[Metroactive News&Issues]

[ Santa Cruz | Metroactive Home | Archives ]


Ghost Busters

For years, rumors that Sunshine Villa is haunted have drifted through town like our much fabled fog. Once a lavish Victorian mansion, the building, which bills itself today as a "premier" assisted-living retirement home, is said to be built on a Ohlone Indian sacred site. Some say that cold presences, mysterious blue lights and the voices of women calling from the shadows haunt the place, which is also said to have been Alfred Hitchcock's inspiration for the Bates mansion in Psycho.

It might need ghost busting, but SEIU Local 415 representative Joe Keffer says the villa's former management company, Renaissance Senior Living, has hired union-busters instead.

According to Keffer, after Sunshine Villa workers elected SEIU Local 415 as their union representative in July, attorneys for Sunshine Villa's management filed 25 challenges with the National Labor Relations Board. When these were dismissed, the attorneys filed an appeal, meaning that four months after the vote, SEIU union reps are still being denied access to the site, and Sunshine Villa is now being managed by Regent Assisted Living, which operates homes in Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and California.

Newly named executive director Joan Bosworth says the villa staff is "working to ensure the standard of service meets the needs and expectations of our residents," and that the villa's management has taken steps to put in place "systems to open lines of communication" (Nüz is pretty sure we're not talking seances here) and is "eager to implement systems that reward and recognize the work of our staff."

Meanwhile, SEIU Local 415 claims management "has new tactics to derail the union drive," starting with the Oct. 12 firing of Yolanda Moya, a mother of six whom the union describes as "a key union work-site organizer" and "an exemplary employee for three years."

Asked if it was true that Moya was terminated because she threw away a plastic vegetable display (which Moya says she saw some Alzheimer's patients chewing on), all Bosworth would say was, "The reason given for the termination is not correct."

And while the new management claims that it's "very happy with the progress being made," SEIU is planning a union solidarity rally, noon-1pm, on Friday, Nov. 5, at 80 Front St., to "secure Moya's reinstatement, win job security, living wages and decent benefits, and stop understaffing and rapid worker turnover."

To Nüz's mind, the scariest part of all this is that as the baby boomer generation ages, more and more of us will doubtless end up in assisted living homes, making it more and more vital that these places be staffed by experienced, dedicated personnel, with good wages and conditions, so we can all win--even the ghosts.

Biting the Bullet

Why is a .22-caliber bullet lodged in one of two old chandeliers salvaged from the Del Mar Theatre? When Friends of the Del Mar--a volunteer group working to restore not only the two chandeliers, but also an original ceiling mural in the Del Mar's mezzanine and the women's restroom--first discovered said bullet, they hoped to discover it was from an old-school gangster shootout "or something romantic like that," says FODM president Catherine Graham.

Instead, they got a call from a lifelong local resident, who is now retired but once taught art classes at Santa Cruz High and wishes to remain anonymous for the purposes of telling this story: Once upon a time, says our mystery gentleman, not long after the Del Mar opened in 1936, a young band of hooligans came to the theater and decided it would be funny to release a bunch of pigeons into the air as a very special movie played on the screen. And that's what they did, says our source, who swears he was never a hooligan.

In any case, this pigeon-releasing move reportedly so angered the theater's then-owner, Barny Garnett, that he got out his .22 and shot up at the pigeons, exterminating all of them in the process--with one lone bullet lodging in the chandelier in the main auditorium.

Pigeon shoots notwithstanding, Graham and the rest of the Del Mar's Friends say they won't rest until they've raised $40,000 to complete the renovation work, a fundraising goal they hope to reach with two new sponsor programs and a $25 ticket Deco Fashion Show, the proceeds of which will go toward creating an actual powder room outside the ladies' bathroom area.

Not only will this show be a chance for many stylin' local businesses--including Avatar, Bunny's, Gala Cabana, Moon Zoom, Shoe Fetish and Aptos' Tranquil and Purrfect Girl--to show off their wares, but locals can buy said wares at a discount after the show.

The Deco Fashion Show will be held on Nov. 13, 2-4pm, in the Del Mar mezzanine.

Signs of the Times

With one the scariest elections in years upon us, Halloween felt tame by comparison, even in the Cruz, which is one of the wildest places to spend Oct. 31 in the nation. Best-costume-on-the-street prizes go to all the Umbrella Men, the Kill Bill blondes and the surfer girl/ghoul. There was the usual outpouring of prostitutes, nurses, police women and boys on leashes, which may explain the curbside gawkers, who should not have been shocked by the guy with the sheep strapped to his groin.

Hot Tix

Trust-Truth-Triumph celebrates spirit, community collaboration and the work of the county's Mental Health Coalition with storytelling, a silent auction, hors d'oeuvres, a no-host bar, dessert and music. Proceeds will support this powerful alliance of key community stakeholders to reduce--and ultimately eliminate--suicide in Santa Cruz County. Thursday, Nov. 4, 6:30pm-10:30pm, at the Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach St. Tickets are $99 per person, $170 for two people, or $600 for a table of eight. Scholarships are available.

Choreographers Miranda Janeschild and Laurie Broderick-Burr come together at the 418 Project when Janeschild's aerial and modern dance company, Mir & A Company, and Broderick-Burr's Yogamotion weave together a production that explores peace. Nov. 5-7, 7:30pm, with a 2pm matinee Nov. 6. Tickets $18-$25. Call 831.234.4870 or 831.588.7759.

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.

[ Santa Cruz | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the November 3-10, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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

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

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate