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Feb 10th
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Local News

To Fund or Not to Fund

To Fund or Not to Fund

Planned Parenthood, the Pence Amendment, and pro-life prayers
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (PPMM) services 29 counties in California and 13 in Nevada, and sees more than 250,000 patients each year. Annually, there are around 24,000 visits to the Santa Cruz location and 16,600 to the Watsonville clinic.

But, according to Fran Linkin, associate director of Public Affairs for PPMM, these figures are “on the low end,” and the clinics have an increasing patient load because of the downturned economy. “We’ve been seeing more and more people as people lose their insurance, or lose their jobs,” she says. “People are really turning to us when they don’t know where to go.”

Linkin says that the most common services sought at Planned Parenthood clinics are “basic reproductive healthcare services, such as contraception, breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD screenings and treatments, pregnancy testing, HIV testing and UTI testing and treatments.” These services, known as preventive healthcare, along with primary child and adult healthcare, prenatal care, and LGBT services, make up 97 percent of what Planned Parenthoods do. But it is the remaining three percent that gets the most attention and criticism: abortions.

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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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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Making Dreams

Coen brothers salute vintage Hollywood in sly comedy ‘Hail, Caesar!’
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Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Soquel Vineyards

Sensuous wines for Valentine’s weekend

 

Wine and Chocolate

West Cliff Wines gets its game on, plus a brand new chocolate cafe on Center Street