Opinion: November 28, 2018

Plus letters to the editor

Author Jonathan Franzen is the subject of this week's cover story.

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

Here in Santa Cruz, I think we have a bit of cognitive dissonance around Jonathan Franzen, just because he lives here and has made himself such a part of the community. Obviously, we know about his Great American Novelist status. We may have even been blown away ourselves reading The Corrections and Freedom and Purity. And yet, a lot of us see him as a pretty normal dude with particularly fetching glasses who shows up at local library events, or as a bartender at a Bookshop Santa Cruz charity mixer, or out in the scrub while he’s doing some birdwatching.

So the various “Jonathan Franzen said this, and now the internet is mad at him” so-called controversies seem a million miles away. And of course, that’s how he likes it, as Wallace Baine discusses in this week’s cover story. It’s a great read, and an insightful look into Franzen’s life here, and his new collection of essays.

I also urge you to take a look at the story by Ryan Masters in this week’s news section about CERT, one of the nonprofits you can donate to through Santa Cruz Gives. There are only 34 days left in our holiday giving drive—so many great local causes, so little time. So go to and find your perfect philanthropic match!


Letters to the Editor

Re: “Particular Exposure” (GT, Nov. 21):

As California burns around us, it’s easy to lose hope. For years, as the climate crisis has worsened, our nation has had neither a plan nor the will to face the problem.

Now, thanks to the Blue Wave of young people in Congress, we have a plan, but it will take all our efforts to make it happen. I support Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution to create a House Select Committee for a Green New Deal in Congress.

United Nations climate scientists tell us we have just 12 years to move our country off fossil fuels to avert catastrophic climate disaster. The Green New Deal does that, while also creating millions of green jobs and protecting working people of all backgrounds.

The Democrats must share a compelling vision for the future to win in 2020. The Green New Deal is our best hope. Representative Panetta should get behind his progressive colleagues and support the Green New Deal.

Hannah Jones
Santa Cruz

Re: “Push Track (GT, 11/21):

A novelty train can run once a year and call itself the “Polar Express.” A genuine high-speed train may be able to run only once an hour and yet serve a useful purpose. A “commuter train” running only once per half-hour is a stretch, and even every 15 minutes may be on the edge of acceptability. Such infrequency obviously deters interest in public transportation, so a goal should always be to do better. Properly providing strategic bursts of every five minutes would seem very desirable.

Such a passenger commuter train traveling through Santa Cruz County on a single track (intended only for slow moving freight) isn’t going to happen! A simple solution that should satisfy all is to replace the obsolete freight track with a low-cost, multi-use arrangement that would safely accommodate bus passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, families and genuinely improve Highway 1 traffic during rush hours.

Briefly, the existing single railroad track could be covered with a surface that is drivable by existing buses. During morning commutes, buses depart the Watsonville bus terminal to pick-up this upgraded “single vehicle lane” corridor at the most convenient spot and travel westward unimpeded through the corridor to the Santa Cruz bus terminal and then return via the free-moving (at this time) eastbound Highway 1, back to the Watsonville bus terminal to repeat the process for hours.

All this can be accomplished within the schedule of the present RTC “approved plan” along the corridor for the “freight train to nowhere.”

Bob Fifield

Re: Homeless Camp Closure

Good. Our citizens have been denied the use of our parks, and the parks have been polluted and damaged by illegal use. I’m very sorry that people are homeless. But Santa Cruz city is destroying itself through its generosity. Scotts Valley, Capitola, Aptos, Soquel offer few services. Since Santa Cruz has many services, and because it’s a nice place to hang out, we have attracted a disproportionate portion of the homeless population in the area.

This problem needs solutions at the county, state and federal level. Santa Cruz will destroy itself if we persist in the folly that we can solve this problem on our own.

— Gary

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