October 17, 2005
Let's talk about the Salvation Army, its great work in New
Orleans and Houston, its enemies,
sex toys and how California's levees could fail just like
they did in the Gulf States.
Along with the Red Cross, Americans have learned there is
NO ONE you can depend on more during a disaster than the Salvation
Army. Most of us are also well aware that Sally Ann (its nickname
in the media world, for the uninitiated) is also well known
for setting up the little red kettle stands outside department
stores and other retail locations around the holidays so we
can drop some change to help them operate.
But in the last few years, one giant retailer has decided
it doesn't want to have Sally Ann around because it is a sectarian
organization, though disaster victims will tell you they're
not preached to in their contacts. That retailer is TARGET,
part of the Dayton Hudson chain that also MERVYNS.
Target not only continues its ban on the Salvation Army,
but now it is adding sex toy products to its holiday merchandise
mix. Target Corporation has quietly told the Salvation Army
that it will continue to ban Sally Ann from its 1,351 stores
this Christmas season. The Army will not be allowed to place
their red kettles in front of Target stores.
Despite increased need caused by the hurricanes Katrina and
Rita, Target continues to bar the good people of the Salvation
Army. Many observers feel that the ban by Target is a result
of pressure put on the company by gay groups and activists
who have targeted the Salvation Army for years because of
the Army's refusal to recognize their lifestyle. Target is
a supporter of various gay, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual,
and transgender causes.
While Target contributes to these groups, the company publicly
states that they will not contribute to any religious groups,
apparently taking the position that gay organizations are
worthy of financial support, but Christian, Muslim, Jewish,
Greek Orthodox, and other religious organizations are not,
even when they act in a nonsectarian fashion during their
life-saving relief efforts.
Further showing Target's true colors, I recently heard a
report on WTOP Radio in Washington, DC, that Target is one
of the national chains that will be carrying a new line of
women's products that includes a vibrator. "Elexa"
by Trojan spokeswoman Cassandra Johnson says the products
will be discreetly packaged and sold in the feminine care
aisle. The spokeswoman said on the radio that, "Formerly
the domain of sex shops, such products have been brought out
of the shadows by popular television shows like 'Sex and the
Now I'm the last guy in the world to have a problem with
folks using their sex toys when necessary and appropriate,
especially in private, but the hypocrisy by Target is rather
overwhelming for me.
While Target continues to ban the Salvation Army, competitors
such as Wal-Mart are increasing their donations to the Salvation
Army and Wal-Mart and others continue to welcome the Army's
I've decided to become a larger supporter of Wal-Mart as
a result of this story. I'm really annoyed that a national
chain would continue to pursue such a bonehead strategy that
is such a bizarre public relations nightmare. I have just
sent an email asking Target to end their ban of the Salvation
Army and one to Wal-Mart, thanking them for supporting the
And I'll be dropping a little extra in the red kettle this
year for Sally Ann and the victims of hurricanes Katrina and
Moving on to levees, the recent rains and flooding in the
Northeast, specifically New Hampshire should raise concerns
among residents in many states, especially in Northern California.
Are we a New Orleans type of sitting duck?
Reporters should be asking the governor and the state legislature
what has happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked
over the last 20 years for California's levees that have been
siphoned off (no pun intended) and used for other projects.
This kind of action deserves media scrutiny NOW, not when
a levee breaks and it becomes a story of tragedy.
California has about 1,100 miles of levees that run along
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers has identified nearly 200 eroded sites that are
in desperate need of repair - many of them not far from residential
developments sitting in long established designated flood
The Corps will tell you that most of California's levees
were originally designed and built to protect agricultural
areas from flooding. Often, they were constructed by farmers
pushing up dirt with shovels and a wheelbarrow, not taking
into consideration the recent surge of sprawling commercial
and residential development.
A high magnitude earthquake rumbling along the Delta has
the potential of breaching dozens of the aging levees that
guard California's primary water transportation hub. Check
this out. If the Delta levees fail, the drinking water supply
for two thirds of us could be threatened, and the nation's
largest source of fruits and vegetables could be destroyed
for months, or even years. Can our state and federal economies
handle that? I doubt it.
We had an example of this problem already, but media coverage
was fairly limited to Northern Cal. On June 23, 2004, the
Lower Jones Tract Levee in the Central Valley failed, flooding
hundreds of acres and causing $100-million in damage. It took
crews about 25 days, working around the clock, to fill the
500-foot breach. The breach sent hundreds of people running
to higher ground and left state officials scrambling to protect
the water supply for the entire state.
Collapses occur in the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
levees every few years, and state officials report that a
breach could begin with something as simple as an animal burrowing
into the levee. That's pretty scary, but why aren't any of
you covering this story? Be a good, enterprising reporter
and seek out some more facts on this. Don't wait for you editor
to assign you a story out of the local newspaper or the L.A.
Times. Be a REAL reporter and dig this story out BEFORE the