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[whitespace] Rocket Boom! There It Was: From what we can tell from this picture, Vanderberg launched either a Minuteman II missile or a giant sperm.


Nüz

Mind Your P's And Q's

Bunches of people contacted Nüz last week to warn us that Measure P--the initiative to repeal the utility tax--would devastate Santa Cruz, if passed, wiping out $8.3 million, or 20 percent of the city's budget, and requiring cuts to police, fire and about half the Parks & Recreation budget, resulting in the closing of the Civic, the Harvey West Pool and the Teen Center, and the loss of marine and beach rescue programs, pothole and street repairs, flood control, bridge repair, storm drains and senior programs ... The list goes on and on.

"And then we'll all literally be in the doggie doo," said Community TV director Geoff Dunn who is heading the No on P campaign, which so far has raised $60, 000--"all to fight one person, who has a radio show," Dunn joked.

Dunn was referring to right-winger Steve Hartman, who has a show on KSCO and co-authored Measure P.

Among his arguments for passing P, Hartman lists the fact that the utility tax took in $775,000 in 1984, and $8.2 million in 2002--a more than tenfold increase in under 20 years.

"But is your income 10 times what it was?" asks Hartman. What he doesn't point out is that it's our utility bills and not our tax rates that have ballooned, a travesty for which our energy providers, not our city councils, should be blamed.

Still, Hartman argues that, for the past 20 years, the council said no to the Miss California Pageant and the Navy ships, and "practically invited car dealers to get out of town."

"All these revenues could have been used for the economic base. Instead the city used the utility tax to make up for the short fall. A repeal would force the city to act more responsibly and do more to bring tourism to town," he says.

Hartman claims that Measure P's passage would "put $8.3 million into our local economy."

A quick perusal of Nüz's utility bill revealed that average Joannas like us would only save $250 a year. Meanwhile, big businesses could save $100,000 a year (after which point they are exempt from the utility tax).

Hartman also says that if the utility tax repeal doesn't get us, rent increases will.

"Over in the county, landlords have reduced their overheads significantly as a result of the county's utility tax being repealed, " says Hartman, who also happens to be a landlord.

Meanwhile, Dunn notes that the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Alliance and the newly formed Locally Owned Businesses Alliance have all come down on Measure P.

"I think Hartman was expecting Seaside Company owner Charles Canfield to come in heavily on his side," Dunn says.

So, why are businesses opposing a measure that could save them a tidy chunk of change?

Bookshop Santa Cruz's Neal Coonerty says, "Businesses don't necessarily agree with the political stance of the City Council, but they all understand that the success of business depends on the local quality of life."

What about rumors that political leaders were forced into supporting Measure Q for fear the business community would support Measure P ?

"The Yes on Measure Q campaign wanted the support of the No on P campaign," says Coonerty, "but the bigger question was whether it would hurt both campaigns to have two measures on the same ballot, one saying 'no' while the other said 'yes.'"

All of which makes Nüz wonder how the SCC Conference and Visitors Council will promote tourism, if voters say Yes on Q and P. Maybe "Welcome to Santa Cruz, home of a classy roller coaster, great safety crews--and the biggest pile of garbage and doggie doo this side of the Rockies?"

City Council Erase

Following Metro Santa Cruz's coverage of the City Council election race last week, Councilmember Tim Fitzmaurice, the only incumbent running for re-election, emailed us to point out that we failed to mention his endorsements from SEIU Local 415, the United Transportation Union Local 23, the Santa Cruz Action Network, the People's Democratic Club, BAYMEC, the UCSC Democrats and the Central Labor Council.

Meanwhile, challenger Steve Argue emailed to say that he is "for fewer downtown ordinances" and not "fewer downtown allowances" as we incorrectly reported last week. Our apologies to both candidates.

Trail Blazer

Columbus Day was hot and bothered this year.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg skipped his city's Columbus Day parade, after organizers banned him from bringing two cast members from The Sopranos.

American Indian Movement founder Vernon Bellecourt said the celebration marks "the 510th anniversary of the coming of the colonial pirate Christopher Columbus and the beginning of the American holocaust that has claimed 16 million Indian lives in what is now called United States."

And Vandenberg Air Force Base tested the nation's missile defense system.

Visible from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the test provided a spectacular show and left many worried as to what they'd just seen.

In Santa Cruz, Aaron Bartley and dozens of other West Cliff-goers saw a very bright object at very high altitude, moving like a projectile in the sky around 7pm.

According to Bartley, "the object ... suddenly popped like a firework in a silent, green burst that sent faint particles evenly in all directions and quickly faded without drifting, while the long contrail and a faint green shimmer lingered in the sky for ten minutes."

This latter fact--that the object had "an obvious long and lingering contrail'--led Bartley to correctly conclude that "it wasn't a natural phenomenon (like a meteor), but rather a rocket or missile. It was certainly not an airliner."

No, sir. What Santa Cruz witnessed was a modified Minuteman II, which was carrying a mock warhead and an unspecified number of decoys, being destroyed by an interceptor missile as it traveled a 4,800-mile path toward the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. And, hey, how could the military brass have guessed that big ol' scary missiles blowing up offshore might be enough to make everybody jumpy around here?


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 23-30, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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