Letters for the Week of July 30

Readers sound off on overfishing, alternatives to incarceration, and a biased report on the minimum wage.

“Fishermen Divided Over New Limit Rules,” Eco Watch, 7/16

Anthropocentric Arrogance

In your article on the controversy over increasing the “harvest” limit for lingcod, a staff officer with the Pacific Fishery Management Council says, “This is an underutilized stock,” while a commercial fisherman says, “We’re leaving billions of dollars in the ocean right now.” Both are good examples of the attitude, ubiquitous in our culture, that all non-human species are only here for the sake of humans — that if we can’t eat them, be entertained by them, or otherwise use them, then there is no reason for their existence and they are just “wasted.” This of course fails to recognize that each creature has its own reasons for living, and their lives are as valuable to them as ours are to us. This anthropocentric arrogance is in large part what has brought us to the environmental disasters we face today. To quote American Indian professor and activist Daniel Wildcat: “It makes a crucial difference whether humankind thinks of the natural world as consisting of resources or relatives.”

Avilee Goodwin, Richmond

“Coming Home,” Feature, 7/16

Alternatives to Incarceration

Thank you for your excellent article on the challenges facing people coming out of jail and prison. The Express has been doing a great job over the last year of covering these issues and I hope you will follow up on the need for more pretrial diversion and alternatives to incarceration in Alameda County.

In order to get that buy-in from our elected officials, we need to let the city council and county supervisors know that we want more alternatives to incarceration — programs that have shown that they can help people heal. In addition to jobs and housing, what is often needed is recovery in the broadest sense of the word. Many people that end up committing crimes have experienced immense trauma in their lives and incarceration often continues that trauma.

The stigma and negative stereotypes that people face post-incarceration are real barriers and all of us can do something about it by recognizing that even people that have committed major crimes can and do change. The Welcome Home Project of Community Works will feature formerly incarcerated Alameda County residents who have turned their lives around in a photography show October 16-30 in The Atrium at Oakland City Hall. For more information: CommunityWorksWest.org/index.php/welcome-home

Micky Duxbury, Project Coordinator,
Welcome Home Project, Berkeley

“A Biased Report on the Minimum Wage,” News,7/16

Smelling Some Hypocrisy

So in a nutshell, it was a biased report prepared by opponents to raising the minimum wage? Typical. And the group was paid $190 an hour to prepare the report that concluded raising the minimum wage to $12.25 an hour would be bad? Wow, you can smell the hypocrisy a mile away.

Kevin Brown, New Castle, Delaware

“It’s Time to Call Lew Wolff’s Bluff,” Seven Days, 7/9

Fairness of the Deal

I realize this is an opinion column, but I don’t think you can make a case for how fair or unfair the deal is without a sense of how this compares to what’s commonly done for stadium leases in baseball. This just adds another opinion but doesn’t advance the discussion.

The fiscal benefit of professional sports to a community is negligible—there’s no argument there. But you could say the same thing about art and music programs (I work in film and hear a fair amount of this about the arts). Clearly this is something that enriches a lot of people’s lives and may inspire many to do remarkable, positive things, even if it’s just being more physically active.

Though I’m a fan of the team, I really am concerned about how fair of a deal it is. I assume most of the sporting press has a certain slant, so I was hoping for something more fair-minded from the local muckraker!

Kai Chang, Oakland

“Kaplan Stumbles Out of the Gate,” Seven Days, 6/25

Needs to Be Loved

I think it is easy to explain [Rebecca] Kaplan’s giving away the store to [Oakland A’s co-owner Lew] Wolff. She was very pleased about Wolff’s email, as quoted by Matier and Ross in their June 2 San Francisco Chronicle column: “We are very appreciative of her intelligence and her desire to get things done,” he said. “It’s really wonderful dealing with someone who understands what both sides are trying to accomplish.”

She needs to be loved by everyone, or at least, everyone important. What better way to win his praise than to give him a good deal? Never mind that she was supposed to be protecting the interests of taxpayers.

This was also her modus operandi on the AC Transit board. She even heaped elaborate praise on AC Transit’s mechanic posted to Belgium for his great job in “designing” the Van Hool buses hated by riders. The Van Hool scam had even been exposed by a well-respected investigative reporter by the name of Robert Gammon in two in-depth, researched Express articles in January 2008.

Just as she took no interest in the interest of taxpayers in the Coliseum deal, pleasing bus riders was not on her radar. Are they important? They are those poor people who can’t afford a car and probably don’t vote. She was a follower, not a leader, on the AC Transit board.

I was shocked that she would take a page from [Don] Perata’s playbook, so clearly exposed in the Express. But maybe I shouldn’t have been, because I have found that you cannot trust anything she says. Like, “Oh yes, bids were sent out for the buses. I saw them.” Checking with staff, there was no such animal.

Joyce Roy, Oakland


The Express 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.

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 detailed the ways in which people who can’t afford to hire their own lawyer are being steamrolled by banks and debt collection companies in court.

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, who were announced on July 12, 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. 


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