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Columns
November 23-30, 2005

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Nūz

A Problem of Hard-wiring

The absence of CHRIST columnist DON MILLER from last Saturday's Sentinel got Nüz wondering if Miller had been suspended following his "powerful coterie of lesbians" outburst, or had been recruited by the increasingly desperate neocons in D.C., or, at the very least, had accepted a job editing a lesbian-bashing church bulletin.

Whatever the truth behind Miller's unexplained absence, Nüz did manage to get our mitts on notes taken at a Nov. 14 meeting between Sentinel publishers DAVE REGAN and MOLLY EVANS, Sentinel editor TOM HONIG and 23 concerned community members, including county Supe MARK STONE, community leader GEORGE OW, diversity expert TONY HILL, Community Foundation leader MARGARET LEONARD, Santa Cruz County's Women's Commission member SHEILA DELANY, Rabbi PAULA MARCUS of Temple Beth El, Cabrillo College governing board member JOHN LEOPOLD and City Council member RYAN COONERTY.

The main point of concern raised at the meeting was "the blatant homophobia expressed in the Don Miller column," to which the Sentinel responded by pointing out "how good they had been on gay and lesbian issues in the past." At which point it was agreed that you're judged by your mistakes--and that this was a big one. (At this point, it would be tempting for Nüz to mention Good Times' editor GREG ARCHER's recent misspelling of KARL ROVE's name on the front of his rag, but at least Archer copped to it in his next column, so it's hardly fair to bring up that mistake all over again lest news of his faux pas falls into the hands of "Torture VP" Dick 'i'll Dick with you' Cheney, so we'll play nice and won't go on about it at all this time, HUGE though it was.)

Citizens at the meeting professed themselves equally offended by Miller's retraction of his "powerful coterie of lesbians" column, because of how he used the term "politically correct" in said retraction and his apparent failure to see that the ensuing community outrage had zip to do with the word "lesbian."

Others voiced concern about the perceived link between Miller's homophobic columns and the Sentinel's lack of coverage of the historic three-day investiture of the openly gay new UCSC chancellor, Denice D. Denton, whose Nov. 3 inaugural symposium was, ironically enough, titled "Achieving Excellence Through Diversity."

And then there were concerns expressed over the connection between hate speech and violence, including the recent publication in the Sentinel of a letter encouraging a protest at the new chancellor's home.

As a result of the Nov. 14 discussion, the Sentinel agreed to run opinion pieces written by community members to address diversity issues, as well as a full "Reflections on the Investiture" page. Oh yes, and they also agreed to continue diversity training, even though one Sentinel publisher in attendance tellingly whined that "we've already sat through diversity training," And then there was the fact that the other publisher in attendance stated that there isn't really anything they can do about someone like Don Miller since "he's just hard-wired like that."

As one citizen who attended the meeting summed it up afterward, "There's a disconnect between the values in Don Miller's columns and the values of the community. The Sentinel has to recognize that and respond, but they just didn't seem that responsive. The group of citizens that met with them were such a cross section of the community, they weren't pushing an agenda, but just trying to get a dialogue going."

That dialogue certainly seems to be alive and well on the net (where the discourse is focused and where the Sentinel should have been in the first place), namely the issue of graft occurring at the very top, even as the workers are being asked to take it in the shorts one more time. Or as one blogger wrote, "I don't know from where Don Miller gets University gossip, but there is no whisper campaign about a powerful coterie of lesbians at the UC Office of the President. What people are saying, in public, and in testimony before the State Legislature, is that a powerful cabal of thieves are stealing money for themselves and their friends. At UC, we're pretty liberal. We don't care who the Executives sleep with. We're concerned about who they've screwed."

Kuehl Kat

Basking in the post-election glow that comes from seeing all the Schwarzenegger-endorsed ballot measures go down in wildly blazing flames, the CALIFORNIA NURSES ASSOCIATION has added yet another feather to its "Stop Arnold" cap. Two days after his resounding defeat at the polls, GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER withdrew his legal challenge to the state's landmark law that requires a safe registered-nurse-to-patient ratio. All of which has the nurses asking even more of the governor, even as they extend a hand in tentative friendship.

As local nurses' union rep Barbara Williams put it, "Arnie said he was dropping his appeal to the lawsuit, and so now the nurses are happy to work with the governor on a package of real reforms, including universal heath care based on a single standard of quality care for all, and getting money out of politics." With that in mind, the nurses also reminded Nüz that on Monday, Nov. 28, state Sen. Sheila Kuehl will be in Santa Cruz to speak about the current health-care realities in California as well as S.B. 840, a.k.a. the California Health Insurance Reliability Act (CHIRA), which she authored by way of response to these issues.

This event is being presented by Health Care for All--Santa Cruz County at the Louden Nelson Community Center Auditorium, 301 Center St., at 7:30pm. A donation of $10 is requested, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. The event also include remarks by county Treasurer Fred Keeley, county Health Officer Dr. Poki Namkung and Assemblymember John Laird. Check out www.healthcaresc.org.

Second Harvest Food Bank Takes Over

Every year around this time, Nüz goes digging into its secret stockpiles of canned food to contribute to the SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK's annual food drive. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of places where you can do the same. Drop by Metro Santa Cruz anytime during business hours; go to the SANTA CRUZ HOLIDAY PARADE downtown (Dec. 3, 10am-noon); stop by the KPIG HUMBUG HOeDOWN at the Catalyst (Dec. 3, 8pm); play around at DOWNTOWN SANTA CRUZ SNOW NIGHT (Dec. 8); check out a free family movie matinee at the Del Mar Theatre (Dec. 17, 11am); or stop by a library post office, a Goodwill store or a fire station--all of which have food drive barrels awaiting your donations. For more information, call 831.722.7110 or visit www.thefoodbank.org.


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