Opinion: Sept. 23, 2020

Plus letters to the editor

Distance learning has proven to be far from ideal for students and educators alike, but health concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic have left administrators with few options.

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

Sure, opening public schools up to all students right now is risking not only the health of our children, but also our entire community. And sure, they would undoubtedly close within a couple of weeks after one if not multiple outbreaks of Covid-19 scares everyone back to their senses. And yet, what parent hasn’t briefly considered that even that brief respite from distance learning just might be worth it, while trying to explain to their kid how to multiply decimals, calculate the area of a geometric plane or whatever other grade-equivalent nightmare they are now tasked with teaching?

In his story for our Back to School Issue—somewhat ironically named under the circumstances, it’s true—Todd Guild examines both how parents and students are coping with these challenges (spoiler alert: not well) and if we can expect any normalcy to return to school in the near future. He also writes about why the timing may now be right for Cabrillo College to be renamed. Meanwhile, Wallace Baine explains how a new two-volume book takes a remarkably in-depth look at the history of UCSC.

I also want to remind readers who saw our cover story last week about the “Love You Madly” fire relief effort that the second week of videos from local and national musicians is now up at, encouraging donations to Community Foundation Santa Cruz County’s Fire Response Fund. There’s a very sweet message from Los Lobos’ Louis Perez, in which he talks about how “Santa Cruz has always had a special place in our heart,” and the band contributes a performance of “Anselma.” There are also songs from Mira Goto, Tess Dunn, Keith Greeninger, Henry Chadwick, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Cement Ship—and those are just the videos for this week. Make sure to check out the new releases every week, and please donate to help the hundreds of fire victims in our community.


Letters to the Editor


Reading the latest Good Times about the Fire Relief campaign (GT, 9/16), I was struck by the similarities of circumstance with many of the homeless in our community. They, too, have lost their homes, but unlike the fire victims, they have truly lost everything else. They have no assets or friends to fall back on. Fire victims have lost physical assets, which is a great psychological loss, but they have friends, family, the land, insurance and an outpouring of help from the community to aid in their recovery. And I, for one, am glad to help in that effort.

I realize that helping the homeless requires a long and sustained effort because the depth of their helplessness and lack of resources makes reintegration back into society a very hard thing to accomplish. I just hope our community’s eyes are opened a little wider as a result of this tragedy to view our homeless with a heightened sense of compassion and empathy as we help fire victims recover from this conflagration.

Richard Rammer | Santa Cruz


 Trail Decision is Not Either-Or

So train or bus. It’s come to this. That’s like asking us if we want boots or galoshes when really we wanted running shoes all along. Oh my, our feet are hobbled. 

I know I could never be a politician. I can’t answer and respond on the spot. It’s been days and nights since I read the “Major Decision” train-or-bus group letter (GT, 9/2). It bothered me when I read it, but it took days of riding around on my bicycle and nights in between to arrive at the realization that what’s happening in our body politic at the macro and micro level is this strange weaving of narrative to accomplish certain outcomes, not all of which are apparent on the surface; i.e., nothing is quite what It seems. I guess you could say we’re living in a fairy tale. 

Where I arrived at is that you could take this whole letter and just switch out a couple of lines and it would be just as “true.” We could have had a world-class transit trail (our Santa Cruz finessed version of Monterey) within months of signing the deal and instead we’ve been forced to be in traffic—and heavy traffic at that—all the while knowing we have this treasure of a coastal corridor worth its weight in gold to our day-to-day quality of life. 

Randomly selected citizens who came into the Wise Democracy Citizens Wisdom Council on the rail corridor expressed in the first evening that there was some strange kind of fight going on that nobody could make sense of. There was a general feeling that everybody would love a train but nobody really knew if it made sense for our demographic. Two days later from their own process, through being dynamically facilitated; that means it’s what comes out of them entirely, they emerged with “railbank the corridor so that we don’t lose the possibility of some futuristic light rail and open the rail corridor forthwith to modes of transport including bicycles and electric (swift people-movers) as well as space for families and elders to pedal along at their own pace, but for goodness sake just give the community the means to commute and recreate in this safe corridor away from traffic…yesterday.”

Central to what they distilled in their hours together is that this actually isn’t about transportation per se, it’s about a bigger conversation as a community that we haven’t even begun to have. 

You can check out Santa Cruz County citizen wisdom council archival on the rail corridor at It happened in January 2019 and was the first Wise Democracy Citizens Wisdom Council in Santa Cruz County.

Corinna McFarlane | Santa Cruz

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