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Dec 21st
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Santa Cruz News

Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

The president recently repeated his campaign pledge to repeal the Pentagon’s “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy that bars openly gay men and women from serving in the military. Do you agree?

The “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy is wrong, plain and simple. And it’s wrong for a lot of reasons.

Let’s start with some practical issues. We may be wrapping up our misguided occupation of Iraq, but at the same time we’re increasing our armed presence in Afghanistan. I remain opposed to our presence in those countries, but I find it curious to reject soldiers during wartime for their sexual orientation.

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Local News

The Methane Question

The Methane Question

Methane digesters are shutting down due to new environmental regulations. How will the controversy impact clean fuel projects in Santa Cruz?

Despite the 1,700 cows roaming the Fiscalini Farms barn, things are surprisingly quiet.

“Happy cows don’t moo too often, and these cows live in the lap of luxury,” says Nettie Drake, an agricultural engineer who helps dairies install renewable biogas systems.

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Local News

A Safe Spot

A Safe Spot

New start offers immediate and interim psychiatric care

For the past 27 years Dominican Hospital has been the go-to place in Santa Cruz for acute psychiatric services, or immediate, short-term care. However, when the county’s contract with Dominican’s Behavioral Health Unit is up in 2013, it will seek a new place to house many of those in need of psychiatric care. In the coming years the county plans to build a separate Psychiatric Health Facility [PHF] that will include 16 more beds than are currently available.

“It became clearer and clearer to Dominican and to their parent corporation, Catholic Healthcare West, that operating the psychiatric unit really didn't work for them financially and in business terms,” says Leslie Tremaine, director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “And that is not unique to Catholic Healthcare West. That's happening all over the country to general hospitals that have had psych units.”

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Town Hall

Supervisor Mark Stone

Supervisor Mark Stone

You are currently serving your first year on the California Coastal Commission. What has your experience been like, and what can we expect from the commission in the near future?

I was very honored last August, when Assembly Speaker Karen Bass appointed me to serve on the California Coastal Commission.  It is an amazing responsibility to represent the Central Coast on a body—with the stated mission to "Protect, conserve, restore, and enhance environmental and human-based resources of the California coast."

The Coastal Commission was established by Proposition 20 in 1972 and made permanent by the legislative adoption of the California Coastal Act of 1976.  Since that time the commission has had a primary function to protect the coastal environment for future generations. I am particularly pleased the commission will soon meet here in Santa Cruz for the first time since 1986.  We will meet from March 10 to 12 in the County Board of Supervisors chambers, giving local people a great chance to observe and participate.

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Local News

Pay to Park

Pay to Park

Two main downtown lots to start charging parking fees
As of March 1, two free downtown Santa Cruz parking areas will become pay lots. Anyone wanting to park in the Cedar and Church streets Parking Garage (Lot 3) or the Cedar and Cathcart streets Parking Lot (Lot 4) will have to pay $.50 an hour or $5 a day. These lots, more familiarly known as the two-story garage by Regal Cinemas (formerly Cinema 9) and the Farmers’ Market parking lot, were previously free three-hour parking areas.

According to Marlin Granlund, City of Santa Cruz parking programs manager, the new fees “will go to the parking district and will be replaced back into parking district services.” This includes the maintenance of public restrooms, streetlights and sidewalks, in addition to the parking garages and lots themselves. Part of the profit will also pay for an additional patrol officer.

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Local News

Crime Watch on the Web

Crime Watch on the Web

Controversial local website keeps tabs on stabbings

There are some things that shouldn’t be joked about—although, despite being taboo, even the most offensive of topics often end up as the theme of a “South Park” episode or a joke in some comedian’s stand-up routine.

Here in Santa Cruz, a serious subject has been given comedic life on the increasingly popular website StabSantaCruz.com. The site features a “Stab-O-Meter” that tallies the number of stabbings per year, a “Stab Clock” that keeps track of the number of days we’ve gone without a stabbing, and merchandise, like a T-shirt that reads “Stabalicious! Santa Cruz, California.” A purposely-tacky image tops the page, showing silhouetted figures running from a legion of disembodied knives with the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in the background.

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Local News

School Lunch Bunch

School Lunch Bunch

A look at school food reform with author Janet Poppendieck

School food in America is no picnic. Instead, it’s a messy web of federally subsidized programs with fair intentions but far from perfect outcomes.

Every five years, the Child Nutrition Act (CNA), which was instated in the ’60s to regulate the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)’s nutritional standards, comes up for reauthorization—originally due last September, the act’s rewrite continues to be pushed back. Meanwhile, a movement for school food reform has gained momentum across the country, including here in Santa Cruz. Last fall, Good Times explored the nutritional troubles with school meals in the cover story “What’s For Lunch?” Now, as the deadline for reauthorization nears, we take a look at the other side of the issue with New York-based author Janet Poppendieck, who discussed her new book, “Free For All: Fixing School Food in America” at a gathering of more than 70 Santa Cruz County educators, politicians and community members at a Feb. 5 event in Watsonville.

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Local News

Fully Charged

Fully Charged

Proposed solar financing program hopes to give Santa Cruz a boost

Solar technology is nothing new, but a new loan and incentive program is attempting to make it more worthwhile than ever.

Santa Cruz City and County leaders are supporting the CaliforniaFIRST plan, which would allow home and business owners to install solar panels and have the loan payments added to their property taxes. The program appeals to home and business owners who might have difficulty qualifying for a traditional loan. Owners would pay back the loans over a period of up to 20 years. The loan remains with the building and is paid through property taxes, even if the owner decides to move.

In addition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs, supporters also say the plan would provide a much-needed boost to Santa Cruz's construction companies.

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Local News

The Center of Zen

The Center of Zen

Santa Cruz Zen Center welcomes new head teacher
Everything is impermanent. This is one of the central teachings of Buddhism, apparent in the constant changing nature of thoughts, people, and organizations. Nothing escapes, not even the Santa Cruz Zen Center (SCZC). The zendo (meditation room) was recently remodeled and there’s a new head teacher to welcome: Kokyo Henkel arrived in October 2009, previously having practiced Zen meditation and studied Buddhism at the San Francisco, Tassajara and Green Gulch Farm Zen Centers in the Bay Area and Bukokoji in Japan.  He replaces Katherine Thanas, who was head teacher since 1989 and remains as abbot. 

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Last month, you participated in a UC Santa Cruz Legislative Forum on the state budget and higher education. What consensus and actions resulted from that gathering of legislators, local business leaders and UCSC students, faculty and administration?

I value the opportunity to listen first-hand to testimony about the impacts that budget cuts are having at UCSC.  The legislative forum convened by Chancellor George Blumenthal featured participation by a broad cross section of the UCSC community including administrators, faculty, and students.

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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

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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