Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | October 26, 2010

Puh-lease: color controversy and cowardly mailers

It’s time for another periodic round up of items that make me shake my head, roll my eyes, and utter a two-syllable “puh-lease.”

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The hubbub over the paint colors used on the Mi Pueblo grocery store’s façade has me rolling my eyes. The Hispanic food store is taking over the former Grocery Outlet spot on First Street in Gilroy in the Town Plaza shopping center. The Gilroy location is the 18th store for the Northern California-based chain.

 

Mi Pueblo's Gilroy store

 

Why is this even a controversy? Either the colors are in line with city codes or they are not. If no codes about retail color schemes exist – and that’s my understanding — then the colors are by default acceptable. Trying to get the city to force a company to change its façade colors when there are no rules about façade colors? Puh-lease.

Without those codes, the uproar is entirely subjective. One person might find Mi Pueblo’s cranberry and blue hues tasteless, another might find them appealing. Personally, I’m not fond of McDonald’s red and yellow color scheme, but I don’t own the company, so it’s really not my call. I’m not fond of the dusty pink on the side of the Home Goods building that faces Tenth Street, but hey, if it meets codes and the property owner is OK with it, it’s just a matter of taste.

I also wonder if the folks protesting Mi Pueblo’s bright colors complained about the bright blue wall and giant yellow price tag that make up Best Buy’s façade. I certainly don’t recall any protests when Best Buy opened in Gilroy a few years ago. Why might that be, I wonder? If bright colors are tasteless on a Hispanic food chain’s store, why aren’t they tasteless on a Minnesota-based electronics retailer’s facility? Pardon my eye roll.

In the meantime, Mi Pueblo is doing what it can to attract the attention of passersby and strengthen its corporate brand. It’s bringing more than 100 much-needed jobs to Gilroy, which is grappling with a whopping 17.5 percent unemployment rate. The store’s fate will be determined by how well it meets the needs of customers.

And that’s how it should be.

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I share letter writer Sherry Hemingway’s concern about the “anonymous” mailers criticizing Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate. She writes – and I agree – that these cowardly mailers have “punctured Morgan Hill’s hard-earned culture of political civility and discourse.” Our household has received three of these fliers from the “Safe and Clean Schools Coalition” out of Sacramento, and they had me shaking my head as I headed back to the house from the mailbox. Why? Because the mailers use out-of-context quotes, mostly from news articles from this paper, to attack the incumbent mayor.

Why does a group that’s supposedly interested in promoting safe and clean schools want to influence a small-town mayoral race? Puh-lease. It might make sense if this group was involved in a school board election (no, I’m not hoping they’ll stick their noses in the next Morgan Hill Unified School District trustee race), but this group’s involvement in Morgan Hill’s mayoral race doesn’t compute.

Tate has two opponents in this race – Art College and current council member Marby Lee – and the mailers are careful to not endorse either. Both have denied any involvement in the mailing of these brochures.

Staff writer Michael Moore reported recently on questions about the legality of the mailers, but also noted that any damage the brochures inflict can’t be redressed until long after ballots are counted. Moore quoted San Jose State University political science professor Terry Christensen: “Even if it’s illegal, … nothing would be done until months after the election is over.”

Moore talked to a spokesperson for the Clean and Safe Schools Coalition, Nina Salarno, who told him that McNally Temple, a political consulting firm, handled the mailing. When Moore contacted McNally Temple, an employee denied any consultant-client relationship with the Clean and Safe Schools Coalition.

Puh-lease. That’s certainly not a good sign for the veracity of the information provided by this dubious coalition.

Hemingway summed the situation up well: “This is a small town, and somebody knows who was behind it. … The town deserves to know who is both afraid of being accountable, and is underhandedly trying to change their community ethic.”

Exactly: somebody knows. It would be honorable if they came forward now. I’m not holding my breath while I’m rolling my eyes.

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