Letters for October 8 

Readers sound off on Measure A and Alameda development, alternatives to the death penalty, the documentary Trouble the Water, and AC Transit Board Member Chris Peeples.

"Hidden Costs," Full Disclosure, 9/3

It's the Backyards, Stupid

Your story says, "More dense urban development will curb suburban sprawl and lessen the number of long commutes that add to global warming." How do you figure that? The Bay Area's population has already grown well beyond the level that can be supported by the available water, sustainable power, and ecologically sound sewage treatment and waste disposal. Additional development, dense or otherwise, will only exacerbate our current problems. If we could convince people to live in Alameda instead of Brentwood, that would reduce most of their commutes, but that has always been an option. Most people who live in the outer suburbs do so because they are willing to suffer a long commute in exchange for a single-family detached home with a private yard, not because there's a shortage of condos closer to the city.

Robert Lauriston, Berkeley

Density Is Blight

Inasmuch as Measure A is almost solely responsible for the fact that Alameda is a lovely, livable town, one would hope the voters send this appalling notion packing. This current mania with height and densification is as stupid and toxic as its predecessor that gave us such wonders as the Cypress Freeway, which it took an act of god and a militant neighborhood to get rid of. Density is blight. Height is blight. Stick to your guns, Alameda citizens! Shame, Peter Calthorpe!

Mary Eisenhart, Oakland

"Afraid to Sleep," Apprehension, 9/3

A Second Victimization

Thanks for writing this important article. Isn't it ironic that Alameda County spends more money on death-penalty prosecutions than most other counties in the state and that victims' families and loved ones are left without services, without solved cases, and without prevention. It's time we looked closely at what capital punishment does to us on a very personal basis. When my brother was murdered in 2003 I reeled with horror that his killer might likely be eligible for execution. I did not want anyone else to die because he had died.

I expected that by now someone would be charged in my brother's murder and that services for victims' families would be available. Sadly, as your article so accurately points out, my expectations are still background noise to a criminal justice system that neither prevents crime nor provides services to victims.

I continue my work against the death penalty and learn more each day about why this work is so important. For more information on California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty please contact CaliforniaCrimeVictims.org.

Judy Kerr, Victim Liaison and Spokesperson, California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Don't Let Your Loss Define You

Thank you for writing your article. Every day I work with individuals whose courage and commitment to healing mirror the stories in your article. I am the Program Coordinator for California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, a coalition of families, friends, and loved ones of murder victims who oppose the death penalty. Statewide, we have two hundred members. Each individual member has a unique story and a unique reason for opposing the death penalty. However, they all agree that California's death penalty does not serve their needs as victims of violent crime. Similar to Zander Sprague, our members choose to empower themselves and honor the lives of their loved ones by standing against the death penalty. They do not let their loss define them.

Aarti Kelapure, Program Coordinator, California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

The Big Uneasy, Film, 9/3

Feeling Angry and Stubborn

I saw the film at the Shattuck Saturday for two reasons: (1) As soon as I read the title and understood the topic, the gospel song "Wade in the Water" took over my consciousness and would not release me; (2) Your review — as usual detailed, pointed, reasoned, humane. Since I almost never write responses like this, allow me to provide you just a little background. I'm white, male, a retired college teacher. As a striking instructor at SF State in 1968, I actually witnessed Hayakawa's vainglorious if felonious destruction of the demonstrators' sound system. As a virtually penniless starting part-time teacher and Berkeley renter I went to the union's bail bondsman and put my signature on over one hundred surety affidavits for the arrested students, almost all of whom were black and unknown to me. If any one of those kids had failed to appear, I could have been bankrupted and/or jailed. My hand was cramped but I kept signing until they told me they had enough.

Your concluding emphasis on the power of the music soundtrack is well taken. By now others may have widened your understanding, but bear with me: You say, "The film's title was taken from one of Kimberly's tunes." That rings true — I'm sure I heard her version on the soundtrack. The concluding credits list at least three different versions of "Wade in the Water"; my old eyes are never quick enough to fully register scrolling double columns, and there may have been more. Their sequence and incorporation into an emotional climax were wonderful. Here's the first verse, and the source of the film's title:

Wade in the water,

Wade in the water, chil'ren,

Wade in the water,

God's gonna trouble the water.

Here's my rewrite of your final paragraph. Yours is good, but my slight changes make it more to the point.

The lingering resentments we rightly harbor toward the federal government for its criminal non-response to the Katrina disaster are slowly, quietly supplemented and given human focus by the courage and matter-of-fact steeliness of Kimberly and her friends — truly the salt of the earth. They moved back to the Lower Ninth and are now committed to reconstructing their lives and their culture, come what may. Trouble the Water is their inspiring testament, a real-life thriller with a hopeful denouement.

That's it, Kelly. Well done, from one of your readers who has actually watched every minute of every DVD in Spike Lee's series. I have to tell you, though, that I do not feel hopeful. I feel angry, and damn stubborn. At the end of the film I was taken totally by surprise to discover that tears were streaming down my face. They were not tears of happiness.

Name withheld by request, Berkeley

"Agency Brass Fights Candidate," Full Disclosure, 9/10

Questioning His Judgment

The recent Robert Gammon article regarding the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of Chris Peeples, President of AC Transit Board, reflects Peeples' desperation to win and be "right" at any cost, including his use of staffers to discredit Joyce Roy. I have acquired a negative view of Mr. Peeples after a few conversations with him about his decision to purchase the costly and poorly designed Van Hool ("The Buses from Hell") buses from the Belgium manufacturer. His defense of his decision in the face of public outrage at the poor design of these buses caused me to question Peeples' ability to make common-sense decisions.

Roberta Llewellyn, Oakland


In our September 3 article about the disabled performance showcase Sins Invalid, we erroneously identified Leroy Moore as queer.

In our September 24 review of the show Nature Word ~ Verbe Nature, we printed the wrong address for the gallery NoneSuch Space. The correct address is 2865 Broadway in Oakland.


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