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<b>Critic's credentials</b>

EDITOR: In regard to last Thursday's article about reviews of Guy Fieri's new restaurant ("N.Y. critic skewers Fieri"), I can't help but wonder how someone who knows the taste of a "combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde" can possibly be a food critic.


Rohnert Park

<b>Close oyster farm</b>

EDITOR: My memories of living in a friend's cabin during the 1970s in the now gone hamlet of Tocaloma in Marin County tell me that the owners of Drake's Bay Oyster Company are trying to avoid the fair treatment other property owners received as part of establishing a National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation area.

In 1975, my friends sold their cabin when the national recreation area was established. They were given $25,000 and a 25-year lease. They bought a new country place. When the lease ran out, they didn't protest.

Why should Drake's Bay Oyster Company be treated differently? I love a good oyster, and I love the wild beauty of Point Reyes. Tourists who visit our area seem to share those loves and spend their dollars. The Drake's Bay Oyster Company's lease is over, and it is only fair that it close. We will miss the catch of one out of several local oyster outfits, but we will be continuing the process of establishing and enhancing a beautiful asset as a prior generation intended, an asset whose worth for the North Bay can be measured in visitor's dollars spent.


Redwood Valley

<b>Holiday shopping</b>

EDITOR: I can relate to Casey St. Clair and her petition urging Target not to open on Thanksgiving ("Black Friday's gray area," Sunday). When I was 20 and single, I was always put on the holiday schedule. Because I was single and had no children, management assumed I had no family and could work the holidays. My mother, seven siblings, multiple nieces and nephews were disappointed to find that, according to my employer, they didn't count as family. On the other hand, there were employees who were married and had children yet welcomed the opportunity to work at holiday pay.

A store or business being open on Thanksgiving is not the problem. There are many employees who need the extra pay. There are also shoppers who cannot afford to take a day off from their jobs and can use the extra time and savings offered during the special sales. The problem is the lack of communication and the need to offer the shifts to employees who want them during the holidays.

Maybe the best thing that will come out of St. Clair's petition is a public awareness that the people who are helping you during your holiday shopping might need a friendly smile, versus a grumpy customer who made the choice to enter the store.



<b>No consequences</b>

EDITOR: A basic ingredient necessary for any free market to flourish is the threat of failure. Our country has moved away from that premise. Consider the fates of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

As quasi-governmental agencies, they formed a public-private hybrid that initially was wildly successful but eventually failed. Conceived to ensure funds for housing finance in times of low liquidity, they were the standard for credit underwriting but also a near-monopoly in fixed-rate mortgage lending.

An unintended consequence was that we, the citizens, provided their shareholders and their management with free put options. Essentially, if their decisions succeeded, the shareholders were rewarded with dividends and higher stock prices and management received outrageous bonuses. If their decisions were bad, the taxpayers would bail out mortgage bondholders. There was no consequence if management failed.

A similar situation exists at most publicly traded corporations. If management fails, the stockholders lose and the worst that happens is that the CEO is allowed to resign with a multimillion-dollar severance package.

The lack of personal accountability, predictably, extends from our grade school classrooms to our corporate boardrooms, and we have no mechanism to fix it. Maybe we should, with each of us taking responsibility for our actions and requiring our children to do the same.



<b>Online convenience</b>

EDITOR: I just wanted to take a moment to thank our Sonoma County Library System for its online library catalog. Where else can you sit at your computer, day or night, and browse through thousands of books? And, with the click of a button, have a book delivered to your library branch within a few days? And all this for free.

I think we take for granted in this digital age what a convenience it is to have such a system. It was not too long ago that we had to go to the library in person and use an antiquated card catalog to find the book we were looking for.