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Oct 09th
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Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning


You recently honored Santa Cruz resident Eda Lew Balsam at the State Assembly’s Holocaust Survivor Memorial event. What led to your selection of Ms. Balsam?

Ms. Eda Lew Balsam is a longtime resident of Santa Cruz County whose harrowing journey began in Antwerp, Belgium when she was just 12 years old. At the time of the Nazi occupation, Eda’s family fled to the United Kingdom, but was forced to return to Belgium where there was a growing threat of imprisonment and death. Eda’s family subsequently traveled to Paris where they were subject to the threats made by the Vichy government, but were fortunately hidden by a non-Jewish family.

Their flight took them on to Spain, through Cuba, and finally to New York City, via Florida. In 1989, Eda moved to Santa Cruz and has written a book about her experiences entitled Escape from Antwerp.

On April 19, 2010, Eda visited the Capitol with her son, David, where she was recognized and honored in the Assembly Chambers with other holocaust survivors and WWII veteran liberators. The ceremonies were powerful as many voiced the historic and moral imperative to “never forget” the crimes of Hitler that gave rise to the term genocide in the wake of the extermination of over 6 million Jewish people. 

The State Legislature has declared May as “Mental Health Awareness Month.” As the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, what significance does this issue have for you and your committee?

Mental health issues impact all communities and all demographics. The man you see talking to himself on Pacific Avenue is only one of thousands who are suffering from this painful disease.  Currently there are 3,557 people who regularly receive mental health services from Santa Cruz County.

A majority of the most seriously mentally ill patients are covered by Medi-Cal, but more needs to be done. The Assembly Committee on Health, which I chair, recently passed out Assembly Bill (AB) 1600, authored by Assemblymember Jim Beall, which would require insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment at parity with other medical conditions. Additionally, the committee passed AB 2234, authored by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, which would increase the provision of mental health treatment and services to older adults.

The stigma of mental illness has prevented communities and the government from affording full coverage and protection for individuals and families afflicted with mental health issues. Building and protecting a network of mental health services, housing, and employment opportunities for individuals is critical to the overall health of our communities. I encourage everyone to learn more about mental illness and the services that are available to treat and employ those afflicted with this disease.

PQ: Mental health issues impact all communities and all demographics. The man you see talking to himself on Pacific Avenue is only one of thousands who are suffering from this painful disease.  Currently there are 3,557 people who regularly receive mental health services from Santa Cruz County.

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Mercury completes its retrograde Friday, poised stationary direct Friday evening at zero degrees Libra. Mercury begins its journey through Libra once again, completing its retrograde shadow Oct. 12. Things should be a bit less complicated by then. Daily life works better, plans move forward, large purchases can be made, and communication eases. Everything on hold during the retrograde is slowly released. Since we eliminated all thoughts and ideas no longer needed (the purpose of Mercury’s retrograde) during the retrograde, we can now gather new information—until the next retrograde occurs on Jan. 5, 2016 (1.3 degrees Aquarius), retrograding back to 15 degrees Capricorn on Jan. 25. It’s good to know beforehand when Mercury will retrograde next—Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany. On Monday is Columbus Day, when the sailor from Genoa arrived in the new lands (Americas), Oct. 12, 1492. This discovery by Columbus was the first encounter of Europeans with Native Americans. Other names for this day are “Discovery Day, Day of the Americas, Cultural Diversity Day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Dia de la Raza.” Italian communities especially celebrate this day. Oct. 12 is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Monday is also the (19 degrees) Libra new moon festival. Libra’s keynote while building the personality is, “Let choice be made.” Libra is the sign of making life choices. Often under great tension of opposing forces seeking harmony and balance. There is a battle between our lower (personality) and higher selves (soul). We are tested and called to cultivate right judgment and love. When we align with the will-to-good, right choice, then right judgment and love/wisdom come forth. Our tasks in Libra. 


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