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Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008 11:55 am

Letters to the Editor

We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.


OUR MOVIE GUY

This is the review that I was hoping Chuck would write about this movie [Australia: A movie as grand as the continent itself,” IT, Nov. 26]!

Unlike all the pasty-face fan-boys who seem to populate the world of “movie criticism” these days, Chuck is a real “movie guy,” and eschews the trappings of the mall-multiplex fodder-for-the-masses to find real cinematic pleasure even in the old-fashioned styles of the so-called “uncool” movie yesteryear.

Chuck is a first-class act and we are fortunate to have him around!
Skip Huston
Avon Theater owner
Decatur

RULES OF THE ROAD

Dusty Rhodes had a good story on the Hazel Lane dispute [See “Route of dispute,” IT, Nov. 26]. But what I don’t understand is why, after all that money was spent on improving access to the school off East Hazel Dell, that some folks are still using Hazel Lane. I suppose it’s because using Hazel Lane is less out of direction for folks coming from the north, plus being able to avoid the traffic light at Hazel Dell.

Regarding the previous gate off Hazel Lane, I understood that, while it did block access to normal traffic, it could be opened in the event of an emergency. That seemed like a reasonable solution. Why would the township agree to no gate when that may be the only practicable means of resolving this problem? Human nature being what it is, drivers are going to take the shortest route if it’s not actually blocked off.
Dick McLane

Springfield

CULTURE GAP

It happened again. There I was exhibiting my artwork at a local downtown outdoor venue. (We local unknown struggling artists almost live for these opportunities.) A prospective customer approaches my tent, looks with keen interest at my work and gratifyingly exclaims how wonderful is the quality. She then asks me where I’m from, and I reply, “Springfield.” There’s dead silence, and an oddly disappointed look on her face. She then glances wistfully at the rest of the artwork, wishes me good luck, and leaves.

It has become evident that there exist groups of Springfield citizens who mistakenly believe that in order to find high-quality artwork, they must go elsewhere, like St. Louis, Chicago, or New York. Already established, known artists and their work can be readily found. But what about the local, unknown ones? Where is the framework that offers numerous opportunities for promotion and exhibiting?

Anyone who has lived here for any length of time knows that this is no Mecca for the arts, with no real definitive culture. I would love to see this town be allowed to grow into a vital city with a thriving business and arts culture, side by side, as seen in so many other similar-sized communities. Those cities flourish. Why shouldn’t Springfield?

It would be so great to begin to see a change in the mindset of some of this town’s influential powers that be, by leading with a good example. How about the Chamber of Commerce, arts council, civic groups or other such organizations that are inclined to desire a change in our town’s culture? Anybody who has a better vision for Springfield, please share your ideas with me at jrothshaw@ymail.com.

Janet Roth Shaw

Springfield

GIFT CARDS GOOD

Gift cards have become an extremely popular gift-giving item. Recently, an Internet rumor states that people should not buy gift cards as they will not be redeemable because a large number of retailers have notified the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that they are closing stores in January. The e-mail then details a number of retail companies that are allegedly making such plans. Like most Internet hoaxes, they include a ring of truth and count on people not reading them carefully or thinking them through. Unfortunately, a large number of media outlets have picked up the story and presented it as fact rather than thinking it through and calling into question the scare tactics and myths. So, please allow me to clear up a few of the issues.

First, there is a big difference between closing some under-performing locations and going out of business. It is no secret that the economy is hurting everyone and retail companies, like their cousins in the manufacturing and service sectors, are struggling. Some companies have announced that they are closing some stores or reorganizing under bankruptcy protection. The casual reader equates bankruptcy with going out of business. That is simply not accurate. Furthermore, businesses in general and retailers in particular open and close locations as a matter of course – in good times and bad. It is a continual process in a hyper-competitive economic sector.

Second, closing under-performing locations or filing for bankruptcy protection while they reorganize does not endanger the value of a gift card. The businesses in question continue to operate and any gift card a consumer may hold is worth its face value at any location from which that business operates.

Third, most retailers operate Internet sites or issue catalogues. Gift cards held by a consumer are good for purchases at the Internet site or that retailer’s catalogue the same as if they walked into a brick-and-mortar store.

It is sad that someone has chosen to prey on the fears of people during these trying times. It is equally sad that the media have failed to properly confront this issue. The economic risk we as a nation are facing is structural and emotional. While the federal government is addressing the structural, the media keep pumping up the emotion. Stories like this spread unnecessary fear and continue to make efforts to get out of the economic malaise profoundly more difficult.

The bottom line is there is risk in everything we do but gift cards have proven to be a comparatively safe investment. The retailers of Illinois are stocked, open and ready to do business. They eagerly await your arrival.
David F. Vite
President and CEO
Illinois Retail Merchants Association Chicago

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