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In memoriam of who?
Every time I see a flag half-staff, I think it's for James Brown. Who's this Ford guy everyone's talking about anyways?

Forrestt Williams

Avila Beach




Spend your money where you're happy to do so
In response to Gina Hobbs' commentary in the Jan. 4 issue ("Listen up, Mom and Pops"):

I believe that for every bad experience in a mom-and-pop store, you could find a similar bad experience in a chain store. I also believe one could have a good experience with either form of ownership.

People should spend their money where they are happiest doing so. My biggest worry is that when corporations own everything, there will be no chance for Gina or any other individual to show us how they could do it better or worse than the big guys.

Cindi Powell

Los Osos




Independent stores are for independent thinkers
In response to Gina Hobbs' petty, childish commentary ("Listen up, Mom and Pops") printed on Jan. 4, I have to say that it's a shame that someone who obviously has so little regard for the concerns and needs of others has taken it upon herself to instruct other people on how to be hospitable.

She acknowledges that a mom-and-pop cafe produced better coffee than her beloved Starbucks, and isn't that the purpose of a cafe? Apparently, the fact of having to walk across the street to reach a business is a huge insult? Perhaps Hobbs would be better off if she avoided shopping in downtown San Luis Obispo.

And what on earth are cafes thinking not having "trendy" quotes on their cups? How will their customers know what to think or talk about without them?

And where will they derive holiday cheer without visiting a store that looks like a crate of red and green foil exploded within it? Clearly, Hobbs seeks validation from large chains. How will she know what to talk about or think if Starbucks isn't telling her what music to listen to or what ridiculous inspirational quote to ponder?

I do have to agree with Hobbs on one matter: It's definitely in everyone's best interest that she stay far away from mom-and-pop stores. Independent stores are for independent thinkers, and Hobbs is clearly not an independent thinker.

Elliot Grant

San Luis Obispo




Put effort into finding the place for you
I just read Gina Hobbs' opinion article ("Listen up, Mom and Pops," Jan. 4), and I am very sorry that the one "Mom and Pop" coffee shop that you perused was disappointing, though it did strike me that a coffee shop didn't meet your expectations made by Starbucks, of all places. If you prefer coffee shops that make acidic coffee and forget about your drink on the counter, more power to you.

Unfortunately, I do have to agree that the one thing that most chains have going for them is consistency. When I go to Starbucks, I can expect the same mediocre quality for whichever of the seven or so establishments of its kind and always be um, satisfied. As such, to find a business worth your patronage, you have to put a little effort into finding the place for you.

I'm obviously biased because I work at a local coffee shop, but I for one am very proud of our customer service, quality of product, and accommodations. However, it did nothing but rub me wrong when you called things like having to walk across the street, not having a pretty enough cup, or having to pay an extra dollar for what just happened to be the best latte you had drunk that year potential strikes against a business. But I can say that there are places that will give you the best coffee around, will remember your face and bring you your coffee instead of calling you from a counter, and show genuine interest in you and your day.

Just remember, before you write another article condemning an entire group of businesses, please go to more than one.

Lewis Hiigel

San Luis Obispo




Variety is wonderful and essential
Clearly Gina Hobbs does not understand the true value of supporting local businesses. She went to a local coffee shop reluctantly, using her Starbucks routine as her standard for a positive experience. In her explanation of what she expects from a crafts store, a pharmacy, and an auto parts store, it's obvious that she feels HER needs and wants are the most important in any business relationship.

The value of supporting local businesses goes far beyond the products and service they provide, and even goes beyond the goal of keeping our money within our community. The true benefits of supporting our local neighbors are the relationships that we can form within our community. And it's not just a "what's in it for me?" relationship.

Supporting your local business is about taking the time to get to know the owners and the staff, valuing their expertise in a specific area, appreciating their unique approach, understanding some of the challenges they face, being patient and flexible when possible, sharing updates about each other's families and activities, and ultimately allowing for a human element to the business which is never perfect, but often comes with unexpected benefits.

If Gina always wants her experience to be predictable, chain stores are the way to go. In fact, that's the reason for their success. You can walk into any Denny's in the country and, good or bad, the experience will most likely be what you expect it to be. Same with McDonald's. Same with Starbucks.

Venturing into an independent business requires an adventurous spirit, a bit of courage, and an open mind. You won't want to return to all the businesses you visit, but you will find some gems that you wouldn't have known about if you hadn't bothered.

And be fair. Don't expect the local coffee shop to mimic Starbucks. Each of our independent coffee shops has a different personality, atmosphere, and specialty. The variety is wonderful and essential. Gina, I suggest you open your mind a bit and give it another try. You don't have to abandon Starbucks, but there could be benefits to trying something new now and then, and taking the time to get to know your local community a bit more.

Jenne Hiigel

San Luis Obispo




Inmates have plenty of chances to rehabilitate
This is in response to the two letters dated Jan. 4 ("Let's try for actual rehabilitation" and "Put a stop to the human bondage"). The letters are obviously in response to media hype affected by liberalism. I wonder if either of those women have stepped foot inside a prison, other than possibly visiting an inmate?

Inmates are given several avenues and opportunities to rehabilitate. There are AA/NA groups, religious groups, substance-abuse programs, libraries, work programs, and educational and vocational programs available. Most inmates don't want to go. (You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.) Why go to school when you can sleep all day, play sports, work out, or watch TV?

Medical care is lacking? NOT! Inmates are the only citizens guaranteed medical care. When was the last time somebody you knew could see a dentist for a toothache at 2 a.m. or receive a hip transplant for free? Go downtown in SLO for kidney dialysis or cancer radiation and you'll be sure to see inmates getting treated there for free. I work at CMC and I won't deny that it is a very negative environment, however inmates don't land in prison for their first offense.

Most inmates have extensive criminal records. Their crimes have been plea bargained down to lesser offenses, leading the average citizen to believe "Billy" is doing life for stealing a CD. Ninety percent of prosecutions are resolved through plea bargaining. Crime is their chosen career path, perpetuated by immediate gratification (get what you want, now). I offer to Barbara and Leah and any others who share their viewpoint if you can brainstorm a plan for prison reform, other than blanket ideas of better training, reducing population, better medical care, etc., by all means draft a copy and send it to your legislatures.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has tried rehabilitation, and it does not work. Personally, I believe that by the time inmates make it to the level of state incarceration, it is too late to rehabilitate, and I don't want these predators released to my community to prey on other victims. Do you?

Susan Miller

Paso Robles




Stand with us to remember
For the second anniversary of the North County Women in Black Silent Vigil for Peace we'll host the Tibetan style flags with the names of every U.S. military person who has been killed in Iraq. They were made by Hedy Carra and are a labor of love.

Bush is planning on sending many more troops to Iraq, which will mean more American deaths and we have already reached more than 3,012 dead, and more than 22,000 wounded (many severely!) and thousands of Iraqi deaths. We must start bringing the troops home! We will need a lot of people to hold these flags, so please come and help us make a stand for peace! Students, men are especially welcome.

We will meet on Saturday, Jan. 20, in Atascadero, at noon to 1 p.m. on the corner of El Camino and Morro Road by the Rite Aid parking lot. If anyone can come earlier to help us get the flags ready, we would appreciate it. You don't have to wear black. This is a one-time stand to mourn those who have died in the war and for peace in the world. Call 438-3764.

Dee Carroll

Santa Margarita




Demand that our elected officials do their jobs
It is time to end the worst epidemic facing our nation at this time: apathetic hopelessness. As Americans, we must take advantage of our right to speak up about what we need and expect from our elected officials and hold them accountable for ignoring our collective voice.

Are you fed up with the pervasive partisanship that dictates that our politicians be more concerned with being right than doing right? Have you had enough of the mischievous maneuvering designed to promote personal political success instead of the wellbeing of our country? Are you weary of the status quo where so much precious time and energy is wasted on determining and assigning blame instead of being wisely used to solve the issues that are plaguing Americans? If so, implore our new Congress to focus solely on solving these critical issues in a progressive bipartisan manner that unifies and strengthens our country.

At this point, it matters not WHY these issues exist, only THAT they exist. Demand our elected officials do the job they were elected to do. Insist they rise above the pettiness that has hindered any real progress in fixing what is broken for far too long. I will be watching, listening, and encouraging everyone I know to speak up. I will not be ignored. I am an American. This is my country. I want to be unconditionally proud of that fact again.

Monique St. Croix





You're not a mommy yet
Dear Ms. Miller: First, congratulations on the pending arrival of your first little one. I hope the remainder of your pregnancy goes well.

I wanted to comment on your article "Knocked up and proud of it" (Sun, Jan. 4 Ed. note: This commentary first ran in New Times on Dec. 28 as "Don't look at my finger like that"). I don't want what I'm about to say to seem condescending in any matter, but you are yet to have the perspective of being a mommy. You will gain that perspective when you look at your little baby that you're holding for the first time and truly know what it means to love unconditionally. I can guess that you're thinking you are already in a place of enlightenment. I would have said the same thing when I was pregnant for the first time. The truth is, it takes more than being pregnant to have the perspective of being a mommy. So in a few months I hope you think back to your article, and perhaps this letter, and realize that single motherhood is nothing to celebrate.

Every child deserves to have a mommy AND daddy in a committed relationship to love, provide, and to give a sense of security to him or her. Fathers are a vital role to the wellbeing of a child, and for too long it's a role that has been viewed as optional. This is not my opinion it is substantiated fact. When you realize the love that comes with being a mommy I think you will have a whole new sense of sadness for these children who come from homes without daddies, for these children have to do without because of choices made completely outside of their control. Substantial research states that children from single mothers will face far more hardships and challenges socially, economically, and in their educations because of parents who did not take precautions or who were just plain selfish.

Don't get me wrong, Ms. Miller, it is not my opinion that these single mothers don't love their children. However, they did not love them enough to place them with a loving couple, who more than likely could not have children of their own, who would have been able to give these children a life that those single moms simply could not.

So, while I sympathize about not being able to wear your wedding rings, when you get the looks or the comments from people who mistake you for being a single mom they are, more than likely, coming from the perspective of being a parent a perspective that you have yet to appreciate.

Tania Kim

Santa Maria

Readers Poll

How do you feel about the availability of mental health services in SLO County? 

  • There is not enough access, and there needs to be more.
  • There is access but only for those with a lot of money.
  • Most people should be able to afford it if they knew how to find it.
  • People need to learn to get over their issues themselves.

View Results

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