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By The Numbers

Edited by Sarah Phelan and Steve Palopoli

In the first bubbly-infused hours of 2002, Nüz had a vision: write the number 20 on a piece of paper, hold it perpendicular to a mirror, and guess what? You'll see reflected the number 2002 (OK, the second 2 will be reversed, but so?), all of which means that 2002 is a numeric palindrome with inverted 20/20 vision. Does that mean people spent 2002 doing inordinate amounts of navel gazing? We do not know. But as we look back at a year that began with fear of flying and anthrax and ended with fear of Big Brother and nukes, we realize how much refuge Nüz took in math. Yes, math. Never our favorite subject at school--that's why we became writers, duh--the weird science that is numbers became our muse of sorts last year, introducing us to the Divine Mysteries of Statistics and offering us "Follow the Money" puzzles from the X-files of various local politicians.

So, as we close the books on 2002, here's our own countdown (or rather, count up), a collection of our best, worst and weirdest numerically inspired Nüz to carry you over the threshold of 2003--a year that promises to be as simple as A, B, C, and 1, 2, 3, and "Oops, We Bombed Iraq!"

1: Number of Snow Penis Sculptures Inspired by Santa Cruzans in 2002

Jan. 23: As torch-bearing community heroes (each given the option of buying a torch for $335) carried the Olympic flame through Santa Cruz, a cheering crowd waved them on with flags--many of which resembled unfurled condensation-frosted Coca Cola cans.

One spectator confessed he first thought the flags stated "I's A Slave"--a misread he put down to "subliminal messaging." Closer inspection revealed that the flag, which actually read "I Saw the Flame," was made in China and had the Coca-Cola logo artfully superimposed onto the Olympic Flame motif. > 8

Meanwhile, Nüz's spies in Utah, the state "Where Ideas Connect," report that Utahns were rubbed the wrong way when Salt Lake Olympic Committee president Mitt Romney issued a press release suggesting they construct snowmen in their front yards during the games. It would be cute, Romney suggested, to add small, plastic flags from various nations. Perhaps the snowmen could hold them.

Salt Lake resident and former Metro Santa Cruz reporter Andrea Perkins--ringleader of Utahns for Olympic Reform, a group dedicated to raising awareness of an Olympic Charter stipulation that says countries at war cannot host the games--reacted to Romney's scheme by urging people to construct snow penises instead.

When asked how building penises in front yards will draw awareness to the Olympic Charter stipulation, Perkins said, "This particular project is more about corporate exploitation."

Perkins believes the best thing about the Olympics will be the protests. Groups have been applying for "demonstration permits" for months, and though the Mormon Church refuses to allow any "First Amendment activities" on church-owned property (80 percent of downtown Salt Lake City) over 100 permits have been granted.

A dozen groups plan to voice their views on animal and gay rights, polygamy, poverty and homelessness, as well as the corporatization of the games. Philadelphia-based Kensington Welfare Rights Union organizer Betty Macri says her group will orchestrate a march of 30,000 homeless people from all over the country.

"The march will take place during the opening ceremonies," says Macri. "An obscene amount of money is spent on the opening ceremonies alone."

As for the snow penises, "they'll definitely be up by opening ceremonies," says Perkins, who is renting her house out for $1,200 dollars a night (the landlord gets a percentage) during the games and going to Costa Rica instead. "If it ever snows," she adds.

UPDATE: As Perkins reports, the snow penises did go up. "Actually 'it' went up. We had plenty of snow and me and my 'team' build it big, about 6 feet tall, smack dab in the middle of my front yard which was prominently located along the street everyone had to drive down to get to the big stadium where they had the medals ceremonies. I guess you could say it attracted some attention. Some horns were honked, some dudes screamed from their car windows. I am not sure if they understood my message. To tell you the truth, I was expecting something more in the way of community dialogue. My neighbors did dialogue with me a little, but they seemed mostly embarrassed. Soon, it started to melt into a surreal monolith that my neighbor's kid decided to decorate with food coloring until it resembled a Technicolor blob having an acid flashback."

3: Number to Get Hella Wasted to at UCSC

MAY 29: Last year, the Princeton Review rated UCSC as the No. 3 party school in the country, but that doesn't mean that UCSC's motto, "Fiat Lux," translates to "Let there be light, so I can see where the keg is."

That at least was the point campus officials seemed to be trying to make at a town-gown meeting last week. As UCSC Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood put it, "A lot of students come thinking drinking is not only acceptable, but encouraged, which is not true. We need to promote how real people act most of the time."

But just how do "real people" act? And are real people the same as students? And does someone have a calculator? Because something in this dizzying array of statistics does not add up--apparently a helluva lot of students are drinking themselves under the table, only most of them aren't from UCSC, but actually no one's really quite certain about that.

One thing's for sure: with keg parties banned on campus since 1989, drinking parties have largely moved off-campus and down the hill--thereby attracting high school kids as well as college students from Cabrillo and UCSC.

Santa Cruz Chief of Police Steve Belcher reported that his officers get called out to an average of two to 10 party calls per night on weekends.

"It's not unusual to find houses jammed with 200 to 300 kids and situations dramatically fueled by binge drinking," said Belcher. Binge drinking was defined during the meeting as four drinks for females, five for males in one sitting.

"We don't have a way to track everybody, but especially on the West Side, seven to 10 calls involve university students," said the chief. "Big parties used to be unusual, but that all changed with the advent of email."

Councilmember Ed Porter, who teaches at Santa Cruz High, said the stories of Friday and Saturday night parties are terrifying to him. Said a worried-looking Porter, "I hear plans for parties being discussed on Wednesdays, and now we hear from the chief of police about three-bedroom houses suddenly full of 200 to 300 students, all getting falling down drunk and participating in other illegal substances."

The SCPD's figures suggest that hundreds, sometimes thousands, of real students could be consuming hundreds of thousands of real beers on a really boozed-up weekend.

But UCSC's Michael Dorenzo, who oversees the campus' alcohol-abuse prevention program, said most UCSC students drink moderately, or don't drink at all.

Citing last year's Harvard School of Public Health survey, Dorenzo said 60 percent of UCSC students surveyed reported that they either don't drink at all, or drink four or fewer drinks per week. Which, translated into "real people," would mean that out of UCSC's 12,000 students, 7,200 don't overindulge, but 4,800 do, which doesn't exactly make for a really sober campus.

Still, as Dorenzo readily admitted, "the survey sample was really very small, which is why it's great that UCSC is going to participate in a five-year federal study on student behavior and alcohol."

Asked how many of the students caught drinking off-campus are from UCSC, Dorenzo said legal protection currently prevents that information from being gathered.

"We need to talk about student drinking as a community concern rather than a UCSC problem," said Dorenzo.

Noting that alcohol, tobacco and pot are the top three abused substances on campus, Dorenzo questioned the accuracy of the Princeton Review party-school rating.

"It's not associated with Princeton University, and appears to be conducted mainly by doing tabling in high visibility places on campus," he said. "It isn't a scientific study."

The only thing Nüz can really say for sure is that after all this math, we need a beer.

7: Lighthouse Field's Sex Appeal Rating

JUNE 25: Was Nüz the only one who noticed that Santa Cruz's Lighthouse Field placed an amazing No. 7 on the most recent list of California's Top 10 tourist attractions?

Published in the San Jose Merc, the list claimed the field gets 4 million visitors a year, beating out Knott's Berry Farm, which took eighth place.

Curious to see whether Lighthouse Field is really hosting over 10,000 tourists a day, Nüz visited it on Memorial Day. What we found is as follows:

12 drummers drumming, 11 pipers toking, 10 boards-a-surfing, nine dogs-a-barking, eight porta-potties, seven seals-a-swimming, six geeks Frisbee-playing, five buffalo wings, four doggie turds, three henchmen, two kids making love, and a crazy guy up a bare tree.

Confused, Nüz called the city' s Parks & Recreation Department and discovered that for counting purposes "Lighthouse Field" includes Lighthouse Point, site of the Surfing Museum, and Steamer Lane, plus part of West Cliff Drive.

Noting that the numbers seemed on the "higher" side, P&R staffer Susan Harris said she wasn't sure how the figures were calculated.

"In the past, informal counts at peak season were extrapolated, and the figures may have included local residents and visitors passing to and fro, as well as people driving by," Harris said.

Meanwhile, the Seaside Company's John Robinson wasn't pleased that the Boardwalk has apparently been demoted to the city's No. 2 draw.

"We estimate about 2.5 to 3 million people visit the Boardwalk and the Main Beach each year, and by Knight Ridder's own estimates [Knight Ridder owns the Merc], we're the No. 6 attraction in the state, so we don't know what gives," Robinson said.

Nor do we, John, but we do know that if they would just start counting the monarch butterflies as visitors, Lighthouse Field could even knock Sea World and its 4.1 million visitors out of sixth place. Hell, if we count them as a new visitor every time they flit around "to and fro," our big, empty field--nay, our newest monster tourist attraction--could easily unseat the current No. 1, Golden Gate Bridge, which clocked in with 13 million visitors. We're talking upset, baby!

10: Factor by Which Soul Train Is Kicking Politics' Ass in the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of America

AUG. 28: Ten times more people have signed a petition to have the singer Ashanti taken off the Soul Train awards nominee list than have signed a petition to halt the proposed war with Iraq, news that got one San Francisco resident so disgusted she's started her own petition.

"How appalling that we as a nation care more about who wins a Soul Train award than about understanding why the administration is so set on going to war," wrote this concerned citizen. "We need to collectively speak out--we can't complain if we don't."

Her petition is at www.PetitionOnline.com, which, aside from addressing the question du jour, namely "Why Iraq?", also hosts petitions calling for a fair and just foreign policy in the Middle East, and challenges Homeland Security (whose name, Nüz thinks, sounded way better in the original German) for being reactive.

11: Crappiest Day in September to Have Your Birthday

SEPT. 4: Dan Dickmeyer used to celebrate his birthday not with a wild party but with a very pleasant lunch. This year he's not so sure, since his birthday falls on Sept. 11.

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do this year--it depends if it becomes an excruciating media event that will make it less significant as a birthday. But then again, out of all the people who died on Sept. 11, 2001, someone surely had a birthday that day. It's daunting to think that I'm alive, and they're not," says Dickmeyer, who, tragedy notwithstanding, lunched at the Crow's Nest last year.

"I can't believe I did that. I imagine I was in shock. But this Sept. 11, I can't imagine lunch will be much fun. But what about Pearl Harbor Day? People eventually got back to normal. The year after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake there were a lot of memorials, but we are so far away from New York, which also was why I could go out last year."

Dickmeyer notes that some people are worried that children will no longer associate 911 with calling to get help, because the number looks so much like 9/11.

"When people say Sept. 11, they can't associate the number with anything but a disaster, which also spoils the day for weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. But I'm sure I can pull off something. Unless the Iraq thing happens, in which case I'll be out on the streets demonstrating."

14: Number of New Neighboring Cities Santa Cruz Can Expect in 2003

MARCH 6: Is it a dolphin? Is it a whale? No, it's a friggin' cruise ship.

News that the Star Princess and other luxury ships (seeking safer waters in the wake of Sept. 11) will be dropping anchor in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, beginning in May, has area business leaders cheering--Monterey, Carmel, Salinas, Pebble Beach and the Bayonet/Blackhorse Golf Course in Seaside are all scheduled day-trips--while enviros scream blue murder.

Says Kaitlin Gaffney of the Ocean Conservancy, some of the ships carry almost 3,000 passengers, making them akin to "floating cities." But whereas cities have to comply with the Clean Water Act, apply for permits for wastewater discharges, treat their waste and meet water-quality standards, cruise ships, says Gaffney, usually don't.

"Raw sewage can be dumped directly into these areas, provided the ship is more than three miles from shore. Gray water from sinks, showers, kitchens can be dumped, untreated, anywhere, and cruise ships can also hit and kill whales. Cruise ships dump ballast water that can contain invasive species; and they are significant sources of air pollution," says Gaffney, who hopes cruise companies will help protect the sanctuary.

Sounds like they and their well-heeled customers could easily afford to. Consider that the brand-new 18-deck Star Princess, the first of the luxury ships to moor near the Monterey Wharf and the largest ship in the line, offers its 2,800 passengers nine daily dining choices, three major stage shows each evening, a wedding chapel and a wedding-at-sea program, a 24-hour Internet cafe, a nine-hole putting green, a swim-against-the current lap pool ... need we go on?

UPDATE: "Did I mention we expect 14 cruise ship visits in 2003--up from three this year," says Gaffney. "Looks like the boom has begun."

20: Percent of City Budget That Would Have Gone Buh-Bye If We'd Been Stupid Enough to Repeal the Utility Tax

OCT. 23: Bunches of people contacted Nüz last week to warn us that Measure P--the initiative to repeal the utility tax--would devastate Santa Cruz, if passed, wiping out $8.3 million, or 20 percent, of the city's budget, and requiring cuts to police, fire and about half the Parks & Recreation budget, resulting in the closing of the Civic, the Harvey West Pool and the Teen Center, and the loss of marine and beach rescue programs, pothole and street repairs, flood control, bridge repair, storm drains and senior programs. ... The list goes on and on.

"And then we'll all literally be in the doggie doo," said Community TV director Geoff Dunn, who is heading the No on P campaign, which so far has raised $60,000--"all to fight one person, who has a radio show," Dunn joked.

Dunn was referring to right-winger Steve Hartman, who has a show on KSCO and co-authored Measure P.

Among his arguments for passing P, Hartman lists the fact that the utility tax took in $775,000 in 1984, and $8.2 million in 2002--a more than tenfold increase in under 20 years.

"But is your income 10 times what it was?" asks Hartman. What he doesn't point out is that it's our utility bills and not our tax rates that have ballooned, a travesty for which our energy providers, not our city councils, should be blamed.

Still, Hartman argues that, for the past 20 years, the council said no to the Miss California Pageant and the Navy ships, and "practically invited car dealers to get out of town."

"All these revenues could have been used for the economic base. Instead the city used the utility tax to make up for the shortfall. A repeal would force the city to act more responsibly and do more to bring tourism to town," he says.

Hartman claims that Measure P's passage would "put $8.3 million into our local economy."

A quick perusal of Nüz's utility bill revealed that average Joannas like us would only save $250 a year. Meanwhile, big businesses could save $100,000 a year (after which point they are exempt from the utility tax).

Hartman also says that if the utility tax repeal doesn't get us, rent increases will.

"Over in the county, landlords have reduced their overheads significantly as a result of the county's utility tax being repealed," says Hartman, who also happens to be a landlord.

Meanwhile, Dunn notes that the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Alliance and the newly formed Locally Owned Businesses Alliance have all come down on Measure P.

"I think Hartman was expecting Seaside Company owner Charles Canfield to come in heavily on his side," Dunn says.

So, why are businesses opposing a measure that could save them a tidy chunk of change?

Bookshop Santa Cruz's Neal Coonerty says, "Businesses don't necessarily agree with the political stance of the City Council, but they all understand that the success of business depends on the local quality of life."

What about rumors that political leaders were forced into supporting Measure Q for fear the business community would support Measure P ?

"The Yes on Measure Q campaign wanted the support of the No on P campaign," says Coonerty, "but the bigger question was whether it would hurt both campaigns to have two measures on the same ballot, one saying 'no' while the other said 'yes.'"

All of which makes Nüz wonder how the SCC Conference and Visitors Council will promote tourism, if voters say Yes on Q and P. Maybe "Welcome to Santa Cruz, home of a classy roller coaster, great safety crews--and the biggest pile of garbage and doggie doo this side of the Rockies"?

32: Number of Miles Santa Cruz Has in Which to Get Its Groove On

AUG. 14: Every morning, five days a week, the Downtown Litter Abatement Crew picks up trash while scattering positive vibes along Pacific Avenue. The crew members in their bright orange vests come via the city-sponsored Skills Center, and though they've only been in action since September 2001, they have already won our 2002 Cleanest Sweep Goldie, not to mention another year of funding--no small feat given the city's current budget crisis.

But the city's steam cleaning program wasn't so fortunate, falling victim to a $40,000 cut that has left the sidewalk looking grimier and sticky.

To find out if we're really up to our ankles in it now, Nüz contacted Super Steam owner Dan Carey, who explained, "Without steam cleaning, high-traffic areas--especially where you've got people pissing and spitting there--are grimier. And anywhere there's bubble gum, you've got problems, because what starts as a pink or green blob becomes a black blob that becomes a black spot."

But just as Nüz was scraping off its shoes after a brisk downtown walk and thinking what sorry times are these when even sneakers aren't safe on city streets, the situation got a whole lot stickier. Now comes news that suggests Pacific could become Bubblegum Avenue, a la Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, even after the city's finances improve: new storm water regulations are coming down the pike that say you can't lift pollutants and have them running into storm drains.

"Which means you can't steam clean, unless you have a recirculating system that vacuums the water back up," says downtown maintenance field supervisor Angela Curtis.

The good news? The changes take effect March 2003, so the city has six months to get its act together.

And so far, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the local executors of the Federal Clean Water Act and the state water code, have only verbally told the city about this change.

"They haven't modified the regulations yet. We're waiting to get it in writing," said Public Works' Suzanne Healy, sounding a tad anxious. "Basically, they're saying steam cleaning can be done, but the water used can't go to storm drains, but must be collected. So it can either be adequately treated prior to being discharged to storm drains, or collected and discharged into a sanitary sewer. If we don't take those steps, in their view, it's a violation of the federal Clean Water Act."

While the new regulations take effect statewide, Santa Cruz is particularly in the hot seat, because the town drains into the San Lorenzo River, which leads into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

"Not letting steam cleaning run off will make the job longer and more expensive, but we've got six months to work it all out," Healy said.

Which makes Nüz presume that an idea to dye the sidewalk different colors must by now be deader than a dodo. The idea, which sounded annoying, not to mention flawed (since ordinances can be revised), was floated by Councilmember Ed "eBay" Porter to color code what he calls "opportunity spots" for street performers and panhandlers.

Speaking of flawed plans, it's worth remembering that the city, albeit inadvertently, brought some of its current cleaning woes on itself several years ago when it cut 32 miles of sidewalk groove at the perfect size for cigarette butts to get wedged.

It also sandblasted the surface to create a rough-stoned effect (to reduce slipperiness from patchouli oil, perchance?), an effect that made the sidewalk grime faster and the dirt harder to remove.

All of which suggests we could now be really screwed--unless we can find a cheap steam cleaner that sucks. Literally.

Meanwhile, one wisecracking visitor suggested that since our cracks are getting wedged with butts, why not fill them with grout and write our thoughts on them instead?

"They'd have to be original thoughts--we could check them on the Internet to make sure no one's had them before--but judging from what I'm hearing downtown, there won't be too many of them," this visitor opined.

Super Steam's Carey, who first saw groutfitti while at UCSC, was not so keen. "People used to write little words along [the grout] with tiny, sharp, really precise pointy pens that were almost impossible to clean," said Carey. "And to clean and prepare the grooves downtown would be fabulously expensive, and if any of it caved in, as it doubtless would, then it might catch the occasional high heel that goes by."

We should be so (un)lucky.

38: Number of Rings of Fire Left to Fall Into

JUNE 26: No fireworks at the beach on July 4? Forget it. Never mind that Roman candles and their sky-bound brethren are illegal in Santa Cruz County--we all know the beaches will be smoke-filled wastelands on Independence Day, war zones replete with piccolo petes, spinners, snakes and cones.

With all this illicit activity guaranteed, it seems almost irrelevant to note that at least the beach fires will be legal--provided they happen in a fire pit. That was the conclusion State Parks reached after a meeting about the future of the age-old beach fire tradition.

"The general consensus was that people want their fires, so we're going in the direction of keeping them, if we can make other options such as fire flags and self-contained fires work," said State Parks Supe Dave Vincent, who has directed park rangers to return the 38 remaining fire rings from whence they came.

Faced with numerous offers of volunteerism to clean up the beaches in the interest of keeping the fires burning, Vincent said, "We welcome volunteerism, but we're a little nervous about people having to deal with hot coals, glass and nails."

Comments noted at the meeting included, and we quote:

* "If the rings go, they will never come back."

* "You're taking away our freedom. This is the last straw."

* "Jeeps running up and down the beach ruin our beach experience. Sell the jeeps and buy fire rings. "

* "Fire rings encourage tourism. Adopt a fire ring."

* "Concern should be alcohol, not fires!"

* "I am a beach criminal. I was arrested for a dog-off-leash violation."

* "I was trapped watching Little Mermaid in a Junior Lifeguard program!"

Now, what was that about how park rangers have it easy?

UPDATE: A fire ring committee has formed , volunteers have organized two cleanups and "Help Save the Beach Fire Rings" signs have been posted, urging people not to use pallets, and not to throw sand, cans or glass onto fires, which should be allowed to burn out.

420: Yeah, You Know What We're Talkin' About

APR. 24: Last Friday was much like any other day in the bustling newsroom. Major crimes needed to be solved, dishonest politicians needed to be exposed, the water-cooler bottle needed to be changed.

We were busy, but never too busy to pick up the phone and hear our favorite, pulse-quickening words crackling through the receiver: "I've got a Nüz tip."

Speak to me, baby, we urge our no-named informant.

In a sotto voice he informs us of an act of civil disobedience soon to take place. He can't tell us exactly what this illegal act might be, but it's gonna promote the legalization of cannabis and industrial hemp.

We wonder.

Deep Throat directs us up to the UC campus bookstore Saturday, at 4:20pm. Hmmm. The date is 4/20, the time is 4:20.

We still wonder.

The informant hopes to clear up any remaining confusion when he proudly gives us the name of the proposed law-bustin' wingding: The Great American Smokeout (GAS).

Dude. Like, dude, we point out. That name is, like, all taken. And he's all, Whoa! No way! and we're all, yeah, really. Like, the American Cancer Society? They do this thing every November? Where, like, people are encouraged not to smoke?

Perhaps a little at odds with the goal of Saturday's bluntfest, but our friend is not deterred. We are directed to his group's website for more information.

Instead, a call to the American Cancer Society seems more in order.

Yes, the name is trademarked, sez Jane Henehan, ACS' media relations spokesperson in New York. who then suggests we call the ACS legal department. But before we bring the wrath of a giant do-gooder organization down on the rather stoned heads of a local do-gooder organization, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to see how much of a stink the campus GAS can make.

We are too busy to actually show up on 4/20 at 4:20, but our informant calls in with an update. Apparently, around 100 people showed, ready to fire up until they noticed more than a dozen cops and a few provosts lurking about. Then there were those handouts warning students they could lose their housing contracts and financial aid if they were caught smoking the wacky tabacky.

"We felt like it was a success, even though people didn't smoke," says Deep Throat. "We're just trying to get activism started here again. In the future we're gonna be doing more events that are a little less selfish than helping out Santa Cruz stoners."

540: Number of Votes That Decided the Ugly Supervisor's Race--Just Before It Got a Whole Lot Uglier

NOV. 13: As the first winter storm pounded Santa Cruz last week, and locals ruminated on the scary implications of a Republican-controlled Senate and Congress (go, go Homeland Security, Alaska drilling and Iraq invasion!), politicos were busily deconstructing the final days of the most intensely fought local battle this fall--the county supe race, which incumbent Mardi Wormhoudt won by a handy 540 votes--a result a sore Mark Primack claims has a "1 in 5 chance of being overturned once the absentee ballots are counted."

On the day of the election itself, hours before any precinct results were in, an outraged Paul Sanford called Nüz to accuse the Sentinel of having stuck it to Primack (who, ironically, was the Senile's pick for supe) by running a Nov. 5 headline that screeched "Developers' last-minute $25K backs Primack" --a headline, by the way, that Sanford calls "a blatant falsehood."

Weirdly enough, just three days earlier Nüz had encountered the tie-dye T-shirted Sanford, who was barefoot and pregnant with political intrigue as he distributed fliers that promoted Primack, opposed Measure P and were paid for by a mysterious sounding and hitherto unheard of group called the Committee for Better Local Government.

When asked at the time who was behind the group, Sanford admitted he was the committee's manager, but refused to divulge further info until election day itself, allegedly for fear that the running dogs of the press would put a negative twist on it.

Which of course was exactly what ended up happening, all of which proves that if you want to put a spin on a story, you'd better spoon feed--not starve--the media.

Anyway, the fallout from this late-breaking bit of election news has been phenomenal, and may even have cost Primack the election--which may explain Sanford's heated anti-Senile rant on the day of the election.

"What responsible newspaper would run such a sloppy headline on page one on election day?" stormed Sanford.

Specifically, Sanford's beef was that the headline juxtaposed "developers" (which round these parts is tantamount to saying Satan's Evil Elves) with "$25K."

'There's no way the Sentinel could verify that $25k was developers' money. At most you could say that $7,200 could be attributed to developers," said Sanford, admitting that he still doesn't know what Baywood Homes Corp. (which gave his committee $5,000) is or does. He also claims that he didn't know until election day that the Oregon-based McDougal Bros., which also donated $5,000, had sold property in the Santa Cruz Mountains to luxury home developers.

As for "$7,200" of developers' money, Sanford calculates thus: "$6,880 of the $25K was given to the No on P Committee, and contributions were split on a 60-to-40 ratio between Primack and P."

Indeed, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission, independent political action committees must pick at least two causes and spend at least 20 percent of their funds on their secondary cause.

But while Sanford castigates the Senile for not having called him before running the story, Nüz notes that the only contact number on his committee's reports belonged to treasurer Judith Osborn, making us wonder who's spinning who here?

And while Sanford alleges that the Senile's editorial staff were aware of his involvement in the committee after he placed six full-page ads in their paper on the three days before the election, editor Tom Honig insists there is a firewall between the editorial and the advertising departments.

"Judged a few days later, our story might have been a little different, but can you call yourself a newspaper if you willingly withhold anything you know?" Honig asks, adding that he remains "100 percent supportive of the reporters who filed that story."

Meanwhile, Sanford, who incidentally is a law professor by trade, says he didn't file his contributions reports until the Sunday before the Tuesday election, because he didn't receive or spend the money until the last minute.

As for him having little or no knowledge of the identity of the donors who gave $5,000 apiece to his committee, Sanford says there is a handful of local individuals who assisted the committee in fundraising but wish to protect their privacy.

"I guess the donors found out about our effort to have a more responsible government and sent money," he said. "But none of them participated in how it was spent. I was responsible for that, which involved crafting a positive message. As for the activities of the committee, they were all legal, ethical and proper. We're 100 percent proud of the uniformly positive message we put out about Primack."

Meanwhile, a steaming post-election Primack vented about Sanford's committee, the Senile, and Mardi--all in one breath.

"Who needed this committee? My campaign surprised even ourselves by the money we raised. If this committee hadn't happened, we would have won the election. But the Sentinel's story threw the precincts. Any competent newspaper wouldn't have run a story like this on election day. Negative campaigning is Mardi's MO. But I don't expect it from a newspaper."

1,250: Average Number of People Who Like to Potty Hard Downtown Every Day

JUNE 12: Fodor 2002 describes Santa Cruz as "a haven for those opting out of the rat race," "a bastion of 1960s-style counterculture," "less manicured than its upmarket neighbors to the south" and "at the forefront of such very California trends as health food, recycling and environmentalism."

What it doesn't mention is our leadership in another California trend--an almost total lack of clean and graffiti-free restrooms where frappucino-drinking tourists can safely go pee before returning to Germany.

Managers of several downtown stores say vandalism and drug use have gotten so bad that many businesses have closed their restrooms even to paying customers from such far afield places as London, Rome and Aptos. The potty crisis has put them in an impossible situation, since customers often demand they have facilities at the ready, while continuing abuse of those same facilities can be shockingly costly, not to mention gross.

Before Fodor 2003 gets wind that our town is seriously toilet-challenged, El Palomar general manager Sarah Johnson is trying to reverse the trend by installing coin locks to control what she calls "outrageously expensive damage."

"People were using our restroom like a public bathroom, and we were painting the men's bathroom once a week just to deal with the graffiti. Since installing the locks, we've proved our customers weren't doing most of the damage," says Johnson, who'd like to see the city put up signage showing where the real public bathrooms are located.

She urges businesses to reopen restrooms, even on a limited basis, so as not to burden a few premises.

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From the January 1-8, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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