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May 24-31, 2006

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Boutrelle, Krohn and Coonerty

Spot the Noncandidates: County supervisor contenders Boutelle, Coonerty and Krohn prepare to burn rubber.

Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

Bombs Away

What do the war in Iraq and the war over UCSC's pending growth plan have in common? For starters, both battles have irked folks at City Hall. Fiery letters have been licked, stamped and sent to the White House as well as to the chancellor's office. Meetings have been held and critical documents have been compiled.

Oh, and there's also this one other little thing.

The corporation that was hired for last year's environmental review of UCSC's new growth plan not only has extensive experience in environmental matters but also apparently knows quite a bit about outfitting war machines for the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

It would appear that the URS Corporation--designated by UCSC as lead consultant for the hotly debated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) of the new Long Range Development Plan (LRDP)--owns EG&G, a defense contractor that, among other things, builds and maintains complex weapons systems for submarines and tanks.

Truth be told, Nüz doesn't suspect foul play on UCSC's part. We're inclined to take Associate Vice Chancellor Frank Zwart at his word when he says URS was picked as lead consultant "following a rigorous selection process that included open advertisement, submittal and review of a detailed proposal, and interviews with several possible consultant teams."

Unfortunately, even after all that work, the EIR has still come under fire from local elected officials and average Santa Cruz citizens alike for failing to fully address the impact of the university's expansion on the community.

County Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, who served as a community representative on the campus's LRDP Committee from 2003 to 2004 and who has since become a vocal political opponent of the campus's plan to shepherd in another 6,000 students by 2020, intimated that stopping this growth remains her top concern, defense contractor or no defense contractor. Still, as she opined in an email, "The demonstration of one more general link between the UC and the military industrial complex is grimly fascinating."

Wormhoudt was referring, of course, to the UC's management of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, which produce nuclear weapons technology for the U.S. arsenal.

Appalled by this entwinement of research funds with the threat of Armageddon, UCSC's Student Union Assembly passed a resolution last month urging the UC to cut ties with both labs. Cited in its formal decree were two similar resolutions by the Academic Senate.

As for the URS-EG&G debacle, longtime City Council member and UCSC lecturer Mike Rotkin had no trouble validating Nüz's suspicions.

"Given the growing tendency of UC to act more like a corporation and less like an institution of higher learning," he voiced in an email to Nüz, "I don't suppose we should be surprised that their [UCSC's] planning process is farmed out to a conglomerate rather than taking the form of a serious discussion between the local campus and the community that hosts it."

On the Campaign Trail

Nüz's two greatest loves--bikes and local politics--have come together at last.

In honor of Bike to Work Week, the fifth annual Commuter Race kicked off at last Tuesday at 5pm at UCSC's East Field House parking lot and ended half an hour later at the Seabright Brewery.

The race's function was to showcase the many and varied forms of transportation used by Santa Cruz commuters, with each racer piloting a different vehicle, be it a car, a GEM neighborhood electric vehicle, road and mountain bikes, an e-bike or a unicycle.

Participants included Steven Sperling of the UCSC cycling team, Wes Scott, director of Transportation and Parking Services for UCSC, and local teacher and entertainer Rock Lerum, as well as the three candidates vying for the Santa Cruz County District 3 Supervisor's seat.

Prior to the race, Bike to Work director Piet Canin explained, "The idea is to show how different modes of transportation can sometimes go faster than a car. Personally, I'm hoping the bike wins."

However, Candidate Chris Krohn, who arrived atop a bright red Huffy 21-speed mountain bike, a model popular with 12-year-old boys across the nation, claimed winning was not his top priority.

"It's just good that we're all here," said Krohn. "We need to create alternative transportation options. That doesn't mean everyone needs to ride a bike, but it should be an option for people who want to."

Still, some of the other participants were more willing to embrace the spirit of healthy competition.

"So this is like the demolition derby, right?" asked Neal Coonerty, who drove his wife's Honda Hybrid in the race. "I could just side-swipe one of these guys and end my campaigning early."

Jonathan Boutelle, riding an electric bike that he outfitted in his workshop with numerous "Jonathan Boutelle for Supervisor" placards and a holder for his cane (affixed to the front fork with duct tape) deemed his ride "the only way to go."

In the end, first place went to UCSC cyclist Steven Sperling who won in approximately 35 minutes. He was closely followed by Chris Krohn, with Neal Coonerty coming in third and Jonathan Boutelle in fourth. Wes Scott in the neighborhood electric vehicle tied for last place with Rock Lerum on his unicycle.

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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