Opinion: The Importance of Taking Care of Independent Local Businesses

Plus letters to the editor

Outside the Buddhist temple that was formerly on Union Street in Watsonville. Japanese Americans thrived in the city before World War II. PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE PAJARO VALLEY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

This year, more than ever, GT has written about the threats facing small, locally owned businesses in Santa Cruz County, and what can be done to help them through this brutal pandemic. But why are we so focused on this issue? Why does it matter if these businesses survive, or if they all go under and are replaced by the same generic chain stores that have taken over in cities around the country?

I think the cover story this week by Hugh McCormick offers some real insight into why it’s so important to take care of our independent local businesses. Because as his story reveals, the 70-year history of Yamashita Grocery is wrapped up inextricably with the history of Watsonville, and especially the history of Japanese Americans there. This store—which doesn’t even have a sign bearing its name—is the epitome of an unassuming local treasure, and to lose it would mean losing part of our very identity as a community in this county.

Thankfully, this isn’t that type of story. Yamashita appears to be thriving, even in the pandemic, and a whole new generation of locals is discovering it. Hopefully this story will help with that, and provide some insight into the fascinating and sometimes tragic history of Japanese Americans in South County.


Letters to the Editor

Manu’s Apology on Cartoons

Any form of anti-Semitism or prejudice is unacceptable. When informed by Jewish community members that an image of John Leopold used in one of my campaign ads was offensive, I immediately removed it.

I promptly called Rabbi Shifra at Temple Beth-El to address concerns and listen to the voices of the Jewish community. We had a relevant and important conversation. I have reached out to John Leopold and apologized.

I also extend my apology to the Jewish community. I am thankful for this opportunity to increase my understanding of all forms of anti-Semitism and microaggressions. The work of creating a just and unbiased society is never done and I will take every opportunity to do better.

Manu Koenig


If Trump Won’t Leave, Carry Him Out

The latest idea put forth by Trump is this thing called “herd immunity,” which means to allow the virus to run free and see who lives and who dies. This shows that he cares little or nothing for anyone’s life but his own. He thinks that the survivors, like himself, will be immune, but immunity remains very much unproven.

So this guy, if he should have his way on this, is now threatening my life as well. I cannot know at this point whether I will be alive when he leaves the White House—or is carried out. I am an older person who would likely die if I contracted the virus. My hope is that I will be alive, as I want to see him in prison for life, having been convicted of the mass murder of thousands of the American people that he is responsible for, along with any number of his followers.

Their crimes are too numerous to cover in this letter, but among the worst is the separation and incarceration of children from their parents along the Mexican border. Things are very bad in this country, but this is one of the worst in my lifetime.

And how about finding the persons who set out the phony mail-in ballot boxes in Southern California and get them in jail ASAP?

Thomas Stumbaugh | Aptos



Re: DeCinzo Cartoons

The online battering continues apace in Facebook commentary. I am “oozing racism” if I don’t support the view that Manu is anti-Semitic if he didn’t see anti-Semitism in these cartoons. It was after all supposed to depict that on supervisor Leopold’s watch, any money we might have had for a 21st century state of the art multimodal transit corridor is being frittered away on endless studies and maintenance, by a train at any cost proponent. That’s the worst of it.

I very much appreciate this article pulling in all the different threads in a way that helps the reader glean more than a two dimensional cartoonish caricature of who did what and why. And appreciating the two comments here, so much more human than Facebook, Nextdoor and other social media platforms. Center for Humane Technology’s Tristan Harris nailed it: social media platforms are seriously undermining our democratic process.

Corrina McFarlane


DeCinzo’s side is the reactionary conservative body politic that plagues both factions in town, be they moderate, progressive, or socialist. Believing in depopulation is typical rich people environmentalism. He owns more than one home and thinks that _others_ are taking up too much space. Consider the company you keep.

— Leonard Grif


Re: Cannabis Enforcement

Frankly I think what we’re talking about here is gross waste of police and Court resources on something that should be left alone while cops pursue violent criminals. When all violent criminals are in jail and all murders are solved then maybe go after cannabis crimes. Other than that this is just lazy cops looking for low-hanging fruit and ignoring the larger issues in our community.

Ben James


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