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Apr 17th
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Town Hall with Supervisor John Leopold

John_LeopoldSThere are major changes coming with state prison realignment. How will it affect our county and what can people do to remain informed?

The recently passed state budget includes AB 109, called “prison realignment,” which will shift the responsibility for managing some offenders away from the state prison system to the county level. It requires that individuals convicted of non-violent, non-sexual, non-serious offenses who previously would have gone to state prison if sentenced to more than one year, will now serve their time in county jail for up to three years. State prisoners will not be sent back to county jails, but newly convicted offenders will only go to prison if sentenced to more than three years.

California state prisons now hold twice as many prisoners as they were designed to house. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the State of California must reduce the prison population by roughly 40,000 inmates in two years due to inhumane conditions resulting from severe overcrowding. Prison realignment is expected to go a long way toward meeting this mandate. State prisons gave up on rehabilitation years ago so we have an opportunity to use evidence-based practices to manage our local jail population, reduce recidivism and strengthen public safety. A Community Corrections Partnership has been created and the Board of Supervisors will approve their plan for effectively using newly released funds to divert minor offenders from the county jail, support successful rehabilitation programs, and implement alternative sentencing methods.

I have joined a coalition of justice practitioners, academics and elected officials to engage the public in considering these changes. Smart on Crime Santa Cruz held its first public event last May in Live Oak with more than 250 people in attendance. The next forum will be held in Watsonville on Sept. 26, 2011. To stay informed, look up “Smart on Crime” on Facebook or send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to be added to the email list.

The county recently announced the closure of the Buena Vista Landfill on Sundays—a day which already sees the closure of the Davenport Landfill and the Ben Lomond Transfer Center. What are the Board’s concerns about this decision, which was proposed by Public Works, and how will they be addressed?

This year the county had to make nearly $15 million in cuts to our general fund. In addition, lower revenues from our landfill operations necessitated cutbacks to services at the county’s Buena Vista Landfill and the Transfer Center in Ben Lomond. During budget deliberations, the board asked for a report back on the possibility of closing the landfill on a day different than the City of Santa Cruz’s landfill in order to give people a chance to dispose of their waste elsewhere when one facility is closed. Concerns were expressed about people leaving their garbage at the landfill anyway if they find it closed, creating a pollution problem. Public Works will come back to the board in the coming months with an update and to determine what the impact has been on operations. This inconvenience is just one service that is lost when the public sector shrinks.

In light of several recent bicyclist deaths, what is the county doing to address or improve bicycle safety?

During budget hearings, the county’s Public Works [Department] proposed cutting $150,000 from the budget that was designated for maintenance of bike lanes in the unincorporated areas. Coming on the heels of two bicycle deaths, the board was not willing to make those cuts and voted unanimously to restore the funding. The county is also working hard to keep its Community Traffic Coalition work going; this program will be reduced but will still be available. As a member of the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) I led the effort to maintain funding for bike programs including Bike to Work activities, Community Traffic Coalition and the bike signage program. The RTC will be working on the Monterey Scenic Trail in the coming year that is designed to create safe routes for biking and walking along the Monterey Bay Sanctuary and will begin work planning the much anticipated rail trail along the railroad corridor.

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Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

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.
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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

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

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.