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Town Hall with Assemblymember Bill Monning

bill MonningThe realignment of state prisoners to county jails began in october—how does Santa Cruz County’s handling of the shift compare to in other parts of the state?
While I am not familiar with what every county in the state is doing with regard to implementing public safety realignment, I can definitively state that based on what I have seen and heard from community members, Santa Cruz County is doing a good job and should be commended on the innovative open process it has established to administer realignment.  
The county has been a pioneer in developing successful community based alternatives to incarceration for non-violent juvenile offenders and is working to duplicate some of these successes with the adult incarcerated population.  In addition, local law enforcement has partnered with the County Office of Education to establish the Broad-based Apprehension Suppression Treatment and Alternatives (BASTA) Program. The BASTA Program is a committee of community groups that are working together to develop a curriculum for offenders that includes education as an alternative to incarceration.

I have heard Phil Wowak, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff, say many times that the people we are sending to state prison are still members of our community and that it is the community’s responsibility to ensure their successful rehabilitation. Santa Cruz County is working to implement a public safety realignment program that is cost effective and based on programs that reduce recidivism, victimization, and probation failures. I commend the collaborative efforts to implement public safety realignment in a positive, safe, and dynamic manner in Santa Cruz County.
A Veterans Center recently opened here in Santa Cruz County at Cabrillo. What state services will be provided at the new Center?  
Upon returning to civilian life, Roderick Moreland, an Air Force Veteran, discovered that there were no programs or service groups within the community dedicated to helping veterans transition from active duty service to students at higher education institutions. He used his personal insight and the information he gleaned from talking to other veterans to spearhead the Veterans Information Center at Cabrillo College.  
There are more than 200 veterans enrolled at Cabrillo College and the center is providing peer mentoring to veterans and assisting them with negotiating the complicated bureaucracy that lies between military service and higher education. The program also provides a central location for accessing information about state and federal benefits due veterans.  

Not only do returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans face bureaucratic challenges in school, but they can experience various forms of prejudice from faculty and non-veteran students. The Veterans Information Center provides both a safe and supportive place for returning veterans and can advocate for veterans at their respective institutions. I applaud the work of Mr. Moreland and encourage veterans who are students or thinking about becoming students to visit the Veterans Information Center at Cabrillo Community College.  
November is Diabetes Awareness month, what have you done as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health to educate Central Coast residents about this deadly disease?  
I have used my position as Chair of the Assembly Health Committee to educate Central Coast residents about how they can modify their behaviors in order to prevent and control chronic diseases, like diabetes, as well as to promote public health interventions. The healthy school lunch programs in Santa Cruz are an excellent example of what can be achieved when a community works together to prevent and control chronic diseases. Local schools have partnered with local farmers and the Second Harvest Foodbank to educate students about the importance of maintaining healthful diets and provide access to healthful food choices in their schools.    
In communities of color, many people are still not aware of the risk factors associated with diabetes. People are at high risk for diabetes if 45 years old or older; Latino, African American, Native American or Asian/Pacific Islander; overweight; have high blood pressure; have a family history of diabetes; and/or had diabetes during pregnancy or had a baby weighing more than nine pounds at birth.  
Additionally, there are obvious signs and symptoms of diabetes that everyone should be aware of including extreme thirst; periodic blurry vision; frequent urination; unusual tiredness or drowsiness; or unexplained weight loss.  
If you, a family member, or a friend has any one of these symptoms, a doctor should be contacted immediately. Diabetes is a serious disease that can lead to blindness, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, amputation and death. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can lead to a longer, healthier life. Together we can help each other by sharing information, promoting healthful diet and exercise, and supporting family members and friends who may be at risk. V

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