Letters for the week of August 20-26, 2003 

Your Gary Coleman stunt was degrading. Your Gary Coleman stunt was fabulous. Your OMI story was shortsighted. Your Kevin Freeman story was terrifying.

"Gary for Governor," Feature, 8/6

It's a sad day
I hope you are NOT serious. I found the articles about Gary Coleman very degrading and insulting to the State of California, not to mention to Gary himself. The recall issue has become a circus for all to play in. It's a sad day indeed. The world is in desperate need for people who really want to better each citizen's life.
Karen Sergi, Oakland

Brugmann was right
Bruce Brugmann said the Express would go downhill, and your endorsement of Gary Coleman for governor proves Bruce right. You have given the Bay Guardian enough fodder for the next decade. I've considered the Express a serious publication, but sponsoring a stunt like putting Coleman in the recall race reduced the Express to the level of the supermarket tabloids.
Harrison Chastang, San Francisco

I want Gary next to me
When will "Gary Coleman for Governor" T-shirts be available? He's got my vote!
Niels Schroeter, Vista

EDITOR'S NOTE
Citizens for Coleman is not producing campaign paraphernalia at this time, but a Google search for Gary Coleman will turn up independent vendors who are selling T-shirts, bumper stickers, mouse pads, coffee mugs, and, yes, thongs.

Gary no, Liz yes
Although I was impressed with some parts of your story, I was disappointed that you had chosen a Southern California candidate as opposed to an East Bay, or even Northern California one. My name is Liz Swaney, I'm nineteen, and am hoping to get on the ballot by the August 9 deadline. I'm a California native and have been an East Bay native all my life. Check out my campaign Web site at: www.lizforgov.com and donate if you want! =)
Liz Swaney, Oakland

EDITOR'S NOTE
Donate if you will, but Ms. Swaney did not make the October 7 ballot. 2006 perhaps?

"Jerry's Kids," Feature, 7/23

Our students deserve better
Chris Thompson's article about the Oakland Military Institute set up a striking parallel for me: I'm often waiting for the bus at 14th and Broadway when the OMI students descend on the intersection after school. I have never seen a group of young people with such violent and destructive tendencies. They hit each other, deliberately walk into strangers, kick bus benches, turn over trash cans, and empty out free newspaper boxes onto the sidewalk. None of this seems surprising to me now, knowing they've spent a day under the irresponsible and untrained eyes of military personnel with no care for their needs to develop into positive and healthy adults. The OMI isn't helping our youth become these adults, or providing sustainable discipline that remains within the students when they leave the school premises.

Earlier this month, I went to the Scream III Tour concert (not because I'm a fan of the P. Diddy spawn B2K, but because I came across free tickets) at the Oakland Arena. Between each teen-girl-heart-skipping act, a DJ spun popular rap, hip-hop, and R&B music and turned the stadium into a supersized community dance club. It was amazing -- thousands of young people of all ages danced and laughed and just sat and talked for four hours without a single violent incident or cause for security presence. Finally, for one night, the youth of Oakland had something positive to do besides hang out on the streets.

This is our city. Our young people are precious and should not be subject to the whims of a mayor who spends more time telling people what to think than listening to our visions for the future. Jerry, you have failed our students. Take the money you're wasting directing them toward a life of military service, and spend it on teen centers and youth programs that allow them an opportunity to be creative and productive citizens -- not military machines.
Sele Nadel-Hayes, Oakland

Perfect? No. A start? Yes.
In response to your article -- rather biased if you ask me -- I would say this: OMI has been a godsend to hundreds of kids.

Is it perfect? No. Is it a great opportunity for local families to get their young sons and daughters into a university? Without question.

You evidence a serious unawareness of the challenges inherent in the building of an institution of this magnitude. Having problems and making some people unhappy come with the territory. Leadership is making the necessary changes and staying on course despite setbacks. From day one, local critics have tried to kill this school. They have consistently failed because they are fighting against what so many parents want for their children.

The key question is: Has the school been making consistent progress to achieve the vision of enabling more local kids to prepare for college? I believe the answer is clearly yes. If you or anyone else has a serious proposal that could make the school even better, I would welcome it.

With respect,
Jerry Brown, Oakland

Learn some history
In an earlier Express article ("Brown vs. Board of Education, " November 21, 2001), Chris Thompson attacked Paul Cobb for asking too many questions and interfering with the district administration. Many of Cobb's "disruptive" questions were about the school district budget, which turned out to have an $80 million deficit! Too bad more people did not have the courage to be "disruptive" at the time.

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