Letters for October 5, 2006

Best kiss? You bet!

Re “Readers’ choice: Best local TV newscaster,” “Readers’ choice: Best news-anchor hair: female” and “Writers’ choice: Best public figure to fantasize about: female” (SN&R Best of Sacramento, September 28):

I was surprised and flattered by the awards and balloons in the lobby of News10.

Thanks to you and your readers for the honors, and a big, fat kiss to everyone who voted!

Cristina Mendonsa
News10-ABC anchor/reporter

Best place to drown

Re “Readers’ choice: Best place to swim” (SN&R Best of Sacramento, September 28):

I just picked up this week’s copy of SN&R and, much to my disbelief, found that [your readers] recommended the American River as the best place to swim.

I have to ask: Are you folks crazy, stoned or just lax in review before publication? You’re well aware of how many people drown in that and other area rivers each year, I’m sure. Someone from out of town could possibly read that and assume you are also telling them it’s “safe” to do so.

Now, had you written Lake Natoma or even Folsom Lake—which are part of the American River—that would be different, as they do not have the dangerous currents that would otherwise be there if not for the dams.

D. Masterson

Take responsibility for risk

Re “Has the bubble burst?” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R Feature Story, September 21):

Sasha Abramsky should have done his homework. Interest rates are not on the rise. They have been on the decline for a couple of months! I can find my first-time buyer clients with marginal credit 30-year fixed rates from 5.5 percent with no closing costs. As they say, it’s who you know.

Housing prices in many areas are as low as they were two years ago, before the height of the “bubble.”

Anyone opting for an adjustable or interest-only mortgage knows what “adjustable” and “interest-only” mean. Why are all of these people now blaming “unscrupulous lenders” instead of taking responsibility for the risk they assumed? Granted, there are unscrupulous people everywhere. However, when it comes to your livelihood, “buyer beware.” If you don’t understand something, why wouldn’t you ask? Why wouldn’t you get educated?

I know that this story was basically meant to address the current problem of short sales and foreclosures being placed upon people who borrowed beyond their means. However, the way the title begins and the blame being placed are irresponsible. Plus, you aren’t helping anybody by not providing other options. The SN&R is looking as bad as the Bee when it comes to writing the truth.

Tena Wells

Entitlement matters

Re “Class matters” by Nancy Brands Ward (SN&R Editor’s Note, September 21) and “Has the bubble burst?” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R Feature Story, September 21):

The American Dream is something to be worked for. It is not promised to anyone; no one is entitled to it.

There are some things that make it very difficult to reach this dream. Incarceration for bank robbery is one. At this point, you pretty much kissed it all goodbye. After this, you blame yourself; no one else. You especially don’t blame loan officers for being “the shadiest people you deal with.” When you rob a bank, you don’t have the right to such righteous indignation.

I have no doubt that the Philbrooks are hard workers. But they’re not big savers. They saved nothing for a down payment.

My parents came to America from Korea about 35 years ago. Typical story: worked hard, saved everything, blah blah blah. They paid for their home in the Bay Area in 15 years because to them, interest is the enemy. They would be unable to fathom the idea of an interest-only loan. And even with their limited English, they pored over every single word in that contract.

I think this article is less about “class” and more about the sense of entitlement that Americans have. It was an embarrassing read.

Eugene Chang
via e-mail

It’s ‘sort of’ burst

Re “Has the bubble burst?” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R Feature Story, September 21):

The answer is: “Sort of.” Most real-estate bubbles gradually deflate over a period of time, and then prices flatten. This is happening now in Sacramento and a lot of other metropolitan areas.

Real-estate bubbles follow stock-market crashes. Money previously invested in stocks generally is transferred to real estate. The real-estate market bubbled after the 1987 crash and again after the “dot-com” crash.

The recent bubble is worse because the Bush administration’s tax breaks for the rich, combined with deregulation of the lending industry, fed speculation. Money from the tax breaks fueled real-estate speculation rather than building businesses and creating jobs.

Led to believe that prices would continue to rise forever, gullible working-class people bought homes at greatly inflated prices, locked into mortgages they could not possibly pay. They were further imprisoned in the system by so-called bankruptcy reforms that ensured they would be sucked dry by the very people making the risky loans.

What happens as the real-estate bubble deflates over several years? At first unwilling to sell at a loss, eventually people who bought high are forced to sell. When potential buyers see prices declining, they decide to wait. Home sales decline. Foreclosures and vacancies rise. Prices continue to fall.

Eventually, prices deflate to their non-bubble level, a “natural” price that’s a realistic value based on median income in the area, location, regional trends and local economic conditions, among other factors. Then value of the home will rise at its natural rate until the next round of speculation.

During the last round of bubble deflation, houses in most California metro areas decreased by between 20 percent and 25 percent. Because of the excessive inflation of the last bubble, I’d guess that the Sacramento market will bottom out around 30 percent below current prices.

We live in the best of times; we live in the worst of times.

Jim Webber

Disabilities are not all the same

Re “Strangled by my bootstraps” by M. Dylan McClelland (SN&R Essay, September 21):

M. Dylan McClelland makes a common mistake, assuming that all disabilities, and all disabled people, are alike.

Personally, I would give anything to leave behind the impoverished lifestyle of a disabled person and return to the good-paying career that I had (and the good life it paid for). Unfortunately, the disabling condition I have cannot be cured with pills, and both exercise and the attempt to return to work half-time “rehabbed” me right back into bed. Repeatedly.

I have finally learned that on some days, my highest aspiration must be getting to the bathroom without passing out. For a driven overachiever like me, the hardest part of living with this condition is learning to live with the notion that I feel better when I do less.

My expectations were lowered, not because I don’t think a disabled person can accomplish anything, but because every time I try to do a little more, I relapse. I can’t work enough hours to be self-supporting.

I have a complex neuro-immune dysfunction called myalgic encephalomyelitis (commonly referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS). It started with a 105-degree fever that lasted for several days. Research has shown there is documentable viral damage visible on patients’ brain scans, and the symptoms can be explained by a dysfunction of the central nervous system (i.e., brain).

The blame for the high rate of unemployment among the disabled should be placed not on the victims, but on employers who focus on the bottom line. With more employer compassion, I might be working instead of applying for government assistance, but I was fired because I was no longer cost-effective, and no one will hire me because I currently require accommodations in excess of what the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates.

Karen M. Campbell

Love that emo!

Re “The Fisher King gets weird” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R Trust Your Ears, September 21):

I don’t think being “spot on” tone-wise is necessary. I enjoy the way Christian Kiefer’s voice waivers with passion. It reminds me very much of Yoko Ono’s voice, which is tonally similar. I love how both their voices move about. It makes Christian unique with a Yoko-esque, emo feel.

Christian, be proud of your folksy sound and emo voice! I really enjoy reading Jackson’s weekly column about Christian. It’s cool that Christian has his own column about him and his cool cover tunes.

Jane Richmond
via e-mail


Re “Hearing voices” by Amy Yannello (SN&R News, September 28):

In “Hearing voices,” Sylvia Carleton was incorrectly identified as having earned a master’s degree at CSUS. Carleton’s degree is from the University of Phoenix. The error has been corrected in the Web edition of the paper.

Re “World gone wild,” (SN&R Editorial, September 28):

In our editorial, we mistakenly identified Senator Joe Lieberman’s state as Vermont. Lieberman and challenger Ned Lamont are from Connecticut. We regret the error. This has been corrected on the Web site.