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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Letters

Re: “Letters for the Week of April 30

Whenever a candidate for any local office says that they can pay for a specific number of police by cutting waste or growing existing tax revenue sources, ask them to provide the numbers to back up their projections.

Police (and fire fighters) cost approx 200 thousand/year total cost of compensation including current employment benefits, the City retirement contributions and accrued costs for retirement medical benefits using City provided cost estimates.

Most property tax that comes to Oakland, other than real estate transfer taxes, goes to K-12 education. Most of the sales tax goes to the state and county. Only a miniscule fraction goes to Oakland general fund for services like police.

Similarly, the Oakland business tax, as high as it is, is a low percentage of gross sales. Certain types of businesses, such as Pandora get further reductions in rates.

To pay for 300 more cops @200K/each we'd have to generate 60 Million additional annual tax revenue from sales and business tax is only possible if you believe we can massively quickly increase Oakland retail spending on taxable stuff. Not gonna happen any time soon enough. We have to either cut the benefits we provide to police and fire; cut other public services, cut compensation of other city employees, or make better use of the police we do have.

Paying for more cops by "growing our tax revenues" or "cutting waste" falls into the same category as "industrial marijuana growing".

Oakland pipe dreams.

Posted by Leonard Raphael on 05/01/2014 at 8:39 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of April 16

sullivan is a parasite on oakland

0 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by demotro polis on 04/25/2014 at 4:10 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of April 23

Parking should not be free? ever- WRONG- We've already paid for the streets with our taxes. What officials ought to do is figure a way-it's not hard- to have people pay for parking with a fast pass type device instead of being ticket hungry whores off to make a quick $50 to pay for their fiscal mismanagement in other areas. why should a 1 second mistake translate into a $60 ticket- it shouldn't. Fast pass type of device plunge a plunger down the device shows green and automatically debits your device, when you return to your car push the stop, and stop the billing. now more sneaky tickets, no more 2 trips to your car (park, go to meter, return to car, then on your way) and you pay for what you use- not buy in advance and find that you have money leftover. And no more waste paper parking receipts to litter on to streets!

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jeff Diver on 04/23/2014 at 4:20 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of February 12

That's a good one Dan Siegel! Do you sympathize with taxpaying citizens for getting no value for taxes paid? Should criminals who abuse citizens or neglect their civil responsibility move elsewhere? Should we expand our very expensive police force and will that be a priority for you if you are (g-d forbid) elected mayor. how will you deal with crime and criminals?

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Jeff Diver on 02/12/2014 at 2:31 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of January 29

Agreed, Paw Fund is great and deserves support!

Posted by Mary Eisenhart on 02/01/2014 at 11:07 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of January 29

I have just read your Pet Issue. I wanted you to be aware of a small non-profit called PAW Fund that serves low-income/ homeless pet owners & stray animals in the East Bay. Every month they have a free shot clinic set up in a parking lot for dogs and cats, with local vets donating their services.
PAW Fund helps those who have pets in need by arraigning discount veterinary services or pet food donations. They have saved & placed many animals into
loving homes that would have otherwise not survived. They do so much good work over here, and receive no city funding whatsoever (unlike similar services in
San Francisco). The woman who runs it, Jill, is tireless in her efforts to help animals in need. I know that they desperately need funding, and that PAW
Fund operates on a month-to-month basis. Please check out their website, and FaceBook page, please, please!
I love them and they are largely unheard of. Their omission from your Pets Issue proves this point.
Thank you,
Michelle Castro
Oakland, CA

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Michelle Castro on 01/31/2014 at 6:05 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of December 4

Right on regarding Seeley Quest's letter regarding transphobia. Absolutely right on around the use of a trans person's birth name being unnecessary and lacking privacy and care, especially for a person no longer here to give consent; on the care for Sascha Fleischmann's well being being mutually exclusive from charging a 16 year old who made a very dangerous decision. Being charged with a hate crime at 16 years old, potentially landing him in prison for life. We need care, understanding and learning, not more teens locked up for life. As Quest puts it " Actual social justice for Sasha, Richard, and all of us requires more nuanced response to violence than what the currently proposed criminal justice framework offers."
Kangs T.

Posted by Kangs Trevens on 01/08/2014 at 5:58 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of January 8

Juan Reardon states, “I just want to clarify that Charles T. Smith did not resign from the RPA, he was asked to leave due to his repeated insults to fellow members who disagreed with him”.
Here is my letter of resignation which was emailed to the leadership of the Richmond Progressive Alliance which included Juan Reardon.
Sent: Friday, August 20, 2010 10:37:41 AM
Subject: End of sanction!
Officially I was to be returned to my position as a member of the RPA Steering Committee on August 23. I had planned to wait until then to notice the members of the steering committee that because of what I consider to be irreconcilable differences with the majority of the members of the RPA steering committee I can no longer be a member of the RPA. Since I've just been put back on the mailing list I'm resigning my position on the steering committee as of today.
I do plan to continue working on the campaign to get Gayle, Jovanka, Eduardo, and Corky elected in November. I will also continue to fight to stop the casino.
On my part I leave the RPA as a friend with no axe to grind. I feel my political work would be best suited to a different type of organization.
In Struggle,

Charles T Smith

Posted by Charles T. Smith on 01/08/2014 at 8:23 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of November 14

I work with young women in East Oakland. In areas of economic disparity, technology can level the playing field. Kids without a computer or internet access have a difficult time completing homework assignments. Oakland has a 29% drop out rate. 39% of Oakland families do not own computers. Half of the street thefts in SF are smart phone robberies. This isn't an advanced puzzle. Children living in poverty need access to technology in safe spaces. Community based tech centers? Where is Quan?

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jen Jastrab on 11/14/2013 at 10:41 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of November 6

Well said, Jeff Hoffman. Thank you.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mary Eisenhart on 11/06/2013 at 7:23 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of October 30

Chevron's community mindedness is not sincere. If it were, Chevron not route their emission pipes past air quality monitors so as to falsely claim their emissions are well within the air quality control standards, they would have replaced the corroded pipe (their own in-house audit recommended they do so back in 2002) that failed in the fire and explosion of August 6, 2012, they would have replaced the 3,000 pipes to date that are woefully thin and dangerous, they would stay out of Richmond politics and not spend the millions of dollars they spend on city council candidates that will roll over for them, and they would contribute more than the one million dollars here, two million dollars there, for social responsibility in Richmond which is peanuts compared to what they make in net profits (in 2012 Chevron made $26.2 billion dollars in net profits), and they would pony up to what was done in Ecuador and pay the indigenous people, that, to this date, are continuing to be poisoned and sickened because Chevron will not clean up the contaminated sites properly.

Chevron is very good at public relations, but their intent is very insincere. In fact, I truly believe they would rather Richmond be poor, down and out, so that the citizenry, struggling day to day, would not have the energy to hold Chevron responsible for all the wrongs that Chevron does in Richmond, and in Ecuador.

They need to be a responsible neighbor, and that means a safe refinery, and the most important of all, they should seriously convert to alternative fuels (they want to refine heavier, dirtier crude) because climate change is not a joke.

Posted by Jeanne Kortz on 10/31/2013 at 4:22 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of October 23

If the homicides that increase are the predators themselves it will balance to the favor of the law abiding. I'm ok with that.

Israel has an armed citizenry, albeit for different reasons, but has very little crime in the fashion we must all too often suffer in Oakland. I think your comment that we "love" firearms and that is the reason for proliferation of guns among criminals is false. They are simply tools to protect my life, property, and family.

Lawful gun owner don't think of brandishing their firearms, but the previous open carry laws perpetuated this. An easier process for lawful concealed carry would allow law abiding citizens to protect themselves should a criminal attempt to harm them or take their property.

Is a smartphone worth a bullet to a criminal's forehead? I can't say, but if people who make their living committing crimes, both property and assaults, maybe they will reconsider carefully if a law abiding person is willing to take that chance if he/she is armed.

Posted by michael.sagehorn on 10/25/2013 at 10:33 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of October 23

Carrying guns ready to shoot at a moments notice is not going to reduce gun homicides but rather increase them. Until this country stops its insane love of guns and stops gun dealers and trade shows from evading background checks we won't make much of a dent. More cameras and even a stop and frisk policy that is carefully crafted and implemented to prevent profiling could be helpful. Lastly let's not forget that getting hundred of citizens out into the streets with baseball bats if necessary may have a schilling effect on criminals and crime. Isn't it time to take back our communities from the thugs? Having elected officials who pay close attention to this ever present problem has been problematic as the agenda seems to be on development and land deals. This has created a vacuum of indifference not only in Oakland but Berkeley and surrounding communities.

Posted by Steve Redmond on 10/24/2013 at 1:37 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of October 23

800 or even 8,000 Oakland police officers won't solve robberies in any neighborhood. What will reduce robberies is if people who commit such crimes realize that the probability of themselves being killed or wounded by a trained and armed citizen is high.

Remember, Govenor Brown and Mayor Quan have armed security details. They will likely never be victims of the crimes impacting Oakland residents. They have high end security systems in their own homes. My only security system is limited to my home -a 12 gauge shotgun racked with slugs and a .45 Colt automatic.

I can't lawfully carry any of them as I go about my business in Rockridge, Temescal, Piedmont Ave, and North Oakland, though trained and competent in their use I also understand the risks and consequences of deadly force.

Govenor Brown signed into law bills that banned open unloaded carry of firearms. How long will Oakland and the state's political leaders continue to perpetuate the myth that a lawfully armed citizenry leads to more violence?

Human predators, both animals and thugs, operate in a "risk/rewards" reasoning mode when selecting victims. Perhaps if the letter writers who were robbed and assaulted shot back, and yes , even killed people who chose this way of making a living, maybe the "risk' of violent crime will appear too great.

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by michael.sagehorn on 10/23/2013 at 8:28 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of August 21

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 08/22/2013 at 2:11 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of July 24

David Cohen writes, "As for young toughs of any color "skylarking" on BART and then (surprise!) fighting, this is an assault on the public that cannot be tolerated. I cannot imagine a single person who would not want the police to wade into this situation and settle it. Mistakes are always made in battle. These consequences of the battle remain attached to those who created the situation."

Although well-articulated, Mr. Cohen's justification of a tragic loss of life relies on the omission of facts to make its point. It is a fact that the reported fight was over by the time police arrived on the scene, so there was no need for them to "settle" a fight which had already ended, was there? It is also a fact that the fight involved more than just young black males, according to witness accounts, yet only young black males were detained. That's the very definition of racial profiling. It is also a fact that Tony Pirone's overzealous and unnecessary actions escalated the level of tension -- and almost certainlyinfluenced Johannes Mehserle's response.

Those three things led to the creation of the situation, in which Grant found himself in, and cannot be attributed not just to human error, but also procedural error, in part due to lack of training (as an independent investigator who examined BART police's conduct on the night of Grant's murder found). Where Mr. Cohen is especially off-base is in his assumption that lack of police accountability, to say nothing of misconduct, is something which should be tolerated by the public, at any cost.

To be perfectly clear, racial profiling, combined with overzealous police behavior witnessed by hundreds, led to a chaotic situation which ultimately caused an unarmed man to be killed. This is not a mere "mistake," but an example of how systemic inequity plays out, with deadly consequences. Let's ask ourselves, do we want BART police, or any police for that matter, to "battle" what Mr. Cohen refers to as "young toughs"? Or do we want police to uphold their sworn duty as peace officers and not escalate things to the point of potentially fatal injury, whether we are talking about Oscar Grant, Occupy protests, or the black teenager who was shot in the face in downtown Oakland, in April, who was mistakenly identified as a robbery suspect?

The "battle" mentality Mr. Cohen upholds was responsible for $10 million in misconduct payouts last year by OPD, as well as the more recent million-dollar judgment won by those injured by police in the Occupy protests. Taxpayers foot the bill for that, so there is a cost to pay over and above the harm done to those injured by police.

Another question is, why does "Fruitvale Station" need to be defended, as Mr. Cohen suggests? Moreover, why does Oscar Grant need to be defended? As with Trayvon Martin, Grant was not on trial, so even using this word in this context speaks to a presumption that the circumstances of Grant's life are somehow responsible for his death. Or that he is culpable in his own murder, for which a police officer was charged and convicted.

Finally, it's unclear why Mr. Cohen spends so much time in his letter defending Mehserle, a character who's not even in the movie, and who is portrayed as a composite -- Kevin Durand's character conflates the real-life actions of Pirone as well as Mehserle. Perhaps Mr. Cohen hasn't seen the film. If that's the case, he would be better off to reserve judgment of any review until he has.

5 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Eric Arnold on 07/23/2013 at 11:41 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of July 3, 2013

For those that will be around in 2060, enjoy the coming carbon taxation that will pay for the infrastructure to accommodate the water rise. Oh, by the way, 1.5 feet is a very modest rise expectation so 2060 might not be seen by most those whom think they actually might live long enough to see 2060.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Mike Dar on 07/04/2013 at 3:54 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of June 19, 2013

Most likely from the author of "Leave Fido at home"

I never miss an issue of the Express but I am realizing it takes a bit of home work when I read something that raises a red flag for me.

See -…

Posted by Tom Nigman on 06/20/2013 at 10:21 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of May 15, 2013

Regarding handicap placard abuse: ENFORCEMENT! Yesterday at lunch NINE out of the ten cars parked on the south side of the 2200 block of Webster had placards. Most of the vehicles were also FBI agents' cars and that's crazy... the parking garage for their building has an elevator but the street spaces they are parking in are as far away from their office's entrances as you can get.

Posted by Matt_Chambers on 05/21/2013 at 10:39 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of May 15, 2013

Thanks to Ms. Boyd for her contributions to accuracy, however deaf the ears on which they fall.

3 likes, 11 dislikes
Posted by Mary Eisenhart on 05/15/2013 at 9:38 AM

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