Letters for October 20

Readers sound off on the elections.

“Albany Races Feature Old Foes,” News, 10/6

Clarifying Our Endorsements

A mistake was made in “Albany Races Feature Old Foes.” The Sierra Club did endorse Marge Atkinson and Joanne Wile for Albany City Council this year for their good environmental voting record, and for their past support for open space at the waterfront. The article says we made no endorsement.

We would also like to clarify a misrepresentation of our endorsement in another local race. A hit piece was recently sent out by Coalition for a Safer California with our logo on it attacking Jean Quan for being soft of crime. This attack misprepresents our endorsement for Don Perata. In fact, we endorsed Rebecca Kaplan #1, Jean Quan #2, and Don Perata #3. This was also reported in the Express a few weeks ago. It is unfortunate that the prison guards chose to use our logo in their attempt to influence the outcome of the Oakland mayor’s race.

Kent Lewandowski, Chair, Northern Alameda County Group, Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter, Oakland

“In the Race for Contra Costa DA, Finally, a Focus on the Law,” News, 10/6

O’Malley Is the Choice

Look at the court documents that O’Malley filed to be released as Gordon’s attorney. If any blame is to be assessed on releasing Gordon on his own recognizance, it should lie with the prosecution for agreeing to the request. The defense attorneys did their job. As distasteful as we may find defending career criminals, they still have a right to representation, public or private. Peterson is playing pin the tail on the donkey trying to get something to stick on O’Malley. Kind of like Whitman and Fiorina are doing to their opponents. Facts are: O’Malley has far better first-hand experience in prosecution, bench, and defense. Peterson has only prosecution and an office full of people that don’t want to work for him.

Matt Chaney, Lafayette

“Don Perata Can Buy the Election,” Seven Days, 10/6

Quan and the Don

Don Perata seems too big for his britches and certainly too big to answer questions or talk in public forums, or show up for that matter. Apparently he thinks his name, his connections or his money are all he needs. He apparently DOESN’T think he needs us, that’s for sure. How can a guy be so absolutely sure of his shoo-in that he doesn’t need to talk to us to tell us what he thinks. It’s the Cosa Nostra of the East Bay. In a recent public forum of mayoral candidates at St. Paschal’s Church in the Oakland hills, Perata didn’t even bother to show up, BUT, guess who belatedly did! EIGHT (8!!) on-duty police, who immediately left when they saw Don Perata wasn’t there! Perata, who supports whatever is necessary to have overpaid police get what they want, is, in turn, supported by overpaid police who, on COMPANY TIME (it was evening … so, probably OVERTIME!) show up to support Perata and leave when he’s nowhere in sight. We NEED EIGHT (overtime?) cops at a peaceful event in a good neighborhood when kids are hanging around liquor stores on High Street or shooting each other?

At a very well attended and successful forum (BIG-TIME overflow event) at the Kaiser Auditorium, he sat back away from the table most of the night with his arms folded (The Cosa Nostra of the East Bay lives) and barely made an effort to answer questions or engage in the event. Here is his chance to show us he’s the people’s candidate and he arrogantly refuses to engage. For Oakland, Quan and the Don are familiar names which will give us VERY familiar results. Choose your mayor from one of the bright stars who showed up and enthusiastically engaged and showed intelligent interaction rather than blasé rehashed bullshit.

Richard Davis, Oakland

“Lee and Skinner Fund Measure to Kill Redistricting Reform,” Full Disclosure, 9/22

Prop 11 is a Joke

Non-partisan redistricting under Prop 11 is a joke. “Decline to state” voters or those who have changed parties within the last two years have been banned from participating on the redistricting panels. Apparently only die-hard partisans are being allowed to “fix” the voting blocks.

Janice Woo, El Cerrito

Disappointed

It disturbs me that two people I have admired, Barbara Lee and Nancy Skinner, are not interested in making democracy work.

Joyce Roy, Oakland

“Old Guard or Fresh Face?” Feature, 10/6

Kaplan’s Vision Thing

A recent EBX article reports that Rebecca Kaplan, a frontrunner in the race for Mayor of Oakland, “is a gifted public speaker who possesses what politicos call the ‘vision thing.'” Kaplan’s well-defined plan for Oakland’s future is exactly what we need to get our city back on track. Kaplan is a reformer. She rewrote the cabaret ordinances to allow live music in restaurants and cafes. Kaplan cut red tape for small businesses and now I can really shop local. I’m supporting Rebecca because I believe in her plan to bring jobs and restore our local economy. She is the voice of the new generation in Oakland, representing the change we need right now.

Zoe Robinette, Oakland

Kaplan is a Reformer

Rebecca Kaplan is far and away the best candidate out of this race. I daresay any of them are an improvement over the non-presence we have now, but Kaplan has specific solutions and a vision for Oakland that is unflinching and strong. Perata is not who we need, and Quan is too hapless to handle our flailing city. The newscaster guy seems nice and all, but I get kind of sick of everybody thinking that “governmental outsiders” have all of the answers; they usually don’t.It’s worth nothing that Rebecca Kaplan was key in the reform of the draconian cabaret license issues Oakland had for years. Exactly the thing that has allowed us to now have a thriving uptown area.

Conan Neutron, Oakland

Vote Joe

I think that Joe is the only real vote. Why vote for more of the same? I blame Jean Quan for a large part of why we’re in the financial state we’re in. As chair of finance she should have been aware of the financial dump we were heading in. Spending one-time money for everyday expenses. Hello? Of the big three, Kaplan is the least objectionable but I still have a problem with her. Joe is at least very smart, articulate, and wants the job.

Colleen Brown, Oakland

Not a Kaplan Fan

If I only judged Rebecca by her mayoral forum presentations, I would probably be a fan. But as a self-appointed watchdog for AC Transit, I know her record on the board and she did not exhibit respect for the funds of this agency, which largely serves low-income people. She did help make some changes to the imported buses years after riders’ many complaints. But she ignored the fact that American-designed buses did not have these accessibility problems, and continued to vote to send good jobs overseas. For more detail on her record: ContraCostaTimes.com/montclarion/ci_16278795?nclick_check=1

Joyce Roy, Oakland

Tuman, God Willing

I like Kaplan but she’s too inexperienced. Plus, anyone who has had ANYTHING to do with AC Transit loses big points in my book. Have you read the VanHool stories? Talk about massive corruption. We buy foreign-made buses at twice the price so that AC Transit employees get free trips to Europe. I’m not making it up, read about it in the East Bay Express. God willing, Tuman will win. I am so sick of creeps like Quan and Perata and their behind-the-scenes BS. If you want to see what an idiot Quan is, just watch this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i1NxQ83oEQ

Tony Morosini, Oakland

“Kaplan, Quan, and Tuman for Oakland Mayor,” Endorsements, 10/13

Can Tuman Win?

Quan is just as dishonest and scheming as Perata, but more petty. She is not as focused on personal material gain as Perata, but she is equally dedicated to the private interest of her choice over the public good. She lets her stubborn ignorance produce disaster — witness the school district when she was board prez and then the city budget in 2008 when she was council finance chair. Kaplan is a bright puffball. Tuman is more impressive every day. It comes down to whether Tuman can win. The fallback has to be Perata — proof that sometimes it is necessary to act in an imperfect world.

Charles Pine, Oakland

“Inspections From Hell,” “City and Wine Bar at Impasse,” Feature, 9/22

It Was a Plant

The majority of what the Express reported in the two stories on Alameda can hardly be called “news” — much of what was reported happened many years ago, and has already been covered in the press. Most of what was reported took place under the watch of the previous city manager, Debra Kurita, or her predecessors. I exchanged e-mail with John Doherty, and he confirmed for me that he did not go to the Express with his story, but rather the Express went to him. Shame on the Express for being buffaloed by SunCal and Sam Singer in their efforts to falsely paint a picture of a city in need of their patron city council candidates, Lena Tam, Rob Bonta, and Marie Gilmore.

David Howard, Alameda

“Government Plane Circling Area Pot Farms,” Legalization Nation, 9/29

Change It Or Enforce It

We as a country have been weakened by political correctness. If we were serious about enforcing the law we would use EVERY possible technique to find and prosecute those who break it (pot growers). The example given in the article illustrates the obstacles law enforcement must navigate to get the job done. Personally I’m okay with legalization but since I’m not a user I’m not an activist (i.e. don’t care enough). I just wish those who do care would focus on getting the law changed and not whine about law enforcement being creative with imaging technology to do their job.

Les Ordway, Winchester

“Interview with ‘Reefer Movie Madness’ Author Shirley Halperin,” Legalization Nation, 10/6

The Death Warrant for Prohibition

Sooooo … where exactly are these now-emboldened California cannabis users supposed to get their weed? The governator took the brave step of essentially legalizing marijuana use WITHOUT legalizing any method of production, distrubution, storage, or sales. That is the stupidest thing possible! That will only increase demand for cannabis, driving up crime and cartel violence because there is NO LEGAL way to get it. In reality, the governator signed the death warrant for prohibition: It is impossible to sustain a situation where use of a product is basically legal ($100 fine), but the methods of production and sales are still run by criminals.

Matthew Jackson, Los Angeles

Corrections

In our October 6 theater review, “Our Inner Hoochie,” we listed the wrong actor playing the role of Satan. It’s Jonathan Reisfeld. Actor Keith Haddock plays the role of Steve Wilkos.

In our October 13 theater review, “Something About Mary,” we said the name of Mark Jackson‘s 2009 work was Mephistopheles. It actually was titled Faust, Part 1.

In our October 13 literary preview, “Chained to the Mast With Jim Nisbet,” we mistakenly spelled the author’s last name Nesbit on several occasions. The headline spelled it properly.

Miscellaneous Letters

No on Prop 23

For environmentalists, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a mixed bag but what the state has done on global warming so far has been commendable. Proposition 23 tries to put unworkable conditions on the implementation of AB 32 and should be defeated. I hope your paper will oppose this proposition.

Arthur R. Boone, Co-Chair, Zero Waste Committee, California Sierra Club, Berkeley

Don’t You Have Editors?

My wife and I are faithful readers of the Express, glad to have a free publication that connects us to happenings in our area. However, we can’t help but shake our heads in wonder sometimes. If there are so many journalists looking for work these days, why can’t the caliber of the writing and editing be better? One of our favorite breakfast pastimes is to read aloud groan-worthy sentences from features, or to point out amusing typos. Writing style is admittedly subjective, but spelling and grammar are not. Don’t you have editors? Or even spell check? Just in the latest issue, I read about a quote that was “excerted” from a longer text. I learned about “rights of passage” and a candidate that was a “shoe-in.” These errors inspired me to start collecting my greatest hits: the people “waiting in a cue” to try a popular restaurant, or my all-time favorite — the story about the “eyeball” falling off the Bay Bridge and forcing its closure. Yes, “eyeball” is a word that will get past an automatic spell check. But then again, if a human editor had caught that and asked the writer whether, in fact, it was an “eyebar” that fell off the bridge into traffic, I wouldn’t have had such a good laugh that morning. Thanks, Express, for providing me with a fun game every time I get a new issue.

Gloria Bruce, Oakland

Editor’s Note

Yes, we have editors, but far fewer than we once did.

The Truth About Parking

[Sent to the Oakland Tribune, originally.] In your front-page story today (Sunday Oct 10) regarding the race for city council in District 2 a statement was made which I cannot allow to go unchallenged. The writer stated, regarding Pat Kernighan, “She went against her eight city council colleagues last year when she voted against extending parking meter hours.” This is a distortion of the facts.

On the evening of June 30, 2009, in a late night session, Pat Kernighan joined her fellow council members in voting for a sweeping transformation of parking policy in Oakland that transformed what was already an overly aggressive and punitive approach into something that approaches an extortion scheme. That night Pat Kernighan and her colleagues voted to increase meter rates to two dollars per hour, increase the fines for all parking infractions, increase enforcement to draconian levels AND extend enforcement hours to 8 PM. She and the rest of the council had no qualms about what effect these changes would have on the quality of life of Oakland residents any more than they gave any concern to the effects on Oakland’s businesses. Within the next few days, a blizzard of parking citations was unleashed on vehicles parked in metered zones throughout the city after 6 PM whose meters had expired even though all signage still stated that the enforcement hours ended at 6 PM.

This act was a despicable betrayal of the public trust and an indication of the utter contempt that our city council has for it’s constituents! During the following few weeks I saw attendance at my business, the Grand Lake Theater, plummet by almost 50 percent. Other businesses all over Oakland, especially those that depend on evening patronage, were similarly affected. Since the very survival of the Grand Lake Theater was at stake, I took it upon myself to utilize my theater marquee to launch a grass roots effort to overturn this new policy, enacted by Pat Kernighan and her council colleagues, before it was too late for my business and thousands of others throughout Oakland. In the next few weeks a volunteer group was formed and we began to gather signatures on petitions to demand that these changes be rescinded. I was able to focus a great deal of media attention on the issue as well. Faced with an enormous public outcry, hundreds of e-mails in their inboxes, and a personal plea from myself via telephone calls to hold an emergency hearing to listen to constituents and understand the damage that was being caused, what did the council do?

They went on vacation for their August recess. Pat Kernighan and her colleagues couldn’t be bothered to look at the havoc that they had unleashed on the community that they had been entrusted to represent. By the time public hearings were finally held, it was late September. My petitions had been signed by over 10,000 people. A similar, and completely separate effort by business people in Oakland’s Chinatown district had gathered 5,000 signatures. At a series of Council meetings attended by hundreds of very angry Oaklanders, Pat Kernighan, recognizing the political damage that she was suffering, then put forward a resolution that rolled back the hours to 6 PM which barely passed. It should be noted that both of the Council members who now think that they are qualified to be mayor of Oakland, Kaplan and Quan, were extremely hostile, arrogant, and disrespectful to the dozens of concerned citizens who spoke before the council. I urge any citizen who is considering voting for either of these two mayoral candidates to go to the city hall web site and watch their performance that night, September 22, 2009, to see what low esteem they hold for the concerned and injured citizens of Oakland that were begging for relief from the problems caused by the council’s mistake.

While the hours were indeed rolled back that night, none of the other policies have been changed. The result is that Oakland public policy is to punish and prey on anyone who lives, visits, works, or shops in Oakland and dares to bring an automobile into the city. The parking enforcement is enacted in very dishonest fashion. We all remember news stories last fall about how low-income neighborhoods were being targeted for increased enforcement. Probably everyone knows of a friend or co worker who pulled into a parking space, walked the distance to buy a parking receipt at a parking kiosk only to return moments later to find that their vehicle had been ticketed by a lurking parking enforcement employee when they walked away from their car to pay for the space. Even worse, tickets are given to people whose time has not expired, fines that have been paid are not promptly processed and the fines are then doubled, and the appeals process is designed to make any recourse more difficult to obtain than winning the lottery. During the months I personally spent so much of my time fighting the new parking policy I heard hundreds of horror stories.

While no one would disagree that Oakland has a severe budget problem, it should be clear to anybody with intelligence that punishing everyone that tries to support the city’s economy is not the answer. The resulting decrease for my business and countless others has been clear and now shoppers avoid Oakland. There are too many alternatives for goods and services in adjacent communities that actually welcome visitors. I firmly believe that more people avoid Oakland because they are afraid of being victimized by our municipal parking enforcement employees than by criminals.

So please remember that when it came to extending parking meter hours Pat Kernighan was for it before she was against it. No current member of Oakland’s City Council ever deserves to hold elective office again.

Allen Michaan, Grand Lake Theater, Oakland

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