It used to be that when we’d all shuffle back into the office after the holidays—probably with the remnants of some super-annoying cold that’s been holding on for two weeks, or the faint, sniffle-y rumblings of a new one—there wasn’t a whole lot going on in January. Man, that has changed.
For example, this week is the 25th anniversary of what may very well be Santa Cruz County’s most venerable non-Shakespeare theater tradition: 8 Tens @ 8. In this week’s cover story, Wallace Baine relates how the 10-minute play festival became a tradition here, and inspired others around the country.
Also, my jaw is sore from dropping every time I checked the Santa Cruz Gives leaderboard over the holidays. We’ll have a story on the complete results next week, but let me just say what readers contributed to our local nonprofits through Gives this year absolutely crushed any and all of our expectations. It even surpassed our $400,000 “OMG” goal, which was the “crazy dream” level of what we hoped to raise for this year’s participants. And then, at the last minute, the Applewood Fund at Community Foundation Santa Cruz County gave an unexpected $10,000. We are looking at something like 75% growth over last year, which is just … well, I can’t even think of a way to describe it. I’m so proud of our whole community for this phenomenal showing of heart and values—and of our nonprofits for taking this fundraising effort and absolutely running away with it.
Lastly, it’s Best of Santa Cruz time! Time to vote is getting short, so hurry and go to goodtimes.sc to find the ballot and make your favorite local people, places and things winners this year!
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Zero Sum Game
Steve Homan’s “No to Fire Tax Increase” (GT, 12/25) was excellent. Many rural property owners question why the county is asking for an additional tax, on top of what is already assessed, for vague uses that may not necessarily improve response times or quality of service.
County officials already admit there are errors in proposed assessments, and have only recently added information to the County Fire Department website to justify calculation of the assessment amounts. At the close of the January 14, 2020, public hearing before the Board of Supervisors, local election staff will be given a mere three hours to open thousands of ballots, tabulate responses, and report back to the board by 2pm.
Since votes of large landowners will be given more weight, this portion of the ballot tabulation will be handed to the consultants the county hired to make sure the measure gets approved with a 51% rate rather than the standard 2/3 majority. According to Public Records Act request materials, the County has paid them $158,408 so far to do so, and took the money from the County Fire Department account. Asking the consultants to handle the weighted ballot tabulation likely violates [California] Government Code 53753(e)(1) and (2).
The Board of Supervisors should instead vote to allocate just 10% annually of the Prop. 172 public safety money from a permanent half-cent statewide sales tax that is supposed to be used for funding fire and law enforcement. Currently, fire protection gets zero dollars. Last year, the County received $18 million in Prop. 172 revenue, but zero dollars funded County Fire Department. This is unacceptable.
Just say no to yet another new tax on rural property and demand the supervisors allocate at least 10% of the Prop. 172 millions that will forever roll in to county coffers for public safety funding. Those who have already voted and want to change your vote may do so by calling 454-3416 and ask for a replacement ballot.
Becky Steinbruner | Aptos
The Chip you described in the “Year in Review” (GT, 12/18) is not the Chip I know. He is a Renaissance man who, as Executive Director of the Downtown Association, can be credited for making Downtown Santa Cruz the most lively, interesting, diverse and exciting place to be in Santa Cruz County. What were you thinking when you described him as the weird guy who “aimlessly wandered the downtown streets every day?” Boulder is lucky to have him as its Downtown Executive Director.
Alan Savat | Santa Cruz
We heard from several readers about this, Alan. While he was here, one of the things that made my friendship with Chip fun was our constant teasing and attempts to elevate sarcasm to an art form. However, many readers felt that was way too in-jokey and came off a bit mean without any context, and that’s a fair criticism. Rest assured that GT has always loved Chip, and so do I. — Editor