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Popped Rocks

Everybody knows that stealing from orphans is about as low as it gets. What's less certain is whether the thief who lifted a load of jewelry from the UNICEF store at 1330 Pacific Ave. two weekends ago knew that this particular theft came with a extra dose of bad karma, since the proceeds from sales of said jewelry were to go to help children in Africa whose parents have died of AIDS.

Store manager PAT ARNOLD reports that the store's amber, sterling silver and lapis were stolen some time before 2pm on Sept. 19.

"Someone took advantage of our volunteer, by turning their back on her and emptying the two top shelves of the case, which was open at the time," says Arnold, adding that whoever it was "knew what they were doing, because they left behind some glass pieces from Israel that weren't worth that much."

With the retail value of the stolen items estimated to be $2,000-$2,500, the theft was "a big blow," says Arnold, who hopes the community will rally around and visit the store, which is tucked inside the Santa Cruz Roasting House and carries UNICEF Christmas cards and gifts, as well as low-priced fair trade items from around the world.

Meanwhile, Nüz can't help wondering if this robbery is connected to two other jewelry thefts last March, one at 1535 Pacific, home of JEWELS ON PACIFIC, the other at 1547 Pacific, home of the fair trade ARTFORMS, which some consider to be a museum, but which owner Keren Bloomfeld insists is really a store--"and if you don't buy, we won't be here anymore."

Proposition This

To the sound of drumming vibrating from a neighboring classroom, silver-haired and sneaker-clad members of the PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC CLUB met at the LOUDEN NELSON CENTER last week to listen to LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS board member MARION TAYLOR present the pros and cons of state propositions.

Taylor pointed out that if you go to www.smartvoter.org and type in your address, you can see which candidates, measures and props you can vote on in this election--a very useful option, given that, in the propositions department alone, California voters decide on 16--count 'em!--props this fall.

Feeling daunted? Remember that when you vote on a proposition, you, and not the legislature, are making laws, so in one sense it's the closest thing to democracy you've got. That said, it's a good idea to put aside some time--not to mention a copy of our upcoming election guide--so you'll be well informed come voting day. Which reminds Nüz that Oct. 18 is the last day to register to vote and Oct. 26 is the last day that applications are accepted for absentee ballots, which must arrive by 8pm, Nov. 2. Oh, and that polls are open on Election Day from 7am to 8pm. But we digress, so back to the Louden Nelson Center ...

Sweet Sixteen

... where Taylor presented the props, where possible, in pairs of related issues, beginning with PROPOSITIONS IA AND 65, both of which have to do with protecting local government from state take-aways, with the authors of Prop. 65 having revoked their support of Prop. 65, in favor of Prop. 1a instead. Confused?

"If you vote yes on both, the one with the most votes will pass, and if you vote yes on both, or don't vote on either, you're letting other people decide for you, so it's better to choose one proposition or the other," said Taylor, who then moved on to PROPS 60 AND 62, which both concern primary elections.

Although Prop. 62 sounds good in theory--an open primary system in which the voters, not the political parties, choose their candidates--PDC organizer BILL MALONE later told Nüz that he deems a yes vote on Prop. 60 critical for the survival of the Democratic Party, as well as third parties like the Greens.

"Let's say two Republicans and five Democrats ran in an open primary," Malone explained. " The Democrats would split the vote, so the two Republicans would stand a good chance of getting on the general election ballot, under Prop. 62."

Taylor next discussed PROPS 68 AND 70--which both concern gaming, and which most Dems seem opposed to--before moving onto PROP. 72. This one was put on the ballot after the state Legislature passed Democratic Sen. JOHN BURTON's health-care legislation, thereby triggering outrage in the fast food and restaurant industries, as well as many department stores. Why all the outrage? Because Burton's bill requires employers of 50-plus workers to provide health care, and employers of 200-plus employees to extend those benefits to their employees' families, too. Signed into law in 2003, Burton's bill will kick in in 2006, if voters approve Prop. 72.

A brief discussion of PROP. 59, which governs people's right to access information, but exempts records of courts and the Legislature, and which some say doesn't go far enough, was followed by short presentations on PROP. 60A, which governs surplus government property; PROP. 61, which involves bonds for children's hospitals; and PROP. 63, which would establish a 1 percent tax on millionaires, with the funds going to expand county mental health programs. Props 60a, 61 and 63 all seem to be favored by Dems, unlike PROP. 64, which critics claim hampers environmental justice lawsuits.

And then it was a question of PROP. 66, which amends the state's three-strikes law to require that convictions for only violent and serious felonies be counted, which many falsely assumed the original law did.

Taylor next focused on PROP. 69, which isn't about sexual positions at all, but would expand the state's DNA collection retroactively to include all convicted felons, some nonfelons--and, in 2009, individuals arrested on both nonviolent and violent charges, a provision which sounds dangerously Big Brotherish to Nüz.

Taylor wrapped up the evening with PROP. 71, a.k.a. the stem cell research initiative, which supporters say would instantly make California the leading place for such research, and create thousands of jobs. Critics point out that this $3 billion bond would cost $6 billion to repay and seems out of proportion, given that the state's BREAST CANCER ACT only funded $15 million.

Some Dems see the stem cell research issue as a wedge issue with which to defeat BUSH, while others argue that Prop. 71 helps keep this research in the public eye, while still others feel this proposition doesn't go far enough in mandating protections against abuse. It was enough to make Prop. 71 one of the most hotly debated props of the evening--and keep Nüz awake all that night, with dreams of cloned politicians extracting our DNA while we poured pennies into the slot machine of a casino that had popped up on Cowell's Beach ...

Up the Media

Frustrated by mainstream media's er, news coverage? Check out director ROBERT KANE PAPPAS' Orwell Rolls in His Grave, which shows how the media distorts and dismisses news, this Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7pm, at Live Oak Grange, 1900 17th Ave.

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From the September 29-October 6, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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