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[whitespace] John Yewell, Rob Pratt
Edit This: Metro Santa Cruz News Editor John Yewell (left) and Assistant Editor Rob Pratt promise not to let the door hit them in the rear on their way out.



At least we know they weren't pushed.

Following the loss of Lee Quarnstrom's San Jose Mercury News column, the departure of longtime county reporter Dick Little, and the abrupt, unexplained exit of Good Times editor Ann Sumwalt, the Santa Cruz journalism world was once again rocked this week by the news that Metro Santa Cruz News Editor John Yewell and Assistant Editor Rob Pratt would be leaving the paper.

The announcement of Yewell's departure caused a sigh of relief from the Canlis for DA campaign that could be heard as far away as Pacific Grove. Meanwhile, local freelancers used to blowing deadlines danced in the streets at the news of Pratt's resignation.

Taking a position as an associate editor of Maximum PC, Rob Pratt will finally be able to lay his extreme theories about Internet communication protocols on colleagues who actually care. He plans to remain analog, though, as a reed player with Santa Cruz area jazz and classical groups.

Yewell will take his take-no-prisoners reporting style to Durham, North Carolina, where he will become editor in chief of the award-winning paper The Independent Weekly. Shortly after the hiring was announced in the nearby state capital of Raleigh, aides to Sen. Jesse Helms were seen in a local Kinkos polishing their résumés.

Pratt was philosophical about his many happy years months weeks at MSC, as he muttered "hasta la vista, baby" and scurried out the door. Yewell, known for his sensitive side, cried unashamedly as he bid adieu to his colleagues.

Publisher Tami Roadarmel was asked how she would ever be able to replace two such dynamic and crucial members of her staff. "You must be joking," the enigmatic Roadarmel replied.

Go Fish

Community members, engineers and hydrologists alike have been donating their time and expertise to the Arana Creek Restoration Project now in full swing near Harbor High School on Soquel Drive.

"The fish ladder is too short," says Greg Gauthier, executive director of the Coastal Watershed Council. "In times of heavy water flow, fish become confused and get trapped on the side of the ladder. So we'll add two more steps to help keep them on track."

Other concerns include replacing exotic riparian vegetation with native plants along 400 feet of the creek, improving water quality and strengthening the creek banks.

"At the time the original fish ladder was built," explains Bobbie Harver, coordinator for the Arana Gulch Watershed Alliance, "the streambed was lowered, creating degradation to the bank and clogging the stream with sediments." The creek bed has now been successfully elevated to its natural level.

The $90,000 project has been on the drawing board for three years, under the auspices of the Coastal Watershed Council, the Arana Gulch Watershed Alliance and the Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District. It came to fruition this year thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Fish and Game, Urban Stream (a grant program for the state Dept. of Water Resources), the City of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Port District.

In Hospitality

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has launched an investigation of Catholic Healthcare West, the corporation that owns Santa Cruz's Dominican Hospital.

The probe was prompted by the closing of CHW-owned Community Medical Center, a 76-year-old hospital in east Long Beach. CHW closed the facility Sept. 29 only two years after purchasing it, putting some 760 people out of work.

The probe will also look into the closing last December of Saint Louise Hospital in Morgan Hill. CHW sold SLH and the surrounding 28 acres after 10 years of operation to San Jose Christian College, leaving residents dependent on another CHW-owned hospital in Gilroy. (The college hopes the city will rezone the property for its new Bible college campus.)

The unprecedented investigation will focus on whether CHW has violated laws governing charities.

"This is uncharted territory," health care consultant Peter Boland told the L.A. Times last week. "Ultimately, the attorney general will look at what nonprofit status means today, given the corporatization of nonprofit medicine. So this sends a message to hospitals: We are looking at you."

According to the Times article, Lockyer will probe whether CHW's assets--which as a charity are restricted--were diverted to improper uses. The AG will also look into whether the hospital closings violate the nonprofit's duty to aid the public, or constitute a violation of antitrust laws.

Critics of CHW, including the Service Employees International Union, claim that the nonprofit is acting more like a for-profit hospital, putting the bottom line before patient's needs, and say the organization is trying to eliminate rivals in the highly competitive health care field.

CHW owns 44 hospitals in California, or 10 percent of all hospitals in the state.

Calls to Dominican were not returned.

When asked what the investigation might mean for Dominican, Lori Aldrete, CHW vice president of corporate communications, replied: "We're not sure what the attorney general will be looking at so it's hard to say what any ramifications may be for individual communities."

She did add that "we would welcome the opportunity to increase awareness of the significant underfunding that's currently in the health care system."

Bad Hoop Dream

Former UC-Santa Cruz men's basketball coach Duane Garner filed a lawsuit Oct. 2 in federal district court in San Jose alleging that the university discriminated against him on the basis of his race.

Garner called Nüz to say he had decided to take his case to federal court after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission terminated its investigation last July. Federal mediation was also unsuccessful, Garner says.

Garner originally went to the EEOC a year ago claiming that the university and its athletic director, Mark Majeski, passed over Garner for a full-time coaching position in favor of Eric Bridgeland, a white man who had no previous head coaching experience. Garner, who is black, had coached the men's team on a part-time basis for eight seasons.

Majeski recently left UCSC to take a similar position at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Garner says he expects the university to be served with legal papers within the week. Garner's attorney Don Hubbard declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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From the October 4-11, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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