Letters for the week of April 9-15, 2003 

Jacques Barzaghi is a) "outrageous," b) "creepy," c) a "ruthless political hit man"; slander and distortion is destabilizing; and I was lost in Danville, too.

"Zen and the Art of Mayoral Maintenance," Feature, March 19

You don't know Jacques
In late February, I spoke with Susan Goldsmith, whose article about Jacques Barzaghi later appeared in the Express. Our conversation covered a variety of topics relating to sexual harassment law in both the educational and workplace contexts, and I had no idea that my general comments about the law would be used in this article to suggest that I had any opinion about the Barzaghi matter.

Let me be quite clear: I did not express my opinion about the Barzaghi matter, and I have no opinion about the Barzaghi matter. I feel that the substance of my comments has been misrepresented, and I would appreciate it greatly if you would publish a correction to so indicate.
Linda Hamilton Krieger, Berkeley

Editor's note
Susan Goldsmith stands by her characterization of the interview.

Losing soccer moms
Congratulations for publishing the long-overdue exposé of Jacques Barzaghi and of Mayor Brown's refusal to take his outrageous sexual harassment seriously. The mayor has forfeited all rights to women's support.
Nancy Ward, Berkeley

A sign of Jerry's priorities
Bravo on your article uncovering the dark and dirty side of Jacques Barzaghi! Our staff comprises all women under the age of 32. Unfortunately, because we are located right around the corner from City Hall, we regularly run into the offensive and creepy Barzaghi when we are out getting lunch. He once approached a group of us at Le Cheval restaurant. His intervention into our meal was clearly uninvited, but we could see it coming a mile away.

I was truly outraged when I found out that Barzaghi was still being allowed to work with the city of Oakland after the sexual harassment scandal. Jerry Brown and his cronies should have their heads checked for allowing such a huge liability to fester unchecked in their midst. I guess this goes to show how little Mayor Brown cares about the well-being of his female staff.
Anne Tamiko Omura, managing attorney, the Eviction Defense Center, Oakland

Two sides of the same coin
Jacques Barzaghi IS Jerry Brown ...

Jacques crossed my path when Jerry was running for mayor of Oakland. I attended a neighborhood meeting of fellow artists at the Kennedy Street Studios in Oakland, and I happened to mention that Studio One needed attention. Jacques immediately said to me: "You just want to save your job!" Jacques is a ruthless political hit man, and he will bushwhack anyone in his way. Jerry is a shell of a person, and he would be nothing without Jacques. Jerry has his own personal kickboxer and altar boy.
Rob March Harper, Oakland

"Fund Housing, Not Hate," Letters, March 19

I celebrate rent stabilization
Michael Wilson's March 19 letter assailing the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board office's cosponsorship of a recent Poetry Slam event ("Fund Housing, Not Hate") was, with all due respect, an utterly breathtaking display of slander and distortion.

In his letter, Mr. Wilson neglected to mention that he serves as president of the Berkeley Rental Property Owners Association. His ad hominem, self-interested comments leveled against the rent board are, of course, to be expected.

As a voter-approved public agency created in 1980, the city's rent stabilization office provides rent ordinance information outreach to Berkeley's many constituencies, including new renters, seniors, UC students, and rental property owners, among other groups. The office conducts rent ordinance information workshops, distributes mailings, and staffs information tables at farmers markets and other local events.

Joining as one of the Starry Plough's cosponsors for one Poetry Slam event was an opportunity to inform an established cultural community about the rent office's programs and existence. The event theme, "Housing Matters," was appropriate and open-ended. Spoken word performers addressed a wide-ranging array of topics and issues. Given that Mr. Wilson did not even attend this event, his comments are both unfounded and misinformed.

Also, Mr. Wilson erroneously suggests that the city of Berkeley's current deficit budget expenditures are connected to the Rent Stabilization Board's budget. In actuality, the rent board maintains its own separate -- and currently balanced -- budget.
Chris Kavanagh, commissioner, Rent Stabilization Board, Berkeley

"Lost in Danville," The Beat, March 5

Smoking cigarettes in D-Town
I read your article about Danville. I was born and raised in Danville -- well, born in Walnut Creek, but close enough, right? The town is great for families with three-year-olds who are scared of the rest of the world. For teens, it is a suburban hell. I spent my teen years smoking pot, spotting for beer, and smoking cigarettes behind the bowling alley. We used to go the Vets' Hall to see punk and heavy metal bands and stand outside scowling at the local yuppies. But after the show was over at ten, there was nothing to do. I thought the article was going to be a trash piece, a stereotypical view of D-town, but it turned out not to be and I found myself amused by it. Funny stuff. Keep it up and don't forget, D-town is as much as part of the East Bay as Oakland and Berzerkley.
Geoff Nemeth, Danville

Correction
In our profile of Jacques Barzaghi ("Zen and the Art of Mayoral Maintenance," March 19), we erroneously characterized some of Oakland City Attorney John Russo's comments. Although we quoted Russo as saying that Barzaghi's demotion "ensures he won't harass any other women," he actually said that the mayoral aide would no longer be in a position to harass subordinates. And where we quoted Russo as saying that the city has "minimal" legal risk, we should have quoted him as saying that the city had "minimized" its legal risk.

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