Letters for December 2 

Readers sound off on Chevron, KPFA, green tech in Berkeley, and more.

"Slow Food for All?," Food, 10/1

Pick on the Right Group

An interesting take on a movement that at its core is doing the right thing. But keep in mind, there are not very many artisinal food makers out there, thus the cost is high for their products. Simple supply and demand. Poor folks can't afford heirlooms is not a news story. What Slow Food is doing to combat that is teaching kids in a variety of communities how to raise their own food. It's called Edible Schoolyard, ask Alice Waters about it. They can eat an heirloom from their own porch if they know how to garden, and it's cheaper than any grocery store. Visit China, go to Shanghai, and everyone all over the city is growing food. Why can't that be the way things are in East Oakland? You can grow anything anywhere in California, why are you talking about what food is available at the local Safeway? If you want to blame someone for the plight of poor folks obesity and malnutrition, go ask Mike Minasi at Safeway why his stores stock different neighborhoods differently. That's a news story. You're picking on the wrong group! Yuppies might be naive, but they are not all bad, and this is a great organization. Pick on the major food players and expose their business practice.

Benjamin Knight, Pink Hill, North Carolina

"A Friend of Chevron Gives a Costly Gift," Full Disclosure, 10/21

Why Richmond Can't Progress

The East Bay suffers from the Chevron refinery's toxic pollution. Now Robert Gammon's article on realtor Joe Fisher has exposed Chevron's moral pollution as well. (Does secretly funding global warming-deniers count as intellectual pollution?)

I've always wondered why Chevron, which contributes bupkas to our town, but owns a huge amount of land, didn't build its corporate headquarters here (and let some bucks trickle down to local businesses) instead of in suburban San Ramon. Perhaps its executives didn't want to work under a toxic cloud? 

It's a terrible thing to say, but I believe Chevron prefers Richmond to stay poor. That way it gets to play the Big Shot. I was there at the press conference organized to show small business support for Measure T, a no-brainer since the fee change only affected manufacturing. I was outraged by Chevron's thuggish sabotage of the democratic process, but that's just the tip of the melting iceberg. Thank you Bob Gammon for turning your light on Joe Fisher and one big reason Richmond can't progress.

Michael Beer, Richmond

Chevron's Green-Washing

Thank you for exposing what we in Richmond have long suspected — the insidious reach of Chevron's machinations. Joe Fisher's two reasons for embedding with Chevron reveal his loyalty to the corporation and his willingness to perpetrate its lies. Fisher says Chevron is a big employer, but only a fraction of its work force lives in Richmond. Fisher reiterates Chevron's claim that its taxes make up a third of Richmond's budget. In reality, a recent Pacific Institute study shows that Chevron's taxes are only a tenth of the city's budget. 

Chevron refuses to pay the hazardous materials fee, has its utility users fee capped when everyone else in the city pays 10 percent, and recently demanded and got refunds on their property taxes. Last November, Richmond voters passed Measure T which requires manufacturers to pay for their annual business license based on raw materials used. Now, in an attempt to avoid paying their fair share in Richmond, Chevron has challenged Measure T in the courts.

Thanks for showing the greater East Bay what we have long lived with; Chevron uses small "charitable" contributions to worthy organizations to buy their silence. Likewise, its political contributions to politicians buy their compliance. While ignoring and compromising the needs and environments of communities all over the globe, Chevron attempts to put itself forward as a socially conscious corporation flooding the media with its ironic "green washing" propaganda campaign. For more information and satire of these ads check out TrueCostofChevron.com.

Many corporations are in economic trouble, not so Chevron. With its enormous profits, it should be leading, paying its fair share, not looking for ways to shirk its responsibility to Richmond.

Margaret Jordan, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Richmond

KPFA Elections Mark Station's Latest Turmoil," News, 10/28

The Board Doesn't Represent the Listeners

KPFA board member Tracy Rosenberg managed to put a lot of words in my mouth ("We're not Fruits and Nuts," 11/11/09). She asserts that by criticizing the people who have floated to the top of Pacifica's byzantine governance system, I'm somehow dismissing the thousands of listeners who, thankfully, help KPFA pay its bills. So, how many of our listeners does a given KPFA board member represent? About 0.2 percent.

Here's the math: KPFA has somewhere in the vicinity of 150,000 listeners. Of them, a little over 21,000 give enough money to get ballots in our elections. Of those, less than 3,000 actually vote. And, under Pacifica's version of proportional representation, it only takes 10 percent of the vote to win a seat on the board. That's right: With 300 votes, a board member can serve as a surrogate for 150,000 listeners — 99.8 percent of whom did not vote for him or her.

Some people don't even have to cross the 300-vote threshold. Pacifica Vice Chair Joe Wanzala — someone who's argued against paying staff to work on programs, and who's circulated an e-mail insinuating Larry Bensky's a CIA asset — lost his last bid for election to KPFA's board. But since Pacifica's brand of democracy mandates that runner-ups fill vacancies, he got on when another member resigned. He's in good company: the board member from LA who's pressing a vendetta against Amy Goodman got on as an alternate as well.


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