A nettlesome problem is disturbing relations between Chula Vista and its men and women in blue: shoulder patches--their aesthetics and whether they might make a sworn police officer look like just any old guy from Wells Fargo.
At issue is the insignia that officers wear on their shirts and jackets. In the past, it was glorious, eight colors, a landscape of the city. Now, in the interests of economy and uniformity, they have been told to switch by Jan. 1 to a simple maroon and gold replacement.
"Well, it kind of looks like a private security guard's patch," complained Sgt. Thomas Maloney, president of the police officers' association. "The colors contrast with our uniform. We have a green chill-chaser (Windbreaker), and it kind of conflicts with that."
The problem stems from the redrawing several years back of the city's traditional logo--described by one officer as "a work of art" showing the city's Civic Center, bay, mountains and sun in a blend of blue, yellow, red, greens and browns.
The city replaced that logo with a "streamlined, modernized" version and ordered police officers to phase out their patches, replacing them over time with a new, two-tone maroon insignia as they turned in their old uniforms.
But old-timers began hoarding the traditional patches, slicing them off old uniforms and putting them on new ones. Officers say there were similar schemes, such as getting patches from people who retired or left the department.
"Well, I think it's been a morale problem since we went into the maroon patches," Maloney insisted. "You know, professional comes from within. . . . But when they changed to this cheaper model, it just didn't blend in. It took a lot of pride away from us."
So the POA petitioned its members. Finding the majority opposed to the new patch, the group took to lobbying City Council candidates. Then, when the new council was elected, the POA petitioned the entire body to reconsider the maroon insignia.
Now, the matter has been referred to the city's staff. Both sides say they have high hopes of a compromise in the offing: Keep the new logo but switch the color from maroon to a more acceptable royal blue.
"My personal observation," Capt. Keith Hawkins mused Monday in the midst of preparing his division's budget, "is that if patches are the biggest problem we have to work out around here, then we must have a really smooth-running operation."
Chain Letter Woes
Vons, the giant supermarket chain, is offering some interesting tips for people planning a night out--advice that the director of the San Diego Restaurant Assn. thinks is "a semi-cheap shot."
The tips are the subject of a complimentary Vons newsletter called Nutri-notes, distributed every two months. The current issue, titled "Dining Out with a Healthy Appetite," suggests the following measures:
- Have a small snack before eating out in order to avoid "over-ordering and over-eating."
- Drink water. Alcoholic beverages are high in calories.
- Order a la carte, rather than high-calorie, full-course meals. Or, try soup and an appetizer, or an appetizer and salad with a roll.
- Eat slowly. Put your fork down between bites. Chew food well and drink plenty of water.
"Personally, what it sounds like is they're subtly trying to lure away restaurant diners for their own benefit," said Paul McIntyre, the restaurant association's director. "And maybe this is in response to recent trends, which have shown people dining out more and more.
"It's not the kind of competition we would engage in," he added. "We think the benefits of eating in restaurants are self-evident. You don't have to remind people they won't have to do the dishes and the food will probably be fresher than what they have at home."
A Vons spokeswoman, however, insisted no slight was intended.
"I don't see this as encouraging or discouraging (restaurant dining)," said Jo Ann Reyburn, whose company published an earlier Nutri-notes on fast foods. She added, "All we're trying to do is educate our customers."
It's News to Him
In a coin-operated newspaper box at 5th and University avenues in Hillcrest on Monday, the Wall Street Journal shrieked through the smudged glass window: "Stocks Plummet 508 Amid Panicky Selling!"
"A Repeat of '29?" another headline queried menacingly. A front page chart traced a steep decline hurtling between two axes. There were other stories full of words like fallout, debacle, nest egg, scared and phrases like "Should I sell?"
Upon closer examination, the paper turned out to be a relic--frozen in time in a badly bashed box. The box had been jammed shut since the day after the Oct. 19 stock market collapse. The paper had sat there, a sobering reminder.
The man who manages the Journal's street sales for that area sounded chagrined. He said he had sent out a man to repair it and had just assumed it had been done. Probably a peso or a washer, he suggested. Or an angry investor's gnawed toothpick.