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By Eric Johnson
Published Jan 15, 2024

Hey, Mickey—please pay attention to your driving! Hey, Mickey—please pay attention to your driving! Image credit: Antonio Gravante, Shutterstock

Killer Cars, COVID & Copyright

Happy MLK Day, California. A reminder that this day was dedicated to volunteerism when Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act of 1990, encouraging Americans to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy “with acts of civic work and community service.” If you are in a position to do that and plan to do so, we commend you.

And a reminder that below our featured articles, you will find an easily digestible digest of curated news from trusted sources. 


Are Fatal ‘Accidents’ a Form of Violence?

This week we begin with the first of two articles about unnecessary losses of life. Jon Vankin writes about the increasing phenomenon of “traffic violence,” which is also known as the automobile “accident.” As you will see, thousands of Californians lose their lives each year because we’ve designed our transportation system to optimize for cars instead of people. Meanwhile, pedestrians are being killed by distracted drivers in bigger and bigger cars in devastating numbers.


Death on the Roads: Traffic Fatality Crisis Far From Over

California traffic deaths dropped by 12 percent in the first three months of 2023, but road fatalities remain at crisis levels.
As the COVID pandemic eased, so did the epidemic of death on the road. Somewhat. But the ongoing crisis of traffic fatalities remains at high levels with early numbers form 2023 appearing to top 4,000 in California.

Reading ‘The Wisdom of Plagues’ on COVID

In his new book, a former New York Times science reporter and expert on pandemics writes: “If the lies hadn’t been told ... we really would’ve ended up with only about 600,000 dead instead of 1.1 million dead.” I consider the book’s harrowing truths while suffering from a late case of COVID-19.


COVID Still Sucks

As I post this, the tiny pipe-mark beneath the T on this COVID test card, indicating that I am still infected, feels like it’s lodged in my stinging left eyeball.
A new book, ‘The Wisdom of Plagues,’ makes me feel angry that I contracted the disease in what should be the post-COVID era.

Mickey Mouse Is Free

For generations, US copyright law was determined largely by the value of one iconic piece of intellectual property. The fascinating tale of the Walt Disney Company’s successful campaign to protect the world’s most famous mouse, which has finally come to an end.


Mickey Mouse Enters Public Domain. What That Means for California

The version of Mickey Mouse seen in the 1928 animated short “Steamboat Willie” is now free for public use.
Disney icon Mickey Mouse is now in the public domain, meaning anyone can create their own Mickey Mouse cartoons. Here’s what that means, and how it could affect the California economy.


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Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony logo Santa Cruz County Youth Symphony

Santa Cruz Youth Symphony is a classical music performance and education program for young people living in the Santa Cruz region.

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From Our Media Allies

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KSQD logo Squid Fest West Returns March 2

KSQD’s fifth birthday bash will includes music, food, beer and wine, and a silent auction.

Santa Cruz Local logo Recent Storm Damage Tops $2.8 Million on Santa Cruz County Coast

Storms pummeled Santa Cruz County in late December, prompting a county supervisor’s suggestion to consider “managed retreat” at oft-battered locations.

Santa Cruz Local logo Improved Access Planned for Santa Cruz County’s North Coast

A plan to improve North Coast parking lots, build new restrooms and potentially rent cabins at Greyhound Rock County Park is being whittled down to a priority list due this spring, county leaders said.

Press Banner logo Underwater Photographer Launches Exhibit at Felton Library

As a scuba diver, Marc Shargel has seen ecological shifts since the 1970s, and recently used his camera to document stunning changes to California’s kelp forests.

The Pajaronian logo Watsonville, Pajaro Flood Victims File Lawsuit

The people affected by flooding in early 2023 have filed lawsuits against Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, local flood management agencies, the city of Watsonville, and the California Department of Transportation.

San Lorenzo Valley Post logo San Lorenzo Valley Water District Rate Increase: How the Public Process Works

Public meetings are scheduled for Jan. 20 and Feb. 15

Good Times logo Council Passes Resolution for Peace, Declines to Call for Ceasefire

The Santa Cruz City Council meeting erupted in emotion as attendees supporting a council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war lambasted the council for passing an amended version.

San Lorenzo Valley Post logo Zayante Fire Seeks Community Support

Zayante Fire Department is fighting to keep a financial fire from getting out of control and will soon face a new threat—consolidation.

Good Times logo Controversy on the Santa Cruz Wharf

After years of debate and litigation, the city is trying once again to expand the wharf—but one group continues to try and halt plans for proposed changes.

The Pajaronian logo Santa Cruz County Supervisors Approve Emergency Declaration for Storm Damages

County officials estimate that the waves, which wreaked havoc all along the coast, caused more than $4 million in damage.

Good Times logo New Chair Chosen for Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Justin Cummmings as this year’s board chair, and Felipe Hernandez as vice chair.

Hilltromper Santa Cruz logo A Mushroom Walk with Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Learning the names, habitats and behaviors of local fungi in the Santa Cruz Mountains makes this writer want to know more.

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Recent Local News

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• Capitola City Council Probes Wharf Damage, Outlook

At its meeting Jan. 11, which also happened to be the 75th anniversary of the city’s incorporation, the Capitola City Council received a comprehensive review of the Dec. 28 winter storm event damage.

(01/15/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Legislature’s Analyst Gives Mixed Review of Newsom Budget

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recipe for digging the state out of a multibillion-dollar budget hole has “strengths and weaknesses” while his revenue projections are “plausible, but optimistic,” the nonpartisan analyst’s office said.

(01/13/2024) → CalMatters

• UCSC Faculty Hoping for New Online Creative Technologies Major

UC Santa Cruz will provide a ”first of its kind” bachelor of arts in Creative Technologies beginning in fall 2024.

(01/12/2024) → City on a Hill

• Cabrillo-UCSC Joint Housing Project Groundbreaking Delayed to 2025

Cabrillo College President Matt Wetstein says the challenges of doing a joint housing project with the University of California are delaying the groundbreaking of the complex planned for Cabrillo's Aptos campus.

(01/12/2024) → Read the full Lookout Local report

• Capitola Bar and Grill Closing This Month

A sports bar along the Capitola Esplanade will be closing amid a years-long feud between the business owners, the landlord and his son.

(01/12/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• State Budget Cuts May Ax Santa Cruz County Resentencing Relief Fund

State funding that has helped fuel a second look at dozens of Santa Cruz County convictions over the past two years may be eliminated in the coming year’s budget.

(01/11/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• UCSC Whistleblower Lawsuit Shines Spotlight on Workings of Big Donations

A former UC Santa Cruz deputy development director claims a retaliatory firing after she complained about a scheme by a consultant to mislead and pressure campus donors. Officials call the claims “absurd.”

(01/11/2024) → Read the full Lookout Local report

• The World’s Next Big Carbon Capture Challenge? Figuring Out How to Use It

Carbon capture is having a moment. Companies such as Chevron Corp. are building technology to capture carbon dioxide from smokestacks while others are working to yank the greenhouse gas out of the air.

(01/10/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Lessons of Resilience and Hope at McHenry Vineyard

Like the redwoods that survived the devastating CZU fire of 2020, the McHenry family is resilient. That fateful August conflagration ruined a promising crop at Beauregard Vineyards.

(01/10/2024) → Edible Monterey Bay

• 12 Monterey Bay Spots to Anticipate in 2024

It’s nice to have a little something to look forward to. Or in this case, a dozen somethings, starting with three special cases.

(01/09/2024) → Edible Monterey Bay

• Community Service at Heart of Bruce Jaffe’s Supervisorial Campaign

Bruce Jaffe, a 40-year county resident and longtime Soquel Creek Water District boardmember, is running for the soon-to-be vacant 2nd District seat on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors.

(01/08/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel

• Rooftop-Solar Industry Blames PG&E, Newsom as Bay Area Businesses Struggle

Bay Area rooftop-solar businesses are reeling from a statewide change that gutted compensation for homeowners returning surplus power to the electrical grid, causing applications for new solar to plunge to a 10-year low.

(01/08/2024) → Santa Cruz Sentinel
  California Local Pin Marker  

Recent Statewide News

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• SCOTUS to Hear Case with Major Implications for Homeless

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case related to whether cities and towns can ban camping on public property. The high court could overturn Martin v. Boise, a 2018 federal court decision that keeps western cities and counties from blocking public camping when sufficient shelter space is unavailable.

(01/12/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• Fourth Graders Might Lose Free Access to California State Parks

California’s projected budget deficit of close to $38 billion likely means some cuts are coming. Among them, Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed ending the California State Park Adventure Pass, which offers free access to some state parks for fourth graders.

(01/12/2024) → SFGate

• Iconic California Restaurant Closes Without Warning

Pea Soup Andersen’s, a Buellton, Calif., restaurant just shy of its 100th birthday, closed suddenly. The restaurant's other location, near Interstate 5 in Santa Nella, remains open.

(01/10/2024) → SFGate

• $10M-Plus Lawsuit Follows Multiple Deaths at Sacramento Jail

Sacramento attorney Mark Merin has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of a man who died in May after being held at the county jail. Other inmates have died in recent years, and the jail is under a federal consent decree to improve its health care.

(01/09/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• Hate Crimes Rising in Los Angeles

Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism found that hate crimes rose 12.9% between 2022 and 2023. The spike follows a particularly stark increase in crimes against Jewish people.

(01/09/2024) → LAist

• Newsom Sets March 19 Special Election to Fill McCarthy’s Seat

Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for a March 19 primary to elect a replacement for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who resigned from Congress in December. If a candidate doesn’t win outright, a runoff will be held on May 21.

(01/08/2024) → Sacramento Bee

• State Trying to Use Generative AI to Reduce Traffic

Caltrans has set a Jan. 25 deadline for tech companies to show how generative artificial intelligence might reduce traffic congestion in the state. This follows an executive order that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in September related to this type of AI.

(01/08/2024) → LA Times

• New Year Brings Protections for Deep-Sea Corals and Ocean Fishing Opportunities

New rules took effect Jan. 1 permanently protecting the most fragile deep sea corals off Southern California. Simultaneously, more than 4,500 square miles of ocean waters are now reopened to fishing after more than 20 years of closures.

(01/08/2024) → YubaNet
  California Local Pin Marker  

Government Announcements

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Image of Santa Cruz County Office of Education seal. Santa Cruz County Office of Education   (01/12/2024)

Nurturing Educators: A Transformative Journey in Strengthening Social-Emotional Skills for Effective Teaching and Leading

Twenty educators from across the country participated in an eight-week course to strengthen their social-emotional skills to deepen connections to self and others and expand the strategies needed to teach and lead effectively, with purpose and joy. The Community of Practice was facilitated by COE staff Suzanne Denham and Robyn McKeen, along with award-winning Social [...] The post Nurturing Educators: …
Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (01/12/2024)

State Funding for Traffic Safety Programs Awarded to County Public Health

Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (01/12/2024)

Fondos estatales para programas de seguridad vial otorgados a salud pública del condado

Image of United States seal. United States   (01/11/2024)

World Green Nutrition, Inc. is Recalling ELV Alipotec Brand Mexican Tejocote Root Supplement Pieces (Raiz De Tejocote Mexicano Suplemento En Trozos), Net. Wt, 0.3 0Z (7g), Due to the Presence of Yellow Oleander in this Product

WORLD GREEN NUTRITION, INC. is recalling ELV ALIPOTEC brand MEXICAN TEJOCOTE ROOT SUPPLEMENT PIECES (RAIZ DE TEJOCOTE MEXICANO SUPLEMENTO EN TROZOS), NET. WT, 0.3 0Z (7g), due to the presence of yellow oleander in this product. The consumption of yellow oleander can cause adverse effects on neurolog
Image of City of Watsonville seal. City of Watsonville   (01/11/2024)

Permits required for construction on the City's right of way

Image of City of Santa Cruz seal. City of Santa Cruz   (01/11/2024)

Santa Cruz Water Dept To Move Forward With Three ‘Climate Resilient Santa Cruz’ Projects In 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 11, 2024 Contacts: Amanda Rodriguez, Community Relations Specialist, arodriguez@santacruzca.gov Santa Cruz, California - In the face of threats from severe wildfires, longer droughts, record rainfall from...
Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (01/11/2024)

Santa Cruz Seeks Community Input on Mobile Crisis Response Program

Image of County of Santa Cruz seal. County of Santa Cruz   (01/11/2024)

Santa Cruz Busca la Opinión de la Comunidad Sobre su Programa Móvil de Respuesta a Crisis

Image of State of California seal. State of California   (01/10/2024)

Gail Pellerin CA Assembly 28:
Assemblymember Pellerin Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee introduces AB 1784 to clarify that a candidate can only run for one office

Assemblymember Pellerin Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee introduces AB 1784 to clarify that a candidate can only run for one office robbee Wed, 01/10/2024 - 20:16 (916) 319-2039 916-319-2028 Friday, January 5, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz) introduces AB 1784 with Co-Authors Assemblymember Berman, Assemblymember Bennet, Assemblywoman Dixon, Assemblymember Friedman, Assemblymember Kalra, Assemblymember Low, Assemblymember Quirk-Silva, …
Image of United States seal. United States   (01/10/2024)

U.S. Trading Company of Hayward, CA is Recalling Dragonfly Jelly Bars Because it Contains Konjac Powder and May Present a Choking Hazard

U.S. Trading Company of Hayward, CA is recalling Dragonfly jelly bars because it contains konjac powder and may present a choking hazard. Konjac and its consequent texture and consistency could pose a choking hazard to small children as well as adults with functional and/or anatomic abnormalities.