Looking around the orientation for nonprofits participating in Santa Cruz Gives recently, I got a really good feeling. I always love the buzz of energy at these introductory meetings. The staffers who attend have put time and energy into getting accepted to our holiday giving campaign, and they know they’re embarking on something that could be a huge boost for their groups. These are dedicated people who are out there every day working to improve the lives of local families, kids, seniors, animals—basically all the lives in our community, if you consider the whole range of causes represented. They’re generally understaffed and underfunded, and fighting an uphill battle for progress. Santa Cruz Gives, with your help, levels the playing field.
Perhaps the energy this year was even more palpable because we’ve accepted more groups than ever before into the program for this holiday season. Read about all of them in this week’s cover story, and support what inspires you. I guarantee something in there will—very likely many things. As we kick off Santa Cruz Gives, I have a feeling this will be our biggest year yet, and I’ll hope you’ll be a part of it.
In other news, I’ll be in conversation with Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Rio about his new memoir, Acid for the Children. Hope to see you there!
Letters to the Editor
Re: “Commission Granted” (GT, 10/2): A city commission should not take sides in workplace disputes, especially ones inside the city government they serve. Recent public declarations by CPVAW (Commission for the Prevention of Violence Against Women) overtly supported those in favor of the recall, even though members claimed it was not their intention to influence this controversial action. As a member of the CPVAW and a life-long activist working to end sexual violence, I want to apologize for our commission’s involvement in this divisive, partisan battle.
Santa Cruz United, the group behind the recall effort, used quotes by CPVAW Chair Kevin Grossman to lead their full-page Sentinel ad, Sunday Oct. 6. The ad implies that CPVAW fully supports the recall effort, as well as the ad’s unwarranted accusations of sexual abuse, silencing victims, and sexism by the two council members. According to Chair Grossman, SC United used his comments without his permission or knowledge. Grossman continues to assert that his participation in multiple media events had nothing to do with the recall. However, his comments were delivered to the media just weeks before a crucial deadline when SC United needed more petition signatures, and resorted to using our acting chair Kevin Grossman’s quotes and the CPVAW’s title to fan their flames of lies and misinformation.
The Rose Report, an independent investigation into allegations by city employees and other council members, found no substantiated instances of sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination. Even so, sexually inflammatory language was repeated by CPVAW, city staff, and those promoting the recall. “Start by Believing” is a slogan created solely for individuals who have been sexually assaulted. Its use by CPVAW suggests the public should question the results of an extensive independent report in defense of city employees. It’s not surprising that some recall petitioners at UCSC claimed these councilmen had been convicted of sexual assault as a means to bring in more signatures, and to collect more cash for each name gathered.
CPVAW’s mission is to prevent sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence. I very much regret that Santa Cruz voters have been led to believe that the two council members in question engaged in any form of sexual abuse. False accusations of sexual abuse and silencing victims set a very dangerous precedent. This misinformation works to create an environment where actual cases of sexual assault are much more likely to be disbelieved. Everyone loses when this happens. Let’s all start by believing and reading the results of the city’s investigation into workplace difficulties, help CPVAW get back to its mission to prevent sexual violence, and vote NO on all recall efforts.
Ann Simonton | CPVAW Commissioner
Re: “Flak to School” (GT, 10/9): I have a dream in which the leaders of our city and county actually solve the problem of homeless and addicted people living on the streets. The street is not a place to call home, and no more studying of the problem is needed, btw. They, along with other city and county service providers, partner with the health care corporation who owns the drive-in property, to create a safe, medically-centered place for the homeless to live and get sober. With access to trained medical staff and cooperation from city and county partners, access is granted only with agreement to enter the recovery program, where human care is the mission. This model could be the leader in the solution to end (or reduce) the drug addicted homeless problem nationwide. The controversial needle-exchange program, which should be monitored by medical professionals only, could be managed through this facility thereby keeping the public safe. The only way to end homelessness is to provide the homeless help and a place to go. Shuffling them around the street, parks, forests is not a solution.
Due to an editing error, we used an incorrect pronoun to refer to Jesse James in last week’s news section (“Buy the Numbers,” 11/16/19). We apologize to them and regret the error.