Letters for August 6 

You want us to let Jesus into our hearts, you don't trust Chevron or Children's Hospital of Oakland, and you're sick of warrantless searches, development in Alameda, diesel trucks, Oakland cops, and UC Berkeley libraries.

"Big Oil in Little Richmond," Feature, 7/9

One Crucial Omission

As a Richmond resident and one who has followed Chevron's "upgrade" permit through commission hearings, I think you have given those not familiar with the issues a well-written, well-researched article with one crucial omission.

While it is indeed impossible to prove that Chevron "causes" a specific amount of illness, it is obvious that if they increase their toxic emissions, health risks will increase as well. Therefore, it was a huge mistake to omit Communities for a Better Environment's demand. CBE wants the permit approved. Old and dangerous equipment should be replaced, should have been long ago.

They are taking Chevron at its word, and only asking for a comprehensive, verifiable cap on emissions at the current level. Personally, I think Chevron is lying, which is why they won't agree to this. And I'm always suspicious when one party in a dispute refuses to talk to the reporter.

Michael Beer, Richmond

Chevron Beyond Richmond

I was impressed by Anna McCarthy's excellent article on the proposed Chevron refinery expansion. However, Ms. McCarthy failed to reveal the devastating impacts of the Chevron refinery on communities beyond the boundaries of Richmond.

Chevron is driving the war in Iraq. According to the Department of Energy, the Richmond facility refines around 1.1 million barrels of stolen Iraqi oil a month. Chevron is also lobbying the US government and the Iraqi parliament to pass the Iraqi Oil Law, which would allow for two-thirds of Iraq's oil fields to be controlled by foreign oil companies, such as Chevron. The war in Iraq has already cost the United States $2.8 trillion dollars and killed over 4,000 soldiers.

Chevron is contributing to climate change. According to a letter written to the Richmond City Council from Attorney General Jerry Brown's office on March 19, 2008, the proposed refinery expansion will increase greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 898,000 tons. This pollution increase affects all of us. Climate change caused by carbon emissions is the worst environmental disaster our planet has ever faced. Hurricane Katrina, and the current food crisis, which is being exacerbated by prime agricultural land being destroyed by extreme weather events such as drought in Australia and California's emergency-level drought, are all linked to climate change. And Chevron, as the corporation keeping us all addicted to oil, is the chief culprit.

It's time for Richmond City Council to say no to dirty fossil fuel and the Chevron expansion and say yes to a green, fossil-free economy and the long-term health of all people, from Richmond to Iraq.

Jessica Bell, organizer, Direct Action to Stop the War, Berkeley

"Don't Call It a Recession," Seven Days, 7/9

A Loss of Pride

I am writing in regards to the recent layoffs and program closures at Children's Hospital of Oakland. I have been working with two specialized programs that were both eliminated. I am standing up primarily for the patients that have been left out in the cold, and secondly for my dedicated colleagues who have been disrespected in ways no human being should.

This is a hospital whose mission says it is "to ensure the delivery of high-quality pediatric care for all children through primary and subspecialty networks." It is understood that there is a bottom line financially; however, the board members and administration of this institution made a decision without the forethought or planning of how the children and families would be served. The "subspecialty networks" that were eliminated are simply not offered in many other locations; the programs where they are offered are so small they will not be able to absorb our patients without also negatively impacting their own patients. So the burning question that we have all lost sleep over in the past week is: Where will all the children go?

The lack of forethought and the inconsistency in this situation is astonishing! The willingness to make concessions further supports the lack of planning for this major blow to the hospital and greater community. How is it that these administrators who have worked their way to the top of the ranks had no idea how many children would be affected? How is it that they fired some people and escorted them off the hospital property before 5 p.m. that day, while others were allowed to stay to follow through with the standard of care that had been previously established? Why did they originally state the eliminated clinics needed to be closed by July 15, then willingly extend to August 1 only for those who requested it? Why is it that they committed to a "sign on bonus" of $3,000 to an employee less than two months prior to laying her off? Why is it that they are willing to fund the specialized training of an employee who was retained, when the 27-year career of another employee in that same specialty area was so abruptly ended? How could they force their employees to shoulder the responsibility of notifying so many families, without direction or a transition plan, that we are breaking our long-term commitment to them? Why was there no official notification to the employees or media about which departments have been affected? Out of respect for who we are as employees and for the community we serve, why is there such an incredible lack of transparency?

Until July 1, I was so proud to say that I worked at Children's Hospital Oakland. I was proud to say I served children regardless of their insurance coverage, social status, or primary language. Today, I am relieved that I no longer work for an institution that would treat its patients or employees in this way.

I am choosing to not share my name – not because I am unwilling to attach my name to my words, but because this could come from any one of the 125 employees who have been "let go."

Anonymous, Oakland

"Sleeping Around Craigslist," Feature, 6/18

Jesus Loves You. I'm Not So Sure.


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