Letters for the week of June 2-8, 2004 

More reaction to Nexus article, suggestions about Best Of, complaints about Feeder's bests, and Safety First sets record straight.

"New Meaning for the Term 'Art Cars,'" City of Warts, 4/28

Speculation on a rumor
Mr. Thompson's article may provide compelling reading, but it must be noted that, in his eagerness to produce something of interest, he has managed to misrepresent the true nature of a relationship between an arts and crafts organization in West Berkeley -- Nexus Institute -- and the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society.

To begin with, Mr. Thompson would do well to report the facts accurately. Nexus Institute is not for sale, and the BEBHS is not interested in buying it. In fact, the BEBHS already owns the property on which Nexus stands. Nexus has two years remaining on a lease that was originally negotiated at fair market rates in 1975 and then renegotiated in 1991.

Secondly, the BEBHS and Nexus are seeking ways to move forward in a relationship that is beneficial in the current climate -- economically and otherwise -- for the animals and the arts as well as the communities that have come to depend on these organizations. When Mr. Thompson asked me to speculate on a rumor that the BEBHS is seeking to sell the property on which Nexus resides, I responded with caution and was given assurance by him that what I offered would be used as "background information only" -- a term which it is safe to assume means "off the record." In violating that confidence, he only partially quoted my words, "They thought this was an opportunity to get them out of the red." While he shouldn't have printed them at all, as long as he couldn't resist the temptation, he might have included the word that prefaced the statement -- "Perhaps" -- thus placing it in its proper context -- speculation on a loose rumor.

Two more bits of speculation: first, perhaps the fact that such a rumor is in circulation is telling of a community that cares; second, perhaps a little self-restraint on the part of a journalist would go a long way toward mending his tattered reputation within the arts and animal-loving communities.
Steph Zlott, co-president, Nexus Institute, Berkeley

CHRIS THOMPSON REPLIES
I have no recollection that Steph Zlott's comments were off the record, nor do my notes reflect such a caveat. If indeed I created that impression, then I'm distinctly sorry for the miscommunication. As for the quote, however, my notes do not include the word "perhaps."

"Best of the East Bay," 5/5

The people have spoken
Only in Oakland could some local hipster get a foot in the door of a local publication and write a selfish Best Of over their own readers' picks. The people have spoken, but won't be heard. Why would the READERS' PICKS be published at the bottom of a page with no background on their business?
Tom Benaliard, Oakland

And the runner-up is ...
May I suggest a new category for the annual "Best of the East Bay"? As well as "Best Pizza," let's have "Second-Best Pizza," or perhaps "Best Pizza Other Than Zachary's." It would be useful.
David Goldfarb, Oakland

Best city
As mayor of Berkeley, I take great pride in all the wonderful stores, restaurants, and cultural opportunities in this city. Having read your recent "Best of the East Bay" edition, I was pleased to see that you and your readers agree. In case anyone missed it, Berkeley had more "bests" than any other city. In fact, according to our quick tally, almost 35 percent of all the editorial staff and reader recommendations were for Berkeley stores, restaurants, people, cultural arts, and the like. Whether you want a great microbrewed beer or a unique store to find the perfect gift, this is the town for you.
Tom Bates, Berkeley

"Top of the Bottom," Bottom Feeder, 5/12

Worst city
Three words for you: What's your function? To mock Berkeley? Instead of your mockery, photographing places to "pass out," and putting down People's Park, why don't you photograph city officials doing nothing about the homelessness and lack of affordable housing in Berkeley? If you think it is such a delightful spot, why don't you go sleep there for a while and see how really delightful it is? Take more pictures of people struggling with poverty. The best place for people to sleep if they are homeless is a HOME, not the street.

Take pictures of the super-expensive high-rises in downtown Berkeley and the wheeler-dealers planning to build more of them, and more pictures of them laughing on the way to the bank, and THEN take some pictures of the poverty in Berkeley. And, while you're at it, take some pictures of the empty lot at the corner of Telegraph and Haste; it used to be an affordable hotel a few years ago, until it mysteriously burned down, putting a lot of people into that "homelessness" you mock so well. Take some more pictures of city officials and wealthy land speculators. Your mockery of this situation does nothing to solve it.
John Delmos, Berkeley

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