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May 26, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Letters Letters (May 26, 2004)

A video farewell


We regret to announce that Midtown Video will be closing. We opened in 1985 and feel that we have given it our very best for as long as possible. Rising costs (insurance, rents) and dwindling rentals are all factors in this.

The late owner, Wilson Nicholls, always said that technology would be the eventual downfall of this type of business. With cable, satellite dishes, TiVo and Netflix all working against us, the owners have decided that this is the best decision.

Wilson was a fixture in the community until his death in 2001. He opened Midtown Video in 1985 when the video-rental business was just getting started and there were video stores on nearly every corner. He also owned the Midtown Baskin Robbins and over the years he hired hundreds of employees, took them under his wing and taught them how to be good employees.

He took great pride in giving teens their first jobs -- often hiring sons and daughters of our customers. Often employees would make it a "tradition" to have a sibling work for us when they became old enough. If you didn't work for Midtown Video, you probably know someone who did.

Wilson took great pride in selecting movies to carry at the store, particularly in the foreign-film section. He built up that section to one of the best in the area. With the help of our customers and his movie-loving employees, he added numerous classics and cult films to our collection as well.

He felt that part of Midtown Video's "niche" was listening to the suggestions of his customers. The wonderful collection of movies we have today is partly in thanks to the more than 9,000 loyal club members who helped suggest them.

In closing, we appreciate the many wonderful friendships we have made over the years. We always felt that Midtown Video was sort of like "Cheers" -- where everybody knows your name, people came in to hang out and talk about life and movies. You don't see this kind of "small town" atmosphere very many places anymore, and we are truly blessed to have 19 years of movies and friendships to be thankful for.

While we will not be here for your rental needs, please stop by to celebrate the legacy of Wilson and Midtown Video after May 27 to purchase some movies from our great video collection. Our e-mail address ( will stay open for a while, so feel free to drop us a line to say hello or goodbye.
Laurie Garcia and staff at Midtown Video
Middlefield Road
Palo Alto

Lytle legacy continues?


If LaDoris Cordell's first months on the City Council are an indication of things to come, Nancy Lytle's legacy of divisiveness will be quickly bettered (really, worsened).

First, Cordell publicly chastised Lakiba Pittman, one of the Human Relations Committee members, for refusing to vote in support of gay marriage. Then, saying that Pittman doesn't belong on the HRC, Cordell demanded a group-think litmus test for all HRC nominees: They must oppose all forms of discrimination, period.

Equivocate, and you're out.

What is most interesting is that Cordell is unable to appreciate the absurdity of her demand. What is "discrimination" to Cordell is a complicated and personal issue for a lot of people, including Pittman.

And a form of racial discrimination against whites and Asians, implemented as "affirmative action" and illegal in the State of California in matters of education, public employment and contracting, is seen by Cordell as good public policy! The same policy as that practiced in the old South, except there the colors were reversed -- by whites against blacks.

As with "discrimination," Cordell makes a hash of the concept of "diversity." Discrimination in the service of skin-color diversity is just fine for Cordell, but if you show diversity in ideas or opinions, you're out.

For Cordell to claim such transcendent knowledge -- of how things are and ought to be -- demonstrates a far-reaching arrogance. Or perhaps she really knows more than the rest of us.

I entreat the City Council to stay away from taking positions on divisive national issues, and to focus its energy and attention on governance and public safety in the city of Palo Alto, which is its responsibility and what the members were elected to do.
Dan Bloomberg
Paradise Way
Palo Alto

Mountain lion irony


Irony of ironies -- on the day the mountain lion was shot in Palo Alto, the Larry King Live show featured Anne Marie Hjelle, the young woman from Orange Country who was mauled by a mountain lion as she mountain biked on a trail near the suburban area close to Mission Viejo. (My daughter has biked, hiked and walked on the same trail.)

Hjelle described how in an instant the mountain lion flew through the air and leaped on her grabbing her head in its mouth. It had already killed another biker whose body was off the trail. Luckily, her riding companion, who was in excellent shape, grabbed her leg and held on, and two other bikers who came along threw rocks at the mountain lion and caused it to release her.

Her right cheek had been torn and was hanging near her eye. She considers herself extremely lucky that she wasn't killed.

I think the Palo Alto police had no choice at the time except to shoot the mountain lion. There were just too many mitigating circumstances against tranquilizing it or watching to see what it did.
Carroll Harrington
Melville Avenue
Palo Alto

Commendations for police


As a resident of Walter Hays Drive, I'd like to thank the Palo Alto Police Department for its handling of the mountain lion incident last week.

While I love animals and wildlife, I thank the police for their actions under these particular circumstances. Critics of the police department seem to forget that we live in a residential neighborhood filled with children, and that a hungry, wild, fast and partially sedated mountain lion would be unbelievably dangerous on the loose.

Instead of criticizing the police, I thank them profoundly for preventing any unnecessary injuries or worse in my neighborhood.
Lorraine Brown
Walter Hays Drive
Palo Alto

Doomed from the start


As soon as I heard a mountain lion was spotted in a neighborhood, I knew it was doomed.

The inevitable panic resulting from an unfamiliar or threatening situation usually leads to "shoot first, think later." In areas familiar with wildlife incursions, a more measured and humane response is the normal reaction.

I can't entirely blame the Palo Alto Police Department. After all, they did call the Fish and Game Department, who advised them to kill the cat. But had they called Wildlife Rescue, the SPCA or the local shelter, they might've gotten different and better advice.

I'm deeply saddened when any animal is needlessly killed, and since this cat was treed and surrounded, it seems clear that other options could have been used without jeopardizing anyone's safety.
Irv Brenner
Byron Street
Palo Alto

Pour energy elsewhere


The Palo Alto city officials and local papers have received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from people expressing disappointment, sorrow and outrage that the mountain lion was killed this past week in a residential area.

Yes, I think it's unfortunate that a mountain lion had to be killed -- the lion was a beautiful animal.

But here's something to think about: How much energy have these people poured into their agony and outrage? If they took that same level of emotion and energy and applied it to other issues, this community and this nation just might be a safer and healthier place to live for all of us.

For instance, what if these people poured their energy into:

1) The children of our community and our nation, families in poverty or the homeless we see each and every day -- this is the richest nation on Earth, and what excuse do we have for not helping those struggling to get by? Something as simple as regularly donating to your local food bank can make a difference.

2) The poor voting record that exists in this state and in this nation -- have you voted in the most recent elections? Have you talked with your friends and adult children, encouraging them to register and to vote in every election, local and national? With absentee ballots so easy to use, there's no excuse for not voting.

3) And how about having some faith in our local officials when they decide to take a necessary action? It's wise to question authority, but when the people in charge have made a good-faith effort and an educated decision, let's move on.

Pour your energy into efforts that make a difference.
Suzanne Ramirez
Blackburn Avenue
Menlo Park

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