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May 13-20, 2009

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Letters to the Editor

New Format Succeeds

WOW! Nice work. Not only did you make a beautiful revolution of your look and feel--tasteful, appropriate and long overdue--but you scored some real firsts: an elusive and compassionate interview with Robert the Umbrella Man, multiple movie reviews from RvB that aren't twisted and unnecessarily negative (did you change his prescription, or perhaps threaten to dismantle his nail bed?) plus a thoughtful cartoon from Nutzle. Overall, two thumbs up! I read much more of this issue than the last three issues combined. †

John Roevekamp,
Santa Cruz

An Embarrassment of Riches

THANKS for the lovely pictures of some really interesting folks in Santa Cruz ("Faces of Santa Cruz," Cover Story, April 29). You captured a number of my personal favorites on your list, took some beautiful photo and set up some nice contrasts.

Your graphic approach reminded me of just how many different Santa Cruzes coexist, too. You were able to track down 19 women (most under 50); 38 men (most over 50); one Asian-American and one African-American. Perhaps the most remarkable part of the effort was that even though you include nearly 60 faces, I would love to see even more faces, and more kinds of faces, on your list!

I found myself thinking about census data--our city is over 50 percent female, over 17 percent Latino, nearly 5 percent Asian-American, and we have an important, if small, African-American cultural history/presence. Who might the role models (or cautionary tales) be for that range of Santa Cruzans?

A few more of my personal favorite troublemakers, peacemakers, heroines, mentors, inspirations and general Santa Cruz institutions include (in no particular order): Celia Scott, Deborah Johnson, Katherine Beiers, Amy Courtney, Anne Simonton, Jan Harwood, Nane Alejandrez, Dana Frank, Ruth Hunter, Joyce Malone, Marciano Cruz, Mathilde Rand, Tony Madrigal, Emily Reilly, Luis Alejo, J.D. Sotelo, Susan Martinez, Emily Maloney, Simba Kenyatta, Marge Frantz, Jane Weed, Gloria Nieto (over the hill, but not forgotten), Kathleen Crocetti, Peggy Delaney, Sandra Faber, Ažda Hurtado, Bettina Apthekar, Jean Langenheim, Donna Haraway, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Nell Newman, Julie Packard, Rebecca Jackson, Ebu N'Gom, Dror Sinai, Joya Winwood, Tandy Beale ... and the list goes on and on.

We are truly blessed.

Rachel O'Malley,
Santa Cruz

Slick Willys

AFTER SEEING the decision process by which the City Council came to approve the La Barry Swen--er--La Bahia project, I wondered what particular skills are needed to be a councilperson. You have to have some cunning and savvy as to what hand scratches what back. You have to acquire that "wink-wink" good ol' boy modus operandi: keeping up appearances of public concern while keeping the money in the tight circle of City Hall and Swen--er--sweetheart buddies.

This city has always been at the head of the line when it came to state-of-the-art social status quo: they put in the new handicapped signs and spaces before the blue paint was dry, Santa Cruz was the first to declare a "Nuclear Free Zone" and when it came to the union labor, which is a definite socialistic system, the City Council vigorously mandated that any subcontracted project was union laborers and management.

Here's where those skills and cunning come in--how did they approve La Bahia, a massive city-funded project, when the Bearry Builder will not hire union workers? Abracadabra! Slick, smooth--we're just all accepting it, aren't we? That's the councilperson skill I'm talking about: violating self principles and so deftly letting it fall into the course of normal business.

Theodore F. Meyer III,
Santa Cruz

The Factory Farm Link

THE World Health Organization has just ratcheted up the threat alert for the swine flu epidemic to Phase 4 (out of 6). Along with the avian flu of a decade ago, the Hong Kong flu of 1968, and the Asian flu of 1957, swine flu has been traced to animal waste in a factory farm. Its H1N1 type virus is nearly identical to that of the Spanish flu, which killed more than 50 million people in 1918-19.

Today's factory farms constantly expose sick, crowded, highly stressed animals to contaminated feces, urine, and other secretions. They provide ideal breeding grounds for the replication and mutation of viruses and bacteria into more lethal forms.

In fact, Wikipedia lists more than 70 human diseases that are developed and transmitted by animals, frequently through confinement and crowding. Among these are such infamous killers as AIDS, bubonic plague, cholera, diphtheria, Ebola and dengue fever, measles, SARS, smallpox, West Nile virus, and yellow fever.

Every one of us can help prevent the development and spread of these killer diseases by replacing animal products in our diet with healthful vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains. These foods don't carry deadly microbes (unless contaminated by animal waste), are touted by every major health advocacy organization and were the recommended fare in the Garden of Eden.

Larry Rogawitz,
Santa Rosa

Did Houston Justice

A HEARTFELT thank you to Geoffrey Dunn for his beautiful and moving piece about Jim Houston ("Elegy for James D. Houston," Cover Story, April 22). I read it with smiles and tears and have sent it to several people out of town to let them know about Jim's passing. Thank you.

Liz Sandoval,
Santa Cruz

Last week we listed the wrong date of a meeting about restoring Parsons Slough, a section of Elkhorn Slough ("Muddy Waters," Currents, May 6). The meeting is June 27 at 9:30am at the Elkhorn Slough reserve; for information visit We regret the error.

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