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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Letters

Re: “Letters for the Week of May 2

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Posted by Editor on 05/02/2012 at 7:12 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of March 7, 2012

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

Posted by Editor on 03/12/2012 at 2:15 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of December 28, 2011

Ellen Cushing’s article “Trashed” in the Dec. 14 edition of the East Bay Express contained some additional factual errors that were not corrected above: the central campus is 178 acres, not 6,651 or “over 10 square miles” as was reported. The campus’s student population is currently 36,142 students and 1,582 fulltime faculty, not 40,000 students (campus data available at

Posted by Christine Shaff on 01/03/2012 at 9:50 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of December 14, 2011

I want to thank Molly for worrying about the California Live Oak at City Hall being flooded. I am also worried about the majestic and symbolic tree for another reason, pepper spray harms foliage, and an evergreen oak is different from the London Plane Trees defoliated on Sproul Plaza when they were gassed in the 1960s.

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Posted by Hank Chapot on 12/15/2011 at 6:56 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of November 16

At an independent, truth-seeking newspaper, journalists have the responsibility to frame the controversial terms and issues they report on. In this week’s edition, both Robert Gammon and Rachel Swan used vandalism and violence interchangeably in characterizing the Oakland Occupy movement. These words are not synonyms, nor should they be used frivolously.

Both Gammon and Swan seem to consider broken windows and trashcan fires as acts of violence; windows do not bleed and trashcans do not suffer. Nor can windows and trashcans go hungry, undereducated, or homeless. Corporations are not people. The events that occurred after sundown on November 2nd were acts of vandalism, not violence.

If Gammon and Swan were looking for acts of violence stemming from the Occupy Oakland movement, they could have emphasized police violence. Police officers, acting under the direction of elected city officials, have used numerous violent tactics to suppress constitutionally protected freedoms of assembly and expression, from tear gas (of which I was a victim), to rubber bullets, to batons, to fracturing Scott Olsen’s skull with a projectile. If the EBX uses the word violence to characterize the tactics of Occupy, they must show equivalent demonstrations of force against human beings, not corporate property.

There are instances where the line between vandalism and violence muddy. Fear is an act of violence, the preferred method of the ruling class. When vandals smashed windows at the business where I work, many of my co-workers were terrified. The memory of the fear they felt may harden them against a movement in their name. A nuanced inspection of vandalism and violence should have accompanied Gammon and Swan’s articles—instead they used the terms like synonyms.

One of the great triumphs of the global Occupy Movement is that it has induced people to question widely held misperceptions. Journalists must perform the same function. I urge the EBX and its readers to question themes that emerge around Occupy, like the myth of a violent movement. The status quo that bails out banks that force people from their homes is violent. Police and city administrators who have caused verifiable injuries are violent. Occupy Oakland is responding to this violence, not causing it. Before equating a few isolated acts of vandalism with fractured skulls and ruptured spleens, the EBX and its readers must reflect on their values. If you believe corporations are people, then violence has been done. If violence is an act that can only be committed against fellow human beings, then the EBX should retract accusation that Occupy Oakland is violent.

Owen Andrews, Oakland

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Posted by Owen O'Silverman Andrews on 11/16/2011 at 1:16 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of October 19

Awesome Letters !! Thanks for the brilliant write up!

Posted by Chandra Bose on 10/31/2011 at 10:18 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of October 5

"I think the Chengs [owners of The Parkway Theater on Park Street] deserve to have their property revoked via eminent domain.I agree 100% with this comment! The Chengs greed is punishing the entire neighborhood (my neighborhood) with blight and bringing down the value of my home so that I cannot refinance.

Posted by arugala on 10/13/2011 at 5:36 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of October 5

"SFGlam" spoke glowingly of the OLD Peet's, the one that USED to have Christmas parties to get invited to. Holiday parties for employees disappeared years ago. If a manager wants to do something nice for the staff, it has to come outta their own pocket. Didn't use to be that way. Note: if you've earned vacation time at Peet's , didja know you have to use it by the end of October or else put it off until January. Yessir, during November and December Peet's employees are forbidden to take time off. You can't even request to. Well, you CAN, but for thoses two months a year Peet's stated policy is a pithy, "NO."

Posted by Mr. Bean on 10/07/2011 at 7:23 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of October 5

I have been going to Peet's almost everyday for 6 years....I LOVE my Peet's employees, and they treat me SO well. they even invited me to their Christmas party one year! everyone I've spoken to there indicates they are treated well by the company, and many of them are long-term employees....that says a lot! I've gone to Blue Bottle, and RItual, and all the other hipster coffee places, but nothing holds a candle to my Peet's.

Posted by SFGlam on 10/06/2011 at 1:43 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of October 5

Wow...I like Peet's coffee, but have seen it become so.. so.. so... similar to Starbucks that I make a point to drive all the way across town to buy from Cole Coffee, where I've been going for about 20 years now. Love the coffee, it's locally owned and when I walk in the door the people who work there are nice. So, I tip well when I go in each week.

Posted by Max Blend on 10/05/2011 at 4:34 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"it's incredibly difficult to show direct and isolated correlations between many crime fighting tools and a drop in city wide crime, so that means we shouldn't base our decisions solely on those metrics."

It seems like your desire for curfews is affecting your logic. Suppose, for example, that the council was considering yet another crime prevention program in addition to the ones it already has through Measure Y/BB. And suppose that other cities reported that they thought this program worked, but there was no actual evidence to prove that claim. Would you still be interested? I wouldn't if it was going to suck up resources the city could use on proven stuff elsewhere.

The other problem with curfews, of course, is that they have the potential of leading to racial profiling and further damaging relationships between kids of color and police. Both problems apparently have happened in other cities. In other words, adopting a curfew here could have a significant downside, but with no proven upside. That doesn't make for smart public policy.

Finally, I don't buy the argument that OPD's numbers are bad. In my experience, the dept. takes its crime reporting to the FBI very seriously.

And the numbers show that youth crime is down dramatically in Oakland in the past decade. Teens, in other words, are behaving better than they have in a long time. It's kinda weird, I know. But step back for a second and look at the actual facts: Youth crime is down 33 percent in the past decade. We should probably be celebrating. But instead, we're talking about punishing kids because adult crime is out of control and we don't know what to do about that. It's seriously screwed up, when you think about it.

If you think OPD needs more tools, fine. Give them some that address adult crime: It's where the problem is. I would argue, however, that they already have the tools they need; they're just not doing a good job with them.

Let me guess ahead -- you'll probably bring up gang injunctions. As I've said before, I don't think they have the downsides of curfews, particularly if they target specific people instead of groups -- as John Russo did. But I will say this: They won't be enough.

I'm signing off, now, on this thread. I'll have more to say on this topic later. If you comment further on curfews and I don't respond, don't assume I cede the issue.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/23/2011 at 11:21 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Ok, so what you're saying is: we can't show a direct correlation between curfews and a drop in youth crime, so we therefore shouldn't have a curfew."

And what I'm saying is: it's incredibly difficult to show direct and isolated correlations between many crime fighting tools and a drop in city wide crime, so that means we shouldn't base our decisions solely on those metrics."

Do long beach parents like their curfew law?
Can police officers in Long Beach present case studies where the ability to do a curfew stop at-will allowed them to solve a crime, rescue a runaway, stop a crime in progress or disrupt gang business?

And again: what about youth victimization?

I do not suggest for a minute that we base our entire strategy on a curfew. It's
An addition to the tool kit.

Posted by Max A on 09/23/2011 at 6:03 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"Seriously: can you honestly say that one policy by a police department is the sole contributor to such a massive difference between the cities?"

I guess you haven't been paying attention, but I've been saying the exact opposite. There could be any number of reasons why youth crime goes up or down. But the numbers prove conclusively that there's no discernible connection between youth crime and curfews.

If they worked, then you would expect to see youth crime decline in cities that enforce them. But that's not the case. And there are lots of examples to prove this point. The study I cited in the original story is the best one out there, but Oakland and San Francisco's experiences are also on point: They don't enforce curfews and yet youth crime plummeted. Other cities show the same.

As for underage prostitution, there are far more effective ways of dealing with that than enacting a curfew that applies to all youth. A good loitering law, for example, patterned like the one that Ignacio and Larry Reid are proposing for people in the drug trade, might very well be effective.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/23/2011 at 5:43 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

You're still trying to prove causality for a huge trend by comparing it to a single policy, Bob.

Do you think the differences in the stats are because of the curfew? Or could the have something to do with years and years of different socio-economic curcumstances? Maybe there are different migration and population growth patterns? Maybe there are differences because SF has an organizational advantage due to being an incorporated county? Maybe SF has been losing kids or Long Beach has been gaining kids?

Seriously: can you honestly say that one policy by a police department is the sole contributor to such a massive difference between the cities? Bull.

And again you're only talking about crime by kids, not crime against kids, which I think is probably more important.

The curfew is a tool that may be helpful to police. I don't expect it to be their main focus. But can't you agree that it's usefulness for situations like checking in on underage street walkers is obvious?

Posted by Max A on 09/23/2011 at 5:22 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Don't like OPD's stats? Then how about San Francisco?

It has a youth curfew, but hasn't enforced it in nearly 20 years.

From 1999 to 2008, it's youth crime plummeted 29.6% -- nearly as big a drop as Oakland's.

And way better than Long Beach, which enforce its curfew fervently. Long Beach experienced a 11.3 percent increase in youth crime over the same time period.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/23/2011 at 2:40 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Bob, I wasn't comparing the 2006-2008 stats for youth vs. adults. I was comparing Oakland's stats on the archive you linked to with stats fromother cities. From 1999-2008, Oakland's arrest numbers have huge variation, Long Beach, as an example, has much less variation. The conclusion I'm drawing is that OPD is unstable, and our arrest stats therefore are going to be hard to compare with other places in a meaningful way.

And again: sociology and criminology isn't baseball. When you set the bar of proof that curfews work as requiring a systemic drop in crime attributable solely to curfews, you're setting an impossible bar. It's a rhetorical tactic. It isn't valid analysis.

Posted by Max A on 09/23/2011 at 2:15 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

OPD can't possibly have "legit, reliable stats." Sometimes they're unable to even LOCATE the record of a crime that's been reported and gone into the system. I personally have experienced this. Their records seem to be in as much disarray as the rest of the city's.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/23/2011 at 2:06 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"Our adult and overall arrest stats are equally eratic year over year."

Actually, that's not the case. The stats show that adult felony and misdemeanor arrests declined steadily through 2006 and then began to rise a bit in 2007 and 2008.

By contrast, juvenile arrests dropped off the map in 2005 and 2006 when Chief Tucker de-emphasized them. And then they stabilized when he changed his mind.

In short, they're not erratic. OPD appears to have legit, reliable stats.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/23/2011 at 1:01 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Bob, I was at rules committee. Schaaf proposed that the ordinance be changed to say "loitering" in public rather than "being" in public. It appeared her colleagues accepted that, though I'm not sure if that change will be reflected in the new staff report.

As for Tucker's de-emphasis on youth arrests explaining the disparity in Oakland's crime stats, I don't think that is a good enough explanation. Our adult and overall arrest stats are equally eratic year over year. It looks to me that our police force was so disorganized that comparing our records to other cities records is pointless.

What do you have in response to the argument that one policy doesn't need to lead to a systemic improvement in overall crime in order to be worthwhile?

And do you disagree that a curfew would make it easier to help criminally sexually exploited youth?

Posted by Max A on 09/23/2011 at 12:44 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"What's being proposed isn't really a curfew anyway."

It's a curfew. Here's the exact language of the proposed new law: "The curfew prohibits persons under 18 years of age from being in any public place or establishment in the City of Oakland, between the hours of 10:00 p.m. on any Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday until 5:00 a.m. of the following day, and 11:30 p.m. on any Friday or Saturday until 5:00 a.m. the following day. And between the hours of 8:30 a.m and 1:30 p.m on school days. It also prohibits parents or legal guardians from allowing
minors under their control to violate this Ordinance."

The exceptions it provides, such as not applying to youth coming or going to a job, are the same types of acceptions included in curfews in other cities.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/23/2011 at 11:34 AM

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