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Apr 27th
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Santa Cruz Area News

News - Local News

Deductive Reasoning

Deductive Reasoning

Volunteers help locals maximize tax discounts

Waiting a couple of hours for free help with filing taxes feels like getting paid $400 for a half day's work, says Shadowbrook restaurant server Glen Wunderling, 55.

“This is a great service because it's always good to have a second eye look over the forms,” Wunderling says. “It can get really confusing with all the legal and tax code changes.”

Wunderling is one of 3,700 Santa Cruz County taxpayers who, according to the IRS, collectively overpay between $6 and $8 million in taxes every year because they don't claim deductions and rebates they are eligible for. Wunderling says he failed to claim his Making Work Pay tax rebate in 2009—part of President Barack Obama's stimulus plan. That is why he was waiting for a volunteer tax preparer from Project Senior Citizen Outreach (Project Scout)’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at the Aptos Public Library on March 22.

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News - Local News

A Voice Renewed

A Voice Renewed

Cabrillo journalism department avoids possible elimination

Room 407 may look like an ordinary classroom at first glance, but a wooden sign swinging above the glass door sets it apart from any other room on the Cabrillo College campus. “The Cabrillo Voice,” the sign reads, signifying the room as the home of the school’s student-run newspaper.

Inside, students bustle about, craning at computer screens and making suggestions as they periodically stop to pet Riley, the standard poodle that is just as much a fixture of the room as the newspapers strewn about.

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News - Local News

Grappling with Growth

Grappling with Growth

Expansion of Watsonville sparks new and long-standing issues

Watsonville City Councilmember Daniel Dodge may have opened a can of worms with a recent editorial published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Jan. 29. 

His piece proposed that the City of Watsonville annex a property known as Sakata-Kett for large retail development and mentioned Costco as a possible tenant.  He says this would help create jobs outside of the agricultural industry for a city whose unemployment rate has hovered around 25 percent since 2008.

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News - Local News

Getting Physical

Getting Physical

Nonprofit partners with U.S. Paralympics to provide disabled locals with more adventures

At 17 years old, Foster Andersen loved skiing, playing ice hockey, and listening to the Grateful Dead. He thrived outdoors and enjoyed trying new activities.

So, when he broke his neck in a motorcycle accident, his whole life changed.

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News - Local News

Hatching a Lawsuit

Hatching a Lawsuit

Litigants say DA’s office is withholding documents in animal cruelty lawsuit

The video footage taken inside of local Cal-Cruz Hatcheries, Inc. in 2009 shows the mutilated bodies of dead or dying chicks and ducklings that lay trapped beneath processing machinery, newly hatched chicks with open bloody wounds, exposed organs, and mutilated feet and legs gasping for air in bins, and workers tossing baby birds into a bucket of liquid waste where they struggle to escape before drowning. The footage also depicts workers dumping unwanted hatchlings by the bucket-load into an eggshell disposal chute and forced, alive, down a clogged drain with a pole and high-powered hose.

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News - Local News

The Crisis Continues…

The Crisis Continues…

Foreclosures may increase in 2012

Despite the nationwide legal settlement announced last month between 49 state attorney generals and major banks over fraudulent foreclosure practices, and despite a downward trend in the number of homes entering the foreclosure process both locally and statewide compared to this time last year, the damage done by the collapse of the housing market continues in Santa Cruz County. More than 100 Notices of Default and 120 Notices of Sale are issued (on average) by banks each month.

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News - Local News

Education Occupied

Education Occupied

Protestors and allies discuss the future of public education

The California legislature adopted the Master Plan for Higher Education in 1960 with the primary purpose of ensuring the accessibility, affordability, and accountability of higher education for all eligible California residents with a high school diploma.

Marilyn Walker, member of the UC Santa Cruz Academic Senate and professor of computer science, says she is seriously concerned that the master plan for education is in danger of “going down the tubes.”

In the last two years, the state has incrementally decreased the budget for public education systems, from K-12 through higher education, in response to a statewide budget crisis. With revenues more than $2.2 billion below projections in December 2011, California Gov. Jerry Brown said the state has to cut another $1 billion in spending this year. The California State University and University of California systems each lost $750 million in state funding in the 2011-12 academic year and further cuts are pending.

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News - Local News

Open-Source Democracy

Open-Source Democracy

Hackers try to help the city communicate

Rob Mylls was waiting for planning department signatures on a building permit when City Councilmember Hilary Bryant attended the grand opening of his gym, Bike Dojo, in February 2011.

The dual high and low water fountains required by the second agency to review his remodel were already installed.  The planning department had told him a single low-standing fountain was adequate to meet handicap accessibility requirements. The city, however, outsourced those overseeing duties to a group in San Jose that had different standards, according to Mylls. He was ready to open shop, but still waiting for final signatures on the permits. A planning department official noticed the grand opening and delivered the signed permit within days.

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News - Local News

‘Spring’ into Action

‘Spring’ into Action

Local orgs push ways to help after the holiday-giving rush

The war against hunger is at its peak in the first three months of the year, says Danny Keith, chief development and technology officer at Second Harvest Food Bank Of Santa Cruz (SHFB). He says donations to SHFB “atrophy” between January and March, as the press coverage received during its holiday food drives dies down.

“After the holiday period everybody goes through this retraction,” says Keith. “I don't think it's intended. It is more of a reflection of how the economy has been built for the last hundred years. January, February, [and] March is hard for everyone.” But as giving slows down and the weather gets warmer, hunger doesn't retreat.

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News - Local News

Shift Happens

Shift Happens

The woman behind Santa Cruz County’s lauded maneuvering of prison realignment

Santa Cruz County, and its longtime chief administrative officer Susan Mauriello, in particular, has received statewide recognition for its effective response to state-mandated requirements for prison realignment. Last year, Mauriello spent a good deal of time in Sacramento explaining to CAOs, sheriffs and chief probation officers from other counties how Santa Cruz County has managed to reduce county incarceration rates, save tax dollars and improve public safety in the process. They’ve looked to her for advice on how they, too, can meet the challenges of the new state law, AB 109, also known as the “Public Safety Realignment Act.”  

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We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Dark Magic

40 years on the movie beat in Santa Cruz
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Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

If you could live in Santa Cruz in any era besides now, which would you choose?

Probably the ’70s, because Santa Cruz is such a fly-your-freak-flag place. That was when free love and hippiness was in vogue. Shane Reber, Santa Cruz, Caretaker

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise