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By Eric Johnson
Published Apr 01, 2024

Prop 1 includes funding that will build institutions to treat mental illness and addiction—hopefully nothing like what Randle Patrick McMurphy encountered in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.' Prop 1 includes funding that will build institutions to treat mental illness and addiction—hopefully nothing like what Randle Patrick McMurphy encountered in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.'

Sandhill Cranes, Foster Kids, and Coercive Compassion

This week’s Newsletter takes me back to the very beginnings of my journalism career in California, and then jumps forward to a story I wrote last week. One story offers what might be a surprising perspective on the recently passed Proposition 1, and the other is about an organization working to help young people forced to navigate our complicated court systems through no fault of their own.

The stories are connected because they both deal with the consequences of untreated mental illness and addiction disorders.

But first: I am writing this on Easter Sunday, and as is traditional in my family, I am thinking about resurrection, renewal, and that kind of stuff. In that spirit, here is the second edition of One Good Thing.


Life After Death

Sandhill Cranes are magical creatures. In the marshes where they hunt with their spear-beaks, they stand four to five feet tall. Their wings can span six and a half feet. Their trumpeting calls and mating dances are hypnotic. By the middle of the 20th century they had been slaughtered to near-extinction. But they're back.


The Return of Sandhill Cranes

A magnificent Sandhill Crane in flight.
After being reduced to three or four nesting pairs in all of California in 1944, Sandhill Cranes have come back from the brink and are returning to Lake Tahoe.

Coercive Compassion

My position on Prop 1, and my thoughts about the benign neglect of our homeless neighbors suffering from mental illness or addiction disorders, are informed by a story I edited the week I returned to California, in March of 1997. That article was about the impending closure of a state hospital that treated Californians with developmental disabilities or severe mental illness. At the time, as you will see, many questioned the wisdom of emptying the hospitals and sending patients to live in halfway houses—which, as it turned out, were never adequately funded.

I understand if you are among those who struggle with the idea of coercive care, and I want to share a quote from Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), a supporter of Prop 1 who is also a PhD-packing clinical social worker.

“There is nothing compassionate about leaving suffering human beings on the street untreated or waiting until they have committed a crime and treating them in prison; rather than intervening to get them the help they desperately need.”


Newsom’s Prop 1: Revolution or Return to Reason?

An assembly hall at Agnews Developmental Center in Santa Clara. Agnews was one of five hospitals that served California residents with developmental disabilities and mental illness, all of which were emptied in the misguided move toward “community care."
Prop 1 was designed to help unhoused people get off the streets by forcing them into treatment. That’s one reason it took two weeks of vote-counting to pass.

Helping Young People Whose Parents Are Struggling

The very best thing about doing community journalism is that I get to help some remarkable people tell their inspiring stories. That happened last week when I met Danielle Dace and Matthew Romsa. CASA Sacramento is the only organization in the region that offers help to kids who have been removed from their parents care due to neglact or abuse. Often, the grownups involved are stuggling with addiction, and the families can be reuinted once they've gotten treatment. That has become increasingly difficult, so the need for help is great. 

There are CASAs in most California counties, and you can find them under Families and Children in our Community Groups and Nonprofits database.


A Court Appointed Special Advocate Can Change a Child’s Life

Danielle Dace and Matthew Romsa of CASA Sacramento
A conversation with two committed professionals who help CASA Sacramento match trained volunteers with children in the foster care system.

Recipe of the Week

Our friends at Sacramento Digs Gardening publish a recipe from their gardens every Sunday, which we feature here so you can start your week with some yum.

See more recipes in their Taste Spring! cookbook.


This springtime carrot cake has a difference

Carrots and chocolate -- how perfect for Easter or any other spring occasion.
Chocolate glaze especially appropriate for a holiday dessert


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Ecology Action states its mission concisely: “Reduce emissions.” The nonprofit group advocates for innovative energy, water, and transportation solutions in communities across California.

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Recent Local News

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• State Grant Funding Threatened After Rail Trail Vote

A recent split vote by Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors stalling approval of two rail trail segments is jeopardizing future state funding for the project.

(04/01/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

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The City of Watsonville announced a partnership with a Connecticut based software company to utilize the SeeClickFix mobile app for citizens to report non-emergency issues.

(04/01/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

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(03/27/2024) → Lookout Local

• Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors Deadlock Over Rail Trail

Supervisor Zach Friend recuses, and Supervisors McPherson and Koenig voted against moving forward with segments 10 and 11 of the Coastal Rail Trail between 17th Avenue in Live Oak and State Park Drive in Aptos.

(03/26/2024) → Lookout Local

• Ryan Coonerty Announced as New Executive Director at Leadership Santa Cruz County

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(03/26/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Opposition to Proposed Expansion of Marine Protections

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(03/25/2024) → Lookout Local
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• Your Doctor or Your Insurer? Little-Known Rules May Ease the Choice in Medicare Advantage

Disputes between insurers and providers can lead to entire hospital systems suddenly leaving the plans.

(03/28/2024) → California Healthline

• Homeless Infants and Toddlers Largely Unenrolled in Early Ed Programs

Evictions have exacerbated homelessness nationwide, increasing the rate of homeless infants and toddlers. Most of those children are not enrolled in early education programs.

(03/28/2024) → EdSource

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After bringing his story all the way to the University of California Board of Regents, a disabled UC Berkeley student has prompted the UC to ensure emergency evacuation chairs are in every multi-storied building in the 10-university system.

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(03/27/2024) → CalMatters

• Feds Propose Killing Nearly 500,000 'Invasive' Owls to Save Calif. Native Owls

The goal is to eliminate habitat competition between "invasive" owls and native owls.

(03/27/2024) → SF Gate

• Reps. Gaetz and Greene Lawsuit Against Cities Where Political Rally Was Canceled Can Move Forward

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(03/25/2024) → Los Angeles Times

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(03/25/2024) → KFF Health News
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Government Announcements

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Image of United States seal. United States   (03/29/2024)

Lidl Voluntarily Recalls Deluxe Branded Macarons Party Edition Due to Undeclared Allergens

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Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (03/29/2024)

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Dear community member, In recent years the importance of health and wellness to students success in and out of the classroom has become increasingly clear. In the fall, Santa Cruz County Pediatric Health Work Group and several community partners identified nutrition and exercise as areas of particular concern for youth. Reports from pediatricians and multiple [...] The post Youth Nutrition …
Image of United States seal. United States   (03/29/2024)

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Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (03/29/2024)

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Image of United States seal. United States   (03/28/2024)

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Shawnee Milling Company of Shawnee, Oklahoma is recalling 5 lb.Food Club brand All Purpose Flour with Best if Used by date 03/07/2025, because it may contain undeclared milk and egg. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to eggs or milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic
Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (03/28/2024)

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Image of United States seal. United States   (03/27/2024)

Geisslers Supermarket Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Egg, Wheat, and Milk in Sushi Product

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Interested in learning about genealogy?
Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (03/27/2024)

Spring Family Craft - Custom Mugs

Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with a new custom mug ~ Join us for our Spring Family Craft