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Apr 16th
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Santa Cruz Area News

News - 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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News - 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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News - Local News

A Salty Situation

A Salty Situation

Desalination plant raises questions about water conservation potential

The rain gutter in Rick Longinotti’s backyard descends underground, carrying roof water to an underground storage cistern.

“It didn’t cost anything but sweat and muscle,” says Longinotti, a local environmentalist, founder of Transition Santa Cruz and member of bicycle advocacy group People Power. He believes conservation efforts could make the Santa Cruz Water District’s desalination plant obsolete—perhaps even before it’s built.

The planned plant will pull five million gallons of seawater from the Monterey Bay each day, using reverse osmosis to produce 2.5 million gallons of drinkable water. The remaining brine will be trucked to a water plant, diluted with treated wastewater, and released into the Bay. 

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News - Local News

Pink is Passé

Pink is Passé

Robert Steffen starts a brand new walk—directly toward a city council seat

Robert Steffen is looking to prove he can talk the talk, not just walk the (very slow) walk. Two years after Steffen, the prominent downtown Santa Cruz character formerly known as “The Pink Umbrella Man,” put away his parasol and pink clothing and ceased walking ever so slowly from one end of Pacific Avenue to the other, he’s announcing a run for Santa Cruz City Council in November.

“There are a lot of local ordinances that I think are completely wrong,” Steffen says. In fact, he hopes to repeal an array of local ordinances, such as those that prohibit panhandlers from being within 14 feet of building entrances, open-air cafés or crosswalks, and 50 feet from any bank or ATM. Steffen calls his political position a “progressive platform very strongly based in humanitarian ideals.”

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News - Local News

Changes in Language

Changes in Language

UCSC’s linguistics department answers old questions with new methods

What is a question? How do you ask one? How do you answer?

These are some of the many queries UC Santa Cruz’s linguistics department is trying to solve and they are using some innovative techniques to get at the answers.

“This is an exciting time in the field [of linguistics],” says Jim McCloskey, chair of the department. “The field is changing fast. The basic questions remain the same … but the methods are changing.”

Until recently, the focus in linguistics research was on informal methods, generally one-on-one talks with a native speaker, asking them questions about the language. Now the focus is shifting toward more large-scale, quantitative, and laboratory-based studies—methodologies more akin to those of the “hard” sciences. UCSC is unique in that it integrates both techniques.

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News - Local News

South County Man

South County Man

Watsonville’s mayor opens up about his hometown, pressing issues and running for state assembly

Meet Luis Alejo, mayor of Watsonville, holder of several degrees, hometown role model, and now a contender for the 2010 race for the 28th State Assembly District. Born and raised in Watsonville, Alejo left to obtain an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, a master’s in education from Harvard, and a law degree from UC Davis. Since returning home from his academic ventures, he works as a staff attorney with the Monterey County Superior Court. A new member of the Watsonville City Council, Alejo has also decided to shoot for a seat on the California State Assembly and has received endorsements from many local leaders, including the Santa Cruz City Council and Board of Supervisors.

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News - Local News

Santa Cruz Learns Self-Defense

Santa Cruz Learns Self-Defense

One local instructor talks about the psychology of an attacker, and what to do (and what not to do) if you're assaulted

It's easy to see why Leonie Sherman is a good self-defense instructor. She carries herself with a confidence and a sort of bottled intensity that's apparent even as she sits calmly at a table outside Lulu Carpenter’s on a crystalline winter morning. The strength she radiates isn't automatic, however, nor is it accidental, and for years she's worked in Santa Cruz to show would-be victims how they too can find their inner strength.

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News - Local News

Keeping Up With Change

Keeping Up With Change

Local surfer’s activism video continues to make a splash

By Nick Veronin At the beginning of last summer, Kyle Thiermann was already enjoying above average notoriety. The 19-year-old Santa Cruz native is a professional surfer, sponsored by local and national brands. These days, however, he finds himself being stopped on the street for another reason altogether—getting people to switch banks.

“I’ve been recognized before,” Thiermann says. “[But] I’m constantly getting people who now recognize me.”

Back in early July, Thiermann put together a simple Wordpress website and posted a video to YouTube as part of a school project aimed at bringing awareness to a relatively obscure controversy brewing in Constitución, Chile. The focus of Thiermann’s video was a proposed coal-fired power plant, funded in part by Bank of America, which threatened to upset the livelihood of the local community and contaminate the waves just offshore. In the short film, the young wave-rider urged viewers to bank locally. By doing so, individuals would ensure that their money wouldn’t be leveraged to fund projects such as the Constitución plant and would instead likely find its way back into the local community.

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News - Local News

Drug Me, Please

Drug Me, Please

Some local medical practitioners want to cure Santa Cruz of its prescription drug habit

Is Santa Cruz County one of the most drugged counties in the United States? Some might quickly reply with a yes. But it’s not for the reason you might think.

According to the Santa Cruz County Community Assessment Project Comprehensive Report for 2009, in the past 12 months, 9.2 percent of adults in Santa Cruz County have taken prescription medication for mental health or emotional problems almost daily for two weeks or more. This fact has some local medical practitioners asking: What are the consequences of having a significant portion of the population reliant on psychiatric drugs?

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News - Local News

She Walks the Walk

She Walks the Walk

A 91-year-old Capitola woman has walked more than 12,000 miles in the Senior Mall Walk program

In the early 1970s, an Australian schoolteacher named Dave Kunst became the first verified man to walk across the world. He wore out 21 pairs of shoes, walked across four continents and 13 countries, and covered a total of 14,450 miles.

In the early 1990s, a retired Capitola woman named Jean Moorhead began walking at the Capitola Mall every weekday morning. She has walked around the inside of the mall nearly 4,900 times and covered more than 12,000 miles since. She is now 91-years-old and entering her 20th year as a mall walker.

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Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
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Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.