Newsom’s Betrayal; the Trouble with Starbucks; and Teabaggers Read Beyond Chron …

by on October 21, 2009

Dear Editor,

It’s a shame that we’re saddled with a Mayor who has little interest in doing the job we elected him to do, but is focused on his gubernatorial aspirations. San Francisco has paid a huge price for Newsom’s fickle job attention and performance. Running for higher office while governing a complex city is hard work, and the consequences are debilitating and demoralizing to the job he must neglect as he spends most of his time and resources desperately trying to woo votes and money for his ‘higher calling’ and the current job goes unattended.

Newsom isn’t a political powerhouse to start with, and unable to successfully run San Francisco so adding this run for Governor to the time requirements of being Mayor is more than he can handle and adds insult to injury for San Franciscans who are suffering greatly from his shifting priorities and lack of leadership.

Stu Smith
San Francisco

To the Editor:

What is not addressed is Starbucks’ use of the same tactic as Blockbusters and Wal-Mart of over-development to drive out competition and then pull-back once the neighborhood stores are gone. Totally ignores the fact of where the profits go – remain in the city or go to corporate headquarters to fund excessive executive compensation and shareholder profits.

Neighborhood coffee houses in San Francisco are different than the ones she surveyed. They often provide meeting space and community information exchange. They do have fair-trade coffee. What they don’t serve is corporate culture and conformity.

Mark Barnes
San Francisco

To the Editor:

It would be interesting to know if the African Americans who left Starbucks during Fellner’s research actually did “climb the ladder” to another job. For many working in cafes, the job is not necessarily a life career. My own experience as a non-college educated, young person (albeit white, although definitely not rich) working in one of Starbuck’s earliest competitors (a cafe in Seattle) led me to the lowest level job in a law firm – lower even than the mail clerk, and paying less than Starbucks – which eventually did lead me up the ladder. It is one thing to say that Starbuck’s does not directly contribute to one’s ability to move up the ladder, but another to leave out information about what actually happened to people and just assume that their experience at Starbucks did not help them achieve something. Perhaps they went on to college, or onto a job in a law office.

Also, exactly how much should someone working in Starbucks make? They do make at least $2 more per hour than many working in independent cafes. The living wage in San Francisco is probably around $20 per hour. Should baristas make that much when many office workers (including college educated secretaries) do not? Yes, it must be stressful to work in a busy Starbucks, but their work approach is so formulaic and “efficiently organized” (think assembly line) that it can’t possibly be that difficult. I do not equate their ability to push a button on an espresso machine with my ability to pull a fabulous shot of espresso, which required knowing how that day’s humidity would affect the grind of the beans or the head on the shot, or steam a perfect foam for a cappuccino. I can’t say how many times I’ve ordered a cappuccino from Starbucks to find absolutely zero foam in the cup.

The cafe I worked in was not a struggling business. It is still one of the more successful, non-chain cafes in Seattle. We saw hours of non-stop streams of customers on Friday and Saturday nights and weekend mornings. Yet they pay $2-3 per hour less than Starbucks baristas earn and do not offer health insurance. Hours were constantly being cut so that they would not have to pay overtime. We earned tips, but no more than a few dollars per hour. I have no idea if Graffeo coffee is sustainable or fairly traded, but that’s what we used. I loved the job because of the people I worked with (not all of them white!), the customers who were friendly, and the flexible schedule. It was not an assembly line – we were allowed to be creative and create drinks that even – ahem – Starbucks eventually copied.

I would never give that experience up. But to say that Starbucks doesn’t pay a living wage (tell me which fast food place does?) is sort of a slap in the face. Guess I should have droned for them instead …

Syd Wayman

To the Editor:

What a provincial rant! And perhaps you can now tell us all: just what part of the First Amendment do you not understand. What part of the phrase “marketplace of free ideas” that is “free, robust, and wide open” do you not understand?

John Mortimer

To the Editor:

I support Rush completely and also Glenn Beck. They are standing up to the racist socialist pretender, and I agree with them. Keep up the good work Rush and Beck… I have your back. NOBAMA!

Rob Carson

Mr. Becker:

Yes, I hate the US government and look forward to the freedom that will be experienced by the six or seven new nations. I am running for Texas governor as a Republican. However, I voted for the Constitution Party presidential candidate; have been a secessionist since 2004; support the Second Vermont Republic (a liberal secession organization) and protested against the Iraq war. We can get along together, even though we will be living in separate nations soon.

Larry Kilgore

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