Thursday, March 22, 2001
Thoughts Upon a NuisanceI have to agree with Mr. Gonzalez's assessment of the restaurant reviews of Mr. Napolitano. I don't think Mr. Gonzalez's opinions were mean-spirited at all. Furthermore, I for one, would like to know that I'm getting value for my restaurant dollar. Ambiance is one thing, but most working people are interested in the boring "facts" of a restaurant, including the price. One writer suggested that one must have "credentials" in order to express an opinion. Kudos to Mr. Gonzalez for expressing his "boring and amateur views." I would tend to trust his assessment. By the way, I have 48 years of dining experience--that is my age.
BARBARA ESPE, AROMAS
If I May Be So BoldPlease accept three thoughts concerning the Raymond Napolitano debate.
The issue is not whether Mr. Napolitano is a good writer, although his flowery style is not to my personal taste. The real question is whether most people want to wade through long-winded personal anecdotes in order to obtain the information on an establishment's food, cost, and ambiance.
May I offer a possible solution to the Weekly editor? Give Mr. Napolitano two columns. In one he will be instructed to review restaurants and to include as many factual details about the establishment as space will allow, which will satisfy serious restaurantgoers. In the other column he can ramble on ad nauseam about his personal life, which will satisfy those who find his pretentious stories entertaining.
CHERYL GASSNER, DEL REY OAKS
Landlords Have It ComingThanks for your article regarding rent increases and the effect they could have on the tourist industry community revenues should the restaurant employees find they cannot even afford to live here.
As for my husband and myself, we are finding very much the same situation. We make a good living but there is NO way we could ever afford to own a home here. But what is troubling is that we pay $1,300 for rent that is high enough to be a mortgage payment. Last year it increased $100, an 8 percent jump. With annual cost of living raises only being around 3 percent, that is quite a loss for us. I asked our landlord if we could talk about it and was told that there was nothing to talk about--that's the rent, period.
That 5 percent loss can be temporarily dealt with, but this year our rent will go up in May. I am sure that our landlord will jump on the bandwagon like all the other landlords, trying to get more than their fair share of our income. If it goes up $100-200, that may be an increase we can't deal with.
And simply, they feel if we can't afford it, someone else can. But not for long. There is NOT that kind of income here where this exorbitant rent can easily be paid. And I think it is a shame that they are willing to push us everyday Joes and Josephines to the wall just so they can max out some temporary wave of income they think is there for them. They should not look to us to make their profit above and beyond reasonable means.
If the landlords don't listen, people may not just move out of the apartments, we'll be moving out of the community, maybe out of the state. How will that help when greed pushed us all out? The land owners will only have themselves to blame.
DEYANNE SYLLIAASEN, PACIFIC GROVE
A Renter's ManifestoThank you for Traci Hukill's excellent but tragic cover story (March 15-21) on the Monterey area hospitality workers who are unable to make ends meet because of massive, multiple rent increases imposed by their landlords. As noted in the article, the general population was most recently made aware of the rent crisis because of increases at four Monterey and Pacific Grove complexes. As a tenant organization representative at one of those complexes--Olympia Grove--we can truly empathize with the plight of the tenants interviewed in the article. For four months now, we have been circulating a one-page draft proposal to both the Monterey and Pacific Grove city councils as well as to the organizers of the Jan. 29 Monterey Hilton Landlords Meeting, which was attended by 150 rental property owners and managers. Its main points are simple and include, as part of a landlord code of conduct: a) The establishment of annual rental increase guidelines, tied in some manner to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), currently 4.2% for Monterey; b) Tenants may receive only one increase per 12-month period; c) Tenants should be given the option of a month-to-month or 12-month lease; d) Landlords should provide new tenants with rental amount histories for the five most recent years (including annual increases and percentages) for the specific unit which the new tenant will occupy.
The two-thirds of the suffering population of Monterey who rent (and vote) are still awaiting promised action from the organizers of the Landlord Meeting. No one could have framed the crisis in better terms than one of the article's interviewees, Theresa Oborsky, a banquet captain at the DoubleTree, whose rents have skyrocketed: "What are these 'market values?' To me it's disrupting people's lives. I think it's greed."
SAM LIPSKY, PACIFIC GROVE
Practice Makes PerfectFive U.S. servicemen and one New Zealander died during training last week in Kuwait when a Navy F-18 inadvertently dropped a 500-pound bomb near their position. I suppose those opposed to the Navy's plans to use Fort Liggett for training can barely contain their glee. I'm sure they see this as evidence that military training is not safe and that the Navy should drop any plan to train at Liggett.
I, on the other hand, wonder if this tragedy could have been prevented if the aircrews and ground controllers had been allowed to train more thoroughly before their deployment. Maybe a few more practice runs with inert bombs (like the ones the Navy wants to use at Ft. Liggett) could have prevented mistakes while dropping live bombs.
Will those who protest training at Liggett be willing to face the families of our servicemen who die due to inadequate training? Maybe they can tell the families, "We're sorry about your father/husband, but the noise he made training to protect our freedom was just too inconvenient to allow." It is clear that those who oppose military training at military bases will have the blood of U.S. servicemen on their hands when future training or combat mishaps occur.
MIKE STROBL, SEASIDE
Measure E StinksI keep reading how the Marina City Council is trying to circumvent Measure E, the ridiculous anti-growth initiative passed last November. I for one hope they can do it.
Fort Ord's closure precipitously dropped our population from 28,000 to 18,000, and Measure E does nothing less than commit the city of Marina to economic suicide. We have businesses opening, then closing in a few months due to not enough local residents to support them. Our library is a joke, we have no movie theater, no clothing store. We have to drive to Monterey for many products and services.
I fail to see how building beautiful new homes at Armstrong Ranch--all of Armstrong Ranch--will be detrimental. On the contrary, what Marina sorely needs is beautiful new homes. My home practically backs up to Armstrong Ranch, and I'm not in the least worried about increased traffic, so why should anyone else? And by the way, I'm not a pro-business conservative. Indeed, I'm an environmentally sensitive Democrat--but a clear-thinking one.
The Marina "lack of 20-20 vision" group scared just enough residents to get their economically suicidal initiative passed. Let's hope the City Council can find a legal way around this ill-conceived law that ties the hands of the city for the next 20 years.
JOHN SCHWAB, MARINA
Guild Alive and KickingAs an organizer for the San Jose Newspaper Guild, the union that represents 130 Monterey County Herald employees, I want to respond to an item in Squid's column (Feb 15-21). The irony of the Herald's sponsorship of the Woody Guthrie exhibit at the Steinbeck Center isn't lost on anyone who works at the newspaper. For 3 and 1/2 years, Herald management has tried to make the Guild into a shell of itself, but without success. A courageous group of workers, called the Contract Action Team, demonstrates that fact each day. They continue to mobilize, motivate, educate and encourage their co-workers to participate in actions that demonstrate our resolve for the fairness and dignity that come with a union contract. Working together, Guild employees have continued to press and win unfair labor practice charges on behalf of co-workers who've been treated unfairly and illegally--facts that have never been reported in the Herald. With the community's help, we've won $2.2 million owed to employees fired in the 1997 Knight Ridder takeover--although it did take the Herald six months to pay what it owed. In short, while we don't have a contract yet, our activity, commitment and resolve remain strong and unwavering. We've asked the community to help our campaign by sending letters to Publisher Pat Keil, The Herald, P.O. Box 271, Monterey CA 93942-0221, or by sending e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us a copy at Newspaper Guild, 2560 Garden Rd. Suite 210, Monterey CA 93940 or at LutherPJ@pacbell.net.
NEWSPAPER GUILD, MONTEREY
Well Done!On behalf of the Department of Social Services I want to thank you for your article "From the Dole to the Payroll" (March 8-14). We found it to be a thorough and balanced presentation of infor- mation. The client stories were especially appealing. I hope it stimulates thinking and dialogue among your readers.
We are sharing the article with staff and members of State Department of Social Services, who will be visiting us next month. I know you put in extensive time on this article and the finished product reflects that effort. Thank you again.
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, SOCIAL SERVICES
In last week's Hot Picks, we described author and former activist William Mandel as an "ardent communist." Mandel left the Communist Party in 1957. We regret the error.
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