Letters to the Editor

November 25, 2000
Letter To The Editor Dear Editor,The Santa Paula Youth Action Task Force, Lorraine Velasquez, Trino Nava, Ivan Hernandez, Miguel Hernandez, Jaime Vasquez, Jose Ramirez, and Phillip Alaniz, who are a coalition of students from Isbell Middle School and Santa Paula High School, conducted a community survey of neighborhood liquor stores and the placement of alcohol advertisements in their neighborhood. The goal was to see how is alcohol being marketed and sold in Santa Paula. The survey concluded there are currently 34 alcohol outlets in Santa Paula. There are 3-4 stores who sell alcohol, like liquor stores, within walking distance of the elementary and middle schools in Santa Paula. The majority of the stores, 53%, used more than 20% of the window space for advertising. The Santa Paula City code only allows 20% of the store window can be used for advertising. There must be a clear view of the inside of the store from the outside for safety reasons. For example, the police need to have a clear view inside the store from the outside incase a robbery in progress. Also, 28% of the stores posted alcohol advertisements below three feet and near candy and soda isles. Finally, one store averaged of 5 beer mountains that were placed near the entrance of the store. This to you might not seem important, but it just makes it easier for kids to have immediate access to alcohol. Are kids being targeted by the alcohol industry? The more youth are exposed to alcohol advertisements, the more likely they are to hold positive attitudes towards alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, this also means that those same kids are more likely to drink at an early age because they have learned that drinking alcohol is acceptable behavior through misleading marketing campaigns by the alcohol industry and because it is so readily available in our community. (Prevention Research Center 1997) The Santa Paula Youth Action Task Force recommends that stores take responsibility and abide by the City Code and use only 20% of their storefront windows for advertisements. Also, if liquor stores do not want to be seen as marketing alcohol to kids, then they should remove any alcohol advertisements from the candy and soda isle and place alcohol advertisements above five feet. Finally place alcohol in places so that it is not so accessible for young kids and do not place Beer Mountains near the front of the store. The reality is that the placement of alcohol advertisements greatly impacts youth perceptions towards alcohol. With an average of 3-4 alcohol outlets within walking distance of out schools, kids are being taught at an early age about alcohol through their daily exposure to advertisements and promotional products. When store merchants to violate state laws by selling alcohol to kids, they send the wrong message. Unfortunately, the kids are blamed and are severely reprimanded while the store is allowed to continue to sell alcohol without repercussions. When stores do not comply with local laws they jeopardizing the health and safety of the community, we need to hold them accountable too! Help us promote a healthy and safe environment and ask your local store merchant to only 20% of their window space for advertisements and place alcohol advertisements in their appropriate place, above 5 feet, not near the candy and soda isle.Sincerely,Santa Paula Youth Action Task ForceAccuracy?To the Editor:
With many years of experience at designing people operated machines I can assure voters that the operator is much, much more likely than the machine to create errors.Putting a group of tired, emotional, position taking humans to the task of counting large numbers of location specific punch outs will create many more errors than they resolve.Itís time to turn the accuracy of the Florida vote over to less biased technical experts versus the present attack dog lawyers.I think that a National Bureau of Standards appointed scientific committee should be given the job of resolving the Florida vote accuracy question. They can also recommend national uniform vote taking and counting standards to Congress to enact into law.Although no vote taking and counting involving large numbers of humans will ever be anywhere near to 100% accurate, we can ensure that most votes are taken and counted the same way.For now, one thing is certain and thatís the fact that hand counting is one of the least accurate methods we could possibly use, no matter what the lawyers, politicians and media say.Jerry SchmidtSanta Paula

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