Versailles, Dan's offer great service

One of the many reasons that I love living in Alameda is that Alamedans support many small, independent businesses -- one-of-a-kind gift shops and only-in-Alameda cafes and restaurants. Another type of business that Alamedans support are businesses offering services that chains do not. Versailles Pharmacy and Dan's Fresh Produce are two examples of this.

Phillip is the pharmacist at Versailles Pharmacy, the only independent pharmacy left in Alameda. Phillip and his staff know their customers by name. Philip knows what medications you are on and how a new medication might interact with your current meds.

When your insurance will not cover the cost of a medication, Phillip works with your doctor and your insurance company, getting the paperwork completed so you can get your prescription covered. If this does not work, Phillip will get the best price for you -- less expensive than chain drugstores as well as big-box stores like Target and Costco.

Dan's Fresh Produce is a Farmer's Market that is open at the same spot seven days a week. Much of what Dan's sells is sourced locally. Dan and his staff have developed strong relationships with the farmers from whom they buy. This ensures that the customer gets the best and freshest produce available. Dan sells a lot of organic produce along with many other items you may need. Dan also sells and delivers weekly or monthly boxes of fresh produce -- right to your door. The staff are friendly, helpful and cheerful.

I know all this because I have been a happy customer at both of these businesses for more than 10 years.

Olive Quilter

Student leadership school's backbone

Alameda High School's leadership program has been alive and active this school year. From running student orientations, fundraising and planning schoolwide events, AHS leadership has shown that it is the student body's backbone. In November, our students were on fire as we branched out to be a part of activities that benefit others rather than just our school.

In a two-day project, the leadership students held a fundraiser for the Philippines after the hurricane that occurred in that country. In the limited time, Alameda High managed to raise $1,300 from student, teacher and parent donations.

As it was Thanksgiving season, some of the Alameda students participated in a community service project for The Child Unique Montessori School, a nonprofit preschool and elementary school. The school hosted a Harvest Meal Celebration for students and their families. Our students had the opportunity to assist in the background work of the event.

Alameda High is beginning to promote and raise awareness for different organizations and issues. This month, as it is AIDS/HIV awareness month, a committee of students began planning different ways to promote this issue through ways such as daily facts and speakers.

As the program continues with the school year, they plan on being involved with more community service work for Alameda. The students are ready and willing to jump on to any task that is offered to them.

Peter Nguyen

student body president Alameda High School

Tea Party's power greatly exaggerated

I wanted to respond to the Dec. 13 letter, "Tea party has defiled ideal of majority rule."

By the record, majority rule has defiled itself with "whether you like or not" laws. Yes, all Americans of all colors and heritages are being lawfully punished for allowing unlimited political power to rule (as opposed to govern).

But then why should I or anyone take his misguided rant as representative of Tea Party people? The Tea Party, in fact, is politically powerless and is transparent in its goals to have the constitution honored.

Philip Tribuzio

Obama doing well, all things considered

Considering President Barack Obama's opposition and his lack of executive experience, I think his presidency has been reasonable. The Republicans were determined to make him fail. Nice, huh?

The president should have been, but wasn't, prepared for the viciousness of his opposition. I blame the Democratic power brokers for pushing an inexperienced one-term senator into the fray. It seemed more about winning than governing.

In addition, it never seemed to me that Obama had the "fire in the belly," as they say. He failed in a few notable ways that I think still haunt his presidency. The failure to take on the banksters and his immediate capitulation on the public option in the health care bill were the major failures.

Some issues over the Bush tax cuts were problematic as well. The latest pronouncement about inequality in America seems long in coming. Could the president count on the Democrats for more spine, or was it the president's problem? I don't know.

Having said all that, I believe we have an honest, decent person in the White House, and we are fortunate.

Anne Spanier