Letters for the Week of October 31, 2012 

Readers sound off on the Oakland Zoo, sex trafficking, Richmond's soda tax, and more.

Page 8 of 10

These aren't the only false claims in the article, but it was the obviously wrong photo that struck me first, and besides if I tried to rebut the entire piece it would be so long nobody would bother reading it. This is enough, however. Express, consider your credibility gone.

Steven Tupper, Berkeley

Berkeley's Big Cog

Mr. Gammon is a "big cog" now for the Bates machine that continues to steamroll the Berkeley community. This is not reporting. It is unadulterated campaigning for an agenda that has no business in Berkeley. Does Gammon run the East Bay Express? It would seem so. How could an otherwise good newspaper so flagrantly abuse good reporting? Mother Jones you are not — and shame on you. And by the way, Mr. Gammon, when was the last time you attended a Berkeley council meeting? Surely if you had you would have seen that many are beginning to see that our small community has been "played" by professional politicos ... as well as by people like you.

To Berkeleyans: Vote for whom you may, but do vote "yes" on Measure V. It will require this city to finally "come clean" on its debt. Then, perhaps, Berkeley will "clean house" and chart a real future ... hopefully before bankruptcy.

Victoria Peirotes, Berkeley


"Who'll Replace Jane?," Election 2012, 10/10

Raya's the Right Choice

For generations, North Oakland has been represented on city council by people with progressive politics. And for years, I've stood with them and fought with them to make great gains for disadvantaged communities. In this city council race, we have an opportunity to elect someone who is progressive like us, but also represents everything our generation has fought for.

Richard Raya, a candidate for city council in District 1, is the son of farmworkers, a man whose family was homeless at times when he was a boy. He overcame all odds to go to Berkeley, graduate with a master's degree, and become an expert at making local government work. Richard is the next generation of our progressive fight. He holds our values and he has actually experienced poverty, racial discrimination, homelessness, and the other ills that we progressives seek to cure. Richard would also be the first person of color to represent North Oakland in my lifetime — and perhaps ever.

I believe Richard's life experience, his fifteen-year career of success in local government, and his vision for Oakland makes him the most compelling — the most experienced, most capable, and most exciting — candidate to represent District 1.

Richard embodies all that I have worked for in my fight for civil rights. He didn't grow up with advantages, but instead of dwelling on what he has overcome, he focused on what got him out: After dropping out of high school, he went back to community college, was accepted by UC Berkeley, and graduated with a public policy master's degree — and a determination to make government work better so it could help others the way it helped him.

With fifteen years of success in local government, he has a proven track record of doing just that. He has successfully mediated between some of the same groups we need to bring together in Oakland — helping community, labor, and business join forces in 2006 to pass a $20 billion school bond. He is also the only candidate in District 1 with experience managing a large government budget: As budget director of the Alameda County Public Health Department, he oversaw a $120 million budget and 600 employees—and found ways to save $6 million every year for three straight years in tough economic times, allowing the county to avoid layoffs and maintain vital health services.

Richard's campaign motto says he "Loves this town." I believe it. His vision reflects a deep understanding of power relationships; of how a community can join hands to face our challenges together. His campaign brings in new forces, not simply the same old power dynamics and personalities that are much too common in Oakland. He has friends all across the city but he does not have political debts.

Richard grew up in a neighborhood dominated by gangs, and he wants that to end that experience for his family his friends and the Oakland community. He knows that "crime raises with the poverty rate" as my son Boots Riley says; so he wants to take it on with his personal and community-based experience.

Look at his support for CeaseFire. For years in Oakland, our city's crime-fighting efforts have taken a punitive approach to crime — and our communities are still reeling from this misguided approach. Richard, on the other hand, has promoted CeaseFire, a nationally-recognized crime program that has reduced crime in cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles by bringing to bear all of the city's and county's resources with the power of our community. CeaseFire is the community's way of embracing our youth caught up in destructive life choices. We know we haven't always provided our children with the tools to succeed in our economic system. We all share blame, and we are willing to take some of the responsibility. The violence must end — and it must end now. Richard will be a bridge to ending the violence, a champion of an approach that brings the entire community together to put all of our children on the path to a better life.

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