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Guest Opinion: Leadership in the time of COVID-19

Original post made on Apr 24, 2020

As a history teacher, I frequently consult our past to be inspired by those who led in times of crisis and moved society forward despite overwhelming challenges.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 24, 2020, 12:00 AM

Comments (41)

25 people like this
Posted by Well Stated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2020 at 7:09 am

Yes to what you say, Greer Stone, the most important of which is that we must all continue to keep the social compact, be generous and lead when and where we can.
Thank you for reminding and encouraging us. It can only help. And thank you for being a teacher now and a volunteer on our county Human Relations Commission.
[Portion removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by Karen Holman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2020 at 8:12 am

Thank you, Greer, for bringing opportunity, both expressed and awaiting, to the forefront. Even small acts of kindness can mean far more than imaginable to someone. And leadership in these times can and likely will make a significant impact on who we are as a community after the pandemic lifts. Next?


11 people like this
Posted by Civics
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2020 at 8:14 am

But sadly, we’re not all fighting this together. Get yourself onto a right wing list of some kind. They’re still fighting the invisible liberal straw man Democrat bogeyman. [Portion removed.] It is possible to change people’s minds, but you have to be in that world and be willing to constantly work at countering the false framing with facts and love.

We’re not all fighting this together when the healthcare that would have changed everything, and the economic stability that would have allowed the 99% to better weather this, including lives free of constant predatory economic practices for the benefit of a few, can never be achieved because the majority don’t take on their individual responsibility to each show up at the polls for every election, to understand that voting for potus is not enough, that they have to care and vote about the balance of power in Congress to have the pOtus’s back to improve healthcare when there are so many forces trying to prevent it, or to hold the potus accountable when he and his party are dismantling democracy.

[Portion removed.]

Like Dorothy with her ruby slippers, American voters have always had the power to fix this, but the day when that is no longer true is fast approaching. This pandemic is nothing in the face of what happens in not that many years if we do nothing big about climate change. But we are all in the suffering together, not in the solution together. Preventing the negatives and solving will require each American to take on themselves to vote and vote for good governance, at every level of government. Because history teaches us that we either claw back Democratic homeostasis from this fifty year attempt by the extreme right to destroy it, including demolishing the false framing and the false and destructive economic ideology, or we end up continuing in the path to inequality and right wing extremism until things suddenly and violently snap back to the other extreme. In only the former are WE in it together.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2020 at 9:17 am

I don't think we have any type of leadership at all.

Look at someone like Churchill. He was able to lead his country at a time when others were not only unable to do so, but would criticize any decision he made. He made some very difficult decisions, some were costly in human life, but the ultimate rewards made them good decisions.

Now I am not saying that we ignore the human life issue, but we do have to look at the big picture.

It is evident that Covid19 was around long before the first death and the SIP. If the first known death is now decided to be early February, then it was here weeks before just that we didn't know.

When it comes to what to do now, we have no leadership. The Governor doesn't want to be too quick, but California is a wealthy state and some of the wealthiest companies are still functioning well with their workforce at home. It will be a long time before California really starts losing money. But not all States are in the same position. The same could be said by counties. Napa County depends on tourism but although they are not opening to visitors, they are sensibly opening the county for its residents in very sensible ways. Santa Clara county, home to Apple, Google and other big tech companies are still working. Netflix and Zoom are both thriving. Why should the county worry about small businesses?

Leadership has to start making tough decisions. The war against Covid 19 is like any other war. There will be casualties. Hopefully when the restrictions are lifted they will be done in a safe manner. Our lives will not return to normal for a long time, if ever. But our lives do matter and forcing us to stay home idle, running low on funds, depending on government hand outs can only be a short term option. The difficult leadership decisions still have to be made.


5 people like this
Posted by lysol
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2020 at 9:24 am

[Post removed.]


28 people like this
Posted by Doria Summa
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2020 at 9:50 am

Thanks to the Weekly and Greer Stone for publishing this thoughtful and wisely optimistic piece.
Mr. Stone has gracefully and helpfully not only opined on the value and difficulty of leadership during hard times, but also clearly expressed them in a way that demonstrates his personal values.


20 people like this
Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2020 at 11:51 am

A Beautiful Guest Opinion; thank you Greer! Encouraging kindness to and helping others is always a winning combination.

Our Country is currently divided like during the civil War; the right's of some are being grossly violated; massive bullying is encouraged based on nationality and skin color. Voter suppression of minorities is rampant.

[Portion removed.] Voting in November will be crucial. Helping organizations which promote voting rights is essential. This is another form of kindness to all; we all benefit when all of us have equal opportunities.


16 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2020 at 12:28 pm

Inspirational prose is a bit easier to do than actual leadership, especially in a time of crisis, especially when the enemy can't be seen, especially when no one has prepared, especially when too many of the population become so severely dependent, especially when the emergency supplies and procedures were so hard to find. We all are learning what little we knew and how ready we weren't.
Personally, I don't like to see these constant references to people of color in our country that is supposed to NOT label people by the color of their skin and from teachers who I would hope are telling all of our children that that they are equal. I would also hope that we are universally and consistently fair and generous to everyone during hard times, not by the color of their skin. The is what real leaders do anyway, they don't look at how someone was tagged but what they can do. True racism is tagging this one as brown, this one as black, this one as another shade. I hope this pandemic can teach us all, even our teachers, this lesson. Are aren't we all tired of these charges of racism. America tries, it moves too slowly for some but it does try. Our last President was black, elected largely by white people and other non-blacks. I sometimes think that those who are constantly charging racism do more harm than good.
Everyone is impacted by this, in different way,s. Some populations, such as the obese and the old and those with diabetes and those who ride buses and those who went to church, etc. There are many who can't easily isolate.


1 person likes this
Posted by Tired.
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2020 at 1:44 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Oh Brother
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 24, 2020 at 2:03 pm

[Post removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by Civics
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2020 at 2:28 pm

@rita vrhel,
"But hopefully the majority of Americans are now realizing Trump is a dangerous fool and his damage to our Country to great to continue."

The majority of Americans already did in the 2016 election -- recall please that Republicans have only been staying in power from tricks and lies and manipulations.

Secondly, the reason he has any voters at all is because Republicans have been nurturing their false framing and networks for decades. The guy that was scheming to put the citizenship question on the census to advantage Republicans, this was not an isolated incident. The people who didn't realize the above are not going to change their minds now, because that's not what they're hearing. They live in the same kind of highly selective denial as @Tired above. NO matter how badly Republican leaders screw up state or national economies, no matter how they repeated demonstrate that they are spend spend spend (but never invest), no matter how bad they are for the 99%, there's a portion of the population who are almost like a cult. (And note, please, that any criticism you level against them, they will quickly level against you with zero evidence of it -- they got that from their leader. He likes to accuse others of his own misdeeds to get them to look away or take the heat off of him, and his followers not only believe the accusations, they already think he's the second coming of Jesus and reject anything he does or says that doesn't fit with that, including his own blasphemy.)

Again, this has nothing to do with people waking up, except for voters who know better waking up to how important it is to vote in every election, vote in downballot races like all the local and especially congressional races, and stop being fickle snowflakes about whether any given candidate is exactly the right custom candidate for them personally.


9 people like this
Posted by Stats101
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2020 at 3:01 pm

It is bit premature to start drawing conclusions from the numbers published on the Santa Clara County COVID dashboard. The numbers are swinging wildly every day and the sample size is relatively small to have a strong statistical significance. There may be other underlying patterns that have a much stronger correlation than the correlations suggested by Mr. Stone.

When it comes to COVID-19, experts urge caution in interpreting available data
Web Link


17 people like this
Posted by Blind Spot
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm

No George - "true racism" is when nearly 36% of the 1,962 deaths from covid-19 in Santa Clara County are Latinx, though they don't make up nearly that percentage of our population.

Systemic racism accounts for greater economic limitations and opportunity denied, including access to good health care, leading to pre-existing conditions which are deadly in these virus times.

To tell a community leader such as Stone to stop mentioning the truth - that there is a disproportional impact of this virus on some ethnicities based on our Counties owns data - would be hurtful and destructive- the opposite of leadership. We cannot keep pretending racism does not exist.


14 people like this
Posted by Choices
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2020 at 4:21 pm

How come no one ever mentions choices when discussing these “disadvantages? If you’re going to be fair you need to present the statistic that certain populations (both racial and socio-economic) have much higher % of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. And these are most often due to diet and physical care....and the choices people make to care for themselves.

If we’re really gong to examine ways to go forward to ensure health for all, and we’re going to define budgets to help certain populations due to the many disparities, shouldn’t we institute programs ensuring proper diets and exercise?


Like this comment
Posted by Samuel J
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 24, 2020 at 4:37 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2020 at 4:52 pm

Thank you Greer for your thoughtful and timely piece. I do disagree on your closing point that we do not need a Lincoln right now. After three and a half years of a demagogue in the White House, the time for a leader with knowledge, emotional intelligence and compassion of a Lincoln is necessary. You are an optimist. Sadly, many do not have the capability to lead either because of temperament or lacking in active will to do so. Yes there are many individuals who have stepped up to help others. It is when ordinary people rise to the occasion that society benefits.
These folks are our heroes.


10 people like this
Posted by To Choices
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 24, 2020 at 5:26 pm

To Choices: I wonder if you’ve ever researched why socioeconomically disadvantaged people make the “choice” to be obese, etc... in socially disadvantaged communities, people do not have the best grocery stores. Have you noticed, just on the other side of 101, that East Palo Alto is basically a good desert? Most of the people living there cannot afford the prime produce from stores like Safeway, Whole Foods, etc. To add on, maybe some of those people don’t have transportation so they won’t go across town to those grocery stores. If they can barely make enough to pay rent, what makes you think they can travel across town to stores where they can’t afford rate A food? They won’t. Plus, they’re so busy working they don’t have time to cook sometimes. They will go to fast food chains and buy from there because of lack of time, lack of funds, and because sometimes it is way cheaper to buy from a fast food restaurant than a grocery store. It all comes down to wages. So why blame their “choices” when they were put in a situation they can’t really fix? That’s the only “choice” they were given or the only “choice” that best works for them. It’s not their fault.


5 people like this
Posted by Thank you
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 24, 2020 at 5:31 pm

Thank you, Mr. Stone, for your piece. As a fellow teacher, I applaud your mentioning of the socially disadvantaged during these times as we have some of these individuals as students. Let’s all be the leaders our students need us to be. You do a wonderful job as a leader in this community and in your school community with your students as well, Mr. Stone. Thanks again!


10 people like this
Posted by Choices
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2020 at 5:55 pm

I am not blaming anyone, I am simply stating that their condition is a result of their choices. And then, if you’ll note, I suggested that we create programs that HELP THEM MAKE BETTER CHOICES. Isn’t it the intent of “funded programs” to improve this perceived issue? So wouldn’t we want to ensure that these funded programs are indeed doing that? And what better way than to create healthy food baskets (or along these lines)?

I disagree that “some are working too much to make healthy meals”. Again, this is a choice. I’ve worked 60-80 hour weeks yet I still managed to put healthy (usually simple, but healthy) food on the table for my family. I get the fast food route....yep, it’s faster and it’s easier and it’s a CHOICE. So please don’t throw down that argument, it’s disingenuous.

It does NOT all come down to wages. My grandparents were POOR. My mother and her two sisters slept on one bed in a two bedroom house. My grandma made sure there was healthy, simple food on the table. She made good choices.

See, again when someone mentions choices it’s completely discounted and I just don’t understand why we don’t want to be accountable for choices?


7 people like this
Posted by Stats101
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2020 at 6:10 pm

@Blind Spot,

Nearly 60% of the 1,962 deaths from covid-19 in Santa Clara County are male, though they don't make up nearly that percentage of our population.

Is this caused by systemic misandry, economic limitations, and less opportunity for males, including less access to good health care?

Correlation does not imply causation.


2 people like this
Posted by Stats101
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2020 at 6:24 pm

@Choices,

The available statistics do not support your "choice hypothesis" or Stone and Blind Spot's "racism hypothesis". Correlation does not imply causation.


Like this comment
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2020 at 6:39 pm

Understanding and activism are both important, and each needs the other. But they are different.


5 people like this
Posted by Marge
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2020 at 7:06 pm

Last time I checked the Covid virus doesn’t respond to understanding or activism. Your better off boosting your immune system and wearing a mask. Politicians and media should stop politicizing treatment....no one wins when they do that.


Like this comment
Posted by Dick D.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2020 at 7:56 pm

It seems "strange" to some no doubt that much of Sen. Sanders pitch would apply to our current situation if we were there already. Most specifically the overall national "norm" in those "terrible" Norther European socialist countries (which happen to have the very best medical systems in the world) are making out the best during this period. Despite all the noise coming out of Washington (DC), our neighbors to the North, in many ways akin to the Northern European national values are doing better than we are both in dealing with the disease than we are . . . and they're not finding them selves with far less problems amongst the poor and disadvantaged as we are, but they don't have the incredible income gap as we do,

So, do we have the best country in the world insofar as the well being of all our citizens?


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Apr 24, 2020 at 8:10 pm

[Portion removed.]

You can feel and admire those who fight for equity all you want, but if you don’t practice it yourself, and continue to wave your privilege in the face of those who don’t have access to those resources, can you really say you’re in favor of equity? Check yourself, sir.

It takes humility, creativity, compassion, and critical thinking to be a true leader. This you are not. “Optimism” only gets you so far wIthout action.


16 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 24, 2020 at 10:00 pm

@Anon
You hit it on the head. As a fellow teacher in the district immersed in these social justice warriors not one of them would last a DAY somewhere like SJ UNIFIED. BUT THEY SURE CAN SPOUT THE JARGON PEDAGOGY!


5 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 24, 2020 at 10:14 pm

1,962 deaths? Mark Twain would call that an exaggeration.


5 people like this
Posted by Civics
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2020 at 12:29 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Transplant from Georgia
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 25, 2020 at 9:32 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Support Your Own Brand Of Common Sense
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2020 at 10:21 am

Being POTUS is probably the toughest job in the world & there will always be critics.

While POTUS45 runs the country like an episode of The Apprentice, many of his key staffers needed to be FIRED either due to incompetence or lack of support...this is how companies are run.

While the US government is not a company per se, there is rampant fiscal waste & countless deadbeat bureaucrats living off the tax-payer dollar.

The World Health Organization is another turncoat operation in its support of China & delayed reportage of COVID-19. They do not deserve any $550M US grant as this money should go to US-based healthcare centers and/or towards SUBSTANTIAL economic rebates to US citizens/taxpayers.

The United nations is a waste of time/money global organization inundated with useless staffers & programs. Perhaps best to eliminate it as world leaders could care less of where the UN stands...on anything.

[Portion removed.]

Our current POTUS may not necessarily be the best American leader in this time of crisis but given the track records of other world leaders & their respective COVID-19 outbreaks, he is no better or worse than any of the others.


18 people like this
Posted by lysol
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 26, 2020 at 11:10 am

The Republican party has released a new strategy for the upcoming election. They say if their leadership on healthcare is failing, find some non-white people to blame. "GOP memo urges anti-China assault over coronavirus" Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Theman
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 26, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Well with the US out of the picture not donating to the WHO, the second largest donator will step up and become more influential....wait for it...China! And you thought this was bad. Smart move, like always, by our incompetent leader of un-United States of America.


Like this comment
Posted by Lysol supporter
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 26, 2020 at 1:23 pm

@lysol, when should we get together to inject some Lysol and UV-flavored coolaid to be test subjects to prove our worth on this planet?


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 26, 2020 at 5:40 pm

^ sounds almost as silly as injecting yourself with cowpox.


Like this comment
Posted by A Possible Consideration
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2020 at 10:03 am

Is COVID-19 an extension of a biblical plague and speaking of 'leaders'...

This might be a message from a higher plane...to re-evaluate our lives & to focus on becoming better individuals (i.e. more considerate & less materialistic).

OR suffer and pay the consequences.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 27, 2020 at 8:44 pm

As you all remember back when we had "earthquake" activity we were told to create a safety section in our house where we stored water. Part of that was to keep water in large glass containers, and put in a couple of drops of "bleach", Clorox = whatever to make sure that no micro-organisms were "breeding'. And I did that - and I have those containers that do have some "Clorox" in them to make sure that no outside micros are in there. We were told to do that. And every spray cleaner that you have has bleach in it to remove unsanitary "stuff". Every company that sells that stuff it telling you clean part of your house.NO - you are not injecting it. It is all around you. Keep clean.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2020 at 3:17 pm

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow

>> As you all remember back when we had "earthquake" activity we were told to create a safety section in our house where we stored water. Part of that was to keep water in large glass containers, and put in a couple of drops of "bleach",

That's right. 6 drops per gallon, or, 1 tablespoon per 50 gallon drum. You can find precise info anywhere, although the ratios may vary -slightly- depending on the strength of bleach and the requirements.

There are lots of potentially dangerous things out there. Even clean water: Web Link

>> NO - you are not injecting it.

Only Sauron's acolytes are confused.


2 people like this
Posted by Debs
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 28, 2020 at 5:00 pm

I moved to pausd from sj unified. You dont know what you are talking about. Projection is better in theatres than in your display of psychological insecurity.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 30, 2020 at 1:57 pm

I keep thinking of people who have pools - or go to pools. The pools are filled with chemicals and every one is in there playing around. Common sense here please - we are surrounded by chemicals and use chemicals. And in pools we are required to use chemicals. No - we don't "drink" the water but it does get in our mouths.
what about your "drink" at night - gin, whatever. Contains alcohol. And you drink it.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 30, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Looking backward - in WW1 and WW2 the wars were over there - not here. And now those countries are part of a bigger association - the British Commonwealth, the European Union. And they are working their issues in today's world. Even the Russians have their own umbrella of former soviet countries. they are busy trying to lead - not follow.


2 people like this
Posted by Jayme
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2020 at 8:25 pm

Great piece Greer, enjoyed your point of view and agree that we all have it within ourselves to be leaders and help others during uncertain times.


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