Historic rail depot in sad state
To the Editor,
How sad that an iconic downtown Watsonville building has suffered damage from fire.
What I am referring to is the historic 1880s vintage Type 22 rail depot located at Walker and West Beach streets. Owned and used for storage by a local company, it has been allowed to deteriorate and never received the respect and recognition it deserved.
I have always envisioned this structure being restored as a museum showcasing the rich rail history and legacy of the defunct Southern Pacific Railroad in the Pajaro Valley, by recognizing the contributions of its local employees and the transportation of passengers and produce in downtown Watsonville and Watsonville Junction in Pajaro. Unfortunately, considering apathy and political climate in Watsonville today, I doubt if that will ever happen.
Gary V. Plomp
DACA is about who we want to be
To the Editor,
On the heels of Labor Day Weekend celebrations, the White House announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. For many, this was an expected move, one that we hoped would not arrive. After all, DACA was a small step in recognizing who we want to be and can be as a people and a country. It was saying that you are valued as a human being, a neighbor, a part of our community. And in doing so it made us stronger. DACA provided $200 billion to the economy and one-fifth of DACA recipients work in the health care and educational sector.
But what DACA, in its own imperfect way, was really about was saying that there is no “other” in America.
And that is the real reason to defend DACA, because its end is a blatant effort to reinforce the “other.” A society for some and only available to others if the ruling class approves.
And that is the great tragedy. This is not about being shocked at the administration. It is not about political expediency. This is an effort to codify and define who America is for and who it is not for. An effort to codify who gets to participate in this great American Dream — from our schools to our economy.
The question is, does the United States, as a people, want that caste system? Because DACA is not about DREAMers, it is about who we want to be.
So, I ask you, in the spirit of the Labor Movement, which side are you on?
Executive Director, Santa Cruz Community Ventures
Has ‘protect and serve’ gone by the wayside?
To the Editor,
Our government adopted a measure numbered 1033 in 1997 to provide police departments with surplus military weapons. Are citizens of the United States at war with the police? Cops with a gun in their hands are bad enough, but now police departments (hopefully not all) equipped with weapons of war designed to do nothing but kill humans are all too common.
The old motto which used to be painted on police vehicles all across the USA, “To Protect and Serve,” has virtually disappeared! Why? Do police in general feel that their mission is to protect the populace from all sorts of danger, or are we the enemy whose behavior they are hired to control? Admittedly, I am at a loss to understand. Why is it that cops are killing us at a rate of plus or minus 1,000 per year while I have not read where police kill as many as 15 people a year in any other developed country in the world. There simply has to be something drastically wrong here.
We have seen so many instances of police shooting a fleeing subject to death in the back, or like the killing of a kid in a park playing with a toy gun within two seconds after the cops arrived on the scene. And one of the latest, in Seattle recently, police killed a black mother of three, shooting her seven times in front of her two youngest. It was said she had a knife. So, a 110-pound woman who might have had a knife has to be stopped with seven bullets? Of course, there are no viable witnesses to contest the word of the trigger happy cops. Will anybody be charged with wrongdoing? Probably not, as is usually the case.
We absolutely have to do something about the police culture in this country. Things cannot be allowed go on, business as usual, with respect to this very serious problem. Police training programs might be the place to start. There seems to be no corner of the nation where the problem does not exist. In Santa Cruz County, the shooting of a man armed with a garden rake, and the 15-year-old, yes, he was high on drugs wielding a pocket knife, gunned down by a cop with a rifle. There were a number of officers at both scenes. What was the need of the rifle?
Proud of undocumented students
To the Editor,
It was my second year teaching at Watsonville High School when my first undocumented student disclosed her status to me. We were in a computer lab. I was helping them fill out FAFSA along with a guidance counselor. I made the dumb mistake of just assuming everyone had a social security number. When she didn’t know hers I made an even dumber mistake of saying, “just call your mom.” She asked to go outside to talk, and that’s when I figured it out. I was shocked, back then. She was my top student. She wrote the best essays. Her academic English was the best in the class. She was well-liked by everyone, and it was obvious she was headed to a top university. She didn’t fit the story I had been told.
Eight years in I try to make fewer dumb mistakes; I have ally signs on my door and whiteboard, I start each school year by telling my new students that I am a safe person when it comes to status, and I’m no longer shocked. My undocumented students are always the kids in my advanced placement courses, they are always the ones who complete their work and take every opportunity they get to learn, be challenged, and grow. They are the students I enjoy teaching most because they are so excited and eager to become educated.
They are more American than many Americans, in part because of the secret they carry and the mask they wear to protect it. They don’t want you to suspect them, so they become the epitome of an American student. They earn really good grades and rise to the top of their class, they are leaders on campus, involved with sports and clubs, dream of Stanford and Yale, and dream of living a life that would be unimaginable had their parents never courageously left the circumstances of their former country. They are the American Dream. They keep it alive even at times when native born Americans question if it’s still possible.
It isn’t they that should be thanking America for this opportunity, it is America that should be thanking them for calling us home. I am so proud to be their teacher.
Watsonville High School teacher
Don’t forget about our Watsonville streets, wetlands and river for Annual Coastal Cleanup
To the Editor,
Temperatures soaring into triple digits makes it difficult to remember the not-so-distant past rainy season when we, too, were waterlogged. According to Old Farmer’s Almanac weather predictions, we are due for another cooler and rainier than “normal” winter with potential for more torrential downpours. Last year’s rains flushed out our wetlands, rivers, streets and storm drains, carrying every movable piece of trash in their path out to sea.
I’m always grateful for Coastal Cleanup Day’s deep cleansing of our coast before the first flush. This year, on Sept. 16, it’s encouraging to see efforts like those in Watsonville, where cleanups will also target neighborhood streets and cigarette butts. Kudos to Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, the Santa Cruz County Tobacco Education Coalition, and Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers for reminding us that coastal cleanup is not just about the beaches, rather the entirety of our coastal community including our neighborhood streets!
Environmental Special Projects Coordinator, City of Watsonville