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September 29, 2020

Letters to the Editor, Aug. 21

Let’s not get railroaded by special interests

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While most of us agree upon the ideals, the reality of trying to squeeze in a viable Rail-Trail within a limited 30-mile corridor, will sacrifice well-being and even safety. I am not a writer or a salesman. As an engineer with decades of experience in reality, I would not be in favor of anyone riding a train on the Rail-Trail that I know is not safe (in the attempts to become a viable commuter train) even if it were free.

Anyone favoring Rail-Trail needs to understand compromises will have to be made to accommodate this in our county. The reality is that the Regional Transportation Commission has already admitted that any type of passenger train will not be possible until at least 2035. They are then considering a simple novelty train similar to Roaring Camp. Unfortunately, that will not improve transportation of residents throughout the county. Present “leadership” is being deceived by (or selling out to) special interests in agreeing to that and attempting dangerous “games” to make it faster. 

I’m not into politics, but I know that the government in the United States was intended to best maintain (and hopefully even improve) quality of life for (deserving) residents within its borders, not sacrifice it by improperly accommodating questionable interests. Why be deceived by anyone trying to disguise a freight train service (for at least 10 years) as a viable passenger service? Why don’t we initially implement (ASOG) a safe Trail-Only now, and build upon that to lead to an appropriate Bus-Trail that can be agreed upon by all and will improve transportation?

Bob Fifield, Aptos

Thoughts on Washington statue

Currently there is discussion about removing the statue of George Washington from the Plaza because he owned slaves. I am proud that we are facing this issue correctly. The mob violence in some cities is not democratic and serves only to inflame others. Rational discussion with the inclusion of all stakeholders is the democratic way.  

On this question, in my opinion historical context matters.

According to Wikipedia, slavery was a common practice worldwide in antiquity.  Slaves typically came from captured enemies.  Here are a few examples of historical slavery:

1. Of course, there are many references to slavery in the both testaments of the Bible, mostly rules on how to treat one’s slaves.

2. Slavery was practiced in many cultures in Africa long before the European slave trade started in the 16th century.

3. I recently read—in the original 15th century Spanish—“Historia Verdadera de la Conquista de la Nueva España,” written by one of Hernan Cortez’ soldiers as they conquered the Aztecs in what is now Mexico.  Not only was slavery common, but the Aztec royalty ate their slaves. According to the author, in many of the small towns they conquered, they found captives in wooden cages that were being fattened to eat.

So, this begs the question: How much history can we rewrite? Ethics and mores change constantly and must be considered when evaluating historical figures.

Don Eggleston, Aptos

End overdose

Watsonville has benefitted from Harm Reduction services for decades. Prior volunteer programs operated mobile outreach many years ago.

With funding cuts in 2009 and closure of volunteer programs the south county has been unsupported with meeting the needs of the community during two public health crises: the Opioid use crisis and the overdose crisis. The local Harm Reduction Coalition of Santa Cruz County seeks to rebuild what once existed throughout the county because there are barriers and limitations to one county run program. 

Harm Reduction is a science and evidence based practice. For years we have had so called safety advocates expressing baseless opinions without providing a single source of data. Opinions are great, we all have them, however we do not offer life saving services to people based on thoughts and opinions. 

We do not design life saving programs using guess work. We refer to the mountain of data by health organizations and research bodies.

The evidence is clear and unwavering. Restrictive policies are dangerous to the individual and the community and do not reduce the impacts of substance use in our community such as syringe litter. The funding we have received includes syringe litter abatement which we have been doing for years and will continue to do so. 

End overdose. 

Expand Harm Reduction.

Denise Elerick, Aptos

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