Have you ever wondered if a doctor was prescribing you an expensive drug rather than a cheaper alternative because of payoffs he or she has gotten from the drug companies?
We were horrified to learn recently that the Republican Convention in Cleveland next month will be a gun-free zone, violating the Second Amendment and endangering thousands of delegates to the threat of Radical Islamic Terrorists or Democrats.The party of Guns and God is mysteriously turning its back on one of its biggest planks: speak loudly and carry a big assault rifle.We are particularly surprised that the presumptive nominee would lay down while the Obama-run FBI forbid firearms during the nominating process. Donald J. Trump made his strongest pro-gun statement after the murder of 49 Orlando night clubgoers.“If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here—right to their waist or right to their ankle—and one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes ‘boom, boom,’ you know that would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight, folks,” Trump told supporters a rally in Texas.We say, yes, Donald, yes. Americans need to be armed everywhere they go at all times, preferably each with her or his own AR-15 or comparable military assault weapon. There are already more guns in this country than people, but we so rarely see them out and when we do, it’s usually in the hands of crazy people or law enforcement, who could at any time turn against the country and enforce communism on the great unarmed masses.The only way to stop gun violence is with more guns—this we have realized after an onslaught of pro-gun messages following the most recent of 1,000 mass murders over the past four years since 20 children and six adults were shot to death in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.Think of how different the world would be had those children been trained and armed. More guns. We need more guns. After all, guns don’t kill people. Terrorists kill them with box cutters, bombs or guns. But if we were all armed, they would cower. They would be defeated. We would be safe.We are even more surprised that the Cleveland convention will be a gun-free zone, and as such, a fun free zone. Back in January, Mr. Trump made a strong statement about such zones in a Burlington, Vermont, campaign stop.“I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools, and—you have to—and on military bases,” he said. “My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.”Uhh. Mr. Trump, sir, why are you going to be nominated in a gun-free zone? Are you breaking an election promise even before the election?Stop the madness, please.The Senate took aim and hit the target this week, murdering Democrat proposals to put restrictions on weapons. They shot down all four proposals, to limit assault weapons sales, to require stronger background checks and to prevent terrorism suspects who aren’t allowed to fly on planes from buying guns.It’s a slippery slope. The minute you stop suspected terrorists from buying guns, you might encourage them to use bombs instead. Give them their guns, and give us guns, too. There are more of us, right?Back to the Republican Convention, which should be the best political entertainment since Chicago in 1968: We say let the people bring their weapons and bear them proudly. Can you imagine if a terrorist infiltrated the hall and pulled out a gun and 30,000 people pulled out their own weapons and fired away? That would send a message all over the world. Don’t mess with us. We are armed and willing to shoot first.
Downtown Gilroy’s getting a bookstore and the town is abuzz.Crazy, right?Maybe not.When we heard how excited people were about a used bookstore relocating here, we shook our heads. A used bookstore? Is that going to save our struggling downtown? We already have a Barnes and Noble in the big box store ghetto on the other side of the freeway. And let’s face it, while we love books, they are not the big force driving business they once were. They are like the hit rock band that now plays county fairs. Lovable, but not in their economic prime.But then we had a vision.A day doesn’t go by when we don’t hear someone say that Gilroy’s downtown doesn’t have the class of Morgan Hill’s and they wish we had the outdoor chain restaurants that have taken over our northern neighbor and made it a destination. We’ve watched it happen in Campbell and Willow Glen, which have grown from sleepy, antiquated downtowns to hot night spots.And, yes, Gilroy could do the same. Why it hasn’t is a mystery.But maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe there’s another tack. Maybe we should play on our strengths.Gilroy has the genuine feeling of an old, quaint town with locally owned businesses you can’t find anywhere else.Maybe we need to celebrate that and market it more. We’re not just the Garlic Capital of the World, which is a big drawing card, but we are also one of the last real California towns. We keep it real. Yeah, we have chain stores, but we keep them on the other side of the tracks.Take a stroll on Monterey Road downtown and you will find an archery store; a funky, lovable bowling alley with a restaurant that serves food from around the world; a great Mexican bakery and several Mexican restaurants that are like a trip south of the border; a sewing shop; a pottery studio and store; two exquisite American food restaurants in historic buildings; an auction shop; a high-end kids resale shop; garlic specialty shops and restaurants; a classic car shop; amazing antique stores; and soon, a high-end used bookstore.It’s all a great start and it should be marketed better.The owner of Garbo’s Collectibles once told us that he took out ads in Los Angeles for his business and was shocked by how many people came here, loving the city’s old California feel. What many locals see as underdeveloped and embarrassing, outsiders praise for its authenticity.So what else can we do to improve it?We need more public spaces downtown. Mayor Perry Woodward is pushing for an amphitheater where the billiards hall is now and that’s a good step. But what we really need are places to bring kids to after they see a concert or play there.We need a museum downtown, or an attraction that will bring in families. We need more benches and more shade, so people can stroll and stop. We need more outdoor dining. We need more ice cream and pizza shops for families.We also need someone with the vision to bring it to life. We’ve got the history, the local shops and plenty of empty storefronts to fill. We need more activities to attract people downtown, like farmers markets and concerts. We can be proud of the good things we already have. We have a vibrant mix of local shops and cultures, Mexican and American, that is pure and real and not tacky.This isn’t Napa or Disneyland. It’s an agricultural and historical city with things you won’t find anywhere else.
If you want to make America great again, there’s something you can do right away: Vote yes on Measure E and support Gilroy’s schools.With one swoop of your pen and a serious commitment of $60 for every $100,000 of property you own, you can build a new elementary school and fix up degrading middle schools. You can keep all of the district’s schools top notch, which is what we think makes America and our community great.For some reasons that make no sense to us, schools, teachers and taxes have become anathema in this country over the past 40 years. Everyone wants the best services but no one wants to pay for them.If you go back to a time a lot of people think America was great (and we think it’s still great, by the way), you might try the 1950s and 1960s when tax rates, particularly on the rich, were double and triple what they are now. Under Dwight D. Eisenhower, the rich paid 91 percent of their income. Under Richard M. Nixon, it was down to 77 percent. But then it kept dropping as rich people gained more power and convinced a large number of Americans that taxes were bad, particularly taxes on the rich. Back then, people didn’t mind the taxes as much because they knew they were making America great. They were proud of their country and still incredibly rich, despite the taxes.The earlier tax rates afforded us immeasurable greatness. We built a transcontinental highway system. We built the biggest buildings in the world. We went to the moon. We built great schools and free public university systems.But now schools have to raise money by holding their hats out like beggars. What’s happened to this country, where no one asks us to vote to spend trillions on wars both parties later realize were mistakes, but we act like the schools are criminals for wanting to give teachers a living wage and give kids modern buildings and educational systems?How do so many people--some of them wealthier people who send their children to private schools-- figure taxes to help schools are a bad thing? There are exceptions, like Don Christopher, a businessman who puts his funds where his heart is. We aren’t saying the schools and their administrators are perfect. We’ve spent plenty of time dissecting their faults, poring over every document. We aren’t happy about some of the lack of transparency we’ve seen. We don’t like that they don’t live-stream school board meetings. We don’t like how they rushed this election without time to make a stronger case and can’t or won’t even name who solicited the highest donations. The list of projects the money will be spent on is not detailed enough. We question some of the ties between contractors and the board. We don’t like the fact that Christopher High School came in so over budget that its promised theater was never built, the track and field needed private funding to be completed and seven years after the building was finished, it needs repairs.But after putting them through the investigative wringer, we see no reason not to put up another $170 million to keep our schools on the cutting edge. (For comparison’s sake, the Iraq War cost $720 million a day.) The bottom line is that we have to support our schools, whatever it takes. To do anything less is criminal. It’s the opposite of making America great.In Finland and China teachers are as valued as doctors and CEOs. Those countries haven’t forgotten the value of great education. Rather than criticizing teachers unions we’d like to see the schools pay the way private companies do. That would guarantee the best and the brightest get the jobs and hold them.If you want to look at just the bottom line: this isn’t so much a tax as it is an investment. Nothing will make property value go up more than a great school system. Gilroy homes are already a bargain in Silicon Valley. Add more school buildings like Christopher High and more programs like Gilroy High’s biomedical training, and watch the values increase far more than the taxes.
At this time, we’re housing our children in school buildings where their own parents attended classes 30 or 40 years ago. The average age of schools in the Gilroy Unified School District is 30 years old and five schools are more than 50 years old. The District has taken great care of the schools but they need to be renovated and rebuilt.
Trickle down doesn’t work, but trickle up does.
In the land of endless regulation, higher taxes and more fees, California seems to have declared all-out war on small businesses. The $15 per hour minimum wage increase is just one assault that will cause businesses to re-evaluate how they operate in unfriendly territory. Those workers the state intended to help may be the ones hit the hardest when businesses are forced to decide whether they can pass the increased labor costs along to the consumer our cut back their labor force.
A proposal to put a gun shop downtown in the building that used to house the Pinnacle newspaper has gotten mixed reviews from the community.Some say we need all the merchants we can get downtown. Anything is better than the vacant and boarded up buildings we have now.Others worry about the image it would make in a downtown that is striving to match those of Morgan Hill or Los Gatos, as a place to bring families, with a mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment that would entice out-of-towners to what should be one of the most quaint and authentic downtowns in the Bay Area.It’s funny that we get tourists from Los Angeles who think of Gilroy as a must-see. Garbo’s, the successful antique store, started out advertising down south and got a huge response from travelers looking to venture into a town that still has a historical, agrarian feel. They liked what they found here, even as they thumbed their noses at some of their own small towns.“I found out that when you mentioned Gilroy in San Francisco, people went, ‘eww,’ but in L.A., they think Gilroy is charming. Of course, they don’t like Pomona,” said Bruce Dane, Garbo’s owner.So, some might argue, a gun shop could bring more authenticity and a Wild West feel. We buy that, to an extent. Something about it just makes us bristle.Is that really the best location for a heavily secured store where people are going to buy weapons? Is that the image you want people to take away from Gilroy? Do we want to be the weapons capital of the South Valley?There’s Predator’s Archery on the right, a nice gun shop on the left and over there down the street is a nuclear warhead shop. And, as wag Jack Foley said, we could turn the carpet store into a carpet bomb store.We don’t want to come off as radically anti-gun. There are plenty of local hunters and there are an estimated 270 million guns in this country, or 89 for every 100 residents, based on a Swiss study. They aren’t going away anytime soon. There are also already eight permitted places in Gilroy you can buy a gun. These are home businesses and most people are unaware of them.We know that a gun store goes through strict permitting processes. Police are involved to make sure the place is safe. Despite that, nationwide, there are plenty of shooting incidents in gun stores, even one in 2011 at Watsonville’s Big 5.All that said, it comes down to a question of image and perception. Mayor Perry Woodward—a hunter—says the store could bring shoppers here who now have to travel to other cities to buy their rifles and handguns. But Woodward also says he wants to see a time when people in Morgan Hill, which keeps getting more and more upscale, envy Gilroy’s downtown.Is a gun store, rather than, say, an Apple store, something that would make our downtown sizzle, especially across the street from what the mayor hopes will be a family plaza for entertainment?Gilroyans have said no to downtown adult bookstores and marijuana shops, even though they are legal in other cities. They don’t want children looking in store windows and getting the wrong messages. We think they should apply the same standards to weapons. Keep them safe and tucked away, not glorified downtown near the parades and concerts and the ceramics studios and sewing stores.
Four out of every five people you see in Gilroy work somewhere else. Even the majority of the City Council—including the mayor and vice mayor—commute to San Jose or further for work.