More on Trader Joe's

Expressing frustration can get all of us in trouble and probably has; yours truly included. That's what happened to Mario Guerra.No matter what you may think of him as a councilman, you cannot accuse him of not caring about this city. He wants nothing more than to please Downey citizens and has worked hard to bring businesses here that people want. Having a Trader Joe's close by would be awesome, and when they told him "no," he simply got - frustrated. Call him arrogant or unpolished if you must, but do not call him a racist and demand his resignation. I'm not even sure who exactly is supposed to be offended by his comments. You'd think this molehill was a mountain by all the letters! One of the qualities I like about Guerra is the fact that he speaks his mind as he sees it rather than a politically correct robot - I mean professional politician. So, give the man a break. Allow him to apologize for a poor choice of words, write a letter to Trader Joe's begging them to come to Downey, and with the leftover angst, perhaps we could focus on demanding the resignation of a truly offensive politician like Eric Holder! -- Alaina Niemann, Downey

Dear Editor: I was surprised to read the hostile letters directed at Councilman Mario Guerra over the efforts to bring a Trader Joe's store to Downey. I am the one who asked the question at the town hall meeting. I wanted to find out if Downey officials had tried to get a Trader Joe's store here. A few years ago, I asked a Trader Joe's employee if there were any plans to put a store in Downey. With a trace of condescension in his voice he told me that "everyone wants a Trader Joe's" and Downey "didn't make the cut." I am grateful to Councilman Guerra and others who made the effort to bring a TJ's to our community. I believe Guerra is 100 percent correct in his remark that Downey is not rich enough and not white enough for Trader Joe's liking. There was nothing racist or offensive about his comment. It was a simple and direct statement of fact. Trader Joe's lists its store locations on its website, and except for the rare anomaly, the Los Angeles area communities where Trader Joe's are located are richer and whiter than Downey. I would like to thank Councilman Guerra for not clouding the issue under a convoluted smokescreen of politically correct double talk. It is nice to get a bold and straightforward answer from a public official in an era where the mere mention of race earns the speaker the title "racist." I'm white and there was not one thing objectionable in Councilman Guerra's statements. -- Jean Salyer, Downey

Dear Editor: Some people seem to have lost sight of, or perhaps are unfamiliar with, the fact that the founders of Trader Joe's operated a small market (Pronto Market) in Meralta Square in the 60s and 70s - a small market where they tested their marketing theories in the real world before selling their concept to investors and going "big time." And, when they did launch Trader Joe's, they didn't place a unit in Downey back then because the "demographics" were not right, and it had nothing to do with race. "Demographics" take in much more than just the racial component of a target population. It also looks at the proportion of the population of various age groups: married, single, married with children, income, etc. Just look at how a census report is broken down into various components, even listing what percentage of the population has indoor plumbing. Downey's problem then, and now, is our dearth of young, urban, professionals, which is the targeted demographic that Trader Joe's thrives on - and the scale-back by NASA at the old Rockwell plant after the Apollo fire didn't help matters. Even then, Downey fought an image that though there seemingly was a good deal of disposable income within the town, it wasn't readily spent here - one of the reasons it took so long to get a major restaurant company to open here. As an example, one would think that Downey would make a better location for an upscale dinner-house than South Gate (no offense meant), but the Velvet Turtle opened there (Firestone and Garfield), not in Stonewood. So, it would seem that Councilman Guerra is guilty of using poor "short hand," and interjecting a racial component into an issue where there was none. But, in all fairness to the councilman, it is what politicians do all the time. Like lawyers do, when the facts are against their client, they argue the law, and when that too is in opposition, they pound the table. We have witnessed the councilman "pounding the table"; but, he's against the Nannyism of outlawing smoking in the parks. So, that's something - but I think it has a lot more to do with politics than with any profound love of liberty. --Drew Kelley, Downey

Editor's note: Councilman Mario Guerra issued an apology for his choice of words in a comment on The Downey Patriot's website. "I do apologize about the words I used. When reading this article, certain words or sentiments do not translate well on paper," Guerra wrote. "I DO NOT apologize for the intent or meaning behind it or the point, just that I should have used different words..The Patriot quoted me correctly, but I flinched when I saw certain things in writing. I am glad that so many came and we had a great dialog. Thank you to all who attended and participated in our blessed community."

********** Published: November 03, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 29