Letters for the Week of July 16

Readers sound off on child sexual exploitation, the Chevron refinery project, and vegan cheese.

“There Is No Such Thing As a Child Prostitute,” Feature, 7/2

Unseen Problem

I wanted to commend the Express for the article about child sexual exploitation in Oakland. Writer Lynsey Clark did a superb job of describing a very serious problem that goes unseen by most of the Oakland population. The article successfully intertwined the story of one formerly exploited child who now works as an advocate with description of the current system of incarceration and various opinions of what must be done to correct this system and to have a better support network for these exploited youths. While Oakland gets attention as a new and vibrant artistic and cultural center, it is important to be reminded of the hardships faced by many in this city, and of those who are working hard to improve their lives.

John Zaro, Oakland

“Environmentalists to Battle Chevron Refinery Project,” Eco Watch, 7/2

Hot to Modernize

Chevron’s local campaign is outrageous. I get flyers in the mail a few times a week and we regularly come home to several mail-in “yes we want modernization” cards on our doorknob. Last week a woman came by, confirmed my name, and then thrust them at me, saying, “Sign here, please!” (Uh, no?) I’ve also answered at least two polls that seemed distinctly push poll-y extolling the virtues of Chevron’s project. 

The amount of money they’re throwing at this is enough to make a person want to look long and hard at why Chevron is so hot to “modernize.” Their advertising campaigns are incredibly hamfisted. (Are their teams in the Midwest? Who puts the “We can do it!” blondie on a billboard about Richmond’s own, very much African American, Rosie the Riveter? And the “To me, modernization just makes sense” guy only needs to have his head replaced with Mr. Burns’ to make it about perfect.) Even so, evidence shows that if you say the same thing enough times, people start to see it as truth. I can only hope everyone else will look at the campaigns with half the jaundiced eye that I do.

Autumn Kruse, Richmond

“The Rise of Pot Arrests at People’s Park,” News, 7/2

Focus on Illegal Dumping

Of course people sell pot in the People’s Park, but that is hardly the real problem. The worst offense is that the greater Berkeley community uses it as a dumping ground for tossed-off clothes and furniture, local restaurants dump huge amounts of unsold and unsellable foodstuffs — trash bags filled with day-old bagels, stale artisanal breads, and rotting produce — and the church group that feeds the homeless does not remove its trash, all under the guise of “helping.” 

I am one of four University of California gardeners who go to the park every weekday to pick up the illegally dumped crap and I can assure you, most of what Berkeley citizens leave at the park goes straight into the trash. Maybe the University of California Police Department could spend some time on illegal dumping?

Hank Chapot, Oakland

“Go Away, Oyster Man — Really,” Seven Days, 7/2

The Cliven Bundy of Marin

Kevin Lunny is the Cliven Bundy of Marin. He’ll push his personal enrichment scam on our public land as long as he can get away with it. Time to evict this freeloading, environmentally damaging business.

Jeff Miller, Point Reyes Station

“Inside the Ethical Cheese Lab,” Food News, 7/2

GMO Confusion

Clearly there remains some confusion about what a GMO is and whether or not they are safe for consumption or safe in the environment, at least according to these biochemists. I am all about getting the facts on these “ethical GMOs” but I’ll be damned if I’ll accept their word on it from the get-go.

As consumers, we can choose to buy cheese from sustainably maintained creameries where cows are ethically treated without GMOs, etc. If you’re a vegan, I understand your preferences and pity you that there are hardly any decent vegan alternatives (in my humble opinion) to real cheese, ethically or sustainably maintained or not.

As for cattle polluting the environment with their methane, well … we all fart, too, and our very existence on this planet jeopardizes its future. But cows have as much right to exist as the next species. I applaud veganism for its positive effect on the environment, though less so for many vegans who have given the practice such a bad rap.

Chris Juricich, Berkeley


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