Opinion: Node protesters keep losing; Covid-19 excuses

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Voters have spoken

Ten weeks ago, we witnessed a remarkable display of American democracy at work. Here in San Benito County, and across our country, record numbers of citizens turned out to vote. They exercised the power our democracy provides citizens: the power to self-govern through the election of representatives or to decide directly by voting on initiatives. By design, the voters have the final say. 

Our community should be proud of the turnout on Nov. 3. Given the pandemic, the power struggles we see in Washington, and the many other challenges we face, we need to elect leaders committed to community safety and to make decisions that reflect the will of the people. Our elections officials and volunteers deserve our thanks for their hard work and dedication in ensuring our electoral process went so smoothly.

On Election Day, San Benito voters considered Measure N, the Strada Verde Project, a massive development that would, among other things, rezone agricultural land for an industrial development next to a dangerous chemical plant. There were robust campaigns on both sides. Proponents spent more than $1 million. The opposition was a broad coalition of community members, environmental advocates, Latino and business leaders.

The voters listened and their decision was overwhelming. Nearly 60 percent said no. Strada Verde was rejected across the county, with majorities voting no in all five supervisorial districts.  

Voters rejected Strada Verde for many reasons:

– Worries that a commercial project would sharply increase traffic on Highway 25, which is already over capacity.

– Fears the Strada Verde site is simply not suitable for non-agricultural use because it is so close to an extremely hazardous farm chemical plant. In fact, the people’s general plan already prohibits non-agricultural use at this location.

– Opposition to the destruction of farmland at that site, and then likely nearby.  

– Concerns about having giant warehouses as the “gateway” to their county. 

It is time now for the Board of Supervisors to act affirmatively to respect the clear will of the voters. The board should remove from consideration any project at this location. (Included in this removal should be the Strada Verde plan that voters so clearly rejected, but is still before the county for approval.)  

And, the board should pass a 3.5-mile buffer zone around the chemical plant to protect the public from further attempts to develop non-agricultural uses in that hazardous area.

The voters have spoken. Clearly, theirs should be the final word.

Frank Barragan

Hollister

Node protesters keep losing

It would be nice if the Hollister Free Lance more accurately depicted the nature of the Betabel Road project. In a recent story on Highway 129’s C1 zoning, the reporter made some mistakes. Firstly to say, “In April, Betabel Road node owner Rider McDowell applied for and was granted the alternate C-1 zoning for his property,” is inaccurate. It would have been accurate to say, “The McDowell Charity Trust applied for and was granted…” Or even, “Rider McDowell, as executor of and on behalf of the McDowell Charity Trust, applied for…” See the difference? It’s significant. I don’t own the land. 

Secondly, to accept the PORC party line and describe the recent C-1 zoning of 129 as being “against the wishes of the public” is wrong. Measure K—if you read it you’d know this—called for eight commercial nodes on Highway 101 in San Benito County and over a dozen more commercial nodes elsewhere in the county. Measure K was fundamentally different from C-1, and much of the voting public has expressed support for these two projects, as evidenced by many things, including their refusal to sign porcs petitions. 

Further, tell the entire story without prejudice; report honestly how PORC has now lost three times in a row in the courts, and how their campaign of lies and half-truths has infuriated the public and exasperated the court. Expound on the fact that PORC’s campaign of lies, which helped defeat the environmentally friendly Measure K, has left the county with no choice but to approve the less restrictive measure C-1 zoning in its place. 

The General Plan requires a measured development process in delineated areas throughout the county. PORC shot itself in the foot through their hubris and refusal to compromise and decision to lie about the issues. And it’s poetic justice that they’re collapsing on their own petard. 

Rider McDowell

Covid is not an excuse

As a person who believes that the way to deal with the pandemic is somewhere in between locking yourself in the basement and wet slobbery kissing everyone you come in contact with, I am appalled at the basic lack of manners and human decency that this situation has created. 

People refuse to say hello, many people pull their bandanas up over their faces, people move to the other side of the street. People won’t say “have a good day,” many people have lost all sense of civility and manners and basic human social skills and are using the pandemic as an excuse to be rude. 

In stores, people barely acknowledge each other, treat employees rudely and act like every person they come in contact with has “bubonic plague.” I personally take it as an insult that someone would cross over to the other side of the street when we are out walking. Yes, move off the sidewalk so someone can pass at a “safe” distance, but to cross over to the other side of the street, pull your face covering up and turn your face away is absolutely unacceptable. 

All along, I have never been afraid of the virus itself, but only our reaction to it. In my opinion, every decision that has been made about the virus has been the wrong one. 

As an old coach, I can tell you if you are losing, simplify. Get outside, get as much fresh air as possible, work in your yard, your garden, play with your kids, your pets, etc. I only wear a mask in stores. 

Exercise, eat right, have human interaction with people, keep your civility, say hello, ask people how their families are. Stay apart a little farther, but don’t run away from people, and first and foremost if you are going to not only survive but thrive during the pandemic, put your faith in God, not in man or science. 

I don’t place my faith in Dr. Fauci, I don’t place my faith in politicians, I don’t place my faith in public health departments, I place my faith in God. That’s how me and my family are surviving the pandemic, and that is how we will come out of it on the other end with our humanity intact. “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” 

Randy Logue

Hollister

Breaking barriers

I humbly submit further understanding about this amazing coronavirus vaccine. Similarly, Dr. Jonas Salk had to leapfrog prevailing medical knowledge. At that time medicine considered the use of killed or weakened bacteria as the only way to make vaccines. They discounted the method working against viral diseases.  

Dr. Salk prevailed widening medical knowledge. Similarly, this new MRNA vaccine leapfrogs further because of years of government funded research into gene mapping, genome micro-analysis, protein nuclear chemistry and constantly testing new hypotheses.

Now is the time to explain the “trick.” Instead of starting with the whole viral structure, this vaccine takes a single protein, the one responsible for the coronavirus spikes. This is a single RNA protein that programs for a single matching DNA protein. Since RNA brings a message to DNA, it is called the messenger.

When an MRNA vaccine is injected it invades the host cells and instructs them to make only the viral corona spikes. Remember, these spikes are not the disease; they are like a fake costume with nothing underneath. Once inside our body, these spikes shock our immune cells into battle.  Our immune cells regard these phony invaders as the real thing and start making antibodies that will inactivate the whole corona virus and provide us with the protection we need. The second shot strengthens and lengthens immunity for this Covid-19 and ends this plague.

As of now we have four tools to battle Covid-19. The Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna brands are true MRNA vaccines. The Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine is not. It is made using the whole viral structure either weakened or killed. A third type is made from the plasma of recovered Covid-19 patients. This type gives only temporary immunity; it does not stimulate the body to make its own immunity; therefore it is called a serum not a vaccine.

Clearly, MRNA vaccines broke through barriers, bringing us into a new scientific world of knowledge and healing.

Mary Zanger

Hollister