Plus Letters to the Editor &
American Idol: The Durb Watch
Capturing the world’s most notorious criminal. Where do you go from there? At the moment, I’m not sure that’s a real issue. After a stunning announcement Sunday night by President Barack Obama that Osama bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan, confidence in the President has shot high (to say the least) but the emotional ripple effects of a bin Laden-less world are still playing out.
After nearly 10 years—more actually—of having the mystique of Osama “out there,” and having endured Bush’s propaganda of fear, it’s clear we’ve entered a new era. We just do not know what that is yet, but for now … May has certainly arrived with quite the bang. (Send us your thoughts on all this at email@example.com.)
The month is full of events and unravelings, but taking center stage is the Santa Cruz Film Festival. This year, more than 160 films representing 33 countries, including 67 that were produced by Santa Cruz/Monterey local filmmakers, all come to life on screen. It’s the 10th year for the festival, so expect a great slew of parties, panel discussions and other events. It all ties into this week’s cover story, too, which focuses on local filmmaker Rocky Romano and his riveting documenary Ruffo. The film chronicles surf legend Anthony Ruffo’s life challenges and illuminates the dangers of drug addiction, among other things. It’s a very “human” story and it plays on closing night of the festival (May 14). Dive into the cover story to learn more. In the meantime, check out this week’s insert, which includes the Film Festival program and all the 411 you’ll need to know about the festival. (Turn to the film section this week, too, for another film fest spotlight.) See you at the movies.
Also inserted in this week’s paper is the First Friday program. This month, the First Friday Art Tour (May 6) promises to be quite the event. There are too many noteworthy happenings unraveling, so take the time to peruse the program—you’ll find it right in the middle of the Film Fest program. See you among the art.
Thanks for reading …
Greg Archer | Editor-in-Chief
Letters to the Editor
SmartMeter: Not So Smart?
Regarding the SmartMeter and some of the articles you ran, PG&E has announced that customers objecting to SmartMeters based on health concerns can “opt out” by paying a fee up front, along with an additional monthly charge. While the health hazards associated with SmartMeters’ microwave radiation should be enough to stop their implementation outright, there is a bigger hazard associated with PG&E’s pushing these devices on their customers.
Microwave “wireless” signals from a variety of sources saturate us in our neighborhoods and business districts, but Smart Meters pry into our private lives. A Smart Meter gives utility companies a window into our homes, monitoring use of utilities throughout the day. Whereas the older meters merely show how much gas or electricity a customer used in a given amount of time, a SmartMeter will show, for example, that a customer used “x amount” of electricity at 11 a.m., then a lot more at 12 p.m., and then a lot of gas at 1 p.m.
New “Energy Star” appliances will allow the utility company to, by way of the SmartMeter, determine that the customer in question turned on her washing machine at noon, and her dryer at 1 o’clock. The SmartMeter will also allow the utility company to say, “Sorry, you can’t do that during peak consumption hours,” and simply shut off the offending appliance. The potential for unconstitutional intrusions will only grow as more sophisticated technology is developed. Detailed data about our utility use can reveal a great deal about us, and the potential for abuse of this information is enormous.
It’s none of PG&E’s business when I turn on a light, or wash my clothes. If I use utilities at peak times, perhaps I should pay more for them, but nobody should be able to just switch me off. Educate customers in sensible use of resources, and we can make our own decisions instead of inviting Big Brother into our homes. Please contact PG&E and tell them that paying extra for a meter that doesn’t bathe us in microwaves is not an adequate “opt out” option, and that SmartMeters have to go.
Vacation Rental Redux
I read that his fellow supervisors dutifully exhibited “professional” courtesy (in lieu of any leadership or political change) by allowing 1st District Supervisor John Leopold to create unnecssary, unenforceable and Big Brother type regulations for vacation rentals, contingent upon the other four districts being exempt from most of the nonsense. The published investigation that identified only 24 police reports over two years for vacation units with noise and other problems is a revealing fact.
John seemingly likes to take out a bazooka when only a fly swatter is needed. To put his actions into perspective: there are 550 vacation rentals paying taxes and likely a couple hundred that are not. Estimating a meager 66 percent annual occupancy, that equates to a vacation rental “problem”? Or just 12 per the 180,000 vacation rental days over an entire year. On the other hand, it’s very likely that 12 reports of problems on Pacific Mall are reported daily.
Harding D. McCrat
GT inadvertently published the wrong phone number in last week’s Best Of issue for San Lorenzo Floors, Abbey Carpet, winner for the Best Flooring Company. The correct phone number is 831-461-1300. GT also wishes to acknowledge that an error was made in runners-up for Best Photographer and Best Psychic. The correct runner-up for Photography was Sylvia Valentine Photography. The correct runner-up for Psychic was Santa Cruz Psychic Katie Rose.
Will we still love him tomorrow? Sure. Last week The Durb crooned Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” giving it an impressive soulful spin. We’re still in awe. In the meantime, take note of a few spirited Idol viewing nights where locals show up to support James while watching the show. There’s a festive party every Wednesday at Pizza My Heart (2180 41st Ave., Capitola). Ideal Bar & Grill (106 Beach St.] has one with a wild karaoke pre-show beginning at 7 p.m. Also: Carmona’s Barbecue and Deli (1040 East Lake Ave., Watsonville) and Green Valley Grill (40 Penny Lane, Watsonville). Be sure to read our updates online every Thursday and Friday at goodtimessantacruz.com.