Letters for the Week of June 1

Readers sound off on Richmond, the Rapture, and our theater review.

“The Man Behind Richmond’s Renaissance,” Feature, 5/18

We Haven’t Left

Thanks for such a great article.

There are a number of us who grew up in the Richmond area and refused to leave a city with such potential and good people working for the common good. It hasn’t been easy but there’s a sense of accomplishment.

I would have liked to see the West County Times make mention of your article since there are a number of old-timers who don’t have computer access or aren’t aware of the East Bay Express.

Margaret Baker, Richmond

Refreshing Look

I wanted to offer a brief note of praise for John Geluardi’s excellent exploration of Richmond, its transition, and its future.

As Mr. Geluardi notes near the article’s conclusion, media coverage of Richmond at times continues to feature the old clichés that were built over recent decades. This article was refreshingly forward-looking, and was well-served by noting the sometimes unfairly negative light in which Richmond is often cast.

Here at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, we run RichmondConfidential.org, a grant-funded local news site that attempts to cover Richmond in a more in-depth and nuanced way, focusing particularly on news about the city’s successes. Along with partners like RichmondPulse.org, which is a New American Media site that focuses on local youth as journalists and storytellers in their own community, we think that Richmond’s reputation is improving in proportion to the real improvements on the ground.

Robert Rogers, Berkeley

Accelerating Changes

I want to thank you for such a positive and uplifting article on Richmond and the people who are effectively making changes for the better in Richmond. The article made my day after so much negative press! I have lived in Richmond for more than fifteen years and have seen the changes and can tell you the changes are accelerating and have been ever since Bill Lindsay, Jim Goins, and Chris Magnus joined us.

Cynthia E. Haden, Richmond

Other Credits

As a Richmond resident who volunteers to uplift our community, I thank John Geluardi for his article on what the headline writer optimistically called the “Richmond Renaissance.” His article accurately chronicles Richmond’s new positive direction, and, at the same time, will help boost that trajectory. We are cleaning the grime off our motto: City of Pride and Purpose.

City Manager Bill Lindsay has earned the compliments, but since we’re handing out credit, I think it fair to mention the Richmond Progressive Alliance. Over the last ten years, these community activists have diligently advanced a number of crucial issues like passing Measure T and challenging Chevron’s utility users tax perk. 

It was the mayor and city council candidates that the RPA ran and endorsed — candidates who opposed the inappropriate “destination casino” project, and who were then supported by hundreds of ordinary citizens like myself going house to house — that overcame the unprecedented $1 million Chevron lavished on their three “Chevron-friendly” candidates. 

If they, the old power brokers of the derrière-guard, had won instead, Geluardi’s article would have had a distinct funereal tone. 

Yes, Richmond is coming out of its long thrall and joining the East Bay, but we still live with those who would be our masters. 

We still have the Chevron Corporation, which is is suing for a $60 million refund on its property taxes that will savage county and city public services even though its profits, each year topping the last, surely have increased its property’s value. 

We still have the Chamber of Commerce and the Council of Industries, who like their national counterparts, clamor, pressure, and contribute so that the profits of big business always take precedence over the needs of us ordinary people.     

Thanks for the article and thanks for the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

Michael Beer, Richmond

He Did Some Good Things

I must take issue with the characterization of Isiah Tuner as a “mediocre director of Employment and Training.” I served as chair of the Private Industry Council while Isiah was director of Employment and Training in the city, and I can attest that his political connections at the state and federal levels generated lots of extra money for the city, and his political skills locally created Richmond WORKS and caused many employers to sign contracts promising to give Richmond WORKS first opportunity to place new employees. He also created the mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program. I don’t know whether he was a good administrator of the Employment and Training Program, and the negative characterizations of him in the article as city manager are fair, but give him some credit for the good things he did.

Joshua G. Genser, Richmond

High Hopes

The article states that we are financially stable compared with where we used to be, but that we are facing a $5 million deficit next year, and that the sales tax increase is “vital to the city’s continued financial health.”But however we feel about the tax increase (I don’t necessarily support it — I’m just pointing out why our city manager says we need it), in the 27 years I’ve lived in Richmond, I’ve seen a lot of changes. The past six years, in my opinion, is the longest period of positive change I’ve seen. I have high hopes for the continuing increase in our quality of life, and we didn’t have to sell out to anyone to get it.

Ellen Seskin, Richmond

A Win for Everyone

It is rewarding to read of this progress, and though I do not live there, Richmond is a part of our entire community in the Bay Area. As it improves, so do we all — and our support for the good leadership there should be heard. As with me, this article also might convince many reading it to go see the progress for ourselves, enjoying the places mentioned. In view of the fact-based indicators of a city on the rise, here’s a salute to Richmond’s citizens, its city government — and City Manger Lindsay in particular.

William H. Thompson, Walnut Creek

“The Anti-Rapture Movement,” Culture Spy, 5/18

Save Me From Dullness

Oh, God. What would the atheists do without the fundies to make fun of? Not only are both sides equally righteous, they’re both out of touch. Recent public opinion polls indicate that anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of Americans now consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” What does that mean? It means that a growing and substantial population of intelligent folks is throwing off the dogma and superstitions of organized religion, but are not about to trade in their innate spirituality for the soulless ethos of the “Life is hard and then you die” crowd. The spiritual-but-not-religious are Zen meditators, Sufi weirdos, students of A Course in Miracles, and other investigators of the inner life who accept that the superdaddy “God” of mainstream religions has, like Elvis, left the building, but are seriously engaged in plumbing the mysteries of existence for themselves. As the poet e.e. cummings so aptly put it, “hear ye! the godless are the dull, and the dull are the damned.” I’m not worried about being on the wrong side of the Rapture, but God save me from dullness.

D. Patrick Miller, Berkeley

“Yoo: Obama Should Have Tortured Bin Laden,” Seven Days, 5/11

Which bin Laden?

The government has trotted out numerous bin Ladens over his career — if you don’t believe me, search for the government-released videos of bin Laden since 9/11 — you’ll see the gaunt bin Laden, the fat one, the happy one, etc. — some clearly not even the same person. Which bin Laden was killed? I think he’s being used as convenient fodder to get the masses to cede even more of their rights to the government. As H.L. Mencken stated: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”Wake up! Your government is much more of a threat to you than bin Laden ever was.

Jim Mellander, El Sobrante

“Sour and Spicy,” Food, 5/11

Friendly Folks

I love Green Papaya! The last time I was there my boyfriend and I ended up hanging out with the family who owns the place, who were doing some dining/drinking of their own at the adjacent table. They were kind enough to offer us some Heinekens and chat about the restaurant. Great food and great times all around, a true hospitality abounds here. Glad y’all have gotten wind of it!

Jenna Miller, Oakland

“No Escaping This Passion,” Theater Review, 5/11

Poor Writing

Saw the play May 15th. It was not bad, but I do agree with the reviewer that something was lacking. In my view though it was the writing that fell short, not the acting. I’ve seen Ruhl’s Eurydice in a junior college production. I think that’s a better play.

Lee Zuckerman, Napa

Always Sneaking?

Rachel Swan seems a little too preoccupied with finding ways to sneak out of shows. I noticed in her review of Impact Theatre’s Disassembly she complains that there are no scene changes or blackouts. She states, “no one had the option of sneaking out.”

Jonathan Gordon

Board member, Actors Ensemble


“Will Travel for Food,” Summer Guide, 5/11

Become a Culinary Tourist

Hey, you have just explained a culinary tourist and how experiential experiences are so important in the obtaining and retaining of tourism business. Culinary tourism is not, as so many people think, just about high-end experiences but about all that is culinary: stores, farmers’ markets, beer/wine/culinary schools, plus so much more. May I suggest you become a free basic member of the International Culinary Tourism Association (ICTA), where you can find lots of useful info, take a Professional Culinary Tourism qualification, or open a chapter with the ICTA. Simply go to CulinaryTourism.org for more information.

Garry Taylor, Tauranga, New Zealand

“Reacting to Guns at Berkeley High,” News, 5/4

Social Triage

“Every leader must desire to be considered merciful and not cruel. He must, however, take care not to misuse mercifulness; to always be lenient may seem like wisdom, but is in fact specious. Therefore, a leader must not mind being accused of cruelty for purposes of keeping public order; he will ultimately be more merciful than those who, from an excess of tenderness, allow disorders to arise, from whence spring bloodshed and rapine. For these as a rule injure the whole community, while the severe punishment of a few hurt only individuals.”

Again: “And it will always happen that in cases where prompt resolution is required, there will be indecision when weak men have to deliberate and resolve.”

The above (somewhat paraphrased) quotes taken from Niccolò Machiavelli show that he understood what one modern novelist has referred to as the “cold equation.”

What is the cold equation? It is the equation that says to cut off the gangrened finger to save the hand. That students can turn school zones into war zones with impunity shows that discipline is in the toilet. Berkeley school officials and teachers, being (in the main) “peacenik” leftists, have never been trained, nor trained themselves, to make hard (and if necessary, harsh) decision; that is the reason their schools are falling into entropy. What needs to be done is social triage; send the “reformable” troublemakers to special “continuation” schools; expel the incorrigibles as an acceptable loss. One might even say, an inevitable loss. If this sounds harsh, here is another quote from my own junior high school counselor: “In real life, there will always be casualties; just save the best, say ‘good luck’ to the rest.”

James Fenton, Oakland

“Organic Co-op Lowers Standards,” Eco Watch, 5/4

Support True Organic

I will stop buying Petaluma Farms/Judy’s Family/Rock Island/Organic Valley eggs from now on. I’ve been buying them all this time without having checked them out, which is hard for a regular joe to do.Props to the Express, the Alexandres, and all the farmers’ market egg sellers out there! True free-range eggs are indeed healthier and yummier. Seeing the chickens roaming on my friends’ ranch and tasting the eggs confirmed it. Just say no to industrial pretend-organic.

Ken Ott, Oakland


In our May 25 music story, “Moving to Grand Lodge,” we misspelled the name of “Misisipi” Mike.


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