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Views of Riverside

March 15, 2009

Re "As we slowly disappear," Postcards from the recession, Opinion, March 8

Susan Straight's dark vision of Riverside is not mine. On fine days, I walk my dogs around the tree-lined, broad streets of the working-class neighborhood where I have lived for more than 50 years. The houses are small, well-kept. Two on my street are "repos," but thanks to the combined efforts of the mayor and real estate agents, both are well-tended. The pools are drained and cleaned. There is no trash. City services are efficient and regular. There are no derelict cars and no vagrants in sight.

Riversiders are great walkers: We walk Victoria Avenue, where the orange trees are framed against snowcapped mountains. We walk up Mt. Rubidoux to admire the purple jacarandas. We also walk the malls, where at noon restaurants bustle with well-dressed, chattering groups. It's not Rodeo Drive -- no six-inch heels and $1,000 purses here -- but it's not a scene of post-apocalyptic desolation either.

Joyce F. Barrier

Riverside

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I was embarrassed to read Straight's piece.

During a time when the media are more concerned with sensationalism than accuracy, you have merely added to the problem by publishing a testimonial of an area that is nothing like the picture painted.

Although the challenges of increased foreclosure, crime and financial hardship do affect Riverside, these problems are not unique to the Inland Empire and surely have not eroded the quality of life in our community to the degree that Straight suggests.

You should be ashamed to have added to an already biased opinion that many Los Angeles and Orange County residents have developed toward our area.

I'm sorry to hear that Straight is a professor at UC Riverside -- needless to say, a professor of creative writing -- and can only assume that this article was intended to draw attention to her latest book.

What a shame that the proud residents of Riverside who represent the majority in our community aren't given the chance to more readily respond to this embellished nonsense.

Jonathan O'Connell

Riverside

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I have seldom been so moved by an article.

Every former Bush administration official and all the financial industry leaders who preyed on consumers and got us into this situation ought to be required to read this before we put them in chains, organize them into work crews and have them clear weeds in the yards of foreclosed houses, help care for the thousands of animals being dumped in Southland shelters as a result of their owners' economic plight, and serve the hungry in soup kitchens in Straight's Inland Empire neighborhood.

R. Hayden-Smith

Ventura

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