My View: Notes from the Front Row (Opinion)

Carl Ribaudo
Tribune columnist

Local Musings

The Oxford dictionary defines innovation as “featuring new methods, advanced and original.” Looking around since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, we have seen more innovation in South Shore than you might have realized.

Carl Ribaudo

One of the most significant trends due to COVID-19 has been consumers flocking to outdoor destinations in droves. This is happening to outdoor destinations around the country.

Given the limitations due to COVID-19, including no indoor dining, masking, social distancing, etc., businesses and organizations had two choices, the status quo or make changes and innovate. Many in this community choose to innovate.

Consider the following examples: Many restaurants successfully changed their business models to include outside dining options in many different ways, dialing in their pick-up and delivery options. Many businesses have experimented and implemented online reservation systems to manage the customer experience.

While the traffic management issue out in Meyers existed before the pandemic, it was accelerated by COVID-19. In the process, local government and law enforcement made changes to try and improve the situation. I am sure there were many more instances of new ideas and innovative approaches throughout South Shore. We need to keep it up.

It wasn’t always this way. This community can at times struggle with change. Remember the lime scooter introduction? Half this town flipped out. Every summer, they are brought back without much fanfare.

Today, we take the downtown redevelopment for granted, but years ago, when it was first introduced, there were plenty of naysayers, including some city councilmen. Today, the redevelopment has been successful on many levels, including environmental improvements and its economic benefits. It is one of the largest tax generators for the city.

The point is innovation for business, government, and the community, is good. Change and innovation are essential, but there has to be a receptive community culture that enables innovation. Too often in the past new ideas were rejected by some part of the community, and that opposition sets up a win/lose scenario. Instead, wouldn’t we be further ahead if we looked at the proposed changes or new ideas or approaches? Instead of starting the process by squaring off, we instead asked how we can squeeze all the benefits possible, environmental, community, and economical, from what’s being proposed.

Fighting over if the change should happen is never as productive as asking how we can as a community benefit from the change.

The Big Picture

It does appear that several red-state Republican governors have made a clear trade-off concerning COVID policy by not mandating vaccination, virus tracking, quarantining, masking, and social distancing, etc… Several states have passed laws prohibiting masking to keep a state’s economy open is a clear choice. It’s a cold calculation trading off the increased hospitalization and deaths that occur due to that policy.

The problem with that policy approach is mandating that the commonsense masking and other steps that could be taken like encouraging vaccinations could achieve both keeping their state economy open and reducing hospitalizations and deaths. The difference in policy options is political.

These governors have chosen a false construct for political gain with their political base, and they have become enablers of future and more virulent virus strains. By not getting up to herd immunity as quickly as possible, we create the opportunity for mutant strains of the virus, which will more ruthlessly attack those who are not vaccinated.

As we have seen, these policy choices will not win in the long term. The strategy of fighting science with politics will fail every time. We will have to watch it play out.


One of the saddest things to experience each summer is the fires that have become commonplace in California and the West. The fires we are seeing are tragic. One of the best books I have ever read is “Young Men and Fire” by Norman Mclean. You might remember him from his more famous work “A River Runs Through It.”

Mclean’s account of the Mann Gulch fire in 1949 in Montana puts you right there and gives you a taste of what firefighters face. It’s not pretty.

It is a wrap

Our thoughts are with you to all those who have lost so much and all the first responders on the fire line. You will be back.

Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker, and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. you can reach him at

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