A Painful Time
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Like you I was outraged by the violent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many more. Before our Board meeting on May 29, I asked that we observe a moment of silence for George Floyd, his family, and particularly for people of color who are afraid, angry and frustrated by police brutality. The peaceful protests here and around the world are inspiring. I will continue to work with Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart to implement President Obama's 21st Century Policing
initiative to reduce bias, force, and increase transparency and mental health services to those in crisis.
Deepening our sorrow, our community is now heartbroken by the senseless murder of Sheriff's Deputy Damon Gutzwiller. Those who knew Deputy Gutzwiller describe him as a caring and dedicated man who loved his work serving the community where he lived. My sincere condolences go out to his wife, family, friends, and the entire Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office.
One of the lessons the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me, and laid bare for all of us, is how interconnected we all are. We are all affected by each other's actions. Our fate is inextricably tied to our community. We cannot learn from each other, or protect each other unless we first vow to peacefully and non-violently address racism, bias, and hatred together. In the midst of sorrow, uncertainty, and unspeakable tragedy in our community, we must recommit to strengthening our bonds through empathy and listening with open hearts. If we do so, I am sure we will emerge as a stronger and more united Santa Cruz.
We are continuing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Thank you for doing your part.
Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel issued a Health Order aligning the County with any future State action to remove restrictions under the statewide Stay at Home order. This week, the state and county will allow childcare, gyms, and schools to re-open with new public health guidance. You can see the current status of COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County here.
Summer School Lunch Program and Second Harvest Food Distribution
Second Harvest Food Bank and the Santa Cruz City Schools are making sure community members don’t go hungry. This summer, Santa Cruz City Schools will continue to provide food service for all families at three locations: Bay View Elementary, the Beach Flats Community Center, and Harbor High School from 11:00 to 12:30 each day through July 31.
Second Harvest Food Bank continues to fight hunger, holding regular food distributions in Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Click here for more information.
Advocating for Federal Funds
I've been spending a lot of time working with our federal representatives to get federal funding for our local governments. Santa Cruz County, and most cities and counties in the U.S., are facing severe revenue shortfalls and increased emergency costs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local governments with populations over 500,000 received direct assistance through the Federal CARES Act, but with a population of approximately 270,000, Santa Cruz County did not receive funding. Our local representatives (Sen. Feinstein, Sen. Harris, Rep. Panetta and Rep. Eshoo) are advocating for us in Washington and Rep. Panetta introduced a bill to help local governments access COVID-19 stabilization funds.
Climate Change: Fighting Big Oil
Santa Cruz County is one of the first jurisdictions to sue 29 oil, gas, and coal companies for their role in creating climate change and the resulting damage from storms, fires, and sea level rise.
Big Oil recently lost two court battles, bringing us closer to trial. It’s time for Big Oil, who chose profit over people and the environment, to be held responsible. It’s time for oil companies to pay for the damage they’ve caused, rather than ask local taxpayers to pick up all the costs.
Join the Discussion
The Santa Cruz Public Libraries (SCPL), has developed a new monthly discussion series intended to help build resiliency within our community. I’ll be moderating the first event in the series, Housing is Healthcare, which will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday June 17 via Zoom. Register here to participate:
In Housing is Healthcare, service providers will discuss how we can build community resilience during our current crisis. The program asks us all to consider how we can come out of this crisis stronger than before. People from all walks of life are invited to come with questions and ideas to help us build a more resilient community.
Wildfire Safety: PG&E Open House
PG&E is hosting an online Open House regarding wildfire safety for the Central Coast counties of Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey Counties that is open to the public. It will be held on June 24, 2020 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Register for the webinar here.