Photograph by Lisa Hochstein
Guerillas in Our Midst: Rail Trail volunteers help to restore the work undone by a mysterious bulldozer.
Guerrilla Rail Trail Mystery
Cycling advocates suffered a one-two punch last week when they discovered that their Guerilla Rail Trails along the Union Pacific tracks on the West Side and near Seabright Avenue have been plowed; and that the SANTA CRUZ COUNTY REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION is still looking to expand a portion of Highway 1--despite the defeat of Measure J.
No one at the SCCRTC seems to know what happened to the guerrilla rail trail, and Union Pacific didn't return Nūz's calls as of presstime, but PEOPLE POWER director MICAH POSNER says he's heard reports of a small bulldozer doing the dirty work with a UP truck nearby. Far from discouraged, Posner says they've already reconstructed the West Side trail, which is now a little wider and better packed--thanks to the bulldozer.
"It's been great," adds Posner, "with all this newspaper coverage--there's more people using the trail than ever before."
As for the Highway 1 widening, the SCCRTC, in conjunction with the CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION and the FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINiSTRATION, is holding a public hearing (6pm, Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Board of Supes chambers in the county building) for what they're calling the "State Route 1 Soquel Avenue to Morrissey Boulevard Auxiliary Lane Project."
Project coordinator KIM SHULTZ says the meeting, required pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, will include educational information about the $11.3 million widening project, which will connect onramps and offramps between the Morrissey and Soquel interchanges.
Shultz says the auxiliary lanes will facilitate weaving and merging on "the busiest stretch of highway in the county," but will require an expansion of the La Fonda Avenue overcrossing.
U.S. Rep. SAM FARR has already secured $2.9 million for the project, and Shultz says that CalTrans is currently petitioning for another $1.9 million--leaving a gap of $4.8 million.
"The [SCCRTC] would be looking to revenue sources within its administrative authority to fill that gap," says Shultz.
Posner says the SCCRTC is "determined to sneak around the voters' decision," referring to last year's defeat of the Measure J sales tax initiative to expand the highway.
While Posner works to drum up the highway widening opposition to attend the upcoming public meeting, Shultz insists that the Morrissey-Soquel project is independent of the more ambitious and long-range plan to add High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to the highway--a plan which Shultz says is still the SCCRTC's "highest priority."
Also at the upcoming meeting, the SCCRTC will issue its first newsletter detailing its efforts toward analysis and design of future highway improvements. For information, contact the SCCRTC at 831.460.3200 or visit www.sccrtc.org.
Notes From the Armchair
Only two weeks ago, Nūz was enjoying a rather thorough massage by a muscle-bound masseuse named HELGA when we read the news that former UCSC Chancellor MRC GREENWOOD resigned from her post as UC Provost. Greenwood left after an investigation revealed that she may have been inappropriately involved in the hiring of her son and a former real estate partner. The same day their "UC Shocker" story ran, the Sentinel's managing editor and Christ columnist DON MILLER jumped to make a connection between Greenwood's resignation and the controversy that surrounded current UCSC Chancellor DENISE DENTON, whose partner GRETCHEN KALONJI was given a spanking new position commanding a $192,000 salary. Miller wrote of a supposed "whisper campaign" that fingered "a powerful coterie of lesbians" that has "gained power and influence within the UC system."
Naturally, Nūz nearly spit out the grapes Helga was feeding us when we read Miller's column, and we weren't the only ones surprised to see such drivel in print. UC staff like BETTINA APTHEKER, ANGELA DAVIS, JOHN ISBISTER and JAMES CLIFFORD and more wrote to express their disappointment with Miller's curious remarks, and to point out Miller's failure to catch on to the "coterie of white men" that ought to be investigated.
The coup de grâce, though, was Miller's mea culpa, in which he apologized for using the word "lesbians"--as if UC women's studies professors had a problem with the "L-word." As CARLENE HAWKSLEY pointed out in a subsequent letter to the ed, "It's not his choice of the word 'lesbian' that outrages many in the Santa Cruz community. It's the Sentinel's choice to focus on scandal rather than the real news that its readers want."
Meanwhile, the SF Chron was busy reporting the real story--the many gifts, perks and other salary enhancements enjoyed by UC's elite upper echelon, going so far as to build a database of the highest-paid in a Nov. 13 story. All of which got the Senile reporting some of the juicier numbers the very next day. Better late than never, we guess.
You Got Served
First it was KSCO owner MICHAEL ZWERLING calling to say he was sorry he hadn't gotten back to us before presstime to comment on the lawsuit ("Dragon Slayers?" Nūz, Oct. 26) that local resident PAUL SANFORD is bringing against him.
"But I couldn't comment on something I hadn't seen," said Zwerling, adding that he got officially served on Halloween.
"It was a wonderful Halloween gift," said Zwerling wryly. "I don't know what Sanford's thinking, but I understand he's with some other station now in Missouri, so he can get back into the White House with his own credentials."
Sticking to his story that Sanford was nothing but a potential advertiser, Zwerling reiterated, "As an advertiser, Sanford doesn't have the right to say he represents my station at the White House, and he isn't--and never was--given authority to call himself KOMY's news director."
In fact, Zwerling claims he saw steam coming out of KSCO/KOMY program director ROSEMARY CHALMERS' ears when she read Sanford's claims that she had entered into an oral agreement to provide Sanford with KOMY news credentials.
"Rosemary has no authority to establish a KOMY news department," said Zwerling, sounding surprised that Sanford's lawsuit had "reared its ugly head."
"I complied with Sanford's attorney's suggestions that we do one of Sanford's shows," said Zwerling, who describes Sanford as "an unconventional guy, who'll be good for radio. If I wasn't so darned uncomfortable that this guy is going to put his foot in his mouth, I'd have him on the air myself."
Besides his continued belief that Sanford fraudulently used the KOMY call letters to access White House press briefings, Zwerling claimed that what really frosted him was that "Sanford told the White House that I flew him out."
Meanwhile, Sanford insists he never discussed his air travel arrangements with the White House.
Noting that he was on vacation with his family in New England prior to his appearance at the White House, Sanford said, "In fact, I drove from Boston to Washington."
For all their disagreements, Sanford and Zwerling do have one thing in common: they both find it preposterous that the White House would not have called KSCO/KOMY to check Sanford out. Which is why Sanford believes "it's most likely that they did call and someone did acknowledge my position there--and that Zwerling doesn't know it."
Either way, Sanford is looking forward to his day in court, which isn't likely to happen much before spring.
"People are acting as if the controversy is about how I got into the White House, when the truth is that Zwerling is a right-winger who has sabotaged me with his lies. I look like a responsible guy, so I was surprised, but not shocked when the White House let me in. But then Zwerling called the White House to scream bloody murder about me the day after he sent me a letter canceling my contract. I said the truth at every second and ended up getting hosed. It's despicable."
As for where he thinks the lawsuit will go, Sanford says, "I expect that any and all pertinent evidence that will lead to my exoneration will be pursued vigorously. Zwerling has recklessly and immorally tried to screw me, right at the pinnacle of my career. The case requires serious financial consideration, because every aspect of my life has been affected. KOMY should be owned by me."
Nūz was shocked and dismayed to discover that one of our co-workers' cars was stolen from their driveway last weekend--but even more disturbing was the manner in which it was stolen. After jumping the backyard fence and crawling through a 2-by-2-foot bathroom window (the only one in the house that wasn't locked), which happened to be six feet above a bed of cacti, the thief prowled around the apartment, tracking dirt around on the floors and opening the bedroom doors of the sleeping occupants, and then found car keys in the living room, left through the front door and stole the car--a black, two-door Honda Civic with the license plate NO. 4HZH259--out of the driveway. Such occupied break-ins are reportedly becoming more common.
If anyone has any information about the car, please call officer TOM YOUNG at 831.420.5009, ext. 4871.
Here in the Nūzroom, we take pleasure in taking credit, deserved or otherwise, for all the good things that happen in the world, especially when they happen with the help of you, dear readers. So, let's take a moment to collectively blow our horns and wave our pompoms over the fact that the voters of Santa Cruz County overwhelmingly followed Metro Santa Cruz's special election advice to "Just Say No" to all eight initiatives on the Nov. 8 ballot. WOO HOO!
(See votescount.com for local and statewide results).
Send a letter to the editor about this story.