Letters for the week of August 8-14, 2007 

Readers comment on crime, journalistic tactics, union subterfuge, our Herbivore review, factory farming, and an alternative to Bus Rapid Transit.

"Escorts for Hire," Full Disclosure, 7/4

Lock 'em up
Your recent article was clever and skillfully written. However, while you glibly criticized Oakland Police Sergeant Cronin, you failed to address the main point he offered; that more cops will result in negligible crime reduction. On this point Sergeant Cronin is actually correct. While crime has many complex sociological causes, there is really only truly one effective way to reduce it: Put criminals in prison so they cannot victimize innocent people. Having more cops on the street will not accomplish that. Having more cops will only reduce the time it takes for an officer to come to a victim's house to take a report. That hardly qualifies as "crime prevention."

If you truly want to reduce crime, then you should write articles favoring more prison construction and more mandatory sentence rules. Then fewer criminals would be on the street, ergo fewer crimes. Criminals are not stupid. They do not fear being arrested because it is not a punishment. They have usually been arrested dozens of times. However, going to prison for several years is a true punishment. Therefore, if you create a credible fear of going to prison, then you may actually create a general deterrent effect, which will also reduce crime. Cronin was correct; you just didn't let him explain.
Mark Poland, Castro Valley


"Geeks and Freaks," Books, 6/27

Next time, say hello
Mark Nichol, had we only known you were there!!! Your piece re: Carol Pogash's reading at Cody's showed an unusual new technique: journalism through intuition. Many of those in attendance have been reporters for years, but none so clever as you, to report on an event without asking a single question! Or revealing you were there! Amazing. But maybe your readers prefer intuitive reporting to the facts.

You're right, it was a bit of a reunion. Most of us have worked with Carol in Bay Area journalism for years. (David Harris, Don Lattin, Jim Finefrock, Bill Schechner, Kate Coleman, Jerry Lubenow — heard of them?) But your intuition led you to guess we were all from "over the hill." Nope. Only Carol. The rest of us are from Berkeley or SF. Funny, none of us recognized you. Next time say hello. After all, you're a journalist too, right?
Linda Schacht, Berkeley


"Joe's Foes," Water Cooler, 7/4

Go picket Wal-Mart
Yes, we in the neighborhood are confused also. I am a strong union supporter and I wouldn't cross a REAL picket line. But this is a case where the union is just plain WRONG. Why? Unions might call it "bread and circuses," but Farmer Joe's (Joe and Diana) have been an integral part of the Laurel, and now Dimond, community for over twelve years. They have ALWAYS donated to community events, from produce to whatever is needed. I find produce there that I can't find in other stores.

Well, IF I wanted to traipse over to Berkeley Bowl, where I have NEVER shopped (my disability prevents me from parking a long way off), I might find what I need. But I prefer to shop in my neighborhood. I have never purchased anything expired or moldy. Of course, if I take it home and let it sit for five days, my produce can become moldy. Joe and Diana have borrowed to the hilt to create an attractive community venue from a eyesore. Opening was delayed more than six months because of environmental issues. You SHOULD have been there last year on June 24, 2006, when the grand opening was a huge community event.

The neighborhood is angry at the union, and that makes me sad. As far as I am able to discern the union was called in when two employees were fired ... for CAUSE. The neighborhood can tell the "Healthy Community" group is another one of the union shenanigans. Why doesn't the union go picket Trader Joe's? Or Wal-Mart? Those places don't care about the community or their employees. Joe and Diana do.
Sue Yascolt, Oakland


"Herbivore's Dilemma," On Food, 7/18

Don't damn vegan food
For me, the best thing about being vegan is the cruelty-free aspect of the diet, closely followed by the amazing variety of food. The Bay Area is the vegan capital of the world, in my estimation, with its scores of ethnic, vegetarian, vegan, and vegan-friendly restaurants. Herbivore is doing its part to add to that mix, but if you don't like Herbivore, please don't damn all vegan food in the process.
Esta Lewin, South Lake Tahoe


Hold the fish, and the chip
I've been to Herbivore about fifty times. I'm a vegetarian, and this definitely satisfies my palate over and over again. The biggest compliment to date was when my mom went there with her friends and without me to dine there. In addition to the great entrées served here, the side dishes, which the reviewer failed to mention, plus the desserts, the best vegan German chocolate cake on this planet, are scrumptious. It might be good to have a vegetarian review a vegetarian restaurant. Or it might be even better to have a reviewer without a chip on his shoulder from his college days review a restaurant.


Clyde Lerner, Sunnyvale


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