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Letters to the editor

Having lived in California for over 30 years, most of the time involved in either buying or selling home textiles, I thought I would try to shed some light on the current thinking within the California legislature and, more specifically our governor's office, with regards to flammability standards for mattresses and bedding fabric.

First of all, however, I want you to rest assured that whenever Governor Gray Davis's office becomes involved in a Californian's life, it is for the better. Most recently, by involving the state in our energy "shortage," the governor and the state legislature have rescued us and managed to 1) bankrupt one of the world's largest public energy corporations, Pacific Gas and Electric, resulting in thousands of lost jobs and financial losses to smaller corporations dependent upon their revenue; 2) trigger a state recession, whose GNP was the world's fifth largest in 2000, ahead of France; and 3) procure energy contracts for power at an all-time astronomical amount and in such excess that surplus was actually sold at a loss. But Californians, however, are grateful for this. Somehow, state residents have not experienced one blackout since the above procurements were made.

Concerning the "specifics about what will be included in the flammability mandate," stated in your recent article, I have firsthand information from the legislature as to standards being proposed for mattresses and bedding.

Mattresses "Mattresses shall be made of masonry, no less than 8 inches (203mm) in thickness. Exterior walls of mattresses shall be not less than 10 inches (254mm) in thickness, except that where a lining of firebrick is used, such walls shall not be less than a total of 8 inches (203mm) in thickness.

Headboards "Headboards, in the event of earthquakes, shall be anchored at each floor and roof with two 1.5" x 1.125" (38 millimeter x 3.2 millimeter) metal straps, coated with flameproof rubber to prevent skin burns and nailed with not less than six 8D nails per strap at each post.

Sheets and Bedding Fabric "Should be constructed with 'Kevlar,'" currently used by law enforcement officials as a cover for bulletproof vests. This material is both fire proof and will prevent injuries in the event of any drive-by shootings or domestic violence.

Comforter and Pillow Fill "Current legislation barring the use of raw asbestos will be waived in the public interest due to its flame-resistant nature. Any concerns of cancer-causing qualities should be offset by its ability to resist flame. An alternative substance of 'landfill' may be used under the current guidelines governing excess landfill (aba#24776), providing that the dirt be radon-free (aba#2445)."

I sincerely hope that any fears you have concerning California's initiation of consumer safety laws are allayed in the interest of our state's welfare.

John Shakley, salesman of home textiles, San Mateo, CA

I just had to write you a thank-you note for your July 30 editorial column honoring the memory of Bob Widdess. Unfortunately, I never met the man either, and I especially feel at a loss for that after reading your excellent story. We all tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our workaday world, and sometimes we forget to admire and acclaim those around us who are, first and foremost, good people.

We always say that we work in a "people-friendly" industry, and for the most part that is true. Even in difficult times such as these, we try to keep our perspective and remember that the real bottom line is what kind of person you are, and what are you doing to make this world a better place in which to live. It is easy to lose that focus, and sometimes it takes a sad event such as the passing of a friend to bring us back to our senses. Thank you for your excellent reflection on that emotion.

It's ironic that your piece mentioned Bob being praised for not only his acumen, but also his humanity. Each day I pray that I can be not only focused, organized and efficient but also that I do not lose my dignity or my humanity. You said it even better. It is unfortunate that good people seem to be considered the exception, and the truth is there are a lot of them out there, diligently working to support their families, companies and industry. Maybe we can all start recognizing those strengths and telling someone we appreciate them before we are telling their friends about them after they are gone.

Yes, I surely do wish I had known Bob Widdess, but I thank God that I know and appreciate a lot of wonderful people just like him. I think I'll call a few of them next week.

John Ginn, vp, sales and marketing , American Blanket Corp.

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