Letters for the Week of October 31, 2012 

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

Page 9 of 10

Richard's campaign shows he can make this a reality, reflecting both the old and the new diversity of Oakland our city must bring together. I recently had the pleasure of spending the day with Richard and members of his team at the Rockridge Out and About, and I was inspired by the breadth of his appeal: He is strongly supported by North Oaklanders of every stripe — older white and black supporters from the Hills, working mothers from Rockridge, longtime African-American residents from the Santa Fe and Bushrod neighborhoods, tech workers with jobs in San Francisco looking to put down roots in Oakland, community advocates who have spent years cleaning up the Temescal or working in community-based social justice organizations, and young people of color from the flats who will be voting for the first time this November.

Richard's vision for a safer, more prosperous, more unified city is one all of us can rally around. If we want leadership that is truly representative of all of Oakland — and if we want to empower all of our city's voices — we need leaders whose life experiences reflect a little bit of all of us. Richard has known poverty and prosperity. He understands the conflict of racial profiling, as well as the desire to have his community protected. He's been an activist, a policy director, a budget manager, and a father. He speaks as someone who has succeeded against all odds and understands how that success can be replicated for the next generation.

Richard's experience shows what our progressive community is capable of. Our hard-won efforts over the years have helped create a new generation of leaders who have the tools we need to move Oakland forward. Now is the time to stand behind leaders like Richard as they move ahead to lead our city.

Walter Riley, Oakland

"There's a Hole in the Bucket," Election 2012, 10/10

Prop 38 Makes Sense

Thank you for a refreshingly fair and accurate article. You are correct that neither proposition will solve California's budget crisis in the long run, but then Prop 38 doesn't make that claim.

Prop 38 makes sense. While politicians form coalitions and work at building their own campaign funds to get re-elected, California has become a state with one of the lowest funding ratios per student in the nation. At best, we get what we pay for. Prop 38 has common-sense safeguards to reduce waste and pay off debts. Only Prop 38 gives its funds directly to the school by sidestepping the political quagmire in the state capital. Let's set aside our blanket negativity and pass Prop 38 as an investment in the next generation. Let's do what's best for our kids.

Wayne Dequer, Monrovia

"Funding the Future," Election 2012, 10/3

Look Again

On November 5, Alameda County's voters will be asked to approve Measure B1. If Measure B1 passes, the current transportation sales tax in Alameda County would go from .5 percent to 1 percent, thereby bringing the total sales tax in most towns and cities in Alameda County to 9.25 percent. Once in place, the new transportation tax would remain in place in perpetuity. Once every twenty years, people would be permitted to comment on the way the money was being spent. Once every thirty years they would be permitted to vote on a new capital program. What they could not do is reduce or rescind the tax. If Measure B1 passes, the agencies administering the $7.7 billion projected to be raised by the Measure over the next thirty years would be pretty much free to proceed as they pleased without public oversight. Here are three of Measure B1's weaknesses:

As anyone who has driven in Oakland during the past decade knows, many of its streets have historically looked and felt like the streets of a war zone. The deplorable condition of Oakland's streets has resulted in large part because of the way street maintenance funds were allocated under the old Measure B, approved by the voters in 2000. Yet the new Measure B1 would incorporate the same deficient and unfair funding allocation formula that applied under the old Measure B.

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Measure B1 would raise only 10 percent of the funds needed to bring Oakland's streets up to standard.

$1.8 billion would be allocated to AC Transit. Today, one constantly sees virtually empty AC buses slogging forlornly back and forth across the Bay Bridge and along East Bay streets and thoroughfares. Yet AC Transit reportedly plans to use its entire Measure B1 allocation to put still more buses on the street. More useful would be a crash program designed to attract more AC Transit riders by modernizing its antiquated bus routing system, altering its service levels to meet demand, and improving its operating efficiency. $400 million would go toward extending BART from its current terminal in Dublin to Livermore. This expenditure would represent the proverbial camel's nose under the tent. The cost of just Phase I of this ill-conceived extension is projected to be $1.2 billion, with the ultimate cost of extending BART to the east end of the county running to $3.85 billion. Yet despite its high price, the extension is expected to attract a dismally small number of daily riders by 2035, thereby saddling the Alameda County and the rest of the region with another losing BART line and another colossal waste of Bay Area transportation capital.


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