Letters for March 27, 2014

SN&R readers chime in on Yelp, the ‘gay panic’ defense, public transit, charter schools and female chefs

Zero stars for Yelp

Re “The Yelp factor” by Nick Miller (SN&R Feature Story, March 20):

Four-and-a-half stars for the Yelp story. It was a great peek behind the curtain and revealed some insights that are making me reconsider my level of trust.

The fact that any Yelp user is getting freebies from businesses is troubling, as is a Yelper who gives five stars to more than half of the businesses they've reviewed.

I think some businesses have a much higher opinion of themselves than is warranted and feel they are above criticism.

I also think Yelp reviewers have no clue as to what they are doing (and have too much time on their hands).

Going forward, I'll use Yelp only for directions and store hours. My trust has slipped to zero stars.


via email

Gay panic travesty

Re “Homophobic hooey” by Greg Lucas (SN&R Capitol Lowdown, March 20):

Thanks for an informative article. It occurred to me while reading it that if every heterosexual woman who has been offended by a heterosexual man coming on to her could claim “offense” as their defense, then there would be a lot of dead straight men. Walking down the street as a man shouts from his car, hanging out in a bar for a drink with friends and being obnoxiously approached by some dimwit that won’t take no for an answer, fending off multiple advances by a male co-worker or boss—well, hell, let’s just take care of that with a little gun power.

It’s travesty of justice to allow “gay” or “transgender panic” to aid in someone’s defense.

Tara Crowley


Public transit needs to advertise

Re “The A.V. club” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Bites, March 20):

In spite of autonomous vehicles, public transport will continue to be important for the foreseeable future. If large retailers ran their businesses like our public transporters do, their market share would also plummet to 3 percent. Why not take a page from Home Depot and other retailers: advertise! Put a tiny fraction of transport budget into listing destinations (Roseville, Auburn, Stockton, Fresno, etc.) and times, so people will be informed of these resources. Ask any person on the street how many trains Amtrak runs to San Francisco each weekday, or how many buses to the airport a day, and you’ll receive blank stares (answer: 16 Amtrak trains each weekday; 19 buses to the airport each weekday). Give promotional coupons for free seats; free seats cost no more than empty seats. Run daily specials.

Evan Jones

via email

Charter schools cherry-pick

Re “Wake-up call” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Greenlight, March 20):

Charter schools may have all that buzz and positive energy because they are dealing with the cream of the crop, so to speak. Believe me, I don’t negate parent involvement, positive and can-do attitudes.

Trouble is, those kids are skimmed from public schools, along with the money per student, while the children who do not have involved parents are left behind. Each student comes with dollar sign attached. If you take the best and the brightest and the most involved families (and, yes, who can blame them) and leave behind those who struggle, of course this leaves phenomenal challenges for the mainstream school system. One might want to ask whether this the way to teach community: “Is this the world I want to teach my children to create? I will just go over here, because I have mine, and will sail through life where I don’t have to be bothered with your, um, challenges that might hold me back.” Until, of course, karma finds you.

Christine Thomas


Women are out there

Re “A woman’s place is in the kitchen” by Janelle Bitker (SN&R Feature Story, March 13):

Loved the photo on the cover. Here is more female-chef info: Randy Paragary of the Paragary Restaurant Group has always been a promoter of female chefs in his kitchen. As stated in the article, Teresa Urkofsky is one. Others include: Laurel Melchor, Margie Tose, Stacey Johnson, Shannan Berg, Kelly Her, Erika Atkins, to name a few. Another restaurant owner, Evan Elsberry of Evan’s Kitchen, runs an all-female crew in the evenings. Female chefs may be out of sight but are not out of mind for progressive owners.

Patrick Powers

via email