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Re: Dave Wielenga's "The Starbucks Solution" (Feature, June 11):

I love businesses of any size that for years take advantage of a captive customer base and, only when forced, re-evaluate why they may face extinction. For years, a very loyal Polly's Gourmet Coffee patron had been encouraging me to try their coffee, muffins and overall experience. I was reluctant for many reasons. Once I learned Starbucks was opening a second location so close to Polly's, I thought it was time to put my best consumer foot forward and support the incumbent. Much to my surprise, at a time when I would expect nothing but exceptional service, I was not even able to get in the front door at Polly's. I arrived five minutes past a posted opening time and was greeted by a locked door and employees hanging around inside listening to loud music. I was more than happy to walk a few steps to be greeted by a smile and experience a formula that works well for obvious reasons.

Why do the mom and pops of the world always cry loudest and change only when they are forced to? I am happy Polly's has been able to survive in spite of the huge corporate gorilla that has clung to her back, but honestly, when you're burned by poor service early in the morning in a highly competitive environment . . . forget it.

—Lance Castro, Long Beach EAR CANDY

As an Aliso Viejo resident who watched those first two 747s fly overhead just a few seconds before Anthony Pignataro did, I'd like to thank him for a great article ("Noise, Noise, Noise," June 11). Every paragraph contained in-depth, between-the-lines information that I have not seen in any other article on the flights. I only regret you could not be under the takeoffs, landings and in the tower all at the same time.

—John Santora, Aliso Viejo

Pignataro was downright poetic in his rip of the county's noise-demonstration flights. I mean . . . Laguna Hills residents enjoying the "cool breeze that blows almost constantly from the coast" and the "screen of pine trees" that muffles Lake Forest Boulevard noise so that "the loudest sound is often a chirping bird." Wow! The only trouble is, as anyone who has ever lived in Saddleback Valley knows, those Laguna Hills can be hot as an oven in the summertime. And as any acoustician can tell you, screens of trees don't muffle noise. Which makes me wonder if Pignataro didn't use similar poetic license in his description of the terrible noise of the demonstration planes.

I live in Irvine, and the planes didn't bother me. I have friends who live in San Clemente, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Orange and Anaheim Hills; they were undisturbed by the demonstration flights.

While Pignataro and his South County Not-in-My-Back-Yard cohorts deplore the noise, pollution, traffic and safety problems they see in an international airport at El Toro, they are strangely silent about how their own air-travel and air-cargo demands will contribute to the problems they deplore. They seem to be willing to export these demands to some other, more distant airport that is not protected by an 18,000-acre, compatible-use zone like El Toro is. That's not fair.

Several years ago, when John Wayne Airport was the bone of contention, the county Board of Supervisors sought—unsuccessfully—to promote Ontario International Airport as the terminal of choice for Orange County's air travelers. At a meeting on the board's plan, a gentleman who lived near the Ontario airport rose to say: "Go home, you Orange County people. Solve your air-transportation problems in your own back yard!" He was, of course, exactly right. Instead of wasting millions of taxpayer dollars trying to kill OCX, South County politicos should be working with the county board to make it the useful, compatible airport it can be.

—Norm Ewers, Irvine Anthony Pignataro responds:Norm is right. My writing is powerful, so potent that I not only conjured up the noise, but I also invented the airplanes, the noise engineers, the county officials and the hundreds of interested onlookers. It was kind of likeThe Truman Show in print. SHELDON GAME

Lou Correa deserved Matt Coker's dissing (A Clockwork Orange, June 11). However, Coker shouldn't let Lou Sheldon take all of the credit for making a real "Lou-Lou" out of Correa and the rest of the Democrats who refused to support gay citizens in their quest for equality. Sheldon has turned gay-bashing into an art form. He has been so good at it that through the Traditional Values Coalition, he has established the Sheldon Family Full Employment Plan to keep him, his wife and several of their kids out of some church's soup line.

Don't forget Scott Lively's contribution to Lou-Lou's demasculization. Lively is a Holocaust revisionist who, in his book, The Pink Swastika, blames the entire Holocaust on homosexuals. Yep, that's right: no homos, no Holocaust!

And then there is Rob Hurtt, who gave $150,000 to his little attack pup, Randy Thomasson, to run the ads in papers and do the mailings. Hurtt is on record saying he believes homosexual conduct should be recriminalized and that a 20-year penalty is about right, thank you very much!

So this is the crowd who turned Correa into a bitch and didn't use any Vaseline to do it: one professional gay-basher, one Holocaust revisionist and one who wants to send gays to jail for 20 years.

A pretty sorry bunch to cause a member of the California Assembly to quake in fear.

—Jerry Sloan, Sacramento

I was one of the local protesters against Assembly Bill 222, and as such, I would like to set the record straight (no, that is not a pun!) with regard to how and why we went about our protests.

When I first heard about AB 222, I was horrified. While I am personally of the opinion that homosexual Americans have every right to lead whatever lifestyles they choose, I do not think that they have the right to force the rest of us to accept their sexual choice. As a Christian, I believe that homosexuality is a sin. That means that I cannot condone said practice. Does that mean I hate homosexuals? Of course not. Instead, I pray that they will find some measure of happiness in their lives, that they will eventually come to accept the Lord and his forgiveness.

AB 222 would have resulted in my children's public-school teachers having to teach them that it is all right to be homosexual. This is wrong for a great many reasons. First, I don't want my children to have to think about sexual issues until they are older. When they are old enough to understand such concepts, my wife and I will teach them what the Bible has to say about homosexuality. We are already raising our children to be good citizens—and that includes a respect for others. We will ask them to avoid homosexuality and to live their lives as God intended.

Second, our schools have no right to teach values to our children. It is the job of families and clergy to do that. What I expect from public education is a dedication to teaching children reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history, etc. That is especially important here in California, a state that ranks second to last in education.

Third, there are already plenty of laws on the books that protect our children and students from harassment. However, many go unenforced. The bottom line is that teachers and administrators should do all in their power to stop bullies—no matter who their victims are. Equal protection under the law means not establishing special rights for particular groups of people. After the tragedy in Littleton, Colorado, are we now going to press for laws to protect athletes and Christians? That is unlikely, and it would not stop maniacs from wreaking havoc on unsuspecting victims.

As for the protests in Santa Ana, please know that I was the chief instigator of same. I asked the Reverend Lou Sheldon to help me, and he did. I also received help from other activists throughout the state and the country. The bilingual fliers that were delivered at local churches were hand-delivered by six of us, including a guy in a wheelchair. They were so effective that Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) thought we had manned a phone bank! In truth, we could not afford to do so.

In closing, I ask you to consider the difference between acceptance and tolerance. While I certainly tolerate homosexuals, I will never accept their lifestyle nor will I allow them to gain access to my children. They, on the other hand, do not so much as tolerate my religious views.

Americans are already the most tolerant people in the world. Is there room to improve? Sure, but the best way to accomplish that is to allow—and insist—that parents do their job and do all we can to make sure that our children are literate and have access to higher education. Forcing the public to accept alternative-lifestyle choices will not improve anyone's lot, and it is un-American to the extreme.

—Art Pedroza Jr., Chairman, Santa Ana Families Who Care Matt Coker responds: Where to begin? Well, how about with the fact that AB 222—the Dignity for All Students Act—said nothing about forcing teachers to teach that it's all right to be homosexual (although if teachers did teach that, there wouldn't be as much of a need for AB 222). What the bill would have done was prohibit actual or perceived sexual orientation as a basis for discrimination in any public or private school program or activity or in any postsecondary institution accepting public funds or enrolling students who receive state student financial aid. It also would have prohibited similar discrimination against teachers. If, as you put it, "our schools have no right to teach values to our children," why on Earth would you solicit the help of the Reverend Lou Sheldon, who for years has tried to force his religious views (for example, prayer in school) on public schoolchildren? Here's your first clue, Art: he heads the TraditionalValues Coalition. As for there being plenty of laws on the books protecting kids from harassment, too bad those laws didn't help Adam Colton. The San Marin High School (Novato) student was beaten in September 1998 after he came out at school and organized a gay/straight student alliance. While officials fumbled through the books, searching for something to help protect Colton, he was jumped again on Feb. 12, 1999. This time, his attackers used a pen to carve the word "fag" into his forearm and chest. Space prohibits me from citing other examples up and down the state, but I think you get the idea. Finally, I do know the difference between acceptance and tolerance—and your letter demonstrates neither. While you are busy protecting your children from homosexuals, I ask you to consider filling them in on their one course of action should a bully in a California public school call them "homos": run.

I would like to applaud R. Scott Moxley for delivering his stinging kick in the crotch to the radical Religious Right ("Loathe Thy Enemy," June 4). Assholes such as Lou Sheldon and Rich Agozino have made my life hell since I was a boy.

I don't like liver; I hate even the smell of it. But it would be insane for me to infer that anyone who does eat liver should be killed. Moreover, the fact remains that despite anti-gay opposition to state laws protecting the rights of homosexuals, lesbians and gays are Americans, too.

In May 1999, I was sent with several other men from the Beacon House Association of San Pedro to provide volunteer help for the Long Beach Pride Festival and found no subversive activity. When the event was over, we found that Long Beach Pride had contributed to Beacon House's "guest room," which houses homeless alcoholic men who would otherwise be unable to enter a recovery facility in many cases. Sounds like something Jesus would do. I just can't picture him in camouflage fatigues, toting an AR-15 and hunting gays.

—Robert Stevens, San Pedro


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