.Opinion: May 22, 2019


I think if we did a count of how many of the biggest players in Santa Cruz politics over the last four decades got their start in the fight for Lighthouse Field in the 1970s, it would be a startling number. It comes up again and again—including this week, since it’s also where our cover story subject Cathy Calfo got her start in activism.

I think we all assume that Santa Cruz must have played a big part in the ascension of the organic movement, but I for one had no idea how pivotal this city was to both the state and national movement for organic certification until I read Liza Monroy’s piece. It’s surprising and regrettable that the history isn’t more widely known, but Monroy’s story corrects that. Tracking the work of Calfo, who is stepping down as head of California Certified Organic Farmers, ties into not only that story, but also the question of what is next for organic farming now that it has become a mainstream phenomenon. Both the possibilities and the challenges—the tiny percentage of ag land actually being used for organic growing will shock you—are important to consider for anyone who believes in transforming how we feed ourselves as a society.


Read the latest letters to the editor here.

Beach Fire Babylon

Regarding your “Access Denied” article (May 8), access for some has denied access for others by their activities at Rio del Mar Beach. The beach area has become dangerous from deafeningly loud and toxic chemically laden air polluting “aerial firebombs,” aka fireworks and beach fires. These year-round events (not only on July 4) prohibit beach access to others.

Why is this happening? The Coastal Commission established a policy of beach accessibility for all at any time, anywhere. The commission objects to banning beach fires, but people throw anything in the fires, adding to the already unhealthy smoke.

Fires have been started on nearby properties by illegal fireworks (all are illegal in Santa Cruz County and in the state). Possession can lead to up to $50,000 in fines and a one-year prison sentence.

For full-time residents and other life forms and their habitats, the issue—in addition to accessibility—is livability. Cleaning up the mess afterwards can’t clean up contaminated air, land, and water.

Assemblymember Mark Stone wrote me, “fireworks and fire rings are fun, but we all need to take a hard and honest look at the public health and safety consequences that stem from these products and activities. Both are bad for the environment, human health, and public safety.”

Ramona Eris Andre | APTOS

Campers and Grampers

This young grampa remembers a time when folks were not camping in downtown streets, when we had public housing and treatment facilities large enough to meet the need. When anyone could get a job that wanted one. This is a national emergency, and the federal government is clearly not interested. With our state most impacted and much more resourceful than our little town, we must demand that the state act.

When I came to work this morning, there were folks sleeping on the concrete entrances to two businesses in the two blocks I surveyed. This is inhumane, as is allowing folks to set up campsites on downtown lots. Soviet-style housing blocks would be more humane, FEMA trailers, migrant housing that Homeland Security seems to be able to put up in 10 minutes would be better.  A bus to Henry Cowell, campsites in the Pogonip (folks are camping there anyway), a bus to Camp Roberts (lots of idle hands and housing down there).

We need to get Gavin Newsom to worry less about his hair, and get every tax-free church in the state to open their doors.

Paul Cocking | Santa Cruz

I’ve been a dedicated GT reader since I moved here 26 years ago. As I’ve gotten older, inching toward 70, I find that I don’t go to the movies much anymore, so I’ve also more or less stopped reading the movie reviews. Today, though, I took a few minutes and started reading a few, and then all of them. Ha! Made me laugh out loud. I wanted to let you know how thoroughly entertaining I found them to be. Of course we all love Lisa Jensen, but SP (the editor Steve P?) has an entirely different perspective, which I find very funny—it almost makes me want to start going to movies again. Or not, depending on his take on the film. Keep up the good work, Steve (if in fact you are SP).

And thanks for many good years of Santa Cruz events and news, always with a twist, If only our other local paper, The Senile (which I subscribe to) could be half as good.

Christine Clayworth
Santa Cruz

Steve Palopoli responds: I am indeed the (SP) of those film capsule write-ups, for better or—as a lot of readers would argue—for worse. They’re a little controversial! I appreciate this and any other feedback, good or bad, on them.

secure document shredding


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Co-Op SC is having another event to raise awareness about worker-owned cooperatives. The latest informational session will be Thursday, May 30, from 7-9 p.m. at the Resource Center for Nonviolence. “Worker cooperatives not only generate greater wealth for everyone in the company,” reads the coalition’s flier, “but also for the community at large.”


The Venardos Circus, a unique Broadway-style circus, has been touring the U.S. since 2014 and reinventing the American Circus tradition for a new generation. Now, it’s coming to the San Lorenzo Park, where it will run from May 24-June 9. General admission tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for kids under 12.


“Organic Oreos are not a health food. When Coca-Cola begins selling organic Coke, as it surely will, the company will have struck a blow for the environment perhaps, but not for our health.”

-Michael Pollan


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