"A Troubled Rape Case," Feature, 10/28
My Mind Has Been Opened
Thank you for the in-depth investigative report on this important story. I have to admit that when I first heard about an "aggressive" DA and a much-younger ADA, I jumped to conclusions that are clearly not warranted. Now, I have an open mind
Peter Logan, San Francisco
"Manipulating the Vote," Full Disclosure, 10/28
What Name Recognition?
Why do various articles keep emphasizing Don Perata's name recognition?? All I have is NEGATIVE name recognition from years of his influence peddling, power-mongering, and so many shady dealings with his political opponents, and campaign donations from all the Good Old Boys. As a long-term Oakland resident, why can't I recall even one thing he did to help those he served in those many terms in office? He takes credit while others did the work. When I see his name on the ballot, I will rapidly skip over it.
Leslie Bonett, Oakland
How Can He Show His Face?
I am surprised Don Perata is not ashamed to show his face in Alameda County where so many voters already know that IRV/Ranked Voting elections allow better democracy. Many of us have long known that Perata was the one in Sacramento preventing voters statewide from modernizing to ranked voting. IRV is the election system that counts the will of the most possible voters in the decisive round of vote counting, there is no honest reason to oppose it.While he stalled, we have had to rely on politicians like Debra Bowen and locals Keith Carson, Loni Hancock, and Kriss Worthington for any progress towards IRV modernization.If Perata had not killed the bills to allow IRV modernization statewide, Oakland and Berkeley would already be demonstrating how much better democracy can be, and setting an example for how failing war-torn so-called "democracies" like Iraq and Afghanistan can also modernize to the better/best election system and resolve their issues without violence.Instead, Perata has consistently tried to maintain the status quo money-dominated two-party election system because he is more confident of raising money and using insider-party politics than he is of getting actual voter support.
Sennet Williams, Berkeley
KPFA Elections Mark Station's Latest Turmoil," News, 10/28
Where's the Change?
Chris Thompson's chronicle of the latest spitting duel at KPFA starts with a slap at Glenn Beck and ends announcing that the executive director of Pacifica is planning to oust KPFA board member Brian Edwards-Tiekert, presumably for his ideological impurity.Just as our president responds to diversity at Fox News by trying to trump the First Amendment and freeze that network out from contacting the people we pay, so, too, KPFA honors the basic leftist tenet that diverse colors are cool, but diverse opinions must be disenfranchised.
It's no accident that another board hopeful is Henry Noor, whose antipathy towards the most religiously diverse and free-speech-honoring nation in the Middle East (Israel) is well-known.
In 1968, as an anti-war activist, I was surrounded by leftists more interested in grabbing power than in enhancing freedom.I'd love to see someone on the left champion change I could believe in.
David Altschul, Berkeley
The fight at KPFA has nothing to do with democracy; the main factions in the dispute are the old Jewish-Stalinist guard and associates, and the newest crowd of racists of color and associates; even though, sometimes, they cross-breed.
They're all opposed, not just to democracy but, most of all, to socialism.
In the last ten years they've drastically reduced the talk shows and only a few programs still allow some listeners' calls; they're carefully screened. Once they identify a caller who's not going to walk their line or the guest's line, the caller is disconnected, bypassed, or unceremoniously cut off.
This breed is totally disconnected from the US working class and it can only survive in Berkeley, even though, lately, its had serious trouble meeting its fund-raising goals. Its disappearance wouldn't be any loss to revolutionary politics for it is a total distortion of what "revolutionary" means.
Antonio Trossero, San Leandro
"The Lost Runner," Feature, 10/7
The Elephant in the Room
Neither the author of the article on the wanderings of John Mintz, nor subsequent writers of letters to the editor, seem to grasp an important fact:
Mr. Mintz, as described, appears to be an individual with an autism spectrum disability.To the unaware observer, it is easy to write off as mere flakiness Mintz' odd behavior, such as repeatedly getting lost in the woods overnight. But there are some important clues provided in the narrative:
Insensitivity to heat and cold — and failure to anticipate the weather, plan, and dress accordingly — are all red flags that this guy is either an Asperger's Syndrome person or a high-functioning autistic.
The fact that he apparently lacks the "executive function" to learn from his mistakes and modify his behavior provides more data to suggest he's on the spectrum.
Finally, the fact that he has not come forward to sue the Express for defamation, or at least written a letter in his own defense, makes it very likely that he's some kind of Aspie.
Maybe he is embarrassed, or maybe he is oblivious. But hey, tell him it is okay to be who he is. He just needs to have some simple habits and have some "cueing and setup" to follow a few procedures.
For those who care about this man, I would suggest that you train him, through repeated nagging and reminders, to tell a particular person when he plans to go wilderness running and to "file a flight plan" with you.I would also make him a laminated checklist with stuff he needs to take with him: GPS, water, cell, and that the batteries are charged. Help him make up a kit.
It is good that he is enjoying the wilderness and staying physically fit, rather than becoming a couch potato, like many people with developmental disabilities.
Amelia S. Marshall (mom of an adult Aspie), Oakland
"Jason Marsalis," Music Update, 10/21
Give Wynton His Props
Wow. I remember I used to feel similar about Wynton, and, on the one hand, must forgive what you wrote, on the other, my opinions on him weren't printed for countless impressionable readers, who may take your words and steer their ears and hearts away from Wynton. Through KCSM, the Berkeley Public Library CD collection, the Ken Burns Jazz series, and a few books, I've learned to respect him and his devotion to the art of jazz music. He comes across as a very direct, matter-of-fact spokesman for and about jazz, but make no mistake, he is the real deal. Many music critics in the past (white and widely published) ignorantly downplayed jazz musicians, not exactly knowing what they were hearing, as jazz developed. They controlled whether butts were in seats or not. Musicians playing for a living may have had to go overseas, some due to loss of their cabaret card, some to pursue appreciative audiences — and, of course, a better living. One critic said Ellington's best was behind him early on, he then proceeded to win countless best jazz this and best jazz that awards for twenty additional years (Downbeat Magazine). (Thanks to the Duke for sticking it out, as our world is better for it.) You know a lot about music, and may have your opinion on Wynton for reasons I'm not aware of. I hope not. As far as I can tell, Wynton singlehandedly blew fresh wind into the sails of jazz when it desperately needed it. It is well known when on tour, Wynton would make a point of visiting local schools to encourage students in jazz programs. (He could have been chasing skirts, like most of us would have.) Wynton has long been known to have an attitude jacket by interviewers because he is so straight forward and refuses to continue the impediment of jazz by bad press. Nobody likes a "know it all," but when asked, Wynton will give you both barrels. He is not famous for smoothing things out. Wynton is very aware of jazz roots in blues, which formed directly from the end of slavery. The fact that this amazing human expression came from people who couldn't read, or lived in horrific conditions conjured up a jealousy or resentment in existing musical establishments, making it even harder due to the embedded racial condition. Yes, Wynton is very Wynton, but calling him a snob seems, to me, very shallow, and unrespectful of the whole picture. Mr. Keresman, please forgive my rambling and poor computer skills, but (if I may) recommend a book by Albert Murray titled Stomping the Blues. Maybe you've already read it, but I suspect not. Wynton didn't come from a dirt-floor shack, neither did Miles, but Louie did. My favorite quote of all time, which is built up to and substantiated very cleverly before stated is on page 148, "Louis Armstrong, Promethean bringer of syncopated lightning from the Land of the Titans." Wow. Oh, thanks for hipping me to my next CD purchase.
Steve Logan, Berkeley
The Parking Nonsense
Attached is a letter sent to Oakland City Reps. The parking in this city is getting out of control.
Dear Oakland Representatives. I am writing to let you know how much I love living in Oakland. I've lived here for six years now and know that of all the places I've resided (Montana, Seattle, Sacramento, San Ramon, San Diego, etc.) Oakland is the place I am meant to be. The diversity and culture and sense of Oakland pride makes me proud to call myself a resident. This is why it saddens me to no end to have received a notice in the mail (nothing was left on my vehicle) informing me of a $100 parking ticket (given on a Sunday and increased from $35) for parking in MY driveway that happens to sit on part of the sidewalk in an area that has more residential buildings than parking spots. My boyfriend and I are both out of work and don't exactly have $100 lying around ... upsetting in the least, but it doesn't stop there.
While we've been looking for work, we've been using the downtown 24-Hour Fitness almost every day of the week to try and stay sane. On Monday 11/2/09 while at the gym my boyfriend and I noticed we were being given yet another parking ticket and ran out to ask your parking enforcer why (we had paid our $2 for the hour the same way we do at least six days a week and give Oakland a minimum of $65 a month in parking). She stated it was because we had parked between two parallel parking spots, the same way everyone, everyday park along the front of 24-Hour Fitness — DAILY! I'm there nearly every day and this was the first I had seen of this. Most of the time this parking enforcer drives on by, but this day she decided to give our car and only our car a ticket. I wasn't aware that you could not park in an available spot if the entire row of cars parked half a space off. Had I known, I wouldn't have parked there and now instead of owing you guys $100 I now owe you $165 of which I don't have on top of beings harassed by your inconsistent parking enforcer who clearly doesn't care! This does not make me want to live in Oakland and give you my tax dollars.
My suggestion is that you clean up this city and the miss use of city dollars by YOUR city administration and stop leveling the city deficit on the unemployed residents who call this place home!Thanks,
Kasey Nichols, Oakland
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