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The Buzz 01.26.23

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FREE SPEECH

The Central Coast became a national story when President Joe Biden visited Santa Cruz County on Thursday, Jan. 19 to view storm damage. As with most presidential excursions, media access is limited; White House staff coordinate a press pool, in which assigned members of the media get access, then share their reporting with other outlets. The Weekly followed along with 23 email updates on Biden’s activities, starting at 6:24am. His arrival at Moffett Federal Airfield was followed by play-by-play updates: “POTUS deplaned at 11:55. He is in Aviators and has changed into a blazer and blue trousers from the suit he wore getting aboard [Air Force One].” Biden then flew to Watsonville Municipal Airport, where U.S. representatives Zoe Lofgren and Jimmy Panetta greeted him. After arriving via motorcade in Capitola, the pool reporter shared: “It feels like the whole town has turned out to look on from afar.” Evening updates came from Washington, where the president landed at 11:42pm eastern, “after an uneventful return flight, brightened by distribution of unfeasibly large ice cream sandwiches (from Marianne’s of Santa Cruz – mint and chocolate).”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“She brings a fresh perspective to jazz.” - Monterey Jazz Festival Artistic Director Tim Jackson on the announcement that saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin will be the 2023 artist-in-residence (see story, mcweekly.com).

GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK

GOOD:

As economic opportunity becomes increasingly linked with efficient internet access, it’s good news that Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, on behalf the Central Coast Broadband Consortium, was awarded a $1 million grant by the California Public Utilities Commission to expand and deploy broadband internet access in rural areas across Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. “Access to adequate and affordable broadband service continues to be an issue of equity and economic development for our region,” MBEP President & CEO Tahra Goraya said in a statement. “Broadband must be recognized as an essential utility. We are proud to partner with CCBC to advance the broadband goals of our region.” The funding will flow over a five-year period, and of the 15 such projects selected statewide, it is the largest single dollar amount.

GREAT:

Great news for the farmworker community comes thanks to $833,000 from the California Department of Community Services and Development that will enable Monterey County to start a Farmworker Resource Center in Greenfield. Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 941 into law, creating a grant program for counties to create such centers. The state will provide 75 percent of the funds, and Monterey County 25 percent, which will come from cannabis taxes. County Supervisor Chris Lopez says the center will provide better access to services: “I’m hoping this is a model and that we find success and realize the value in creating these hubs.” AB 941 was based on a program in Ventura County that started in 2019 and includes three offices, with weekend and evening hours to make services more accessible. The center is scheduled to be open by July 15.

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