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Here We Go, Toe to Toe, F.L.O.W. for Flow: Tamara and Matt Micuda are urging their fellow Felton residents to come to a June 16 town meeting that will address a plan to finance local reacquisition of the water system with a bond.


None for the Gipper

With the White House spin doctors trying to milk Ronald Reagan's death to political advantage, Nüz can't help observing how utterly desperate the GOP must be to exploit the death of a man who refused to say "AIDS" in public, looked the other way as the United States tried to destroy Nicaragua by funneling arms to the Contras through illicit drug sales and gave $1 million a day to support a murderous regime in El Salvador.

Talk about reminding voters of traditional GOP values.

Although, Reagan did seem to do a better job at fooling people than Dubya, maybe because of the Gipper's movie star past. Which would seem to bode well for the presidential chances of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who calls Reagan his hero. If he wants to follow in the footsteps of the Gip, who was elected president 14 years after he first took office as California governor, he better get his ass in gear to overturn that "native-born" clause in the constitution.

Of course Arnie might want to run sooner rather than later, seeing as how the fallout from his governorship is already hitting the people in California who can least afford it, including undocumented workers, students and now the disabled.

Not everyone is going to take it sitting down. In fact, Sherry Hall was positively upright when Nüz spotted her beside the Collateral Damage statue last week, carrying a giant Slashinator puppet. Turns out that in the seven years since her husband broke his neck, home-care provider Hall has performed over 13,000 catheterization procedures and 2,190 bowel programs. It's all part of her job--a job whose pay Arnie wants to cut to the minimum wage of $6.75.

"Were I not in love with him, I would never have got into this profession, but it was do that or see Alex institutionalized," says Hall, who is madder than hell at Arnie for proposing to cut the In Home Support Services residual program, which currently pays spouses and parents of minor children for care relating to a disability an hourly rate of $9.50.

'Try to find a caregiver who wants to be paid less than a hamburger flipper!" fumes Hall. "The care that spouses and parents provide cannot be provided privately at the proposed IHSS rate, because qualified workers cannot be recruited to handle the complex paramedical tasks that family members perform."

On the scene with fellow IHSS receivers, providers and supporters, Sherry's husband Alex Hall pointed to a pine coffin balanced atop one of the benches that surround the statue.

"Lots of people would sooner embrace suicide than institutionalization, and I don't know if a lot of people could embrace independent living. It's a grim situation. It's why Sherry brought the coffin," said Hall, as cars honked in support of the protesters who carried signs saying, "Quality Care Begins at Home."

"The elderly and the fragile need care and love right until the last moment," said Anatalia Abila, who has been a care provider for 20 years. "It's not easy for them or their providers. And if rates are slashed, who will take care of them? This is a way of killing people."

Jeffrey Smedberg, president of SEIU Local 415, to which many home-care workers belong, says the state won't save any dollars, "because more people will have to use the ERs, ambulances or be institutionalized, which costs 10 times as much and leaves them isolated and without respect. The only way these cuts would save money is if these clients are forgotten and fall through the cracks and die."

As people in wheelchairs held hands, county Supe Mardi Wormhoudt told the crowd, "The notion of cutting funds for IHSS is insane. It makes no sense in terms of compassion or economics. Clearly, it's better for people to stay in their homes and it's cheaper. This is one more attempt to balance the budget on the backs of people with the least resources and no ability to absorb the costs. This is penny-wise and pound foolish. It's time the governor and the legislators had the courage to tax the highest 1 to 2 percent to preserve social services and education in this state." Call 1.800.606.0415 to protest Arnie's proposed cuts.

In the FLOW

Wondering how Felton's water system ended up in the hands of a foreign multinational and what steps its townsfolk are taking to reacquire it? Felton residents Tamara and Matt Micuda urge you to attend the Felton Town Meeting about water.

"The meeting is about an upcoming bond issue and will lay out a road map of the possible acquisition of our water system," says Tamara Micuda, whose husband Matt designed the covered bridge logo that members of Felton's FLOW (a national organization whose name stands for Friends of Locally Owned Water) are using to publicize their plight, which they fear could befall other communities as water becomes more precious than gold in drought-prone California.

FLOW activists have also been handing out door hangers covered with interesting factoids, beginning with the fact that Felton's water system is currently owned by Calamerican, a subsidiary of foreign multinational RWE AG and the third largest water company in the world.

But fellow water activist and Felton resident Susan Kipping, who has been keeping the heat on CalAmerican ever since it got its hands on Felton's water two years ago, points out that the cost of the bond, which FLOW puts at between $8 million and $12 million, is just a guesstimate--and could actually prove to be lower.

"I'm afraid people will be scared off by the thought of $10 million," says Kipping. "This is a critical meeting. The longer we put off a decision, the more it will cost us to acquire the water system. RWE is a huge corporation, which has so much money that it can buy time, while the only resource Felton has is its water and the vote. But for democracy to happen, you have to be informed--with the truth--and then vote on the matter at hand, which in this case would be the bond issue. People need to turn out, get involved and show county Supe Mark Stone and the other county officials where we stand."

The Felton Town Meeting takes place at 7pm on Wednesday, June 16, at the Felton Community Hall, 6191 Highway 9. Call 831.335.3053 or email [email protected] for more information.

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the June 9-16, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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