Letters for the Week of April 2

Readers sound off on Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker, a ban on fracking, and water politics.

“Who Is Bryan Parker?” Feature, 3/19

Hatchet Job

A bit of a hatchet job. I don’t know anything about him, but most of this article is mostly about the company and not the man.

Matthew Bowman, Oakland

Essential Facts

Americans would learn a lot about the future of health care if they take a close look at how kidney function and failure has been handled. There are many in Oakland who have had family members with this issue. Their personal experience is invaluable in understanding how a private business can profit from a chronic medical condition that the government vowed, as a matter of public policy, to address in each individual who suffered with it.

Oaklanders need to take the time to learn the facts about each candidate. With Bryan Parker, understanding how a business plays a role in providing health care to people with a chronic, serious medical condition is essential to evaluating his candidacy for mayor.

Judith Rathbone, Oakland

Incomplete Picture

If you’re going to criticize a particular candidate for not presenting a comprehensive platform of specific policy positions, you might point out that there isn’t a single candidate running for mayor, including the incumbent, who has done that or shows any signs that they will. Look at the past several election cycles for any Oakland elected office and show me more than a handful of candidates who came close to meeting your commendable standard.

Candidates won’t risk doing that until voters reward those who do and punish those who don’t. Ranked choice voting only increases the downside to campaigning on substance rather than on smile, style, endorsement, and name recognition.

This piece was an odd mixture of the journalists’ formidable research skills, an upfront attempt at guilt by association (assuming the authors wrote the headline), and a bit (not coin) of grudging respect for a guy who succeeded in a business world with extremely few African American winners.

Much in the way they quote extensively from an academic critic of Bitcoin and not from any other academics with nuanced views of Bitcoin, they quote extensively from someone who basically lost a lawsuit against Parker’s former employer and an attorney in the business of suing health care companies.  

Come on journalists, I know you could have gotten very different views and a more complete picture of Parker if you had asked around.

I support Parker. He is not a black Mitt Romney. He is a combination of competence and compassion that you rarely find in Oakland candidates. Someone who not only understands numbers, has extensive management experience (the city has almost 3,000 employees), but isn’t fixated, like other candidates and Quan, on crime, crime, crime, crime.

Len Raphael, Oakland

Hope Parker Wins

This article is absurd. It starts off by praising Jean Quan (who is the last person in Oakland deserving of praise). Isn’t there a correlation between Quan’s lack of real management experience and the lousy job she’s done at managing Oakland?

Then the article goes and attacks Bryan Parker because he’s been a successful businessman with extensive management experience. Isn’t a candidate with a proven track record exactly what Oakland needs? Don’t we want a mayor that can successfully manage and operate an organization — even if that means his background is in the private sector — rather than yet more incompetent politicians that have little management experience?Seems pretty crazy to me. It seems the author of this article wants Oakland to always be dangerous and crime-ridden. God forbid a qualified candidate like Parker gets elected. I hope Parker wins.

John Stewart, Oakland

“Save Water the Delicious Way,” Opinion, 3/19

Water-Saving Strategy

Kristie Middleton got it right. Reducing (or eliminating) consumption of animal products needs to be recognized as the number-one water-saving strategy for Californians to focus on.

Michael Sage, Santa Clara

“How Fracking Causes Earthquakes,” Eco Watch, 3/19

Waking Up

Looks like some people are waking up. The Los Angeles Times wrote that the city council wants the city, state, and federal groups to look at whether fracturing and other forms of gas stimulation caused the 4.4 earthquake last Monday. I wonder how the holding ponds filled with polluted water have affected our waterfowl and other animals.

Phillip Moya, Merced

“Water Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows,” Seven Days, 3/19

Beliefs Trump Politics

Maybe the “conservative” judges were sticking to honest beliefs in basic principles and not playing politics. Thank God for separation of powers. It seems almost like the author of the story does not understand that real beliefs are beyond politics. It would be unpardonable for a judge to hold against his/her principles in order to play the team sport of Democrat versus Republican.

Gary Baker, San Leandro

“A Whole-Animal Restaurant for North Oakland,” What the Fork, 3/19

Do Right By the Community

I think the idea of this shop is great. I also think that area could really use this type of business. I will say that it seems like they are putting the cart before the horse. It is important to do your research, know your customer base, and know your product before you even begin to think about making it a realization. It appears that they have all the ideas of what they want the place to look like, and the food, which is good, but lots of people have good ideas. My fear is that they won’t be able to bring in local and/or grass-fed meat. What does that leave? Does the neighborhood want grain-fed meat? I truly hope they will be able to do right by their product and community.

Alexandra Lopez, Oakland

“Alameda County Trashes Library Books,” News, 3/12

Throwing Out the Baby with the Bathwater

The key here is “most books prior to 2001, with little regard to contents, condition, or other factors librarians would typically take into consideration.” Most libraries regularly cull things like the 1976 edition of travel guides to France, magazines from the 1980s, fashion tips from the 1950s, outdated legal self-help guides, old telephone books, duplicate copies of older and seldom-borrowed books, dated pop fiction, and such. But even then most books go to the library’s annual fundraiser sale or are donated to schools, nursing homes, etc.

“Let’s discard nearly everything before 2001” is throwing out the baby with the proverbial bathwater. No doubt many rare, sought-after but “outdated” books ended up in those dumpsters, not to mention some classics that now seem outdated, like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451.

Dez Crawford, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

“Birdland Jazzista Social Club Eyes an Oakland Nest,” Music, 3/12

Engaging Community

Michael has truly engaged the local community and supports talented musicians by hosting them at his house aka the Birdland Jazzista Social Club. I have spent hours there just chatting with interesting people while listening to awesome music and sampling great food. I am excited about the move to Oakland where the Birdland will get a bigger canvas to bring its ideas to life.

Vivek Girota, Berkeley

Long Live Birdland

Birdland is a truly special place, a community venue like no other where music lovers of all walks of life gather for some of the best music played in Berkeley, and certainly the best atmosphere. I am so excited for what this might bring to the Jazzista community and the greater East Bay. Mike is a visionary! Long live Birdland.

Jonah Udall, Berkeley

“Why Kaplan Would Help the Oakland Mayor’s Race,” Seven Days, 2/26

Focus on Accomplishments

Absolutely idiotic to try to make sense of the mayoral election in Oakland in terms of left to right ideology. There is not a single candidate who would not in general be considered an ideological liberal. The critical point is which candidates have a proven history of progressive accomplishment rather than some sort of ideological stance in careers that generally reflect incompetence, political cynicism, and leadership failure.

Oakland’s establishment politicians running for mayor, including Quan and Schaaf, are essentially identical twins politically. Both are incompetent at policy (both responsible for Measure Y). Quan is absolutely inarticulate and incapable of communicating adequately. Schaaf is more of a neoliberal because she’s a financial hawk. Both Quan and Schaaf are incapable of transparency. And neither is willing to express a tangible vision for a better city.

Kaplan is something of an outlier. Yes, she has a million-dollar education from MIT, Tufts, and Stanford law. But very little to show for her life in terms of actual accomplishment. Major responsibility for Oakland’s very poorly designed medical marijuana policy which no doubt, and sadly, causes more social ills than it helps people with medical problems.

We’re left with a couple of people who are not attached to the Oakland establishment, i.e. Courtney Ruby and Joe Tuman. Both with accomplished real careers. They should be able to distinguish themselves clearly from the rest.

Michele Ocla, Oakland


Truly In-Depth Reporting

Kudos and thanks for providing the only truly in-depth reporting in the San Francisco Bay Area on Oakland politics and relevant social issues.

Tommy Mierzwinski, Oakland


In our March 26 Taste story “Hot, Hot Heat,” we mistakenly referred to Scott Zalkind’s business as “Lucky Dog House Sauce.” The correct name is Lucky Dog Hot Sauce. 


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