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Kilt Feelings: California now has an official tartan, thanks to hard-working legislator Bruce McPherson.

Nüz

Wind Bags

News that Senator Bruce McPherson (R-Santa Cruz) intends to challenge Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamente next year makes Nüz feel a tad smug. Four months ago, McPherson, who is term-limited out of his 15th District state Senate seat, expressed extreme hurt and outrage (Nüz 3/14/01). The reason for his huffing and puffing? Political consultant Richie Ross suggested the senator's interest in eliminating fundraising bans on legislators ineligible to seek another term was an indication of McPherson's own intention to race Ross' client: Bustamente.

Now that the rumors have become reality, Nüz takes a closer look at the man who would assume the state's number two post--a job that involves sitting on the UC Board of Regents and the States Lands Commission--and finds him working for educational reform, the environment and public safety--and sporting a family kilt. Yes, on July 9, McPherson, accompanied by loud and impressive windbags (a.k.a. bagpipes) presented AB 614 --a bill to create an official state tartan.

McPherson did not author the bill, which passed unanimously and was the idea of J. Howard Standing, president of the St. Andrew's Society. According to Standing, "any resident of the state of California can claim this tartan as their own." A news release from the senator's office included the following four, dare we say it, tips for kilt wearers: "1) Do not wear a kilt too long. The middle of the kneecap is the longest acceptable, and up to an inch shorter is acceptable. 2) It is NOT an outfit for a gentleman on horseback. Neither comfortable for you, or the horse. 3) Do not pin a kilt pin through both aprons of the kilt. It will spoil the hang. 4) Tartan hose, miniature medals and jeweled dirk (a long knife not approved under zero-tolerance policies at most schools, even on Robert Burns' birthday) are not suitable for daytime wear."

All of which makes Nüz suspect that some diehard Democrats will be falling over themselves to vote for McPherson just to get him and his windbags out of the way, now that Assemblymember Fred Keeley (D-Boulder Creek), has announced his intention to run for the senator's seat.

Bike Path Nix

Though Santa Cruz City Councilmember Keith Sugar reportedly wants to kill the long-disputed Broadway-Brommer bike path at the July 24 council meeting, bicycle advocates and Public Works staff plan to fight for the path.

Apparently, Sugar plans to propose an end to the review process for the project's Environmental Impact Report, according to City Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator Cheryl Schmitt. "He wants any project that would be proposed in Arana Gulch to not be considered," Schmitt said .

The path would connect Broadway and Brommer streets through the Arana Gulch, avoiding the perilous East Cliff Drive. Conservationists and landowners are concerned about the path's impact on local species. "Its a sensitive eco-habitat," says Martin Kreig, a cyclist who opposes the plan.

But according to Regional Transportation Commission Planner Heath Maddox, the impact on automobile use for transportation across town far outweighs possible harm to species in the gulch. "It's a shame that environmentalists oppose a project with such enormous potential for environmental benefits," Maddox said.

Patricia Matejcek of Friends of the Arana Gulch argues that the bike path is simply not a good investment. "This is a most regrettable waste of public moneys and staff time," she says. "They should redirect the money toward other transportation projects."

Matejcek says the city should focus its resources on the Santa Cruz County Coastal Rail Trail, a bike path that would run along the railroad right-of-way from Santa Cruz to Capitola. But according to Schmitt, the Coastal Rail Trail could take up to 20 years to complete, while the Broadway-Brommer bike path could be constructed within two years.

Schmitt added that it wouldn't make sense to stop the EIR process at this point. Public Works has been involved in planning the bike path for almost 10 years. "If Councilmember Sugar, at this late hour, wants to abandon the Broadway-Brommer bike path, it's not really true to the intent of the EIR process," Schmitt said.

Members of People Power!, an organization that promotes sustainable transportation in Santa Cruz County, plan to attend Tuesday's council meeting to advocate for the bike path. However, according to People Power! member Micah Posner, they support an alternative with less environmental impact than the proposal examined in the EIR.

Got Milk?

On July 14, more than 30 mothers nursed their babies in front of Marini's on Pacific Avenue. Organized by Birth Network of Santa Cruz County, the nurse-in was a response to a recent incident at Marini's in which staff asked nursing mother Melanie Clement to leave because of the manner in which she was feeding her baby.

Clement claims she was breastfeeding after buying chocolates, when a clerk said, "You need to be finished here." Marini's management declined to comment but did hand Nüz a written statement explaining that the staff had wanted Clement to be more discreet. "She exposed her breast in a very open manner and began to nurse her baby at the counter," the statement read. "The manager expressed to her that it would make the employees more comfortable if she were a bit more discreet and used a table."

Discrimination against breastfeeding mothers is illegal in California, according to California Civil Code 43.3, which states, "A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present."

"It's not an issue of discretion," said Laura Maxson, executive director of Birth Network of Santa Cruz County. "If the employees are feeling uncomfortable, it's just something they're going to have to deal with."

Clement hopes that the nurse-in will teach the public about women's rights to breastfeed their babies. "I don't want an apology," Clement said. "I just want people to be aware."

Lactation consultant Janet Malo was less than pleased with Marini's response. "They have no policy against breastfeeding," Malo said. "It would have been nice if they had come out and said it was a misunderstanding."

Adding that this kind of thing doesn't usually happen in Santa Cruz, Malo said many of the mothers in her nursing group have had experiences similar to Clement's when traveling out of town. Said Malo, "Breastfeeding is really a basic part life and women should be aware of their right to do it."

Farewell

It is with regret that Nüz and all of the Metro Santa Cruz staff must say good-bye to reporter par excellence Andrea Perkins. Andrea is moving on to greener pastures in, of all places, Utah. We wish her well and will miss her.

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From the July 18-25, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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