Letters for the Week of November 10

Readers sound off on legalization, Exotic Erotic Ball, and our Bars, Clubs, & Coffeehouses issue.

“Undressing the Exotic Erotic Ball,” Culture Spy, 10/6

Blame Richmond

Sad to see this year canceled, but I had a feeling this might be the case.I recall years ago going to this when it was a really big and bawdy event in SF — quite fun!!!

But things have changed over the years.Not just the down economy and all that, but the location . . . in Richmond???

Sorry to say, I think this turned a lot of people off. Richmond has had its share of challenges, not the least of which is the perception that there is a really serious violent crime problem there.Had this been in SF, or maybe Berkeley or somewhere else that is a bit more comfortable for folks to visit, might have been a different reception.

But, I think the Richmond location put the final cabash on ticket sales, vendor sponsorship and so on.

That’s just the way it is . . .

Charles Ostman, Berkeley

“Imprisoned, Rehabilitated, Unemployed,” Feature, 10/13

A Police State

Welcome to America.

In the 1970s, prisoner management moved from rehabilitation to punishment, based on a very flawed report from a couple of psychologists that suggested that rehab simply didn’t work.

As a result, recidivism has gone from around 30 percent to over 70 percent. At the same time, California has become ridiculously litigious. Companies are a very easy target for the ambulance-chasing breed of lawyers whose population has exploded in the past 35 years.So the safe path for any employer is to immediately exclude any person who would provide any kind of leverage to an ambulance-chaser. When a case finishes up in front of a jury, one thing you can be certain of: when you are looking for justice, all you find is “just us.” So the state government has created a police state, a prison nightmare, and unsupportable debt. This has been compounded by crooked cops (ask John Burris about his experiences suing the City of Oakland et al), a public that can’t be bothered engaging in a political process that is utterly broken, and “gamed” by cronyistic behavior that goes uninvestigated.So why would you worry about this tiny tip of the iceberg? Business is fleeing from California, and it ain’t coming back. As somebody who has built two national companies, one of them in the US from a California base, I can tell you I would never be foolish enough to do that again. :)Unemployment amongst felons is very unfortunate, but it is the tip of the unemployment iceberg, which is about to get worse.

Richard Hamilton-Gibbs, Walnut Creek

“NUHW Vote Is a Bloody Nose for the Labor Left,” Raising the Bar, 10/20

We Can Do Better

True enough, the UHW drew significant progressive support for its bout with SEIU at Kaiser. But the breakaway local’s coattails weren’t entirely clean. Some of us remember UHW’s leader, Sal Rosselli’s role in earlier disputes as less positive, and in some instances decidedly sell-out. 

He sided with nursing home owners to restrict sanctions for neglect of residents to cases of intentional abuse in exchange for “card check neutrality” in organizing their workers. This move sold out the elderly and disabled communities that had been key to winning bargaining rights for homecare workers, a significant sector of his members at the time.  Not to mention that nursing home abuse is seldom intentional, it’s the result of exploitation of the very workers he was seeking to represent. It is also the source of many illnesses and unreported fatalities among the frail and disabled who are stuck in residential settings. I spoke to a Local 250 staff member at the time who felt she had to go home and take a shower after the deal was struck. It’s detailed in an article still available at: sfweekly.com/2004-06-30/news/partners-in-slime/2/ 

Rosselli refused to pay “per capita” dues to the Alameda County Labor Council for years, long before Andy Stern broke with the AFL-CIO. In the labor movement, members are told that their dues are the key to solidarity — why was such a huge local exempt? The rivalry between Sal and the California Nurses Association (CNA) may have had many sources, but it contributed to the ultimate failure of single payer health insurance bills in California.

We may be desperate to find standard bearers for progressive change in the labor movement, but we could do better than Sal. I am not altogether pleased to be a member of SEIU, and feel that members should do all we can to rejoin the AFL-CIO.  But the only way to build a really successful movement is to confront bad behavior wherever and whenever it is found. 

Susan Chacin, SEIU 1021, Berkeley

“A Cup of Coffee With Your Wi-Fi?” Bars, Clubs, & Coffeehouses, 10/27

Don’t Be a Hog

There’s no doubt that technology has caused a surge in coffee shop patronage. I’m just one coffee shop devotee who is proof of that. I use its wi-fi and I can be seen here almost daily.

In fact, just today the manager of my local coffee shop (one of the larger, corporate-owned brands) introduced me to his district manager; she, in turn, actually asked my opinion about some improvements they were making here. I was flattered to say the least … but it made me realize something. The independent coffee houses (“indies”) don’t have the same luxury of unlimited resources that the big-brand coffee companies do.

On the one hand, I understand when owners create policies limiting wi-fi use to maximize business goals or to maintain their culture/atmosphere. On the other hand, as illustrated in Mr. Tsai’s article, these rules can adversely affect a segment of their customer base. Indie owners have to ask themselves if this is what they want. Do they want to alienate a segment of their customer base because a few tables (or the majority of them in some cases) have been occupied by laptops and their owners? Or can they come up with some creative solutions to avoid having those customers angrily storm out and write bad reviews online? Either way, they are the owners and they can do what they want with their cafes.Coffee shop customers who squat on an indie’s free wi-fi should also realize that the space they’re using is not public and not free. Not buying anything at all is just plain rude. The owners, managers, and staff who allow it should be commended for their patience and understanding. I love working from a coffee shop — which I call my coffice. I try to adhere to a certain amount of etiquette, and so I would hate to find out that a bad element of coffee shop squatters ruined my ability to do what I love.Buy something. Share space if needed. Don’t be a power hog. Clean up after yourself. Be nice. Tip well. Tip often. Enjoy.

Sam Title, Chief Executive Cofficer, twitter.com/thecoffice, facebook.com/thecoffice, Toronto, Canada

“Gimme a Shot, Hold the Beer,” Bars, Clubs, & Coffeehouses, 10/27

Do More Research

These beer bars are great, but not for the reasons that are mentioned in the article. If one was truly only interested in affordable drinking they would not patronize these places, they would buy a cheap bottle of vodka. I think the reporter missed out on the true reasons why beer, and beer bars, are on the rise. Nice try, but poorly researched. I want a do over! Check out Diablo Magazine‘s latest article on this for a better done story.

Morgan Cox, Ale Industries, Oakland

“Crack of Dawn, Dead of Night,” Bars, Clubs, & Coffeehouses, 10/27

Another Late-Night Option

Excellent article. BTW, the Pt. Richmond Starbucks opens at 4:30 AM M-F. Frequented by local firefighters, police, rail workers, teachers, artists, snobby yacht people, and locals.

Martyn Collins, Point Richmond

Listings, “Bars, Clubs, & Coffeehouses,” 10/27

We’ve Changed

Hey Guys — So your description for the Hotsy Totsy club was way off. Clearly whoever wrote that hadn’t been there for years, but what I don’t get is that they didn’t take the time to check our web site, Facebook page — or notice that we won “best dive bar renovation” from you guys last year!

Since reopening two years ago we’re anything but “classic grunge” — and our sign hasn’t been blue + red (confederate looking) for years now. We’ve worked hard on our reputation for classic cocktails and premium spirits in a neighborhood setting, not a place to get stiff drinks on the cheap.

I’d appreciate it next time you run a description you could get someone to do a bit more research — as you can imagine we don’t want to be looked at as a place to get “hammered.”


Michael Valladares

Hotsy Totsy Club


“Stoners Against Legalization,” Feature, 8/25

Breaking Stereotypes?

I have one mission in life and that is to ‘De-Hippy-Fy’ Marijuana. When I go into a liqour store to pick up my hooch, I don’t talk about breaking out the black lites and beer bongs and Pink Floyd lps, I don’t talk about re-claiming my Shocktra or Montra or Soul or Whatever from the government—I’m SIMPLY buying a six pack to drown my sorrows after watching the Raider’s play (I’m Raider Nation or is that Ralph Nader-nation-Hug me?!!!). I want Californians to be able to walk into a store and buy an 8Ball of Purple Alaskian Thudpucker with all the hipness and confidence of buying a ordinary box of tampons. People, marijuana is nothing more than a comodity, period. As an ADULT, you wish to consume a comodity and, as an Adult, you are aware of the health risks. THAT’s It. When people like Press to Digitate talk about reclaiming their soul or cerebial processes from the government you marginalize all pot smokers as Fringe Anti Government Protesters—which, decidedly, we are not–we’re just a bunch of freakin’ potheads!!!Finally, about Press to Digitate’s concerns that the government can read his thoughts—Dude, that is SO OLD NEWS!!! Remember David Korrish and the Branch Dividians? The SOVIETS offered the Americans a use of a box that generated Ultra Low Frequencies which when resonating in the bones of the middle ear, allowed law enforcement to pick up a microphone and inmplant thoughts into your head!!!. Tre 80’s OLD SCHOOL!!! Me? This XMAS I want that Japanese train set that you can think words to power it or make it switch tracks—it’s $180.00 US Dollars. Dude, BIG Brother has not only arrived, he’s drunk up all your beer and past out on your couch!!!

Michael C. Goncalves aka Professor Buzzkill

Elk Grove, CA


In our November 3 story “Will Lehman Abandon Oak Knoll?” we improperly described the company’s status in a subhead. Lehman Brothers is not entering bankruptcy, but preparing to exit it.

In our November 3 film review, “The Pure and Clear Films of Carl Theodor Dreyer,” we misspelled the filmmaker’s name in a photo caption.

Miscellaneous Letters

They Don’t Care About Us

The latest plan for the Computational Research and Theory Facility (CRT), UCB’s and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s joint project to consolidate a downtown Oakland facility with other computer facilities on the hill campus, could not have been placed in a more perilous position, the very edge of the caldera of an old volcano that underlies all of the Lab campus. This bowl of mudstone, water, and rock presses against the westward dipping slope of sandstone and shale, reinforced by a web of concrete stretching along the back of the Foothill parking lot. The slope dips at some 40 degrees, and it has slid within the historic past.

The 140,000 gross square foot building, with five to nine cooling towers, is intended to house four super computers,. It will lie within the Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Hazard Zone, an area 1/8th mile to either side of the Hayward Fault. Foothill Housing almost touches the trace of the Fault, while a corner of Bowles lies across it. Memorial Stadium is bisected by the Fault. Check the displacement of some two feet on the south end, which has occurred in the past 87 years since construction. The two sides of the Fault, where two plates come together, slide past each other at about one centimeter per year.

The US Geological Survey predicts, with a 27 percent probability, a magnitude 6.8 to 7.0 quake on this northern part of the Hayward Fault in the next 22 years. All of this is cited in the Lab’s Environmental reports for their long range plan, but rather than cease building, the Lab plans to retrofit a few buildings, demolish 330,000 gsf of weak ones, and build one million GSF of new ones on this dangerous, slide-prone hill campus.

If UC administrators do not care about students’ lives — and clearly they do not or they would not have built Foothill Housing so near the fault, three-stories high with flammable shingles — you’d think they might worry about those super computers! But the taxpayer funds those. Berkeley City Council and District 8’s Gordon Wozniak approve every building the Lab proposes. The Regents, whose purview includes the Lab, probably do not read the reports or the public comments before giving them a pass.

Please visit SaveStrawberryCanyon.org and watch the two videos, the “The Fault” and “Atop a Volcano.” Then there’s a link to the CRT reports: LBL.gov/Community/CRT/index.html.. We provide this as the Lab refuses to put links to its reports in one place, instead providing a new URL for each one and locking up the consultants’ documents they cited until several of us objected.

Georgia Wright, Save Strawberry Canyon, [email protected], Berkeley

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