’ gin straight up, remembering Rosa’s and a tasting of Hungarian wines

 

What’s your favorite most recent outdoor discovery in Santa Cruz?

A hike that’s across from Waddell Beach. I didn’t realize you could go across the highway and do a super simple loop, and it’s beautiful. You can see the coastline. Liz Porter, Santa Cruz, Community Outreach

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Muscat 2012

 

Front Street Kitchen

Pop-up spot attracts paleo crowd with locally sourced low-carb meals