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May 31-June 7, 2006

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6,000 bong owners can't be wrong

6,000 bong owners can't be wrong: Expect Santa Cruz to take the lead in U.S. pot policy this fall.

Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

Santa Cruz Idol

While the rest of the country devoured the ultimate American Idol, the movers and shakers in our local arts community gathered at Santa Cruz City Council chambers to participate in our own televised spectacle. True, a debate featuring candidates for County Supervisor and County Superintendent of Schools, even with Sentinel scribe Wallace Baine hosting, may be no ratings match for a season finale featuring both Prince and Paula Abdul, but the locally aired debate did have its entertaining, and even informative, moments.

After audience members finished submitting their written questions, the evening got off to a false start, as the ubiquitous Chip welcomed the crowd on behalf of debate sponsors the Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Arts before being informed that it was still too early to begin the live telecast. Stalling for time, he asked representatives of local arts agencies, who constituted much of the audience, to update each other on their upcoming events. After pitches for the Cabrillo Music Festival, KUSP's silent auction and the 418 Project's cabaret show, What Is Erotic? (which prompted supe candidate Neal Coonerty to quip, "That's not gonna be a question for us, is it?"), the cameras began to roll and Baine introduced three candidates in each race (two of the five superintendent of schools candidates had other commitments).

Since Metro Santa Cruz readers undoubtedly skipped American Idol to tune in en masse, Nüz will spare you the complete blow-by-blow, except to note that most candidates had difficulty addressing arts issues other than Coonerty (who brought forward concrete proposals like dedicating a fixed percentage of the TOT motel tax to art funding and adding an arts line to the Parks & Recreation department) and superintendent candidate Michael Watkins (who consistently garnered the most applause for his firsthand experience in working with many of the interests present).

The remaining candidates seemed ill at ease when called upon to do more than their standard stump speeches. It was a bit like the old routine where any fortune cookie supposedly becomes funny when you simply add "... in bed!" to the end of it. Chris Krohn, for instance, revealed that when he talks about a healthy environment, he means an environment that's rich in the arts. And when Rowland Baker would lapse into bureaucratic jargon about getting out of the office to view a "vertical slice" of what's happening in the field, a glancing reference to the importance of the arts was just around the corner.

Nielsen poll ratings for the debate are anxiously awaited.

Toking Initiative

Even if you have no interest in who will be our next county supervisor or school board superintendent, there's one vote that's sure to get you out to the polls come November. And no, it's not Arnold Schwarzenegger, although apparently Californians do find him both intoxicating and stupefying.

For many, the best reason to get out and rock the vote this fall is pot.

Thanks to Santa Cruz Citizens for Sensible Marijuana Policy, which drafted the initiative to De-Prioritize Marijuana Enforcement and then gathered over 6,000 signatures (2,500 more than needed) to ensure its place on the ballot, the voting public of our fair city have the chance to make this town very marijuana-friendly (even more so).

If passed, the initiative, as first reported by Metro Santa Cruz back on Feb. 1 ("Marijuana-rama," News & Views), will allow adult marijuana users to come out of the closet (or basement/dormroom/1973 Volkswagen van, as the case may be) by making dope the lowest priority for Santa Cruz police. This means that law enforcement would be discouraged from arresting or citing adults for recreational marijuana use. Exceptions to the policy include driving under the influence, smoking in a public place or dealing, all of which will remain arrest-worthy offenses.

Also on November's ballot is the initiative championed by the Working Alliance for a Just Economy, which, if passed, would raise the minimum wage within the city of Santa Cruz from the state-mandated $6.75 to $9.25. Although $9.25 is still not considered a living wage in Santa Cruz, where housing costs remain some of the highest in the nation, Nüz hopes that the extra cash will help workers offset the cost of all the newly decriminalized dope they'll have access to come fall.

Loserville USA

Well, gang, we fought the good fight. We tried our damnedest, cheered for the home team and did everything we could to come out on top. But gosh, if it just wasn't meant to be.

Yes, it's true. Once and for all, by official order, proclamation and a U.S. trademark, the title of Surf City USA has gone to Huntington Beach. For those of you who don't know (perhaps you've been living in a cave for the last two years--or in Boulder Creek), Santa Cruz has been locked in battle with the Southern California surf hub over the aforementioned moniker since 2004 when Huntington Beach first applied to trademark the name, sending Santa Cruzans up in arms.

The Huntington Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau announced Friday that the U.S. office of Patents and Trademarks had awarded the city three official registration numbers that allow for the use of the title "Surf City USA" on beach bags, hats, towels, umbrellas, T-shirts, temporary tattoos and other obnoxious tourist paraphernalia.

In an effort to move beyond this crippling loss and keep city morale high, Nüz has come up with several suggestions for alternative Santa Cruz city nicknames that are sure to be a big hit, such as Marijuana Junction, Birkenstockton or "Huntington Beach."


Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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