Letters for the week of May 1

Dennis Bernstein gets a good word; Ron Dellums Inc. gets the job done.

Do your homework
I wish to respond to your piece about KPFA (7 Days, April 10). The story quoted my memo in response to Noelle Hanrahan’s allegations against Flashpoints producer and host Dennis Bernstein.

The memo stated that three other content producers for Flashpoints in addition to Bernstein (two of them women) filed a series of formal grievances with management against Hanrahan, regarding her abusive treatment of them over a period of months. These documents clearly show that Hanrahan was the abuser, not Bernstein. They illustrate Hanrahan’s escalating hostility and mistreatment of her coworkers. Particularly affected was a young woman of color, associate producer Yun Suh, bullied by Hanrahan when Bernstein was out of town.

Secondly, the incident with Aaron Glantz, clearly spelled out in my memo, documents that Hanrahan lied about four facts. She herself was an eyewitness to this event, and filed a written report of what happened which directly contradicts her current account of the story. Why would your paper take Hanrahan seriously when she has been caught red-handed in such a straightforward distortion of the truth? The caricature of Bernstein portrays him as the villain, showing the perplexing bias of your story.

Regarding Hanrahan’s accusation that Bernstein tried to poison her, she confessed to Flashpoints technical producer Mary Bishop last November that she was being “a bit melodramatic.” And what about her claims that she complained to the police about Bernstein? Sgt. Lantow of the Berkeley police department told me they had no reports on record.

Hanrahan also asserts that Bernstein has driven other women out of KPFA. But recently, activists and associates of Hanrahan’s — some well-known in the Bay Area — have come forward offering to provide depositions on her outrageous behavior in recent years. I have talked to a number of these people myself. Sadly, there is a pattern to her behavior. Her bullying, power plays, and lies have disrupted the work of other important social justice groups, not just KPFA. One feminist associate of Hanrahan’s, prepared to testify under oath about the abuse she suffered, said that the very words that Hanrahan quotes Bernstein as saying — “I am going to torture you until you leave” — were said to her by Hanrahan.

Hanrahan is on a crusade to force herself back into a workplace where precious few of her coworkers wish to work with her. She will not succeed. Too bad the Express did not do its homework before adding fuel to the fire.
Leslie Kean, investigative reporter, San Rafael

Progressive and effective
Your article on Ron Dellums and his colleagues (“The Radical Insider,” April 3) was so unrelentingly unbalanced and unfair that I feel compelled to respond. Although I have experience working with Dellums, Brauer, and Halterman professionally, this letter represents my personal views. One would think that the success of Congressman Dellums’ public campaign against apartheid would gain him at least some benefit of the doubt, but obviously not. I intend to give Ron Dellums the benefit of the doubt; I doubt that I will ever again be represented by anyone in government whose politics are as progressive as mine, and yet who is consistently effective. I see very little real difference between the efforts of Dellums, Brauer, and Halterman while Dellums was in Congress, and at present.

I began working with Bob Brauer and Lee Halterman in early 1990 when I was hired by the Port of Oakland to manage its fledgling environmental department. On my first visit to Washington, Bob Brauer took me into the congressman’s office and said that if I ever needed any help in convincing the Port to be responsive to environmental concerns to let him know. Over the years, I worked with Bob and Lee in crafting solutions to the Port’s dredging projects that used clean dredged material to restore habitat and to enlarge San Francisco Bay. At all times, the basic approach by Lee and Bob has been the same: maintain your credibility with all sides in a dispute, listen carefully to the concerns of all parties, and look for solutions that advance the needs of all parties. The art of Ron’s work was that he made those calls behind the scenes, so that both environmental groups and institutions such as the Port of Oakland avoided the loss of the congressman’s support and instead found solutions that benefited both sides.

This has continued to be Lee’s style in the advocacy work that I am familiar with, which includes his work for San Francisco International Airport. As a windsurfer, I know that the area proposed for new runways is one of the ten best places in the world to sail. And as an environmentalist, I know that this area of San Francisco Bay has substantial value, and calculating the impacts of filling the area is bewilderingly complex. Yet as an environmental manager that oversees expansion proposals at Oakland Airport, I also know that the economic forces that create a demand for air travel are much larger than simply the desires of the institutions. I believe that if the public continues to demand air travel capacity, new runways will be built, perhaps at both airports. It is clear that the public will be asked to vote on this issue, either in San Francisco, or as a regional referendum. If the voters do not support fill, it will end the matter. On the other hand, if the measure passes, it becomes incumbent on those interested in the environment to make sure that the mitigation measures selected are sufficient and effective. I can think of no one that I would rather have contributing to this discussion than Lee Halterman.
Jim McGrath, Berkeley

The chaat’s the thing
It was with real pleasure that I read Jonathan Kauffman’s take on Maharaj Restaurant (“On Food,” April 3). Overall, I agree with Mr. Kauffman’s assessment: The service is excellent, the entrées are pleasant, if not especially innovative, and the chaat snacks are delicious. However, I differ slightly from his views in one significant regard. I normally go to a restaurant for its specialties. I can forgive certain unspectacular entrées at the restaurant — though I hasten to add that I have enjoyed numerous dishes of superior quality — because of the stellar chaat.

Paul VanDeCarr, San Francisco

Contrary to what was written in last week’s review of The Salton Sea, Tony Gayton has written only one screenplay titled Murder by Numbers.

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