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Your article provides a valuable backstory to the political advertising with respect to Proposition 93 and the insinuations with respect to Don Perata. Thanks to you I have been able to make a decision with respect to my vote on this proposition. Sincere thanks are certainly yours as without your insight, I would have been misled. You have won a place in this reader's mind and heart as it is quite difficult at times to sort out the intended disinformation from the plethora of opinions that abound in such times of choice. There is a sense of joy when one finds a writer that appears to write for the sake of presenting a point of view that is not skewed by bias.
Philip Grinslade, Cloverdale
"Gray Area," Art & Museums, 1/30
Thanks for the Review
This is to thank you VERY MUCH for your smart, informed, and positive review of "We Interrupt Your Program" — the exhibition I organized as guest curator at the museum. Yours was the first review it received. I was thrilled that you really "got" what we tried to accomplish AND that you appreciated the works in the show and wrote so eloquently about them. Your piece provides an excellent preparation for viewers, and I know it will bring tons of people in to see the exhibition. Marcia Tanner, Guest Curator, Mills College Art Museum, Oakland
"The Other Fast Food," Restaurants, 2/6
Consider the Customers
This is an interesting article but I strongly disagree with some of the aspects of the article. Your reviews on Dollar Curry House come across as unfair. I'm an Indian and a die-hard fan of "Tandoori Tikka Kebab." I eat there pretty often and the kebabs have never tasted the way it has been described in the article. The kebabs and every dish on the menu are more than "value for money," especially for students who crave for delicious Indian food at a price that is not too hard on their pockets. I love Dollar Curry House and can eat there every day, especially with the price that they offer. Would appreciate if consumer feedback is taken into consideration and an appropriate response is made.
Neha Taleja, Berkeley
"Belgium or Bust," Feature, 1/30
Boutique Buses, Big-Box Service
Having just lived in Paris for eight months, I think that AC Transit's desire to design a "European-style bus system" is laudable. Unfortunately they followed the form but not the philosophy of those systems.
First, in Paris, the bus drivers were always kind and considerate. If I was between stops there were several times that I waved and the bus driver pulled over and picked me up. Contrast this with all the times that AC Transit drivers deliberately pass up people waiting at stops just because they are running late.
Secondly, in Paris, you can buy weekly, monthly, or yearly passes which allow you to use unlimited transit, Metro, RER, buses, and Tramways. Total cost for that was, at most, about $20 a week, even with the crappy dollar. Contrast this with $1.75 a trip, 25 cents for a transfer, and if you need to transfer twice you need to pay another $1.75. That's up to $3.75 a trip. Might as well drive.
Thirdly, in France, people do not poop on the buses. I have seen actual coils of human poop on both AC Transit trains and very often on the BART.
Fourth, in Paris, every bus stop has a posting of the bus schedule and many stops have GPS monitors that tell you how long until the next bus arrives. In the East Bay almost all the schedules have been removed from stops so that you don't even know if the bus is still running — for instance today I learned that the 7 stops running at 6 p.m. on Sundays. Insupportable!
The difference as I see it is that AC Transit doesn't see its customers or workers as people who deserve to be treated with some kind of human dignity. They do not pay their drivers enough to care about their jobs so they are just mean and surly most of the time. It is really awful having to return to the Bay Area and use the buses here. Sometimes they don't even come! That is probably the main reason ridership is down. If you have a job or a class that you need to be at at a certain time, you cannot afford to gamble on a bus system where buses often do not even come and other times drivers just speed past the stop where people are waiting.
AC Transit can buy all the fancy hardware they want, but until they realize that actual human beings are their customer base they will never be anything like a European system.
Finally, they are lying about the number of complaints they receive. I know that I personally called to complain after a Van Hools bus' hydraulic doors suddenly slammed on my leg as I was trying to get my bags of groceries off. No one ever called me back like they promised to. They just don't give a damn.
Nadine Markham, Berkeley
In our February 13 review of Prime Spot Bar & Grill, we printed the wrong name for the restaurant's chef. It is Daron Cheng.
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