[MetroActive News&Issues]

[ Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

[whitespace] Crusader Nader: Prez. candidate Ralph Nader is a man of principles, they say--which apparently preclude him becoming a member of the party that nominated him.


Party Pooper

Ralph Nader's stump speech drips with contempt for the two major political parties, calling the system a "duopoly" dominated by Tweedledum and Tweedledee. But Nader's disregard for party politics also appears to extend to the Green Party, under whose banner he is running for president.

Why isn't Ralph Nader, who speaks tonight (Aug. 23) at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, a member of the party he represents?

"He's running with the Green Party because he's sympathetic with their core principles," says campaign spokesperson Laura Jones from Nader's headquarters in Washington, D.C. "He's always identified himself as an independent voter."

Jones says the goal is to build up the party into a viable alternative third (or fourth?) party, but Nu-z is skeptical. Doesn't his refusal to become a member of the party show that Nader doesn't believe enough in what the party stands for?

"It's kind of immaterial to us," says local campaign co-coordinator Jeff Shuey. "The Green Party is much more of a loose-knit group."

Nader has the option to register Green. In Connecticut, his home state, the Green Party has minor-party status. According to Connecticut director of elections Tom Ferguson, if Nader wins he becomes a Green Party member by virtue of being its nominee, regardless of how he is registered.

Meanwhile, Nader has a lot of Democrats worried. Polls show Nader's presence in the campaign could hurt Al Gore in Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and California--and possibly hand the election to the Republicans. While he is sympathetic to Nader's issues, even Gore supporter Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, the Senate's most liberal member, has warned against the impact of Nader's candidacy.

Jones is unmoved. "He's running with the Green Party to offer people a way that they don't have to vote out of fear," she claims. Unless, of course, their fear is of a Bush presidency.

Add Nausea

According to U.S. Department of Education statistics, K through 12 enrollment will reach a record 53.2 million students this fall and increase each year for the rest of the century. More kids means more portable classrooms--a potential health hazard, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group.

An EWG report titled "Reading, Writing and Risk: Air Pollution Inside California's Portable Classrooms" says an estimated two million California kids attend school in portables that may expose them to airborne toxins, including formaldehyde and other carcinogens. The study concludes that long-term exposure to airborne chemicals may increase a child's lifetime risk of cancer by two to three times legal levels. Short-term exposure to chemicals or toxic molds in portables can cause headaches and nausea.

"Plywood, particle board, carpets, glues that hold the carpet in place--they are used in all building materials but more prominently in portables," says EWG's California Director Bill Walker, adding that portables "are not as well ventilated."

Not to say all portables are deadly, Walker adds.

"If the portable had been tested, and the ventilation checked out, I wouldn't have any problem with my daughter attending school in a portable. But if she started having symptoms, I would rethink."

About 600 portable classrooms are in use across Santa Cruz County as a result of booming enrollments in some areas, state-mandated class-size reductions and classroom modernization projects.

John McCann, manager of environmental health and safety for the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, which uses some 355 portables, says he hasn't heard any serious complaints.

"Usually mostly smell issues, asthma, those types of things," says McCann, adding that air filters are changed on a regular basis and well ventilated. Portable classrooms also undergo review by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Most teachers would prefer to teach in a regular classroom," McCann admits. "But with the district's growth, class-size reduction and modernization, portables are the only method to house those students."

Road Rage

Cabrillo College students beginning the new semester Aug. 28 may want to start walking to class now. Since May, crews have been revamping Soquel Drive, adding new signals, sidewalks, streetlights, drainage, gutters, curbs, bus stops and bike lanes. Also torn asunder is Cabrillo College Drive, and new parking lots are going up.

"This is a tremendous project," says county traffic engineer John Presleigh, "Workers have been out there 12 hours a day, seven days a week, because if we don't finish this it's going to be very congested next week."

While officials are confident Soquel Drive will be ready in time, they suggest students buy bus passes or carpool.

"We believe that we will have sufficient parking, though it may not be as close to the classroom as they may wish," says Manuel Orsorio, vice president of student services.

The college has developed a student carpool list, while messages reading "Help Cabrillo--be a good neighbor" discourage students from parking on residential streets. A temporary parking lot (not requiring a parking sticker) has been set up near the baseball park across from Twin Lakes Church. A trolley will take students to classrooms.

The Soquel campus population of students, faculty and staff is expected to hit about 14,000 this year. Construction will continue through 2004.

Home Sweet Honig

It seemed so unlikely, we just had to ask him. Was it true that Santa Cruz Sentinel editor Tom Honig had become a tenant of the county's most controversial developer and landlord, Redtree Properties?

Yessirree, says Tom.

As of last weekend, Honig now occupies one of the apartments atop the Redtree building at the corner of Soquel and Pacific, upstairs from the controversial Borders Bookstore and walking distance from his office. Honig's paper has editorialized frequently in support of Redtree's development plans, but he says he didn't deal with Redtree in securing the living space.

"I haven't talked to anyone at Redtree," Honig explains. "I went through the normal channels."

Honig tells Nu-z he dealt with Redtree's property management firm, Pacific Sun Properties, and that the subject only came up casually with Redtree exec John Tremoulis after the papers were signed.

As for the appearance of conflict of interest, Honig confesses the issue crossed his mind. But he insists simply that "It's not there. There could be an appearance of conflict if I just go out to lunch with someone," he posits.

[ Santa Cruz | MetroActive Central | Archives ]

From the August 23-30, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate