The 2011 Community Assessment Project Report was released in November, examining various quality of life indicators in the county. What stood out to you as areas we excel in, and what struck you as areas we need to most work on?
The realignment of state prisoners to county jails began in october—how does Santa Cruz County’s handling of the shift compare to in other parts of the state?
While I am not familiar with what every county in the state is doing with regard to implementing public safety realignment, I can definitively state that based on what I have seen and heard from community members, Santa Cruz County is doing a good job and should be commended on the innovative open process it has established to administer realignment.
The county has been a pioneer in developing successful community based alternatives to incarceration for non-violent juvenile offenders and is working to duplicate some of these successes with the adult incarcerated population. In addition, local law enforcement has partnered with the County Office of Education to establish the Broad-based Apprehension Suppression Treatment and Alternatives (BASTA) Program. The BASTA Program is a committee of community groups that are working together to develop a curriculum for offenders that includes education as an alternative to incarceration.
You recently signed a letter, along with six other congressional representatives, to President Barack Obama questioning the federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries. What was your message for the president? What do you hope he will do in this regard?
Our message is simple: President Obama has the opportunity and authority to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule II or III drug administratively, or he can support the adoption of legislation that would change federal stature to achieve the same goal.
There is never a dull day in local politics nor a day that goes by that I am not thankful and thrilled to be the South County representative on the Board of Supervisors. In addition to staying closely attentive to all happenings with the Pájaro River and its upcoming Bench Excavation, there are a number of projects that my office is working on. The two that I would like to highlight today relate to my stance on the county’s involvement in the Secure Communities program and my initiative to set a county-wide goal of planting 25,000 trees in Santa Cruz County.
Secure Communities is a federal program administered by the Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division. The program was announced to the public in 2009 and advertised as an effective way to deport serious and violent criminal immigrants. Under the program, when someone is arrested for a crime, their fingerprints are scanned and sent to ICE. Upon finding a match in their system, which usually means that the person in question has been previously caught crossing the border, ICE then submits a detainer request in which the individual in question is detained for a 48-hour period.
The Downtown Association has asked city council to consider changing traffic patterns on three blocks of Pacific Avenue and two feeder streets to allow for a less convoluted and more welcoming navigation to and around downtown.
With a plethora of downtown issues to focus on, a struggling national economy and increased vacancies, why would this be a priority, especially now as we enter into the busiest retail season of the year?
Earlier this year, the City of Santa Cruz engaged the services of Robert Gibbs, a well-known retail consultant, to assess the city’s economic centers and make recommendations as to how to increase the retail capacity, thereby strengthening the local economy.