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Shark Etiquette 

Letters published March 9, 2005

It's bad form to blame a crooked salesman: "Shark Tales" [February 16] is a very sad tale. Not sad because of the stories you chose to tell, but that you chose to tell them.

I work for a bank and spent three years in the auto collections department. Before that, I worked as a service advisor at a dealership. It is true that dealers and banks have a reserve system set up. It's not something commonly known or out in the open. Unfortunately, you make these people out to be victims of the banks and dealers. This is not the case; they are victims of their own impulses and stupidity.

Why would a school employee be spending $671 on a car payment every month? Because she wanted to feel special driving a big SUV? Congratulations, you got what you deserved. I think she couldn't find the money to keep the vehicle maintained properly, which is a very viable explanation as to why, when her transmission went bad, her warranty wouldn't cover the repairs. Warranties do not cover anything other than manufacturer defects (owner neglect is not Chrysler's fault).

Her situation is unfortunate, but I wish you hadn't painted her as a victim of anyone but herself. Did the salesperson use that to his advantage? Absolutely, because all a car salesman cares about is selling cars. Maybe I've become cold to the plight of people, but only because I've learned my lessons from others.

Hopefully your readers could use this article as a lesson as well. Always go to a dealership with your own financing already set up. Always make sure you can afford to drive and maintain the vehicle you are driving. And never, never walk off the lot with a car the very first day.

Mike Murphy
Canton

Black Humor
Laughing at a rock chick's misfortune:
Great article ["Tour of Duty," February 23]. I just wanted to congratulate you. Your article was insightful and hysterical.

I'm a struggling music video director. Many of my friends are in bands and touring. I've been fortunate enough to avoid the tours, but being backstage and at the hotels with some of the same people mentioned in your article gave me some insight into the whole band scene. I was laughing out loud in front of my computer at 1 a.m. The part about the Ex-Models was particularly funny. I'm a big fan of the Black Keys -- and now your writing, too.

Erik Barnes
Los Angeles

Ex-Models, watch your back: What a great article you penned regarding your "Tour of Duty" and Patrick and Dan. They are my David Hasselhoff. Thanks for continuing to show them in the regular-guy light that they seem to be -- and painting a much more realistic picture of life on the road than Behind the Music. I hope you and Patrick continue to live happily on and off the road. It's too bad you didn't kick the Ex-Models' asses. If I ever see them at a show, I'll be sure to throw many full beer cans at them.

Eric Stoffer
Massillon

Of jerk bands and drugs: I just wanted to write and thank you for your insightful article about the Black Keys. I have toured with my friend's band in the past and found it interesting how some things in the music world are the same everywhere you go. My friend's band is nowhere close to being as famous as the Black Keys, but the drugs, the jerk bands with no talent, and sleepless nights are the same nonetheless.

Chris Avila
El Paso, TX

Dreams of cold beer: You are a wonderful writer! Love your sense of humor and wit. I have written numerous embarrassingly enthusiastic "articles" about the Black Keys on BlackKeys.net from the outside perspective. Really cool to read from the "inside." I wish you every success of the real variety, not that bullshit variety. And good, cold beer.

Angie Gochis
Glendale, CA

How to Raise a Stink
Cleveland aspires to EPA-grade negligence:
I read with interest the report about the former Research Oil site and its foul odors ["Can't you smell that smell?" First Punch, February 23]. As to the statement attributed to the city's commissioner that "only the Ohio EPA can enforce changes at GEM," I assume the commissioner may have been misunderstood or taken out of context, because such a statement would be false.

It's true that the city provides enforcement-support services to the Ohio EPA, and the Ohio EPA reserves to itself the right to bring enforcement actions on permits and state and federal air-pollution laws. However, the city has powers under its own local air-pollution code to bring actions -- particularly to stem odor problems. If the city doesn't fight odor nuisances, no one will. The Ohio EPA is reluctant and rarely brings such actions.

The city does not have to defer to the Ohio EPA when the stink rises to the level of a real health nuisance. The Research Oil site has been a problem for years, and the city and Ohio EPA have taken actions against the past and current owners, but obviously more needs to be done.

Bill Gruber
Former chief of the Health and Environment Section of the Cleveland Law Department
Shaker Heights

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