Letters for the Week of July 23

Readers sound off on development in West Oakland and child sexual exploitation. Plus, the Express won six awards for journalism excellence in the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s 2014 national contest.

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

Sex Isn’t the Right Word

If she is being quoted correctly, I’m sorry Prosecutor Jennifer Madden used this wording: “These girls are having sex all night and all day. They are being used 24-7.” It’s true that they are being used sexually, but they are not “having sex” in the common understanding of that term.

Nancy Schimmel, Berkeley

What About Perpetrators?

Thank you for your very important article “There Is No Such Thing As a Child Prostitute” on sex trafficking and especially on how important it is to not put sex victims into the juvenile criminal system. I appreciate all the attention to what is happening to women and children around this issue. What I don’t see or hear is what is happening to stop the users of this system. There are many men who are paying for these services. Why are they not mentioned? Are they being prosecuted? Is anyone trying to arrest them for perpetuating this criminal way of abusing women and children? I feel the same way after reading this article as I did looking at college handbooks that state in such a matter of fact way that they have a department to deal with victims of rape, but don’t mention that they have very stringent programs to talk to the young men about the consequences if any young woman reports a rape, as well as programs for prevention, etc. Why do we talk so much about victims and not about perpetrators? There would be no victims if there were no perpetrators. It’s the same as the days gone by where it was only the girls who got pregnant who suffered, never the boys who participated in getting them pregnant. Oh, but then I don’t think it has really changed. Please address what is being done about the perpetrators of sex crimes, both the clients and the pimps. Thank you.

Lisa Carey, Berkeley

Seeing Red

Thanks for this article. Every time I read that a “fifteen-year-old prostitute” was arrested, I see red.

Autumn Kruse, Richmond

“The Fight to Develop West Oakland,” News, 7/9

BART Capacity Concerns

My concern about a transit village around West Oakland BART is that it ignores the fact that BART is tipping over capacity at rush hour, with trains at the “last stations” eastbound and westbound already too full for a single person to get on board. This will only get worse as BART extends farther and farther out to the East and South. BART has sucked almost every penny in regional transit investment for decades, and this has left us with little redundancy or diversity to provide significant capacity as we pass the limits of the BART system.

It was tragically shortsighted to not build the new bridge with mass transit capacity, even if that did require building a new western transit-only span. New residents in West Oakland who buy into the area because of BART are going to be pissed off when they discover that it takes five minutes to walk to the train and six minutes to get to Embarcadero — but that only works if there is a train you can get on. That is going to become more and more of a risk in the future. The people who conceived of BART fifty years ago assumed that the people living today would solve their own damn transit problems, but unfortunately we live in an era where accomplishing big things is harder and harder.

Peter Wisnovsky, Oakland

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


WTF are you creating GMOs? You should be eliminating them! I, for one, will never try your cheese. Hell, I’ll even stick with Daiya before I try your chemicals. Thank goodness Miyoko Schinner is going commercial with her incredible cheeses!

Ellen Kessler, Denver, Colorado


The Express has won six awards for journalism excellence in the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s 2014 national contest. The Express won the most awards of any alt-weekly in California, and tied for the third most honors nationwide among all alt-weeklies. In all, the Express took home one first-place, two second-place, and three third-place awards.

Former staffer Azeen Ghorayshi won first place in the long-form news category for her May 1, 2013 cover story, “Warning: Quake in Sixty Seconds.” Her report focused on technology that would create an early-warning system for earthquakes in California. Contributor Vanessa Rancaño won second place in the same category for her August 21, 2013 cover story, “Waste: The Dark Side of the New Coffee Craze,” which revealed that the single-cup brewing coffee market is producing massive amounts of trash nationwide.

Former staffer Rachel Swan won second place in the economic inequality reporting category for her May 8, 2013 cover story, “Debtor’s Purgatory.” It examined a troubling aspect of our court system in which people who can’t afford to hire their own lawyer are being steamrolled by banks and debt collection companies.

Music Editor Sam Lefebvre won a third-place award in the music criticism category for his stories, “Ava Mendoza’s Natural Way (4/3/13); The Two Sides of Tony Molina 5/8/13); and A Man Without a Country (8/28/13).”

Contributors Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham won third place in the beat coverage category for their series of stories on the Oakland Police Department and the City of Oakland’s plan to create a mass surveillance center, known as the DAC.

And contributor Ellen Cushing won third place in the arts feature category for her March 20, 2013, cover story, “The Bacon-Wrapped Economy,” which examined the impacts that young rich tech workers have had on the Bay Area’s cultural landscape.

The contest winners, which were announced last weekend, were selected as the most outstanding from a field of more 900 entries submitted by 77 alternative publications in the United States and Canada. All of the Express’ awards were in the under-50,000 circulation category.


Our July 16 cover story, “Coming Home,” misspelled the last name of former inmate Mark Tindall, a graduate of the Pathways to Resilience reentry program. And our July 16 Eco Watch, “Fishermen Divided Over Limit Rules,” misstated the name of a fish that has been heavily harvested. It’s the yelloweye rockfish — not the yellowtail rockfish.


Newsletter sign-up

eLert sign-up

clear sky
53.3 ° F
56 °
51 °
54 %
1 %
61 °
63 °
64 °
58 °
57 °