Letters for July 14, 2011

Don’t squander Sac’s food co-op

Re “Take this test” (SN&R Letters, June 16) and “Boycotts, bath salts and brawling” by Raheem F. Hosseini (SN&R Frontlines, May 19):

If you want to take the side of upstart virtue in a David and Goliath struggle, buy some groceries at your local food co-op. Barely 300 in number across the U.S., food co-ops demonstrate that customers can successfully own the store that provides them with sustenance, operating it purely for their own benefit and not that of profit-maximizing investors. Co-ops have managed to do this successfully, despite fierce competition from the vastly larger grocery chains.

This prosaic business of selling people what they need on terms not calculated to exploit them goes on against a backdrop of great turmoil at home and abroad. Epic quests for human dignity and self-determination require our urgent attention. But it makes no sense to drive our food co-ops out of business in the process.

The possibility of precisely such an occurrence is the reason those of us dedicated to the food co-op movement, and the values it represents, look with such alarm at recent developments in Sacramento. We decry the violence and oppression that has been visited upon Palestine for decades. But it seems self-evident that the possibilities for affecting this situation are tiny for the food co-op movement overall, much less a single co-op like Sacramento’s. Meanwhile, in the broader U.S. culture, there is not yet a consensus about which side in the conflict between Palestine and Israel is more deserving of public sympathy.

This is key because, if the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op were to have a member referendum on the question of whether to ban products from Israel, regardless of whether the proposition passes or fails, there would be a substantial percentage of Co-op members and shoppers who are unhappy. It is axiomatic in the world of retail commerce that unhappy customers go elsewhere.

This might be the justifiable price of vibrant and direct democracy, but grocery stores operate on a razor-thin margin—any significant loss of business can be fatal to a small operator like SNFC. A bankrupt co-op serves nobody.

The lawyers can argue about the minutia of [SNFC]’s bylaws. But, for those of us around the country who love food co-ops, the real question is: Do we love them enough to avoid killing them, just to make a political point?

Donald M. Kreis
South Royalton, Vt.

Donald Kreis is a professor at Vermont Law School and a longtime member of a food co-op in neighboring New Hampshire.

Wait for the numbers

Re “Track to the future” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, July 7):

Critics have been slamming California High-Speed Rail [Authority] for not having a satisfactory business plan, and now that the 2011 business plan is due in October, they are rushing to try and kill the project before the plan comes out. Could it be that they are worried?

The 2011 business plan will be critical, particularly in regard to cost estimates for the initial section. Costs will be higher than the estimates in the 2009 plan, but how much higher may well be the $43 billion-plus question.

Quoting the peer review of the Legislative Analyst’s Office report of May 10, 2011: “The Group’s experience indicates that preliminary cost projections are likely to be optimistic, but we also acknowledge that the Authority might accomplish a lot with ‘value engineering.’”

So let’s put the “stake through heart” rhetoric away for now, and wait until we can get a look at the 2011 business plan.

John Burrows
San Jose

Snooze, you lose

Re “Track to the future” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, July 7):

I’ve followed the SN&R stories (and stories in [The Sacramento] Bee, too) on high-speed rail for years now, and am more than a little disheartened.

We need alternatives to expensive flights and environmentally problematic interstate driving, but we’ve put it off and put it off. Now the economy’s in freefall with no signs of recovering any time soon, and we’re still pushing back the ETA on California’s high-speed rail.

I’m afraid it’s true that when you snooze, you lose.

Jan Klein

Cut red tape, get nicer workers

Re “Lost supper” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Feature, June 30):

I appreciated this story on food stamps. I am an elderly woman living on Social Security, with my son, who is not working at this time. I once looked into food stamps and just could not see how to apply for them. There was no help at all from any agency.

Yes, I worked all my life. Yes, I had some money saved—until the economy and medical expenses just ate it away. I could use some help and food stamps would be a great thing for me—if I could get them. But like all the so-called social services in most of California, they just don’t work, and most of the people who work in these types of social services make sure it doesn’t work. They just don’t see the need of doing their job.

Maybe that’s why I am no longer shocked at the idea that government employees can be fired and their benefits reduced or taken away from them. I think they deserve it. This is something I would never have said 20 years ago!

Florence Ferrara
via email

Where’s the daddy?

Re “Lost supper” by Hugh Biggar (SN&R Feature, June 30):

I would like to know what happened to that mother’s boyfriend or whoever fathered these children? Why doesn’t the father(s) pay for the kids’ food? Why do so many people turn to public assistance for their children instead of first making sure to get child support from the father(s) of the children?

I assume in a small percentage, the fathers may have passed away or the children were a result of rape. But if there is a man or men who fathered these children and who are alive on this Earth, I’d like to see them pay for their kids before another human being has to turn for public assistance.

Otherwise, good story.

via email

Something doesn’t add up

Re “So, they think they can dance?” by Jimmy Spencer (SN&R Frontlines, June 30):

Sacramento police have denied a permit for a downtown teen nightclub. The police were quoted [as saying], “We don’t have additional staffing to deal with teens.”

Since the teen club is intended to reduce teen problems, the police position seems to be (given that presently there are a certain number of problems resulting from unsupervised teen activity) that they could not deal with a smaller number of problems resulting from a supervised activity of these same teens.

Does this make any sense?

Evan Jones

Cohousing futures

Re “Living in the future” by Seth Sandronsky (SN&R Green Days, June 30):

It’s great to hear about another group that’s discovered the wonders of cohousing.

We’re building the Mountain View Cohousing Community in downtown Mountain View—walking distance to shops, restaurants, library, public transportation (train, light rail and bus), a wonderful farmers market, theater and more. We’re an active adult community that will have 19 households when construction has been completed in late 2013. We’re 13 strong, and are looking for just six more families or individuals to join us in this exciting venture.

To find out more about us, go to www.mountainviewcohousing.org.

Minna Vallentine
Half Moon Bay

Jim Lane, hipster critic?

Re “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” by Jim Lane (SN&R Film Clips, June 30):

That’s so true about Megan Fox being smart and, you know, opting not to be part of a billion-dollar film so she can … well, she can play the role of … hmm. I guess she’s not doing a role, is she?

I think it’s a prerequisite for film critics to play “follow the leader” and bash [Michael] Bay and this installment of the movie franchise. I guess it’s the “cool” thing to do; hipster journalism, I suppose.

Bay excels at making mindless, eye-numbing entertainment that doesn’t require thought. Sometimes that’s OK. Sometimes it’s OK to skip the “deep” films that journalists and reviewers alike fawn over, almost so they can act like they get the punch line and laugh at the yokels that didn’t.

Seth Fischer
via email

Joey waffled?

Re “How young is too young?” by Joey Garcia (SN&R Ask Joey, June 16):

A grandmother writes to Ask Joey because she is concerned that her 15-year-old granddaughter is dating a college sophomore, with her parents’ approval. I have read Joey’s column since it started, and I have always respected that she is a very open-hearted straight shooter, but she waffled on this one.

Whoever wrote the headline nailed the issue here. If one person is under 18 and the other is 18 or over, the younger person is too young. Period. (Actually, the older person is too old.) If there is sexual activity—this “couple” presumably spent the night together—the older person is subject to felony charges of child sexual abuse. Everyone knows this.

Many people think the law does not or should not apply to them, that their case is “different,” that their circumstances are “special.” If they are so wonderful together, the older person should be delighted to wait until the younger person has reached age 18. The older person should be willing to delay any gratification (being the responsible party) and let the younger person reach legal age without any manipulation, seduction or coercion.

If the older person cannot do this out of weakness of character, then the younger person should consider what many teens call the “Ewww!” factor. A 20-year-old dating a 15-year-old is as creepy as a 15-year-old dating a 10-year-old. As a psychotherapist for 20 years, I passed a lot of tissues to people whose hearts were broken by charming manipulators.

Jan Kristie
via email

He likes the pullout

Re “The 420” (SN&R Advertising Supplement, June 23):

Congrats on the introduction of your Reefer Madness pullout. Even though I am indifferent to the availability and use of marijuana, I was getting tired of being bombarded by the ads throughout your paper.

Now I can again quickly flip through the thing and relegate it to the recycle pile.

Patrick McDermott


In last week’s 420 feature (“Big green future,” by Ted Cox, SN&R The 420, July 7), Tyce Fraser and Jesse Hill were incorrectly cited as reformed cultivators. This is not the case: They are Humboldt residents, concerned neighbors and members of Grow It in the Sun, nongrowing activists who would like to see medical pot cultivated in a more eco-friendly way. We regret this error, and the story has been modified online.

This story has been corrected from its original print version.