Letters for February 10.

Readers sound off on immersion learning, father custody cases, and roadkill.

“Learning in Chinese,” Feature, 1/6

The Wave of the Future

Thank you for this excellent article. Jaylen Mitchell is my grandson, and not only is he learning Mandarin, he is excelling in English and math. It is the same with my granddaughter, Jayla. They are not losing their culture they are gaining a worldview. I hope this is the wave of the future.


Enriching for the Whole Family

Thank you for this article on Shu Ren. My son Roman attends the pre-k class and is one of the three African-American students there. Prior to attendance, we worried about his being stereotyped, about his being overwhelmed with the language, and about him losing previous gains with language and math. Many of my mornings were spent watching his interactions with peers and staff from windows to ensure “my baby is okay.” What I observed was teachers being patient and consistent when he struggled, kids interacting with him based on his personality not his skin color, and a child thrilled when came home and had learned something new he could share with mom and dad. We sent Roman to Shu Ren to build his future but found that it has enriched our whole family’s present.

Andie Butler

He Loves School

We have all read the information about children in foreign language programs have tended to demonstrate greater cognitive development, creativity, and divergent thinking than monolingual children. This information was one of many reasons we decided to put our son in an immersion program. We looked at many immersion schools and found that Shu Ren fulfilled our language goal and just as important helped to develop the whole child — an emotionally and physically healthy, civically engaged, responsible, and caring young boy. Our son has been at the school since it opened and loves going to school!

Andrew Meilan

“A Father’s Quest,” Feature, 1/13

Playing Into Sexism

Erin Gilmore did a fine job exposing the dysfunction of family court here, which is not unique to Alameda County and is happening all over America and beyond. But she does a HUGE disservice to the tens if not hundreds of thousands of mothers who are losing custody of their children to abusive fathers, which dozens of peer-reviewed research studies are overwhelmingly clear on. By quoting only fathers rights organizations spewing about how Dads are being victimized and how Moms are being favored, Gilmore plays right into the deep-seated sexism that the media has repeatedly shown on this issue.

Just in the past three weeks, 20/20, Nightline, and NBC Dateline have ALL done major stories about Dads losing custody, but when literally thousands of mothers have tried to get their cases exposed by talking with reporters about the very same broken system, the media repeatedly turn a blind eye and claim that they don’t get into “he said, she said” squabbles between ex-spouses. Enough of the sexist coverage already!Anyone who thinks that women have an unfair advantage in family court is extremely uninformed, and you should be sure to check out the web sites of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence, Center for Judicial Excellence, California Protective Parents Association, Mothers of Lost Children, Child Abuse Solutions, Inc., Stop Family Violence, Justice for Children, Battered Mothers Custody Conference, California NOW, New York State NOW, Protective Mothers Alliance, and the list goes on.

What Arianas is going through is downright criminal, and it deserves to be exposed, yet this story does a real disservice to the thousands of mothers who are losing custody of their precious children each and every day in family court because they are reporting sexual and physical abuse of their kids by their fathers. How hard would it have been for Gilmore to be more balanced in her article by mentioning even ONCE that mothers are being screwed by the system as well, instead of always quoting fathers rights activists? I expect more from the East Bay Express. I strongly urge you to give equal coverage to the stories of East Bay moms who are suffering at the hands of unaccountable judges.

Moms Screwed Too

Don’t Bash Hendrickson

I practice family law in Alameda County and although this is a sad story, I felt that it was very one-sided. I agree with the point that the legal system is not designed to address custody issues in a way that best supports families, but I do not agree with the bashing of Commissioner Hendrickson. Commissioner Hendrickson is an excellent judicial officer and I am certain that she had good cause for her rulings. Commissioner Hendrickson takes the time to understand the case and the parties. She listens to parties and attorneys. She reads the filed court documents prior to the hearing. She knows the law. I am certain that if this father asked for a statement of decision in his case in a manner that followed proper legal procedure Commissioner Hendrickson would have provided him with it. Commissioner Hendrickson is a grounded and intelligent person.

Donna Gibbs

A Tragic State

My wife and I are co-directors of a large preventive intervention project sponsored by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in California. The goal is to help fathers, especially low-income fathers, become more involved and stay more involved with their children. It is tragic that while one arm of the state is attempting to encourage fathers’ involvement with their children, another arm of the state is making it as difficult as possible.

Father involvement researcher

Kick Lazy Judges Off

I too have been screwed by the Alameda “family” court system — which is NOT a family court. The judges rotate like lawn furniture, which is part of the problem. I had two custody evaluations and asked only for my LEGAL 50 percent custody. But women and unscrupulous lawyers will throw the “abusive’ charge out, and then you are in the dog house FOREVER — trying to prove a negative. It is the one thing you are guilty of without it legally being proven. There is also a totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL law on the CA books that says if one side of a COURT-ORDERED custody evaluation does not want that entered into evidence, it will NOT be considered in a custody trial. OK, fathers — and mothers for that matter — who have been screwed by “family” court it is high time to stand up and DEMAND change. I would love for Erin Gilmore to look into my case. Thanks for the article and I hope something positive comes from it. Oh and by the way these “judges” are supposed to be reconfirmed by election — do NOT vote for them! Any fathers or mothers who have been poorly treated in court should WRITE LETTERS before each election and kick these lazy, bias incompetent “judges” off the bench.

Spicy Tuna Roll

Prostitutes Can Be Good Parents, Too

I do not want to comment on this case in particular because there just isn’t enough information contained in the article. However, all parents have rights to be a part of their children’s lives. Prostitutes can be perfectly good parents and so can bank robbers. If the state removed every child from areas with gunshots because it is dangerous for kids then there would be millions more children in foster care. Ideally in my opinion “family court” should be abolished and replaced with a non-confrontational system where both parents have equal rights regardless of financial, employment, health or any other status currently used by the courts to dictate controls. As long as the parent isn’t blatantly harming a child any parent deserves joint custody. If there is a perceived problem with one or both parents then there needs to be a timely method to correct the concern. Currently the crawling pace of “family court” allows the plaintiff to maintain custody for years at a time before a resolution is ordered. The children suffer the most under the current dysfunctional system. I know that this current system will never change because there are too many people including attorneys, judges, and mediators making lots of money out of the disarray caused by this adversarial system. I can only dream of a better way I can’t change this system. I was personally victimized twice by this system but my children suffered more than I did. Now as adults we can talk about it but what’s done is done. Think long and hard before you enter this “system.” Settle your problems out of court if you really love your children because all the children get hurt once “family court” gets involved. Good luck.

Jim Frogs

What About the Mothers?

This article makes it seem as if mothers always get custody, even when they are extremely unfit. Nothing could be farther from the truth, especially when it concerns mothers trying to protect themselves and their children from abuse. The American Judges Association found that abusive fathers get custody 70 percent of the time when they make an issue of custody in the court, and the mothers who are trying to protect themselves and their children don’t get the luxury of “shared parenting” — they are often completely cut out of their children’s lives.Another point — fathers’-rights activists, including the two quoted in this article, urge for states to adopt “shared parenting” (joint legal and physical custody) as presumptive law in all states, claiming it’s fair for fathers and better for children than sole mother custody. This case in this article is yet another example of how “shared parenting” fails.I hope East Bay Express will soon publish an article with a similar story about a protective mother who loses custody to an abusive, control-freak father, and then sees all her contact eliminated, but I won’t hold my breath. Such articles are very unpopular in this current political climate that favors and exalts fathers, no matter their fitness.

Lara C

A Waste of Money

Both parents should be supported in their ability to be parents. A custody fight is that, a fight, and assertion of authority. Since nothing is said about the father being abusive, let him have his role — understanding that he must also support the mother, lest she be found abusive/unable to parent. People who utilize the court system, outside of criminal matters, have control issues. Can not we communicate anymore? All this wasted money. Are we wonder why children are such delinquents. Share the love.Quoting Glenn Sacks has to the the biggest joke in this article. In fact, it reduces the story and also pits it as a mother against father thing. This doesn’t seem like the real case in this particular story — but people such as Sacks would love to make it this way in order to give their drivel a platform. Furthermore, the “issues” that drive typical father’s rights drivel, do not serve families of color well because of the complexities they face as a result of the intersection of many “-isms.”


Why Does the Media Ignore Us?

Why do the media continue to give fathers such coverage? We’ve got thousands of women going through this. In the domestic violence field, we often see batterers get visitation or sole/joint custody — how is this in the “best interest of the child”? We see mothers go to jail rather than turn over custody, we see women flee the country because the judge doesn’t believe them, and recently we heard of a mother that killed her daughters and herself because the judge didn’t believe the father sexually abused the child. We have peer-reviewed research, documented cases, evidence — all that is needed. Yet … the media ignores us.Inform yourselves — ABA, Stop Family Violence, The Leadership Council on Child Abuse. Google mothers rights. Do Google Scholar searches on custody issues, gender task force, PAS being used to mask child abuse. The courts are being lead astray by fathers righters — the abusers’ lobby.


“A Sampler of Barbecue Styles,” 1/20, Food & Drink

Not So Phat

I’m a real bbq aficionado, and I’ve ferreted out nearly every bbq joint in the Bay Area. I tried Phat Matt’s once and would never return. The meat I had was tasteless, the sauce inconsequential, and the sides mundane in the extreme.

Miltiades Mandros, Oakland

“Learning to Love Roadkill,” 1/20, News

Don’t Kill

There’s a problem here: Killing wildlife is illegal!!!! Also that snare trap in the video is cruel! This guy should not be celebrated for killing our native animals!!!


How Would You Feel?

I have always considered roadkill to be an insensitive term that demonstrates the arrogance of drivers and only contributes to the callous attitude people hold toward animals. I think humans should consider how it would feel to be hit by a speeding car and left to suffer and die while no one shows any concern for their condition.

Carl Hoffman, San Francisco

“No On Measure B,” 1/27, Endorsements

Not Racist

From a person who was there. Measure A was a reaction to:A: Ron Cowen’s plans for Harbor Bay Isle which initially would have brought in 25,000 people for the density that was proposed. The sentiment was that on our small island with only the tube and the three bridges, the town could not handle the impact.B: Smaller developers who were tearing down Vics and old homes replacing them with unpleasant looking 6-20 unit apartments, or multi-family places. They were not cheap to rent.At no time was there any discussion regarding keeping people of color out of Alameda. What you should also know is the backers/writers of Measure A were among the most liberal in our community and were preservationists. It was inevitable at the time that Harbor Bay Isle would be formed by infill. Money talked. Never a thought was had to keep Bay Farm Island with its rich soil and abundant crops because politically Alameda had been taken over. A vote swept out the old council and installed three new council members who were not racist and just wanted to keep the town’s character and lower density.Now, Alameda had few blacks and the town was so unique that some folks who grew up in the east end never traveled to the west end. Yes, there were people who spoke of anyone who was not someone who was born in Alameda as an ‘outsider’ no matter what the color. Yes, a local teacher helped organize a sit-in in Franklin Park with tents and all that went with it. Yes, people camped and picketed the Mayor’s home. That WAS a turbulent time.Measure A came a few years after that. I grew up in Oakland and had to work my way into Alameda culture. I was in the mix during the Measure A time and I can say honestly we never thought of it as a racist event.


“Flying to the Doctor,” 1/20, Feature

Holes, But Still Cheaper

Korea has not had a “universal” system for long, and there are lots of holes in it. The details change fast, but for example MRIs are either not covered or have only been covered as of recently. They weren’t when I needed one — had to pay separate for it.Furthermore, a Korean-American who has been here since 1982 isn’t covered by Korea’s universal health care. Neither are the “medical tourists” the Korean government has been encouraging hospitals to court and have visit the country just for medical treatment.None of which matters, the point of the article stands — even if you have to pay for it entirely out of your own pocket, for most procedures it’s cheaper to go there.It’s a good thing there are so many Korean businesses on Telegraph; seems most of the quotes were gleaned from Korean-Americans working along that fixie thoroughfare. I’d be surprised if any English language news outlet in the U.S. has covered Korean-Americans with the same frequency that EBE has in the past couple months. Good work!


No Longer Skeptical

My father hasn’t lived in Korea since the ’60s and hasn’t had insurance since the ’80s, although he’s on Medicare now. He went to Korea last year for a full check-up, dental work, and maybe some cosmetic surgery. I don’t know if he was covered by Korea’s universal health care but it cost him under 5k. I was skeptical, not knowing about Korea’s quality of medical care, but now I see why he did it.


“How to Raise Money But Not Break the Bank,” Small Business Monthly, 1/27

Pseudo Equity

Great strategies to raise money. Subscriptions and pre-sells are excellent ways.But you can also raise money by asking for specially structured loans. I believe you could structure a loan to be pseudo equity without running afoul of the low. You could structure the loan with very low or totally deferred interest, a very advantageous (to the business owner) payment schedule and also as non-recourse so, like equity, if the business goes out of business, you are not liable for the debt. With this type of loan you would have to offer a way above average interest rate for it to be appealing to investors. But, while you should check with your attorney, I do believe this could work without having to register with the SEC.

James Todd

Crowdfunding Option

You mentioned crowdfunding as an option in the article. If you’re interested in crowdfunding and crowdsourcing you should definitely check out IndieGoGo.com. It’s a crowdfunding site that has had a lot of successes in the past and recently opened up its platform to support business ventures.


“On a Roll,” Eco-Watch, 1/27

Help Out

Great article showcasing what folks with a vision can get done in Oakland. We need volunteers for Oaklavia — planned for June 27th (downtown/uptown) and Oct 10th (Fruitvale).Please contact me if you can help:

[email protected] or 510-654-6346

http://walkoaklandbikeoakland.org for more info

Karen Hester

Get Involved

What an amazing success story and kudos to the East Bay Express for covering it. Let this be a lesson to us all that getting involved at the beginning of a process (the Whole Foods example here) — in the planning stages — is key to success. We must be proactive and not sit back and wait to complain afterwards. Continued success to WOBO — keep up the great work!



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