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If I Had Hammer: Graduate Linda Swanson (left) and Barbara Cox celebrate completion of another Women Ventures training program.


Women's Work

Welcome to Barb's World.

"In Barb's world when little girls are born they are given tool belts and they get to define what they want to do," explains Barbara Cox, Women Ventures Project program director.

In the similar world of WVP, women are given a screwdriver (a graduation present), hands-on training and job placement assistance in their choice of "nontraditional" fields. For five recent WVP graduates, this means careers as carpenters, electricians, sheet metal workers and maintenance employees. Previous WVP students have earned their GEDs, attended truck driving school and landed gigs as bus drivers.

One recent grad from the Watsonville institute, Linda Swanson, began a carpenter-apprenticeship orientation a week after graduating.

"I had a $7.25-an-hour job and now I'm going to have a $27-an-hour job," says Swanson, a single mother of two. "Women Ventures gave me the tools to bring out what I knew I had inside of me and the direction to take care of myself and my kids."

One of the program goals is to provide women with the information and the basic skills to obtain high-wage nontraditional jobs, Cox says.

"Not everyone has the opportunity or the financial resources to spend a number of years in college. The trades offer the potential for learning on the job and making money."

The six-week program is free to eligible low-income women in Santa Cruz County looking for new careers in such things as transportation, public safety and building trades. Course work also includes math, daily yoga and weight training. The next session begins May 29. Mandatory orientation will be held May 24.

To sign up for orientation or for more information, call 724.0206.

The Last Straw

The soon-to-be-ratified contract between the UC and Academic Student Employee Unions may be the final nail in the Narrative Evaluation System's coffin, say observers.

Last week, union bargaining teams and UC reached a tentative agreement on a first-ever student employee contract. Union members on the eight UC campuses vote this week on ratification.

"After waiting for so long, people are definitely excited about a fully enforceable contract," says union president Christian Sweeney, a TA at UC-Berkeley.

The contract limits TA workloads and requires the university to pay student employees for extra hours on the job. But the extra workload for teachers also gives UCSC profs another reason to vote to eliminate the time-consuming NES when they cast ballots on May 31.

Evaluations are supposed to be written by teachers, but TA-written drafts have often been used in large classes.

Rusty Jones, a TA at UCSC, says that if profs have to choose between asking TAs to grade papers or write evaluations, they'll have to go with the former.

"If the administration really wanted to keep evaluations, they would be matching growth with staff," Jones adds.

"I think most profs have made up their minds already about evaluations," says anthropology professor Susan Harding. "TA workload restrictions can't help, but I think the real underlying problem is escalating pressures from UC and UCSC over the past five years ... to teach more and more large and very large classes."

Quacks Like a Duck

Don't be surprised to see local boy Fred Keeley's name showing up in places like the LA Times and other papers. The Speaker pro Tem from Boulder Creek has been given the task by the legislative leadership to be the Assembly's point guy in the investigation of state Insurance Commissioner Chuck "What Was I Thinking?" Quackenbush.

Keeley's leadership position and membership on the Assembly insurance committee put him in position to become the next Howard Baker, who uttered the famous "What did [the President] know, and when did he know it?" phrase during the Watergate hearings.

Quackenbush, a former assemblymember from Cupertino, is accused of going easy on insurance companies that short-changed claimants after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Instead of paying stiff fines, firms were allowed to set up two private "earthquake foundations" that paid for safety ads that just happened to feature Quackenbush. Quack aides are also under investigation for allegedly running the foundations out of the commissioner's office.

The Times also revealed that money from other settlements with insurance companies was routed to private consultants and paid for TV spots starring Quackenbush, who has received millions in campaign contributions from the companies he regulates.

Is impeachment a possibility? "Yes," Keeley says. "It's not the objective, but it is clearly something we have in mind as a possible outcome." A citizen recall effort is also under way.

Political Whiplash

Can you name the only Second Supervisorial District candidate to attend the Santa Cruz Action Network annual meeting last December? If you guessed Christine McGuire, buy yourself a cigar. McGuire is also the candidate endorsed May 8 by outgoing incumbent Walt Symons because "she will not be influenced by the political interests of SCAN."

But McGuire has never been one to play favorites. Because our spies are everywhere, Nüz can also report that the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat McGuire was also spotted courting votes at a special swearing-in ceremony April 13 at the Cocoanut Grove for the new Republican Central Committee.

If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything, they say.

Name That Point!

Hoping to erase the ghosts of past development controversies, UC-Santa Cruz announced it is dumping the name "Terrace Point" from the property on which Long Marine Lab is located.

"It's not really the property as much as it's the prospective use of the property," says spokesperson Liz Irwin.

With controversy over future development inevitable, it will soon be necessary to give the site, located on the northern edge of the city, a new name. Hence the Nüz Name That Point! contest. Entries received so far include:

  • Slug Point

  • Greenwood Acres

  • The Point Formerly Known as Terrace

    Send ideas to . A panel of judges with no pretense to objectivity will award a Metro Santa Cruz T-shirt to the lucky winner.

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  • From the May 17-24, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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