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[whitespace] Steve Argue Putting the 'Argue' Back in 'Gun Debate': Steve Argue has come out blazing for the right to bear arms.


Blanks Slate

With election day fast approaching and the pressure to endorse mounting, Nüz (ever a sucker for conspiracy theories) was curious to see who the California Rifle and Pistol Association is recommending in its State Election Guide, which landed on our desk last week declaring in a distinctly paranoid tone, "Don't vote. That's what the anti-gun politicians want you to do on Election Day!"

Most of CRPA's endorsements read like a Who's Who of Republican hard-liners, so we were a tad surprised to see that not only Jeromy "If more police officers are needed, so be it" McMillan, but also Steve "I'm pro-rent control and anti the sleeping ban" Argue got the CRPA thumbs-up for the Santa Cruz City Council race.

Asked if being endorsed by the CRPA was a contradiction in terms, Argue, who has also been endorsed by the Peace and Freedom Party of California, the Santa Cruz Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom, the Santa Cruz Progressive Federation and the Rosa Luxembourg Club, argued that "the right to bear arms came within the context of poor farmers rising up and demanding certain constitutional protections from the government."

Argue, who has been a card-carrying member of three unions and is an anti-police-abuse activist, said, "It's essential for the people to be able to defend ourselves, whether it be from pro-corporate Ku Klux Klan thugs that have kept unions from organizing most of the south, or murderous cops who are capable, upon order, of kicking in doors and taking the lives of political dissidents."

OK, well, the CRPA does argue that "society is safer when criminals don't know who's armed." But with Martha Stewart, Ken Lay and that East Coast sniper on the loose, Nüz has to say that it doesn't feel all that safe.

Candidates, Clocks, Consequences

Recognizing that lack of money is a mega-obstacle in mounting a successful campaign, Nüz was pleased to hear about www.SantaCruzElection2002.org, a resource website created to provide voters with information on the local candidates and measures on the Nov. 5 ballot.

"No specific candidate[s] will be endorsed on this website, and its stand on the issues will be neutral," wrote webmaster Rachel Kliger, noting that each Santa Cruz City Council candidate and 3rd District supervisor candidate has been offered a free webpage, and that the site includes info about Measures P and Q (the former seeking to repeal the utility tax, the latter seeking to raise the hotel tax this fall).

"The more people who know about the site, the more exposure the candidates with limited budgets will have. We strongly believe in campaign finance reform and in free media coverage for candidates," Kliger wrote.

While grateful that the candidates and measures are getting free exposure, Nüz noticed that www.santacruzwatch.org, which hosts the free and nonpartisan election website, also hosts the "Save the Town Clock Plaza," website, which advocates a particular position, namely opposition to the Doug Rand Peace Park.

Aside from objecting to the fact that said park would take over an existing historical site, Nüz recalls that critics of the peace park also focused on what Kliger describes as "the controversial Wall of Consequence," a 60-by-4-foot wall exhibiting war debris from around the world, which they claimed would offend members of the community. Which always made Nüz wonder: did anyone expect a Peace Park to be anything but antiwar?

Farewell to the Trees ... and Seas

The tree-sit to protest Redwood Empire's logging of Ramsey Gulch ended in tragedy Tuesday night after activist Robert Bryan, 25, of Salt Lake City, Utah, fell 50 feet from his redwood perch onto a tree stump, apparently dying of cardiac arrest as he was subsequently helicoptered to hospital.

Bryan was discovered by loggers who heard him calling for help. The loggers say Bryan was not wearing a harness and that he spoke of a problem with netting--a detail that has caused quite a bit of confusion, since the tree-sit, which was built by Earth First! activists in August, was a platform that contained no netting. The Sheriff's Department has ruled the cause of death to be accidental, and exactly why Bryan fell out of the tree remains a mystery.

"In the end, the only thing we have to go on is what the loggers say," says Earth First! spokesman Dennis Davie.

It took the Santa Clara County coroner's office a few days to identify Bryan, who left Salt Lake City several months ago without telling anybody where he was going or what he was doing, Davie learned from a family friend.

The other Earth First! protesters never got a chance to know Bryan. Known to his peers as "Naya," he had just arrived in Santa Cruz the day before when he ran into some activists at the Wired Wash Cafe and agreed to go up in the tree dubbed Esperanza. He had no prior tree-sitting experience, but said he was a rock climber. After a couple of hours training, he was up in the tree about 12 hours.

Redwood Empire loggers have since removed the tree-sit, but the tree is still standing. Davie said that Earth First! plans to have a discussion with Redwood Empire about saving the tree in Bryan's memory. How the death is going to impact Earth First! is something that the devastated activists are struggling to consider.

"We're all very sad and very upset, and we're trying to figure out what to do next," said Davie. "It's going to be a subject of much conversation the next few weeks."

Further tree-sitting in Ramsey Gulch has come to a halt--for now.

"We didn't stop tree-sitting because we're giving up. We stopped because we're grieving and we couldn't continue the tree-sit responsibly," said forest activist Dragonfly, who along with other activists is planning an Oct. 19 memorial, whose time and place is still to be determined.

The environmental activist community is also mourning the loss of Katherine Knight, who died of cancer last week. Knight was a local activist hero who revived The Epicenter, a section of the Comic News, which later became The Green Press. Knight, who also hosted an environmental program on Santa Cruz Community TV, lived on a sailboat in the Santa Cruz harbor called Raindancer and had a video production company called Raindancer Productions.

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 October 16-23, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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