.Opinion: Things to Be Thankful for in Santa Cruz This Season


When we ran our first cover story about “Pete the Poet,” aka Santa Cruz poet Peter McLaughlin, three years ago, the response was huge. In fact, it generated more letters than any story I’ve seen in my time at the paper—far more than I could even run. McLaughlin’s story was told by bestselling author and GT contributor Steve Kettmann, who had gotten to know McLaughlin through hearing him read poetry at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods and other places around Santa Cruz. After McLaughlin took his own life earlier that year, Kettmann was determined not to let the tragic but also powerful story of this remarkable local talent go untold. It hit readers where they live, including me.

In the story, Kettmann had mentioned wanting to publish a book of McLaughlin’s poems, and I Wish I Was Billy Collins is finally here. So this week, Kettmann returns with a sequel to the story of Pete the Poet. He tells the story of the book’s long road to publication, but what fascinated me most about this piece is how McLaughlin’s lines have worked their way into the everyday life of Kettmann and his wife Sarah. How, three years after that first GT story, Pete the Poet’s words are now part of the fabric of how he sees the world. With the publication of this book, I think they’ll affect a lot of us in that same lasting way, and I can’t think of a better legacy for a wordsmith like McLaughlin.

I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving, and point out a couple of things we can be thankful for: One, we have all the Santa Cruz County nonprofits that we hope you’ll support through Santa Cruz Gives at santacruzgives.org. (Go to page 15 to read Micayela Konviser’s story on the homelessness-focused groups in this year’s campaign.) Also, we have Jon Luini, Matthew Swinnerton and all the musicians and artists of the Love You Madly fire relief campaign continuing to do incredible things to help our community. They have a livestream event set for Dec. 5 featuring an eye-popping lineup that you can read about on page 28. They also have a new T-shirt with an original art design by Chris Gallen, for which 100% of the proceeds will go to fire relief. I just got mine at bonfire.com, and you should, too! Finally, thanks to all of you, the GT readers who make it possible to tell our community’s stories every week. Have a safe and wonderful holiday.



Read the latest letters to the editor here.

Big Picture

It’s been eight years since the Regional Transportation Commission bought the coast rail line for public use, 20 years since it had the money to do so, and four years since Measure D was approved by a two-thirds countywide vote.

Meaningful shifts in how we get around obviously take time and money. They also require leadership and grit. I appreciate the determination of the RTC to push forward with the big picture always in mind. Adding streetcar-like transit to the existing coast trail line, together with a trail, will provide us with more beneficial options as we move into an uncertain future.

Tomorrow will never be like today. We can act today though to make tomorrow less onerous for ourselves, future generations, and for this unique bit of land by the sea we’re so fortunate to inhabit.

Linda Wilshusen | Live Oak

[Linda Wilshusen was the RTC Executive Director from 1985-2005. — Editor]

He’s Fired!

“You’re Fired!” may have been Trump’s catchphrase. “America says …You’re Fired!” may be his legacy.

How he exits the presidency will add to this legacy. He may not go willingly because his next stop may be prison (to join his co-conspirators who are already there for taking falls for his improprieties).

If Trump was genuinely for the common people, he could have spent just a fraction of his four years eliminating loopholes that allow billionaires multiple bankruptcies to maintain billionaire status. He had no intent to eliminate loopholes because that would lose the core of his supporters who have money to buy “common sense.”

Trump’s multiple bankruptcies had consequences. The number of families simply trying to survive through honest hard work negatively impacted just to feed Trump’s excessive self-interest was staggering! How unethical can anyone be? No wonder New York voters don’t support him! (Where are his taxes that he implied in 2016 would “soon” be released? Can he produce evidence that he paid more than a thousand dollars in taxes?) Despite Trump’s endless attempts to suppress truths, a majority have shown that they can see right through his facade.

Government may be corrupt, but some aspects are sound. (If any discrepancies are uncovered in the last election, for every dead person that “voted” for Biden in the last election, they’ll find ten dead people who “voted” for Trump.)

Bob Fifield | Aptos 

Yes, Virginia
Yes, there is voter fraud—on behalf of Crooked Donald. You liberals are naïve.
Jerry Simpson | Santa Cruz

secure document shredding


 Re: Yamashita Grocery

This is an exceptionally written article about an exceptional subject matter, the past and present blending and threatened viability by another name, back then an ethnic racism and today a pandemic. Despite all, this is a story celebrating resiliency and acknowledges the dark period of our ignorance, a tarnish on the reputation of a president otherwise considered among the best. Hugh is a gifted writer and his stories are well chosen.

— Mike Charles Fitzgerald


Re: Rail Trail Analysis

Both our branch lines (Monterey and Santa Cruz) were built at the same time, circa 1880. The difference is after a hundred years, Monterey had enough intelligence to repurpose their dilapidated track into a community resource. We haven’t even completed one mile of trail! Train people want you to think that we are passenger-service-ready. In reality, we have 140-year-old infrastructure with freight grade (5mph) single track running over old timber trestles like the one in Capitola. The Capitola timber trestle is a historical landmark. That one + 20 others would have to be replaced with modern concrete and steel bridges. That’s killing our history for a very expensive transportation experiment. We should be celebrating our rail heritage with a world class Greenway over our existing infrastructure. Let’s celebrate it with plaques on pullouts along the path with historical photos and info showing users how folks got around in the horse and buggy era.

— Ted Lorek


The sun breaks through the trees on Highway 9. Photograph by Kasia Palermo.

Submit to [email protected]. Include information (location, etc.) and your name. Photos may be cropped. Preferably, photos should be 4 inches by 4 inches and minimum 250dpi.



The Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations for the 2020 Scotts Valley Community Awards to recognize the people and businesses that make the area a special place. The group seeks nominations for business of the year, man of the year, woman of the year, beautification project of the year, organization of the year, educator of the year, and youth of the year. To make a nomination, visit scottsvalleychamber.com by Monday, Nov. 30.



Visit Santa Cruz County is partnering with other agencies to kick off an effort asking shoppers to shop locally as the seasonal holiday rush approaches. Eight months of the global Covid-19 pandemic have hit Santa Cruz County’s hotels, restaurants and shops hard. Retail experts urge customers to start their holiday shopping now to avoid inevitable shipping delays and product shortages. Businesses listed on shopsantacruzcounty.org are offering gift certificates.


“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”

-Charles Darwin


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