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May 24th
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Santa Cruz News

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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Local News

Buzz Kill

Buzz Kill

New findings suggest Santa Cruzans like pot less than we thought
After all the toking that went into making Santa Cruz epitomic of a ganja-loving town, are we turning into … squares?

Our square-factor can’t be quantified, per se, but new data released in the 2010 Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project (CAP) Report does show a significant decrease in the number of county residents who are OK with marijuana use.

The CAP found that only 13 percent of county residents found recreational marijuana use “acceptable” in 2009—the lowest acceptance has been in 10 years.

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Environment

Shelter from the Storm

Shelter from the Storm

UC Santa Cruz’s Energy Service Corps is on a mission to keep homes a little warmer this winter
It’s been a cold and wet winter so far here in Santa Cruz. The outside chill generally prompts an expensive habit of cranking the heater, but, this year, two UC Santa Cruz students are leading the switch to a greener and cheaper option for staying toasty.

On Nov. 18, Adan Codina and Adrienne Borders held a press conference in front of the Boys & Girls Club on Center Street to announce the launch of the student-operated Energy Service Corps (ESC) program, which will offer home weatherizations to hundreds of local homes.

“The goal of Energy Service Corps is pretty simple,” says Borders, co-coordinator of the local ESC branch along with Codina. “It’s to reduce energy used by taking the mystery out of energy efficiency.”

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Local News

Cracking Shells

Cracking Shells

Walnut Avenue Women’s Center helps local youth open up
It’s a quiet Friday afternoon in December at the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center in Downtown Santa Cruz, where the energy is one of a focused nonprofit working with its nose to the grind. The last thing I expect to hear is that, hours later, the locale will look like a bustling social hub.

“It’s going to turn into Club 303,” says Rita Martinico, WAWC’s director of Youth Development Services, noting the organization’s spot at 303 Walnut Ave. “Tonight is a big party.”

Not your usual Friday night soiree, this particular event will turn out to be a chance for volunteer mentors to socialize with prospective youth “mentees,” as Martinico nicknames them, for WAWC’s successful One-on-One effort. It’s a program that provides personal relationships with positive role models for kids ages 12 through 18. Dinner, music, plenty of friendly warmth and streamers as sparkling as the smiles will take over the lounge, which earlier in the day feels stark. The evening will host the beginning of some life-changing experiences.

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Business

Living in a Rental Paradise?

Living in a Rental Paradise?

The debate over a county vacation rental ordinance continues
It’s 3 a.m., you’ve got a big meeting in the morning and the tourists staying in the vacation rental next door are rocking out to “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” You could call the Sheriff’s Office, but since the homeowner lives out of state, it’s unlikely that your simple reprimand will be the end to your sleepless nights.

Scenarios like these are becoming more and more common in Santa Cruz County, where there are a known 570 vacation rentals. With the advent of the Internet, it’s not hard to see why it’s a goldmine industry.

But along with the tourists and supplemental income have come neighborhood complaints of increased traffic, excessive garbage, late night partying and limited street parking. In response to the grievances of locals, Santa Cruz County First District Supervisor John Leopold proposed a Vacation Rental Ordinance to the Board on June 15, 2010.

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Local News

There’s an App For That

There’s an App For That

Downtown Santa Cruz parking goes hi-tech
Originally slated to take effect in time for the holidays, the trial run of a new parking program in Downtown Santa Cruz has been postponed until mid-January.

The program will allow people who park downtown to pay for parking and add more time to their parking lot spot or meter via cell phone. The City of Santa Cruz hopes the new program will encourage more people to shop downtown and reduce shoppers’ likelihoods of receiving parking tickets.

The program was designed by Parkmobile USA of Atlanta, Ga. The Parkmobile program keeps users from running out of time by sending a text message when 15 minutes is left on a parking space or meter. Users have the option of extending their parking time by using their cell phone to either call Parkmobile or by using the downloadable smart phone application to pay for an extension.

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Environment

California’s Green Facelift

California’s Green Facelift

Santa Cruz’s Ecology Action is at the center of new program designed to save money and the environment
Just in time for the New Year, the Energy Upgrade California Program (EUCP) is announcing its plans to keep the environment green and clean while putting a different kind of green back into the pockets of the state and consumers alike.

A collaborative effort between nonprofits, utility companies and the California Energy Commission (CEC), the program will use federal stimulus funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA). It will allow homeowners and commercial businesses a unique opportunity to make their buildings more energy efficient by providing rebates and monetary incentives for upgrades. What makes this program different from others, is that it is a statewide program that will allow all 58 counties to participate in reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions providing more benefits than just monetary. At the cornerstone of the project is Santa Cruz’s own Ecology Action.

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Local News

A Tale of Three PENS

A Tale of Three PENS

Local preschool teachers receive community hero award and fight to keep their schools open
The go-to source for Santa Cruz statistics was released last month. Along with providing a plethora of data, the Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project Report (CAP) honors dedicated citizens who contribute to the community’s social health. This year, a group of teachers from a network of parent-interactive preschools have received recognition for their betterment of early education. But, honors aside, the preschools are facing economic woes  that threaten their survival.

The CAP Report is an annual almanac that reports the x, y and z’s of Santa Cruz County. Since 1994, the report has supplied citizens with raw data concerning a variety of community interests, such as public safety, health and education.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

Congress recently passed an extension for Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians. How long will the extension last, is there talk of extending it further, and how will it impact the Central Coast specifically?
This is a great question, and it is an issue I have been working deep in the weeds for more than a decade. To answer the immediate question, congress has passed a series of extensions for Medicare reimbursement—the current extension expires on Dec.31, 2010. But Democrats worked out a way to guarantee a longer extension, one that will last through 2011. That bill is on its way to President Obama for signature, thus assuring that doctors will not face a 23 percent cut on Jan. 1.

But the Central Coast also faces another important issue looming over Medicare reimbursement in our region.

As many of you may be aware, doctors in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties receive a lower payment from Medicare than do doctors in neighboring Santa Clara County.

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Environment

Taking Action

Taking Action

Local nonprofit heads to Haiti to offer aid and support
Having only five members hasn’t stopped fledgling humanitarian nonprofit Action Santa Cruz from delivering aid and supplies to a whole arsenal of worthy causes. The small group formed shortly after the 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010. On Dec. 9, the group will take flight to Haiti, where its members will embark on a search for the project that will define them.

And if their resolve is tested, Action Santa Cruz has the inspiration they need to fall back on, a Haitian saying which has already carried member Mary Anne Kramer-Urner through one challenging trip to Haiti:

“Piti, piti, zwazo fe nich.”

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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