The proponents of a radical initiative have picked the worst possible time to put a stranglehold on the local economy. At a time when the ranks of the unemployed in San Benito County grow daily, the leader of an anti-growth group, PORC, published a column in the April 3 Free Lance to attempt to intimidate and bully our board of supervisors into denying a project that will bring much needed economic development.
Apparently, the leaders of PORC have all the resources they need to ride out the economic storm that is sweeping our county and our country. Apparently, they have no worry that they will be evicted from their home; or that their job will be in the next round of layoffs; or that their business will be the next on the block to have to close.
Life is so good for the president of PORC that he has the time to threaten the four out of the five supervisors that support the development of new businesses and the jobs those businesses will bring. In a piece full of bravado, President PORC suggests that voters recall elected leaders who dare vote for the one bright spot of economic news since the health crisis hit the county.
Let’s be clear: the people who will suffer from denying the development of business on Highway 101 will be unemployed local residents who desperately need jobs to feed and house their families. It won’t hurt President PORC and his friends. They already have theirs. Looks like they don’t want to share.
Like health care workers on the front lines of coronavirus battle, California farmworkers are on the front lines of our state’s $54 billion food supply chain, yet have few safety nets and protections. Gov. Newsom has rightly designated them as essential workers. California Assemblymember Robert Rivas of Hollister said, “But as we ask our farmworkers to continue working through the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take action to protect their health, safety and economic security.”
On April 9, Rivas and co-sponsor Eduardo Garcia (Coachella) introduced a five-bill “California Farmworker COVID-19 Relief Package.” This package proposes to expand paid sick leave for farmworkers, provide supplemental hazard pay, extend a tax credit to farmers who offer overtime work to their workers, fund an outreach campaign to educate workers on personal protection practices, and fast track temporary housing to lessen overcrowding and allow for social distancing.
Rivas grew up in farmworker housing and his grandfather was a farmworker. “Farmworkers often lack access to adequate healthcare, and they live and work in crowded conditions that can leave them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19,” Rivas said. In addition, many farmworker families suffer from food scarcity, meaning that they cannot afford to eat what they grow.
I urge you to support the Rivas/Garcia California Farmworker COVID-19 Relief Package. This will protect farmworker families on the front lines of food production and ensure a reliable food supply chain to stock our grocery shelves while sheltering in place.
Woody Rehanek, Safe Ag Safe Schools