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Town Hall

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Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte has chosen to honor you as one of their 2011 “Voices for Change”—dubbing you the “Voice for Freedom.” What are the biggest obstacles facing Panned Parenthood today, and how are you working to address them?

I am honored and humbled to be recognized by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, and I am equally proud of the work we have done to protect issues of women’s health. But as the last few weeks have shown us, there is still much work to do.

Hidden behind straw man arguments, Republicans have launched a full-on assault on Planned Parenthood and women’s health. They have armed themselves with misguided rhetoric and false information—citing the opposition to the use of federal funds for abortions as the base for cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood. But in reality, not one penny of federal funding is used for abortions. For that reason, I voiced strong opposition to Republican attempts to drag Planned Parenthood and women’s health into a debate about fiscal responsibility.

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News - Town Hall

Assemblyman Bill Monning

Assemblyman Bill Monning

What options does the legislature have in terms of the state’s budget now that the June ballot measure has faded as a possibility?
In January, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget to address the estimated $25.8 billion deficit with $12.5 billion in extremely difficult cuts and a five year revenue package that would require voter approval in a special election this June. In order to place this revenue extension on the June ballot, a two-third vote of the legislature was required by the end of March.

My Democratic colleagues and I have been supporting the governor’s efforts to let the voters decide if revenues should be part of a budget deficit solution. Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues were unwilling to work with the governor to place this issue before the voters. 

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News - Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

What were your feelings when the U.S. entered into the military action in Libya? Would you consider it “war,” and, if so, what does it mean that the decision was not approved by congress?

There has been much debate, and equal amounts of confusion, about what the U.S. military intervention in Libya means. But no matter what you decide to call our involvement or how you define it—military intervention endangers the lives of our brave men and women in uniform and that of civilians on the ground. And, sadly, too often the inevitable outcome is that innocent people are killed and injured.

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News - Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Last week the legislature began voting on the governor’s 2011-12 Budget but was unable to secure the votes necessary to pass the entire package.  What is the status of budget negotiations and what are the next steps?

As this column goes to press, the governor is still working diligently to obtain the votes necessary to enact his proposed 2011-12 State Budget.  The governor’s proposal seeks to balance a budget facing an estimated $26 billion deficit. The solutions include spending reductions in almost every area of the state budget and the realignment of local government services.

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News - 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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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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
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Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

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Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

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