Three-month-old banana slugs in Janet Leonard's UC Santa Cruz research lab.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: Watsonville nurses rally, banana slug sex and punk revolution

Top o’ the morning to you, Santa Cruz County. It is Wednesday, June 14, and the weather story is a familiar one, with clouds breaking up as the day wears on and temperatures heading for the 60s and 70s.

I’ve got a barrel full of news, but if you’d rather explore it all for yourself, by all means do.
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Beki San Martin was on hand Tuesday evening as nurses gathered outside Watsonville Community Hospital to rally public support in the face of what they say are staffing shortages caused by an exodus of workers amid changes by the hospital’s new ownership. “A lot of us are scared for the safety of our patients, for our licenses, for our ability to work and be good nurses,” one nurse said.

We’re all familiar with the banana slug that, among other things, is UC Santa Cruz’s beloved mascot, but have you ever stopped to consider banana slug sex? The complicated, if slow-moving, process has been the life’s work of UCSC researcher Janet Leonard, and Elise Overgaard has a don’t-miss Q&A.

Punk rock has long been the soundtrack for Santa Cruz writer and musician John Malkin, and he has assembled an oral history on the genre and its cultural impact. Wallace Baine catches up with Malkin and “Punk Revolution!” ahead of a Saturday event at Bad Animal.

Before we get to the headlines, a short dispatch from Christopher Neely, who has the latest on efforts to put funding for affordable housing before voters in the city of Santa Cruz.

A future revenue stream for affordable housing in the city of Santa Cruz now sits firmly in the community’s hands. In May, the city hosted a series of three public meetings in which the community could weigh in and help develop a future tax to finance affordable housing. After initially agreeing to host another pair of meetings with the public, Mayor Fred Keeley and the Santa Cruz City Council announced Tuesday that the city will now hand the responsibility of hosting further meetings, as well as putting together a ballot petition for the tax, to whoever wants to step up and lead in the community.

What this next phase of the process will look like remains unclear. However, during Tuesday’s city council meeting, Don Lane, former mayor and chair of Housing Santa Cruz County, told city leaders that he would help usher the community through the polishing of the ballot measure’s language and collecting between 4,000 and 5,000 signatures needed for the petition to qualify for the ballot.

“As an individual and as a member of some organizations, I will be one of those who will take the handoff with the opportunity you’ve created and try to move something forward in this community,” Lane said.

Neither Lane nor any community group has announced next steps yet; however, on Tuesday, several residents who participated in the city’s meetings told the city council they were interested in continuing the conversations and participating in the process moving forward.

“Although the process has been messy and confusing for some, I’m ready to step up and take part in a community-based group to carry the process forward,” resident Jim Weller said.

After the three public meetings, the community appears to be eyeing an annual parcel tax on properties throughout the city as the revenue mechanism. However, that is subject to change in this next chapter.

For the adventurously palated among you, I’ve also got the latest in Santa Cruz County food and drink news via Jessica M. Pasko, including a local duo purveying mushroom popsicles. This way to the Wednesday headlines ...

Watsonville Community Hospital nurses highlight staffing issues, daily challenges

Nurses and supporters outside Watsonville Community Hospital on Tuesday.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Nurses at Watsonville Community Hospital held a news conference Tuesday to highlight the departure of 42 nurses since new public ownership — Pajaro Valley Healthcare District — reduced the number of part-time positions available. They say they want a union contract with the district that addresses this and other daily challenges nurses face at the hospital. Beki San Martin reports.

PREVIOUSLY: Watsonville hospital board appoints interim CEO; search for new leader could take nine months

She studies slug sex by the seashore: UCSC researcher works to unlock secrets of banana slug sex

Yams, cat food and lettuce sustain these banana slugs in Janet Leonard's lab on UC Santa Cruz's Coastal Campus.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Banana slugs are embedded in Santa Cruz culture, but few know about the creatures’ secretive, sultry sex lives — or the local banana slug “rancher” documenting what slugs do under cover of night. Janet Leonard, an ethologist at UCSC, has built a career on understanding the mysterious sexual world of hermaphrodites, with a 20-year focus on West Coast banana slugs. Check out Elise Overgaard’s Q&A here.

NEWSMAKERS IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Find all of Lookout’s Q&As here


Upcoming events in Santa Cruz County

Midtown Fridays @1111 Soquel Ave.
Embroidery Workshop @Wallflower Santa Cruz
Zayante Fire Fundraiser @Felton Music Hall
Stephen Marley @The Catalyst Club
Bodhi Mojo @Woodhouse Blending & Brewing
Frequency Festival @Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Elks Oktoberfest @Santa Cruz Elks Lodge
Foodie Fruity Wreath Making Extravaganza @Scotts Valley farmers market
Vegan Italian Cooking & Wine Pairing Class @Flipjack Ranch
Teen Kitchen Project Everett Farm Dinner @Everett Family Farm
Echos Of Empire @Civic Auditorium

For the love of dogs @Chaminade Resort & Spa
41st Santa Cruz Triathlon @Depot Park
Music at the park @Skypark
Jean Dawson @The Catalyst

Quite the mix of stories as we hit hump day. And you know there’s more coming from Lookout, so get on over to social media and give us a follow so you don’t miss anything — Lookout is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Other great ways to keep tabs on all things Santa Cruz County include our breaking news alerts via email and text and all our other newsletters — sign up for those here.

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May your Wednesday be a pleasant one — see you next time.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz