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Jan 28th
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Santa Cruz Area News

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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News - Local News

Insuring the Future

Insuring the Future

Local health program strives to insure county children

Katy Boriack was on maternity leave when she learned that she could not afford to add her newborn son, Ayden, to her health insurance plan. Doing so would increase her monthly payments by more than 400 percent—an impossible cost to absorb—yet her income level exceeded the cut-off for the state’s need-based health plans.

“It is so stressful when you’re working full-time, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, and you still can’t provide for the health and well-being of your child,” says Boriack.

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Force of Nature

Santa Cruz’s Carlie Statsky brings her love of the natural world to the hyper-personal art of wedding photography

 

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

The magical time of Mercury’s retrograde cycle is here once again, until Feb. 11, and then some. The Mercury retro cycle actually lasts eight weeks when we consider its retrograde shadow, giving us six months a year for review. We know the rules of Mercury retro: Be careful with everything; cars, driving, money, resources, friends, friendships, groups, interactions, thinking, talking, communications. Avoid big purchases, important meetings and important repairs. Mercury retrograde times are for review, reassessment and rest. Our minds are overloaded from the last Mercury retro. Our minds need to assess what we’ve done since October—eliminating what is not needed, keeping what’s important, preparing for new information in the next three months (till mid-May). Mercury in Aquarius retrograde … we reinvent ourselves, seek the unusual, we don’t hide, we’re just careful. We live in two worlds; outer appearances and inner reckonings, with both sides of our brain activated. Yet, like the light of the Gemini twins, one light waxes (inner world), the other (outer realities) wanes. Like Virgo, we see what’s been overlooked—assessing, ordering and organizing information. It’s an entirely inner process. When speaking we may utter only half of the sentence. We’re in the underworld, closer to Spirit, eyes unseeing, senses alerted, re-doing things over and over till we sometimes collapse. Because we’re in other realms, we’re wobbly, make mistakes, and don’t really know what we want. It’s not a time for decisions. Not yet. It’s a time of review. And completing things. Mercury retro: integration, slowing down, resolution, rapprochement.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of January 23

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Bye Bye Benten!

Benten closing, plus Award-winning gin, a massive burrito and chocolate review

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Scanning the shelves of Deluxe Foods of Aptos, which carries an impressive selection of local and imported wines, I picked up a bottle of Trout Gulch Vineyards Chardonnay 2012, described as “a local favorite” by the busy market.

 

Cremer House

What’s old is cutting-edge again in Felton

 

How are you going to make a tangible difference in your community this year?

Spread more kindness and compassion.