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[whitespace] Vice Mayor Emily Reilly and Councilmember Ed Porter
I got Issues With Your Issues: Vice Mayor Emily Reilly and Councilmember Ed Porter try to keep track of the issues about downtown issues.

Nüz

American Amsterdam?

As this week's cover story reveals, there are plenty of opinions about the direction downtown is headed, all of which beg the question: so which direction do we want to go, and who the hell is "we" anyways?

To address these concerns, the city threw a special two-hour meeting last Friday, "to identify and prioritize a few issues that the council wants to focus on."

Or that, at least, was the stated intent of Vice Mayor Emily Reilly, who along with Councilmember Ed Porter is heading a city committee to address downtown complaints.

But it soon became clear that Reilly's "prioritizing" exercise was going to prove tricky, given that participants spent the entire meeting elaborating on, rallying against and adding to 33 "previously identified issues," which included panhandling, drug dealing, vandalism, graffiti, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, public intoxication, underage drinking, revving engines, littering, spitting, public urination and defecation, and hackeysack playing, not to mention civil liberties concerns.

Cotton Tales owner Mark Messheimer said bad behavior by a "small minority" was losing him business to Capitola Mall and Los Gatos. "It's time to move these people out," Messheimer said, drawing hisses from the packed crowd, while street musician Cosmic Chris said it was good that people were acting respectful in the meeting but he was afraid that afterwards he'd "be terrorized by the police."

Though Reilly and Porter aim to bring proposals to the City Council by July 9, street performer Tom Noddy asked for ongoing meetings--and a better understanding of the voluntary street performers' guidelines.

"Some people believe they are rules that can be used to move performers along, but they were developed so a performer would have the peer pressure of 35 performers insisting on the right to perform, because if you enforced all the laws already on the books, you could move everyone along, which is not a good idea," Noddy said.

Speakers also offered a variety of solutions, which ranged from neighborhood nightly patrols, increased protection for the elderly, dealing with drug and gang problems and removing a "shooting gallery" porta-potty to adding public bathrooms, banning pot-smoking citations, reducing police officers while adding social workers, and making the mall pedestrian-only.

And Camouflage owner Joan Levine said she'd like Santa Cruz to become the Amsterdam of the United States. "In Amsterdam, there is an insistence on civil behavior," said Levine, who says she doesn't "want to live in Des Moines, but I don't want to clean up [after] people" who relieve themselves in public.

After the meeting, Coalition for a Community Commons member Greg Kindig, who advocated the trial pedestrian mall, said the list of issues "reads like a list of symptoms, many of which point to a chronic need for more public space. Picking a symptom doesn't seem an optimal approach, but the meeting itself made me feel optimistic. I heard several people, merchants and citizens, promote the idea of a pedestrian-only area, and everyone stayed respectful."

Matters took an "only in Santa Cruz" turn when homeless activist Becky Johnson, who had attended the "downtown problems" meeting moments earlier, got cited for chalking a peace sign on the sidewalk outside O'Neill's. Also cited was artist Tim Rinker, who complained during the meeting that prohibiting sidewalk chalk leads to permanent graffiti. "In San Rafael they have a sidewalk chalk fair," said Rinker, who proceeded to chalk political slogans outside the Museum of Art and History and was taken before a judge along with Johnson, after declining to sign citations. It's gonna be a long, hot and foggy summer.

Barbara Lee's Doppelgänger

Given the impossibility of scoring an interview with U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee since she voted against giving the Prez sweeping war powers, Nüz was excited to see the congressmember's name on the sign-in sheet at our kickboe class last Saturday, mere hours before she was scheduled to give a "Looking Forward" talk in Santa Cruz.

Alas, we still didn't get a scoop, since the Lee kicking butt at our gym turned out to be none other than the wife of incoming DA Bob Lee, while the other Barbara saved her jabs, hooks and uppercuts for her sold-out appearance at the newly renovated Del Mar Theatre.

When a suited Mayor Chris Krohn gave her the key to Santa Cruz, Lee declared her district a sister to that of local Congressmember Sam Farr, who shared the stage with Lee as a fellow dissenter against the Patriot Act.

"The lifeblood of democracy is the right to dissent," said Lee, stressing that her gut reaction to the terrorist attacks was anger, like everyone else. "But that does not mean that the U.S. Congress--with little evidence, information and almost no debate--can give the administration the authority to wage war against sixty nations potentially."

Lee urged voters to voice their concern against military action in Iraq. "Combat terrorism, yes, but by nation building," said Lee, who plans to create a Department of Peace. "It may sound controversial and idealistic but we already have sixty co-sponsors ... Our buildings may have crumbled, but our Constitution hasn't. Can it withstand our assault on terrorism?"

Lee left the audience mulling over the following factoids: the U.S. ranks No. 1 in the world in military spending ($350 billion plus) but 10th in education spending; the U.S. leads the planet in nuclear weapons stockpiling, but ranks 13th in preventing infant mortality; U.S. women get only 66-70 cents to every U.S. male-earned dollar; and more African American males sit in U.S. jails than in U.S. colleges.

"We need to rethink our priorities," said Lee, leaving Nüz wondering whether she'll become the first female U.S. president, should such a shift occur. And, incidentally, Barbara, what better way to tone up for the presidency than kickboe?

Jay Moriarity Memorial Clean-Up

So, you got the fire pit back, let off your fireworks, and are wondering what to do next. Duh! Get your beach cleanup on! Pack Your Trash is looking for street captains to organize and rally from Seventh Avenue to 41st Avenue for the Third Annual Pack Your Trash Independence Day/Jay Moriarity Memorial Beach Clean-Up.

Meet at "The Point Market" at East Cliff and 32nd Avenue 8:30am-noon, Saturday. July 6, Call 465.8645, or email www.packyourtrash.com.


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 July 3-10, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.




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