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Susan St. George, Berkeley
"Shopping for Every Occasion," Insider's Guide, 2/23
Consistently Cute Options
I make the "long" BART trek from San Francisco to shop at some of these stores all the time! It's worth the $7 roundtrip for the better selection and much better prices these shops offer. Pretty Penny is my favorite of the bunch — try to find affordable vintage at such great prices in the city; it's not very easy. Plus I've worn every size from a 24 to a 10 during my vintage career, and Pretty Penny is the only place where I've consistently found cute options.
Kate Dunphy, San Francisco
"Jack London Square," Insider's Guide, 2/23
No Square There
Great article by Rachel Swan. Fascinating to note that for all the tens (if not hundreds) of millions that have been poured into Jack London Square by big-name developers and the city, it's almost exclusively the independent restaurants, coffeehouses, and wineries that have made this neighborhood a real destination. As one well-known architect and planner said at City Hall, "But there's no square there!" Precisely. Hence it's called the Jack London District by its residents, and that's where you need to visit, not Jack London Square.
Simon Waddington, Oakland
"Where's the Integrity?" Letters, 3/2
Hire that man. But confine him to maybe half the verbosity of his letters. And a quarter of the snark.
Mitchell Random, Oakland
"John Russo Considers Quitting," Seven Days, 2/23
I have worked with John and his staff in the past, and I can say from my personal experience that they are hard-working, dedicated civil servants who have honor and integrity. Separate the political mudslinging.
T. McCullough, Oakland
"Will Oakland Become a No-Fest Zone?" News, 2/23
Fight Is Just Beginning
Thanks to the Express for uncovering this story, and to Rachel Swan for her always excellent reporting. Let's hope Oakland city officials sit up and pay attention as we organize Oakland producers to fight back against these fees. Besides showcasing local talent and promoting businesses, events in Oakland serve to reduce community tensions by bringing together folks from all walks of life. We'll all hang in there, producing events as long as we can, but at some point it becomes unsustainable, even for the most committed.
Karen Hester, Oakland
"Beyond Fair Verona," Theater, 2/23
No Room for Sarcasm
Thanks for this review. When I read the promo for this production, I sensed it would be as you described ... almost like giving Shakespeare's text the finger. There are certainly many ways to direct this play, but treating the text as an obstacle or being sarcastic with it doesn't work. If only more theater directors around here would make the play more important than their egotistic need to "make a statement," or whatever, at the expense of the play — or trying so hard to "sell" the play with a flashy angle that all the nuance and color that Shakespeare gave us gets lost or is wasted.
C.A. Swann, San Francisco
"A Disappointing Loss," Letters, 2/16
Look to New York
The problem with the transportation system around here — in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, whatever — is that it's way too expensive. Have one fare for every stop and you would see a huge rise in folks using BART to get around. It works in other cities, most notably New York. Try that here and see how the traffic will abate.
Francesca Austin, Oakland
"The Hidden Costs of Brown's Plan," Full Disclosure, 1/26
The End of the Pork Express
Robert Gammon's article misses several points, some which are:
First, the city government was put in place to be public servants, not venture capitalists. Hence, if there had been no redevelopment agency, the money now lost would still be in the general fund (where it rightly belongs).
Second, the point that the money in the redevelopment agency coffers "could be used" for other city services is moot, since Oakland's government has never used any redevelopment funds for general services, and clearly never intended to. In fact, the city government created laws that forbid the use of redevelopment money for anything except redevelopment (there is a minor provision for very small pass-throughs, but that is all). If, as Mr. Gammon says, salaries were paid to city employees for other types of services, then that is a violation of their own in-house rules.
Redevelopment agencies were originally well-intended programs for correcting urban blight, not to provide one-stop shopping for pork-barrel deals. Originally, most had "sundown clauses" to stop corruption and abuse. But these somehow kept getting extended every time some good ol' boy or girl needed quick and easy money.
Now the good ol' boys and girls are crying because the Pork Express has run out of gas. Well, tough luck, folks. After all, it had to happen some time.
James J. Fenton, Oakland
"Profiting from Eminent Domain," News, 1/5
Progress at What Cost?
The Laurel neighborhood in East Oakland has experience with the slippery Hahns. They basically sat on a blighted vacant lot at 35th and MacArthur hoping for city money to subsidize low- or market-rate housing (never happened). Now an even more hideous blight sits at High Street and MacArthur. Amorphous plans for senior housing (adjacent to the very noisy and polluting 580 freeway), sited at an extremely busy and congested intersection (good luck, Grammy, getting to the store!), are somewhere in the void now.
Because it's an old gas station and tire-repair site, I guess he's waiting for someone else to clean it up. So there sits a very large, messy lot (possibly three or more parcels) full of weeds, trash, vermin, and a broken fence from an auto wreck, that was formerly the site of a homeless encampment until it got out of hand. See it for yourself!
It is great that people can still get ahead here in the USA, but at what cost to those in Hahns' sphere?
A.C. Harper, Oakland
"Club Mallard Takes Its Fight to the Streets," Culture Spy, 12/1/10
Living Up to Their Promises
As I was featured in the article "Club Mallard takes its fight to the streets," I wanted to thank the Express for running the story, as it raised awareness of the ongoing crime and disruption from the Club Mallard bar that neighbors have been impacted by in recent years, and also for exposing the videotaping of residents and their homes by the bar's security staff. You'll be happy to know that since the article, there seems to be a reduction in the number of violent fights, vomiting/urination incidents, and serious drunk-driving accidents. Even the neighborhood is quieter. The Albany Police also deserve special recognition for their strong law-enforcement and arrests in the residential areas near the Club Mallard. However, while there's been improvement, it's clear that more work needs to be done.
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