Letters for the Week of April 27, 2016 

Readers sound off on police surveillance, a proposed local oil-by-rail project, and a class action lawsuit against Calavera.

"Oakland Cops Quietly Acquired Surveillance Tool," News, 4/13

Don't Turn Oakland Into Pakistan

This article is very one-sided. Some people post their illegal activities or intentions on public media for all to find. I have seen no evidence that the police are using this to target people for their political views.

The police should monitor (and investigate) for those who intend to do harm to others, and I see no reason that social media should be off-limits. If you want to see what happens when the police don't do their job just look at countries like Pakistan, where fanatical mobs carry out their version of murderous justice.

Vincent Sauve, Oakland

Blame the Idiots

Oh, but no one has a problem with the police monitoring social media to thwart terrorism!

Social media is not private. Once you put it out there into cyberspace, it's out there to be seen, used, and critiqued forever!

The problem is with people, not police. Most of the idiots getting "caught" doing stupid stuff handed the information right to the police. These idiots don't know how to filter themselves. I'm not worried about the police monitoring anything of mine. Not a picture, a conversation, my license plate—nothing. I'm not doing anything. Privacy invasion? Hah!

Melissa Kittell, Oakland

Is Bragging a Crime?

Most of the activities targeted by Geofeedia are not illegal. Criticizing the police is not illegal. Peaceful protest is not illegal. Making comments on social media expressing displeasure with various politicians and members of the establishment is not illegal. The presumption of guilt prior to, or via random interpretation, is exactly what constitutional protections are designed to prevent. So, the question is: Are there consequences for being "a braggart on social media about illegal activities" and, if so, what does that mean for freedom of association and expression?

Tracy Rosenberg, Albany


"Benicia Oil-by-Rail Battle Hinges on Legal Controversy," Eco Watch, 4/13

Valero or McDonald's

Maybe Valero should simply find a location where it can do business without people who put up barriers. Valero could tear the entire refinery down, bulldoze the land and sell it off for another one of Benicia's residential projects, which drain the city's treasury. All the refinery taxes paid to that city would be gone. College student Jaime Gonzalez could then graduate and get a job at McDonald's.

William H. Thompson, Walnut Creek


"Calavera Employees Claim Theft," What the Fork, 4/13

Revenge Via Mole

Reading this really makes me pine for a good clayuda, which Calavera omitted from their menu along with mole and blackened steak. It seems like these chefs should have the opportunity to serve delicious Oaxacan food to the masses. I know there are tons of people who would kill for a good Oaxacan mole. I'd love to see them have success as their best form of revenge against Calavera.

Jasmine Tokuda


"Oakland Housing Emergency," Opinion, 4/6

Fake Housing-Policy Change

Oakland's politicians are afraid to vote for real changes to zoning laws that might create more housing because all the wailers about Oakland's housing crisis don't want new housing built next to them. So, they prate about stricter rent controls, subsidized affordable housing (no such thing), etc. Been doing it for a long time. Hasn't worked, and it won't. Why not take a little risk and change the zoning laws in a truly liberal way? If it doesn't work, you can go back to complaining and offering useless programs. If it works, well ...

Kurt Schoeneman, Boonville

Tax the Land

Property taxes suppress the rental prices on real estate by diminishing the incentive to speculatively invest in land. In fact, a heavy tax on land values would promote optimal market development of land, raise enormous public revenue, and enable us to reduce, or even abolish, business taxes and the sales tax.

David Giesen, San Francisco

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