Letters for September 2 

Readers sound off on Bishop Sal, gay marriage, East Bay parking, "Smart Growth," and union leadership.

"The Father of Proposition 8," Feature, 8/12

Let's Rally

Thank you so much for your piece on the bigot bishop who is trying to keep me from marrying. I would like to organize a group to show the Oakland congregation that there are those disgusted by this man. If there is any way you can let me know if there will be rallies or marches. I plan on attending services to disrupt in any way I can. Thank you.

Adam Fitch, Emeryville

Civil Marriage vs. Religious Marriage

One hardly knows where to begin after reading Chris Thompson's article on Oakland's new bishop. I disagree with the idea that the gay community (referred to as the other side) was caught sleeping on Proposition 8. We knew Prop. 8 was coming, but what we were unprepared for was the vicious lies and propaganda that would be perpetrated by the anti-marriage forces. Please let me set the record straight.

The word, "marriage" covers a lot of territory. Marriage in church is a sacrament. Marriage at your county clerk's office is a legally binding contract which entitles the parties to a whole host of government benefits. What was at issue in Proposition 8 was civil marriage and not religious marriage. Therefore, it is totally inappropriate for churches to get involved in civil marriage because civil marriage has nothing to do with the Catholic Church or any other church for that matter. The idea that civil marriage could affect religious institutions is nothing less than paranoia. The well established legal concept of freedom of religion protects religious institutions to decide who gets the sacrament and who does not. To represent anything else is nothing less than a lie and a sin. Gay marriage has noting to do with the decay of society but has everything to do with the gay community growing up and taking its rightful place in society and stepping up to the responsibilities that go with it.

George Collins, Berkeley

His Strength Is a Gift

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone participated from the beginnings of signature gathering on petitions, to the ultimate passing of Prop. 8 into constitutional law. This was the only aspect of Chris Thompson's article that was completely accurate. Bishop Cordileone was a humble servant in the campaign to protect marriage's historic definition. He is unapologetically loyal to the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church, and his gentle strength was a gift to the broad coalition of organizations known as ProtectMarriage.com. The people of the Diocese of Oakland are fortunate to have the leadership, intelligence, and quick, compassionate smile of Bishop Cordileone. The readers of the East Bay Express are much less fortunate to have the biased "writing" of Chris Thompson.

Ron Prentice, Chairman, ProtectMarriage.com Coalition

Marriage and Natural Law

Thank you for your story about Bishop Cordileone and Proposition 8. I am grateful that you emphasized his compassion and pastoral concern for homosexual persons. There is no guile in the bishop, simply a concern for all souls who are placed in his care. His obligation, to speak the truth in love, is to God, not man; your story seemed to illustrate that obligation, thank you.

To those who perceive the preservation of natural marriage as an assault on their dignity and rights, it is important to understand that marriage is a subsidiary society that 1) predates the state and 2) is rooted in natural law. No court or legislative body can change that objective reality. To do so ushers in a disordering of society that is destructive to everyone — homosexual and heterosexual; historically, this type of disordering has almost without exception led to totalitarianism. Perhaps the bishop is actually brilliant enough to know that the common good of all is served when natural marriage is preserved. After all, when was the last time you heard of a totalitarian society that tolerated open homosexuality?

Dolores Meehan, San Francisco

Where Are Your Tithings Going?

I was deeply disturbed to read about Bishop Sal's (Salvatore Cordilieone) integral role in the Yes on 8 Campaign. How can a man of the church work to raise $40 million dollars to [take] away rights from people? How many migrant workers could have been fed with that $40 million dollars? How many job skills programs, ESL programs, health and wellness programs could have been funded with the money that was used to strip gay families of legal protections and dignity? A man who works to take away people's rights, rather than uplift them and alleviate suffering, is not a man to be trusted, nor revered. There's nothing holy about his union with the Yes on 8 Campaign.

The fact that he invited Maggie Gallagher, who advocates the benefits of marriage but wishes to deny those benefits to same-sex couples, is egregious. I debated Maggie Gallagher at Brown University in Rhode Island in September 2006 and her arguments were disingenuous. The educated students saw through her insincerity when I invited her to explore our common ground in support of helping people save their marriages. In addition to a marriage equality advocate, I am also a psychologist and have taught marriage and family therapy to graduate-level counseling students for over a decade. Not surprising, she declined. Because her real interest was taking away rights from gay people, not supporting people, gay or straight, to have strong healthy relationships. How many free couples' communication workshops could have been offered with that $40 million dollars? How many conflict-resolution classes to reduce family violence could have been offered? Maggie Gallagher was more concerned with the reduction of white babies being born in Scandinavian countries, showing her other real agenda, white supremacy. 

But in the face of her disingenuousness and her inability to convince the brown students that they should be anti-gay marriage, she didn't give up. And these folks don't. They go back to their liar and mastermind another diabolical scheme to take away gay people's and women's rights. They cannot be underestimated. They are not just those kooky, religious people. They are formidable opponents with sinister agendas. I mean Bishop Sal was trying to deny communion to Catholic women who use birth control or have their man use a condom. Women, guess what Bishop Sal will be working on next? Shaming you and taking away your rights!

What kind of religious leader do you want to follow, one who helps, heals, and uplifts people or one who is committed to tearing down the human soul? Gallagher, Bishop Sal, and others like them have made it their life's work to take away LGBT people's rights.

Bishop Sal, I pray that you will stop misusing your power. I pray that you will have a change of heart and use your position and influence to help people like Jesus did. I also invite my Catholic friends and colleagues to examine carefully your investment in the Catholic Church. See where your tithings are going? Wouldn't you feel better knowing your church is using your money to feed, clothe, shelter, and educate people in need rather than being used to take away your gay friend's, family member's and colleagues' equality?

Davina Kotulski, Author of Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage, Oakland

Abolish Marriage

Might Chris Thompson's feelings about Bishop Cordileone be unduly harsh? The article read like a call for the villagers to grab their pitchforks and torches and storm the cathedral at Lake Merritt. It's fair enough for Thompson or the Express to have such views, but it's worth considering that the pressing issue for many Prop. 8 supporters is not so much same-sex marriage but, rather, a change in the nature of marriage itself. If California were considering three-way marriages, or marriages to beasts or to objects, then we'd surely see a Prop. 9 or Prop. 10. In other words, the issue isn't "gay" marriage but "changed" marriage.

I think the only way to escape the endless bickering is to separate marriage from the legal system. I believe Michael Kinsley was the first to propose this, in his 2003 Slate article deceptively titled "Abolish Marriage." If marriage no longer carried legal "rights," then it would become completely cultural. Each religious or cultural group could decide for itself which type of marriage(s) are encouraged. One church might marry same-sex couples, another might not. Even if the marriages had no legal significance, they'd still have cultural significance — much like a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, or a Confirmation.

Are there any organizations in the East Bay working for a separation such as this? If so, I'd be interested in reading about them in the Express.

David Goldweber, Oakland

Shame on You, Pro-Degenerate Media

It's a pathetic display to see how the pro-degenerates media tries and distorts the meaning of the victory in the ballots of Proposition 8 by assigning credit for it to a single Catholic bishop. Where was Salvatore Cordileone when we, the voters, passed Proposition 22? The only reason for Proposition 8 not winning by a larger margin was because Jerry Brown, intentionally, changed the wording forcing us to vote "Yes" instead of "No to gay marriages" as it was originally intended, thus confusing a lot of people. Twisted logic and labels of "bigots, right wingers, religious nuts, etc." are not going to prevent us, the workers, from defeating them again, whether in 2010 or 2012 for the degenerations of nature are always going to be rejected by the species. It's an instinct for self preservation.

Leo T. West, San Leandro 

"Parking Rebellion Stirs Up Oakland," News, 8/12

Time for a Lawsuit

My dispute with the City of Oakland over a parking ticket was described as follows: "The citation ... said that she had been parked on Waverly for more than two hours, but Seritis claimed that the parking log's initial time was incorrect."

This is in error. I had, for the second time in the past year, received a ticket after properly moving my vehicle from 23rd to Waverly within the two-hour limit posted on these streets. When I requested the activity sheet for this ticket, it showed that my vehicle was originally spotted on "23rd / Waverly / 27th / Harrison." In other words, if I had parked on ANY of these streets, and then moved anywhere within this four-block zone within the two-hour limit, I could have received a ticket for a two-hour zone violation. This is in direct violation of the city's own Oakland Municipal Code 10.28.190, which restricts the two-hour limit to a SINGLE street. I appealed this ticket twice and was turned down both times, in spite of the fact that the sheet clearly shows that my initial location was not identified as any one street, but could have been 23rd, 24th, 26th, 27th, Waverly, or Harrison. This has also happened to several of my co-workers, some of whom were mentioned in the same article.

I think it is significant to note this to your readership because it shows that the City of Oakland is illegally setting people up for tickets they do not deserve, and then making it nearly impossible to protest these tickets and have unfair citations overturned. Where does the city define its two-hour zones? Is it five blocks in some areas? Is it ten? Is it an entire neighborhood? And since this violates their own city law, why are our first appeals rejected automatically, without anyone even looking at or acknowledging the evidence? My first rejection stated that I should submit evidence to back my claim, which I already had but which was ignored. Even my second appeal was rejected, despite the fact that their backup for my initial location was woefully inadequate.

What the city is doing is clearly abusive, and should be stopped by the citizenry. Perhaps a class-action lawsuit? I would be a willing participant.

Karin Seritis, Alameda

Do You Ever Feel Like You've Been Had?

Of all the problems that Oakland has, now we have a parking crisis? What does one say? This parking crisis is one of our own making. It is hard to stay respectful and polite when our members of the city council do something so short-sighted. It is not just the 50 cents an hour; it is not just the extra hours until 8 p.m.; it is not just the higher ticket prices. It is the feeling that "gotcha" and anything-goes-for-a-buck is the way they feel. That is what gets under the skin and make us feel like a crime victim when we get a parking ticket.

They sometimes call us shoppers, sometimes call us residents, sometimes call us taxpayers, but they sure do not treat us like citizens. They treat us like someone to milk because they get away with it. 

Most of our council did not run in a contested race to get their job. All but one of the council members represents a district that has nothing to do with where the people of Oakland live, except to make sure that some of those who live in the hills live in each district. But how do they get so out of touch with what it is like to live and work here?

A friend was telling me yesterday that a customer who got a ticket while in her cafe came back into the cafe and told her that she will never come back again. The cafe owner is in no way responsible for Oakland parking policies, but the anger and frustration of the client was very understandable. We who run businesses in Oakland get to hear how angry the citizens who get caught in the trap feel. 

Parking tickets were never a very friendly way to raise funds. The way Oakland does it is something of a trap. It is set up to make it hard on the driver and increase the opportunities to ticket rather than collect parking fees.

When fees and tickets are as aggressive as ours have become, well, people notice and they do not care much about the explanations. No one likes to get tricked and cheated. To get one of these tickets is to feel robbed and violated. A 75$ surcharge for a cup of coffee is reason enough to not come to Oakland in the first place. If you live in Oakland and have gotten into your car, $75 is reason enough to drive out of Oakland to a place you can park your car without running the gauntlet. Somewhere like Emeryville, Berkeley, or San Leandro, for example.

We know this "gotcha" feeling already. Oakland council found it in their hearts to stick it to landlords for damaged sidewalks and then do it again if there is a lawsuit. Is that different from how the credit card companies do their best to send bills out as late as possible and up your interest rate for a few hours past due? Newer home and business owners get to pay higher taxes than the old big money under Prop. 13 tax "reform." Yeah we all know the sound of "gotcha."

Now Oakland has made parking your car in our city have that same sound. 

Don Macleay, Oakland

Stop Persecuting Motorcycles

Last year, my motorcycle was ticketed for an expired parking receipt even though the receipt was valid and plainly visible — I got the receipt only 30 minutes before the citation was issued and it had another hour left. I filed an objection, sending both the parking receipt and citation to the Parking Division. Ten months later my objection was denied. For insufficient information!

I was peeved, not only because denying my objection was either intentionally malfeasant or incredibly dumbass, but also because the pay-and-display meters put all motorcycle and scooter riders, not just me, in a no-win situation. Where are we supposed to display the parking receipt that it won't be stolen or even just blown away by the wind? Guess what ... nowhere!

So I researched the damn meters and found that most cities using them have made provisions for two-wheeled vehicles. Some cities simply let us park free; some provide special parking slots, free or with meters that don't issue receipts; some rely on parking permits. I also learned that Oakland's City Council was aware of our problem before adopting the new regulations.

I forwarded all this info to my city councilmember, the parking division, the city administrator, and a few others. Then I filed for an in-person hearing. A couple of days later I got a new notice saying, in effect, "Gee, you gave us enough information after all. The citation is cancelled."

To be fair, in my research I learned that Oakland isn't the only city hurtfully ignoring riders' issues. New York City uses pay-and-display meters, too, and makes no provision for two-wheelers. But their city council is smart enough to be considering changes.

Mike Bradley, Oakland

Rates Should Increase

I'm disappointed that some of my favorite Oakland businesses have reacted so violently to Oakland's increase in parking meter charges. I patronize numerous Oakland businesses. I go for their special goods, things like Grand Bakery's fabulous challah, Diesel's hand-picked selection of books, Bakesale Betty's goodies in a unique atmosphere. I'd lose all that if I went elsewhere to save a quarter or two on parking meter charges. And it wouldn't even make economic sense — I'd spend more in gas than I saved on the meter, especially if I went all the way out to Walnut Creek as one business owner suggested.

Councilmember Quan is correct about the extension of meter hours. It will keep parking spaces available that otherwise would have been snapped up for the night at 6:00. That's far more discouraging to the would-be business patron than paying a little bit for the space. Many business districts — like South Beach in San Francisco — have long charged for evening parking.

Indeed, today's best parking practice prices spaces so that about 85 percent are full at all times. The public (the city) gets full revenue from the scarce resource of parking, yet drivers can always find a space. Rates for different rates and times are determined by surveys of actual use, but I'd guess that this policy would lead to as many increases in Oakland parking rates as decreases. Some cities share that revenue between citywide needs and improvements in the neighborhood where it is collected, providing a direct benefit to local merchants.

This "Great Recession" is a bad time for almost everyone in the economy, so it's not surprising that small businesses are nervous. But a long-overdue effort by Oakland to rationalize at least part of its parking policy should not be the victim of that.

Nathan Landau, Oakland

Tickets for Taxation

In "Other Parking Enforcement Complaints," the sidebar to your main article about the parking rebellion in Oakland, you note, "frustrated drivers worry that [parking tickets are] another city tool for closing the budget gap." Well, worry no more — at least in Berkeley!

I was at an organic cafe just west of Hanksville, Utah a couple of months ago when a couple of vacationers walked in. The woman's companion happened to mention that she was a Berkeley city councilwoman, and I said, "Oh, I'm from Berkeley — what's your name?"

Linda Maio.

I then said, rather pointedly, "By the way. I've been meaning to talk with you about the parking situation."

Rolling her eyes and asking her partner, "Did I really want to have this conversation here?" she said, "Well, we have to raise money somehow." So there you have it. We Berkeleyans needn't "worry" if parking tickets are a "tool for closing the budget gap." They are!

And that's taxation in the 21st century: Make up rules that people will break, make them more aggressive, jack up the rates, and send the police to collect the taxes.

For her part, Linda pointed out that Berkeley is under a lot of stress because the University doesn't pay its share. It must be made to do so. One way or the other.

But using the police to extort money to cover the budget gap is *inherently* objectionable, and on sooo many levels. Throw the bums out. Are they really doing *anything* for us?

John Howe, Berkeley

"Anti-Growth Group Wraps Itself in Green," Eco Watch, 8/12

Smart Growth Ain't

As a native, I can't help wishing Berkeley had stopped growing between 1970 and 1980. While it is possible that even denser urban development may reduce people's commutes and consequent greenhouse gases, it's more possible that it will lengthen the commutes of groceries. I have yet to hear a 'Smart Growth' advocate give a good answer for where the food is coming from.

As an engineer, I am not thrilled with the wonderfulness of the LEED standards. Their micro-minutiae lists obscure the forest (while no doubt extracting stacks of paper for listing). Concepts such as passive solar are chopped into little bits and carefully hidden in plain sight. And LEED seems to be blind to idiocies such as leafblowers and lawnmowers, not to mention the diesel trucks that often chauffer them around.

Muriel Strand, SustainableSacramento.blogspot.com, Sacramento

"An East Bay Trail of Tears," Raising the Bar, 8/19

Union Leaders? Try Union Misleaders!

It's becoming very clear that Jay Youngdahl doesn't understand what it is that the labor movement is facing. To start with, what he calls "union leaders," these are actually misleaders, most of whom never worked in the trade they represent but are intellectuals with university titles, including lawyers like Mr. Youngdahl who think they know it all, who started working in the union hall and climbed up from there. Their strategy is to collect the dues; therefore the strike doesn't enter into their plans at all, as exemplified in the BART negotiations, where workers are blackmailed into submission by making them vote until they "get it right" and agree to the concessions demanded by management. In this respect, Robert Gammon also wrote a little shitty note siding with BART's management, in solidarity with his colleagues at the Oakland Tribune.

The contract that the ATU misleaders are putting up for vote to its members, among other concessions, screws up the new hires by increasing the waiting time to be entitled to retirement benefits from five years to fifteen. A great way to divide the workers! Courtesy of your misleaders.

Management is always ready to show the books when they're really losing money but, when times are good, they still demand concessions and the books are not available. At NUMMI, Toyota started to blackmail the workers right after GM decided to withdraw, with the support of state Democrats and corrupt, sell-out union misleaders. On the national level, criminal union misleadership has been pouring workers' money into the coffers of the Democratic Party to get Barack Obama elected and the workers get record unemployment, illegal scab labor, and not even support for the bureaucrats' pet issue, The "Employee Free Choice Act."

OBAMA, YO MAMMA!!!

Antonio Trossero, San Leandro

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