We always hear about how politicians want nothing more than to be loved, but apparently in Santa Cruz we’re loving them right out of office. It’s a big loss for our community that Cynthia Chase, who showed so much initiative and leadership in her term as mayor last year, won’t be running for re-election to the Santa Cruz City Council. Ironically, it seems like the careful attention she’s given to some of the biggest issues facing our city contributed to her decision not to run—sadly, our local government doesn’t seem to be designed for people who want to give the job the time it needs. I’m happy that when Chase gave Jacob Pierce the scoop recently about her decision, he didn’t just write a clickbait-y type of piece about it. Instead, he delivered this week’s cover story, which uses Chase’s decision as a jumping off point to talk about the bigger problem of a government system that rewards hard work and policy successes with burnout, and how that can put the city council out of reach for some people whose representation we really need. This wasn’t the easy way to do this story; it was the right way.
Also this week, look in the center of this issue for a pull out that celebrates Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s fifth year as an independent venture, and provides a full season calendar and a look at each production coming up this season!
Letters to the Editor
Re: “Getting Inpatient” (GT, 6/13): This article is great and focuses much-needed attention on the county’s use of $80 million per year to meet, or not meet, the rapidly growing mental health and addiction crisis on our streets and in our neighborhoods. To put it in perspective, the county’s $80 million per year budget for behavioral health (addictions and mental health) is 150 percent more than the combined budgets of all four police departments in the county. We have the right to ask if we’re getting the services we need. How much of those funds go to county, department and nonprofit overhead and administration?
However, the article neglects to mention that the petition’s initial claim of $15 million of “unspent funds” came from the county’s own report to the state. The number was reduced to $11 million of “unspent funds” when the county submitted an updated report over two years late. The petition language was only changed to give the benefit of a doubt to the county’s as yet unproven claim that there are no unspent funds. The county is still one of only five counties (out of 58) that have not yet submitted the late reports that will prove them right or wrong. We’ll see.
Bait and Switch
Re: “Tie Game”: The Greenway story doesn’t add up. The effort to sway people toward the “concept of a trail only in maybe 10-15 years” instead of the trail being built right now is actually to completely stop anything from happening ever. Think about it. A privately funded group financed by one or two extremely rich people show up at the eleventh hour and say “Stop! We have an idea. Let’s start all over” and then they set about pitching their idea to various groups, while spreading around some cash donations on the back channel, and actually begin to gain momentum because the pitch is that good. Before you know it, some organizations have signed on to the idea of a “concept” presented by a group with no accountability that has no timeline, no funding for their concept, no studies and no guarantee of ever happening and would only serve a small group of elite cyclists.
We have seen this kind of bait-and-switch deception used to sway voters very recently. Greenway has succeeded in convincing some people to get into their wagon. But ask yourself why would a well-funded private group form for the purpose of killing the current trail with rail project when the first segment is scheduled to be completed this year—the culmination of almost 20 years of work and effort? And since they have no public oversight, Greenway can say whatever they want to convince people to join in their folly while the employees and people who have been working for us to get our trail built must be accountable for not only their actions, but also their words.
This does not add up. Look before you leap into the Greenway swamp. I say No Way Greenway.
Re: “Tie Game” (GT, 6/20): Thank you, Jake, for a very thoughtful installment in this important series.
However, I don’t know if five total installments will be enough!
The Unified Corridors Study conclusion won’t be the end of the battle, but it might reveal some light at the end of that long tunnel.
To be continued?