Letters for August 25

Readers sound off on foster children, the war on drugs, the Army Corps of Engineers, and race.

“Pushed Off the Plank,” Feature, 8/4

Please, Be a Mentor

While former foster youth Kayla Gordon’s story was harrowing to say the least, Be A Mentor, Inc. is pleased that you shared it. She is not alone. As reporter Angela Kilduff indicated, there are tens of thousands of others like Ms. Gordon, including over 2,500 foster youth in the East Bay. Like Ms. Gordon, hundreds of these young people are cast into the world at age 18 (or sooner) with little to no support, friends or opportunities to become productive, successful adults. Most of them haven’t the capability or training to do more than survive. As the story also noted, those with adult friends in their lives have a much better chance.

Be A Mentor thanks the paper and its readers. The “Careers & Education” box on the last print page of the article lists three opportunities for East Bay Express readers to sign up to mentor at-risk youth in our community. The article prompted nearly a half-dozen readers to begin the process. This is excellent. Every mentor matched with an at-risk foster youth makes a positive difference, and if we all work together, we can transform the plank-walking of potential future Kayla Gordons into leaps of success and opportunity.

Thank you again for regularly listing our mentoring programs. Every adult volunteer makes a difference in the life of a child and the strength of our community.

Jerry Metzker; Fundraising Manager; Be A Mentor, Inc.; Hayward

“Because Grant Was Black,” Letters, 8/11

It’s a Class Issue, Too

I was perturbed by Rich Clark’s letter in this week’s issue of the Express where he sums up Oscar Grant’s death as a “sad commentary on the state of race relations.” If you take race completely out of the situation, you still have an unarmed citizen being shot to death in the back by the police. We (the public) personally don’t know Oscar Grant’s character or Mehserle’s. That was for the jury to decide, and they did. At bare minimum, regardless even of character, Mehserle made a huge mistake, comparable, perhaps, to a parent leaving their child in the car to die from the heat, and that would be involuntary manslaughter, too.

The fact is, we have these people, the police, running around, organized and with guns, who can take over our lives at a whim. It’s a class issue at least as much as a race issue, and people have a right to be upset.

Don Brownell, Oakland

“Oakland Leaders Want Higher Taxes — Not Real Reform,” Seven Days, 8/4

Opulent Lifestyles

Oakland’s elected officials have told its citizens that taxes must be increased. How can this be true, when many of our tax dollars are wasted and used to provide opulent lifestyles for those very same officials? Mayor Ron Dellums receives over $200,000 per year in base salary, perks, and benefits. He has an annual office budget approaching $4 million and uses taxpayer funds to provide himself with bodyguards and a chauffeur-driven, luxury Town Car.Each councilmember receives approximately $100,000.00 per year in base salary, perks, and benefits — all of this for a part-time position — with summers off! Collectively, councilmembers receive additional millions each year for slush funds. I would never say that our current crop of elected officials in Oakland are incompetent buffoons. I would say that they lack vision, ethics, morals, integrity, a sense of decency and fairness, and have zero understanding of economics and human behavior. The people of Oakland have yet another opportunity in November 2010 to elect a Mayor who can turn things around. Voting for an incumbent and/or a career politician will only bring us more of the same misery that has driven our city close to bankruptcy. There are other non-politicians who are running for Mayor who can implement some common sense ideas to solve our problems. Why not give one of them a chance? Could electing a newcomer for mayor be any worse than what we have now?

Mark W. Forster, Oakland


In our August 18 story “Are Capital Punishment’s Financial Costs Worth It?” we attributed a statement that it costs an extra $90,000 a year to house an inmate on death row to the American Civil Liberties Union. But the ACLU is unable to provide any source for this figure. Also, the number of inmates on California death row is 706, not 705.

Miscellaneous Letters

Muslims, Mosques, and the Amazing GOP Spin Machine

It’s like David Duke has taken over and is directing the election-year strategy of the Republican Party. What you hear coming from the GOP about the mosque controversy in New York City are Muslim hate screeds and anti-Islamic rhetoric. Aren’t there two billion Muslims around the world — are they all bad?

Each election Republicans open up 9/11 wounds to whip up fear and loathing among its base and the inattentive American public. The GOP spin machine never ceases to amaze. Prior elections it was marriage used as a Republican “wedge issue;” this election a proposed Islamic community center in NYC has become the GOP’s political football as they sweep the real issues — economy, jobs and war — under the rug.

Ron Lowe, Nevada City

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