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Candy crush in Washington, D.C.

On March 7, “The Washington Post” reported that the National Confectioners Association (NCA), representing candy giants such as Nestle, Hershey, Mars, Jelly Belly, etc., recently hosted a gathering of 600 at the Trump National Doral Resort near Miami. It has also booked two more at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C.: one next September and another in 2018. The Post story states: ‘Big Candy’ is lobbying the Trump administration. It’s also holding events at Trump hotels.” A visit to the NCA website (candyusa.com) confirms this.

That’s a lot of candy money ending up, one way or another, in the pockets of the president and his family.

What’s equally disturbing is what the NCA hopes to gain by this affiliation. According to The Post, the NCA is “optimistic about scoring big, early policy wins from the Trump administration. Among its priorities: a long-sought rollback of government sugar subsidies that candy firms say drive up the costs of making their products.” They are also hoping to take advantage of “significant opportunities to go on offense on other matters, including its push to end Obama-era regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and food labeling.”

What better way to get the ear of the president, than to mention how much you enjoyed your stay (make that, “money you spent”) at his hotel?

This news comes at a time when store shelves are filling up with Easter candy. But, if you are offended by any of the news above you might want to pay attention to the candy you are about to throw in your cart and reject any made by the companies that belong to the NCA.

For me, giving up the occasional Snickers and M&Ms is not a huge sacrifice. And Nestle’s has been on my “avoid whenever possible” list ever since I found out their CEO thinks water is a commodity that should be privatized.

But when I found out that my beloved Toblerone is actually distributed by a member of the NCA, Mondelēz International, Inc., formerly known as Kraft Foods, I had to come to grips with the reality of even this minuscule act of resistance on my part.

I asked myself, would anyone even notice if I stopped buying my weekly Tobler, Swiss Dark Chocolate with Honey & Almond Nougat, carefully proportioned to a last me seven days — provided I kept it well-hidden from the family?

A quick visit to the Mondeléz website and I realized I needed to do even more. Right there, in bold pixels, Mondeléz claims to be a world leader in “women’s empowerment,” to “believe well-being is holistic. That the health of individuals, communities and the planet are inextricably linked,” and that they want to “create a global conversation centered on the well-being of the world.”

I want to be part of that conversation. And I’m pretty sure many of you want to be part of it, as well.

Mars has already heard from me and soon, so will Mondeléz. I’m a customer. They should listen to me. Among other things, I want them to tell me how they reconcile their stated core values with their support of the man in the White House — a man who has shown nothing but the most revolting disrespect for women and total disregard for the health of individuals of all ages, communities, and the planet — by contributing to his personal fortune.

And if everyone else who is offended by their hypocrisy and the money that they and other candy manufacturers are pouring into the president’s coffers (money they make off the candy you buy) perhaps my little whisper in their ear will soon become a roar.

If they don’t acknowledge my concerns and encourage the NCA to discontinue their patronage of the Trump organization, I will continue to do my best to boycott their products whenever I can. And if everyone who marched last January took the next step and thought twice before tossing a bag of Easter treats into their shopping cart, that message will start to be heard loud and clear.

Yes, it’ll be tough forgoing the occasional Hershey’s Kiss. But real kisses are better, anyway.

Elaine de Man

St. Helena

More to schools than sports

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I worked at Napa High School, teaching English, for 15 mostly enjoyable years. One of the gratifying aspects of my avocation was seeing students go out into the greater world and succeed. For example, this spring, two former NHS students are graduating from two different University of California campuses, thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholars program.

Dear reader, you may not have heard of this because when the scholarships were awarded, the Register did not cover the story. (By the way, 1,000 scholarships are awarded a year. There are 38,000 high schools in this country. Napa High students won two scholarships — and not for the first time. Do the math.) While every student athletic scholarship signing ceremony is chronicled, with photos of jubilant parents and progeny, purely academic scholarships get little notice in Napa.

Yes, the scholarship awards night is a wonderful school event, but the only people who attend are the donors, the recipients, and their families — and sports scholarships are a big part of that celebration. There is no media coverage of that night, aside from a heartfelt thank-you in the letters column. A Register reader might be forgiven for thinking that the only people who go to college from Napa public schools are top athletes.

When I was teaching, I was well aware that I worked in a very sports-centric environment. I once joked to the school board that I felt like the highly literate hood ornament to an athletics program. All anyone needed to do was look at the D-wing of Napa High School, where I worked, and compare it to the state of the art Memorial Stadium to understand what is valued in our community. Yes, the stadium was bought with school bond funds — but I also believe that the bond would never have passed without a new stadium.

To parents: your child will get a good education in our public schools. Students who put forth some effort will receive an excellent education. We have teachers who love their subjects, love their students, and who will work overtime to help your child succeed. However, I wish I were hearing some concern about the NVUSD’s current budget crisis. Did you know that all librarians will disappear from our schools next year? This is an age where literacy, critical thinking and evaluation of sources are more important than ever. Such a deficit will affect more students than a football team scandal or a mascot change does.

Cindy Claymore Watter

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Napa

Trustees answer to community

The Letter to the Editor from Ms. Hirsch dated March 20 (“Mascot mania”) contained something that I felt warranted a response. She asked, essentially, why should we, as a community, listen to Napa High alumni on the mascot question? Shouldn’t we listen to the broader community, for example, the current students and school community?

I find that question ironic. Ms. Hirsch’s letter implies that many voices should be heard; I happen to agree with her (setting aside the question of whether the district should even be wasting time and taxpayer dollars on this issue, which is another question altogether).

In the case of the Napa Indian mascot, the only body that has or will have a voice is the NVUSD. I understand that the community has had or will have an opportunity to weigh in on it. I can imagine where public opinion is on this issue.

Yet I know what the district is going to do. It is fait accompli. Voices aren’t being heard, except for the tiny minority who find the mascot offensive and showed up at countless board meetings to register their offense. Rather, the voice of the community is being muted.

All of this reminds me of a weightier issue also going on at Napa High: the loss of a widely respected football coach and mentor to countless young men. While the hazing allegations should be, and are being, investigated, the district has made another unfortunate decision in turning its back on Troy Mott and his staff. I can’t imagine that this was what the community wanted. No one is served by doing this; everyone loses.

Who knows how long it will take to rebuild the program at NHS, and how many kids will lose out on a great life experience in the meantime.

Fortunately for the community, we get to vote for trustees. They answer to the community, and will at the next election.

James Barrett

Napa

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