Letters for November 11 

Readers sound off on Johannes Mehserle, Ranked Choice Voting, and KPFA.

"Rodney King Redux?" Seven Days, 10/21

Irresponsible Journalism

Robert Gammon's article is the most irresponsible piece of "journalism" I've seen in years. He is practically inciting people to riot if Mehserle is found not guilty. Many of the "people of Alameda County" (of which I am one) believe that it would have been impossible for Mehserle to get a fair trial here, and that it's a good thing Judge Jacobson ordered a change of venue. Gammon obviously has his mind made up that Mehserle is guilty. It is that mindset that persuaded Jacobson to move the trial.

Steve Heimoff, Oakland

"Manipulating the Vote," Full Disclosure, 10/28

Cities Can Save Millions

In 2006, the voters of Oakland overwhelmingly voted to approve using Ranked Choice Voting for local elections by a 69 percent majority. By combining two elections into one, Ranked Choice Voting eliminates unnecessary elections and can save our cities millions of dollars.  

Ranked Choice Voting requires using computer software that has been certified by the California Secretary of State. Alameda County and San Francisco use the same voting machines and computer software. The Secretary of State recently approved these systems for use in San Francisco elections, but has not yet approved the same exact voting machines and software for Alameda County. Why is there a delay? Three cities — Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro — which have approved using Ranked Choice Voting, would all realize significant long-term savings by using this system of electing officials. The voters who approved Measure O in 2006 are left wondering what is happening to delay this reform measure. San Francisco, conducted post-election surveys about Ranked Choice Voting and found the voters liked and understood the system quite well. Using Ranked Choice Voting, San Francisco has saved millions of dollars by eliminating unnecessary runoff elections.  

Any further delay is inexcusable. Call your councilmember and demand that this voter-approved reform measure be implemented now. Call and write the Secretary of State with the same message.

Judy Belcher, Oakland IRV Implementation Group

KPFA Elections Mark Station's Latest Turmoil," News, 10/28

We're Not Fruits and Nuts

Maybe in Chris Thompson's world liberals have "bid farewell to the paranoid style of American politics," but to those of us watching DC from a progressive point of view, the abandonment of green jobs advisor Van Jones looked pretty paranoid indeed. And KPFA's not much different in sounding the alarm when listeners with God-help-us radical points of view have the temerity to get involved with the governance of the place. A place founded by, let us not forget, a World War II draft resister, a political opinion at the time of the "Good War" considerably less mainstream than 9-11 skepticism is today.

Thompson seems overly distracted by the superficial fun of watching people call each other names, but unwilling to delve beneath the surface into the why. It's not really that hard. Pacifica instituted a system of listener-based elections because a court case went all the way to California's Attorney General and upheld the rights of subscribers as members of the organization. They had a say over whether its board of directors could sell off the assets without asking anybody and swap KPFA's signal for a bunch of smaller radio stations in the Southeast. Which was the plan per a misdirected e-mail sent by then board member Michael Palmer. The answer was nope, or at least you can try it, but if all those people who gave you money to operate a radio station in Berkeley don't like it, they can vote you right out of there. Hard to disagree with that. And I don't think too many people do.

But according to Chris Thompson, staffer Brian Edwards-Tiekert does. Although his job wouldn't exist without the listener movement that pried Pacifica out of the hands of a group with no intention of continuing to operate the progressive radio outlet in Berkeley that employs him.

The article is filled with complaints. Ranked choice voting is difficult to understand. An argument currently being employed by the notorious Don Perata to derail the Oakland mayor's race in the Express cover story printed in the very same edition.What's chilling about the article, and readers should note, is the ending. A curt statement that people who don't agree with Edwards-Tiekert, people whom, to be straightforward,  listen to his station, care about it enough to get involved, and pay his paycheck, are fruits and nuts. "9-11 truthers, fringe sectarians" and job hunters.

I think they're his listeners. And insulting them isn't going to up the donations.

Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director, Media Alliance Board Member, KPFA-FM

History Issue ads, History issue, 10/21

Keep 'Em Separate

I noticed several ads in your latest issue (October 21-27, volume 32) which at first glance look like regular articles. While I found the advertising copy (such as the Amoeba Music, Looking Glass ads, etc.) quite interesting and informative compared to more traditional ads, it would make it clearer to the readers if your put the disclaimer "ADVERTISEMENT" on top of the ad instead of at the bottom or at least make the border which surrounds each ad a bit thicker.

This way there would be no confusion right off the bat that the reader is reading ad copy, not editorial copy.

I realize in these challenging economic times it is tempting to let the advertising department gain too much sway over the editorial. I urge you to resist the temptation, especially since you espouse on page 2 to be "the local alternative to mainstream media" and also state that "We aim for the highest standards in our journalism and business practices."

Your publication as well as journalistic and business standards seem fairly mainstream to me.

Richard Fabry, Point Richmond


In the November 4 cover story "Understanding North Korea," we got Christine Hong's title wrong. She's an assistant professor. Also, we misspelled Frank Januzzi's name.

Your Worst NYE Ever?

New Year's Eve is supposed to be a time of revelry — a celebration of the year passed and a welcoming of the one to come. Yet too often, the party can turn sour due to any number of factors: impossible expectations, overindulgence, a bad trip, a cranky lover, having to ride BART — you name it. Dispel the New Year's Eve blues by sharing your worst tale of woe and we'll publish it in our annual NYE guide. Deadline is December 16. E-mail to editor@eastbayexpress.com

Seeking East Bay Biz Listings

In January, the East Bay Express is launching a new business publication, Small Business Monthly. The section will feature business news and columns, advice for small business owners, and listings of business events and retail sales. To submit press releases, send the pertinent information to editor@eastbayexpress.com. Send retail news to buycurious@eastbayexpress.com. Send business events to calendar@eastbayexpress.com


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