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Countdown to Ecstasy: Only 1,176 days until Jeb takes office.


Ready to Roll

It struck Nüz as just a tad ironic that there were absolutely no buses running locally the week ROSA PARKS died. Parks' refusal to sit at the back of the bus during segregation was of course what helped inspire the architects of the U.S. Civil Rights movement, but until this week the refusal of local bus drivers to return to work without an agreement with the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District mostly seemed to be inspiring frustration in the local Rosa Parks of our world--those workers, students, seniors, immigrants and other assorted residents who, for whatever reason, don't have the luxury of, or in some cases the desire for, a car.

So, it was with relief that Nüz learned that the bus impasse seemed to have been laid to rest the same day that Parks, a former seamstress, became the first woman to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol's Rotunda, a tribute she shares with ABRAHAM LINCOLN and JOHN F. KENNEDY, to name just a few national leaders.

Yes, buses should be running in the Cruz again as of Thursday, Nov. 3, according to Santa Cruz Mayor and Metro board member MIKE ROTKIN, who noted that negotiating teams from the UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION Local 23 and the Metro had reached a tentative agreement on Saturday night.

It's worth noting that the last such tentative agreement, reached by these same negotiating teams on Sept. 23, was rejected by the board, a move which prompted the drivers to walk off the job Sept. 27. But Rotkin isn't expecting a rerun of that situation, saying that on Sunday night the Metro board gave a "very clear signal" that they intend to ratify the agreement at their Nov. 2 meeting, which marks the 37th day of a strike that has affected about 23,000 riders, not to mention the livelihood of 145 drivers.

Central to the strike were questions of drivers' wages, health-care costs, retirement benefits and a contentious month of unpaid leave. As of presstime, neither the Metro nor the Union would elaborate on the exact details of the potential deal, but Rotkin said it's better for both sides than the previous agreement.

That's not to say we should have had to go through a month-long strike to get here," said Rotkin, noting that whereas the previous agreement was for a temporary one-year contract, this latest contract will last through June 2008. Rotkin also said that while the health-care and general-leave issues were resolved "quite some time ago," the latest agreement also resolves the drivers' salary issue by using "trigger mechanisms," which tie pay increases to increases in sales tax taken in by the transit district.

"That's a figure the transit district can't manipulate," says Rotkin, "so I think both parties were willing to live with an agreement that basically meant that we would share some money with the drivers ... depending upon how much money comes into the district." Sales tax accounts for about 80 percent of SCMTD revenues.

Still unresolved is the question of whether or not the SCMTD should make public the results of their closed session votes. In November 2004, California voters passed Proposition 59, also known as the 'Sunshine Act,' which requires government entities to demonstrate "to a somewhat greater extent why information requested by the public should be kept private," according to a summary by the California Attorney General's office.

Rotkin argues that issues like litigation and labor negotiations should be handled behind closed doors because "it makes negotiations very, very difficult and basically disempowers the group that is representing the public."

So, stay tuned to see just how much glare the Sunshine Act really does throw.

Better Late Than Never?

UC-Santa Cruz will host a free public talk by CALIFORNIA SECRETARY of STATE BRUCE McPHERSON titled "The Importance of Voting in the Democratic Process," which we assume will encourage young college students to get out and vote--a mere nine days after the Nov. 8 special election. Yup, McPherson will be speaking on Nov. 17 at the Colleges Nine and Ten Multipurpose Room, beginning at 4pm. So, don't be late.

Proverbial You

If you happened to catch Star, the movie in last year's Santa Cruz Film Festival about a woman who'll do anything to be famous, then you've already seen LAURA KIMPTON's older sister MARSHA.

'We have quite a different look," says the younger Kimpton. "I'm more earth-based, outdoorsy and grungier. And I'm not interested in fame. I'm more experience-based."

That experience is taking the Aptos-based Kimpton to the Pigman Gallery in San Francisco for "Proverbial Me," a solo exhibition that runs Nov. 3-30. A psychology counselor and educator, Kimpton says her interest in talking to people about getting back in control of themselves is what led to this installation, which is really the work of three people: herself and fellow artists Jeff Schomberg and Jeff Bernstein, who assisted in welding the installation.

"Sixty percent is art. The remainder is 'found art'--everything from junk to antiques. I'd rather go to the dump than check email," says Kimpton, who hopes the installation will entice people to change--and will alert them to the notion of "quadranicity."

"Quadranicity is the idea that we have four sides to our self--the physical, the intellectual, the emotional and the spiritual sides," explains Kimpton, who variously represents herself in the installation through a mannequin that's been shot by a crossbow, a bathtub and a steel tree that's dripping water, and whose branches contain a birdcage, an empty 8-foot steel chair and a 10-foot steel ladder that has water moving up it to an exit sign.

"I hope the installation will help people identify with their inner 'me,' not mine," says Kimpton, who plans to greet people in what she describes as her "living room," when she is present at the show. "And when I'm not, they'll be greeted by a shaking, vibrating woman made of old couch springs."

Visit www.pigmangallery.org or call 415.546.7441.

1,174 Days and Counting

The cool thing about the Bush Countdown Clock is that you can see the seconds ticking away, each bringing you closer to that sweet, sweet day when W leaves the White House--forever. Sweet as that thought is, the "days" countdown on this gimmick-on-a-keychain seems painfully slow--especially if, like Nüz, you find yourself checking it 20 times a day--and cursing. Still, as a humorous response to political power, this clock's a gas. Check out the clock at Bookshop Santa Cruz or call 831.423.0900.

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From the November 2-9, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.

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