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Nov 22nd
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Town Hall with Supervisor John Leopold

John LeopoldSThe 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?

In a country where health insurance issues are debated, demagogued and seemingly irresolvable, I think we can all be proud of how our community has rallied to build an effective health insurance system that has resulted in 97 percent of our children being covered by some form of insurance. The community, local business and the county has contributed to the creation of Healthy Kids, which works to insure every child under 18 in Santa Cruz County. This is critically important because we know that getting kids off to a healthy start in life will likely lead to better health outcomes throughout their lives. We are fortunate to have an organization like the Health Improvement Partnership in our county, which manages this program and works with all of our safety net clinics to provide an effective continuum of care for so many people.

It is disturbing to see some of the crime statistics detailed in the report. We need to strengthen programs that address the core issues of anti-social behavior, substance abuse, family dysfunction and lack of education, employment or employment skills. Recently Smart on Crime Santa Cruz County held a successful forum attended by more than 200 people who heard about the struggles of former offenders and the drive to turn lives around which ultimately leads to better public safety. We also heard about innovative efforts in our neighboring county of San Benito that engages the community is determining accountability for offenders. Working together in our community we can support services that use evidence based practices to ensure that we break the cycle of recidivism that our current justice system has proven ineffective in addressing.

The Santa Cruz outpost of Occupy Wall Street had been going strong at the County Courthouse since October. What was your take on it?

From my office window I watched this movement grow. It is an amazing coalition of young and old, housed and homeless, employed and unemployed—a diverse representation of our community. They have formed in solidarity with the worldwide “Occupy” movement and are working to represent many in our county who are suffering as a result of the economic collapse in 2008.

The Board of Supervisors recently heard startling statistics about the local impact of what has become known as the Great Recession/Lesser Depression: one in five county residents is on some form of public assistance; 4,500 homes have been foreclosed since 2008; and unemployment is stubbornly high at 10 percent countywide and more than twice as high in South County at 22 percent.

Perhaps like any movement, protesters are being criticized. Occupiers are being criticized for not having a list of demands, off-shoot groups have engaged in illegal activities and much discussion has been focused on problems that have emerged during this movement, including their sleeping arrangements, health concerns, and unacceptable behavior. While these are indeed legitimate concerns that must be addressed, it is also important to recognize what the “Occupy” movement has highlighted. There is a growing national debate about inequality, people are moving their money away from financial institutions that do not represent their interests, and many are questioning tactics used against peaceful demonstrators. This is all healthy in a democracy. It is important to recognize the significant contributions that the “Occupy” movement has made to public discourse.

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written by SMiranda, December 22, 2011
I grew up in Los Angeles in the 1950's and '60s and studies proved over and over again that jobs programs brought gang participation and violence down and when those programs lost funds, violence escalated. I wish we could come up with paying public works projects for young men and women who are at risk. Our green spaces and waterways have become dumping grounds for trash. Let's pay these young people to maintain them.,

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Saturday, early morning, the sun enters and radiates the light of Sagittarius. Three hours later, the Sagittarius new moon (0.07 degrees) occurs. “Let food be sought,” is the personality-building keynote. “Food” means experiences; all kinds, levels and types. It also means real food. Sag’s secret is their love of food. Many, if not musicians, are chefs. Some are both. The energies shift from Scorpio’s deep and transformative waters to the “hills and plains of Sagittarius.” Sag is the rider on a white horse, eyes focused on the mountain peaks of Capricorn (Initiation) ahead. Like Scorpio, Sagittarius is also the “disciple.” Adventure, luck, optimism, joy and the beginnings of gratitude are the hallmarks of Sagittarius. Sag is also one of the signs of silence. The battle lines were drawn in Libra and we were asked to choose where we stood. The Nine Tests were given in Scorpio and we emerged “warriors triumphant.” Now in Sag, we are to be the One-Pointed Disciple, riding over the plains on a white horse, bow and arrows in hand, eyes focused on the Path of Return ahead. Sagittarians are one-pointed (symbol of the arrow). Sag asks, “What is my life’s purpose?” This is their quest, from valleys, plains, meadows and hills, eyes aimed always at the mountaintop. Sag emerges from Scorpio’s deep waters, conflict and tests into the open air. Sag’s quest is humanity’s quest. Sag’s quest, however, is always accompanied by music and good food.

 

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