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May 22nd
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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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Local News

Out of Reach

Out of Reach

Workshop series targets the need for more affordable housing in Santa Cruz
I used to dream of winning the lottery so that I could one day buy a house in Santa Cruz—one of the nation’s most desirable and expensive coastal markets. But my last search for a local rental was a wake-up call.

First, my prospective roommate called about the marijuana operation he wanted to start in the back shed. Yes, the landlord was cool with it, and permits would be obtained. No, I wasn’t interested, but I appreciated the info—it would have been a sad discovery to make after moving in. Better to stay away and save my $1,600 deposit and $850 in rent—an amount that would make a monthly house payment on a decent property in my hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. 

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Local News

Future Uncertain for Vets Hall

Future Uncertain for Vets Hall

Community hopes for a speedy reopening

Much to the shock of local community members, county officials announced on Thursday, Jan. 21, that as of 5 p.m., the Santa Cruz Veterans Memorial Building would be closed indefinitely.

The announcement came after an architect and a structural engineer toured the building and recommended its immediate closure, stating in a report that it “presents a significant risk of injury or death to the occupants of the auditorium should a seismic event occur.” A week earlier, the building’s manager, Tim Brattan, had noticed loose falling stucco and requested a site assessment. The County Facilities Superintendent conducted a safety inspection, and the potential issues they identified prompted them to issue a purchase order for the structural assessment.

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Town Hall

Congressman Sam Farr

Congressman Sam Farr

What was the most important message in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address?

It's clear that 2010 will be about the economy and creating jobs, and I think President Obama did a great job of laying out the year's priorities.

Building on the strong foundation laid in 2009, congress will continue to pursue strategies to put Americans back to work.

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Local News

Taking Prejudice Offline

Taking Prejudice Offline

Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper confronts Internet hate groups

“It’s there below the surface,” says Rabbi Richard Litvak, senior rabbi at Temple Beth El in Aptos, “as a constant that pops up from time to time.” He’d like to believe that anti-Semitism is a dead issue in Santa Cruz, but recent events remind him otherwise. There were, for example, the Nazi flags a resident at the St. George Apartments in Downtown Santa Cruz hung in his window in late November.

“The father of one of the people in our community came to visit and was shopping downtown with his daughter,” Rabbi Litvak recalls. “He is a Holocaust survivor. He saw those flags, and it was just so offensive and so hurtful to him, and to other people in the community.”

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Local News

Homecare Workers Fight for Funding

Homecare Workers Fight for Funding

Wage reductions may threaten vulnerable clients

One of Julee Costanza’s clients says she would rather be back on the streets than in an assisted living facility.

“She lives in a small one-room apartment now, but she was homeless for a period of time,” explains Costanza, a Santa Cruz-based homecare worker.  “Even though she might not make it on the streets, she keeps saying she would rather go that route than move into a nursing home.”

It’s possible that if state budget changes are approved, 2,000 disabled Santa Cruz residents will loose their homecare workers—domestic aids that clean, give baths, and make sure pills are taken at the right time within the comforts of the client’s home. In the 2010 budget, Gov. Schwarzenegger altered enrollment criteria for In Home Support Services (IHSS), a program that allows low-income elders and disabled patients to remain in their own homes with assistance.

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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