Letters for December 9 

Readers sound off on Marcel Diallo, PG&E, and the milk industry.

Page 4 of 8

Sven Eberlein, San Francisco

How Is He Guilty?

In the latest article "You Don't Know Jack," the East Bay Express and Robert Gammon are trying to gain the readers sympathy for Mr. Allstadt by telling a story of fraud and racist accusations. They have attempted to show how one man fraudulently assassinated the character of another; but this article is doing to Marcel Diallo exactly what Mr. Allstadt is accusing Diallo of doing to him. I guess, however, since now it's perpetrated by a large organization such as the East Bay Express, it is alright. Thus, what was supposed to look like an authentic journalistic piece comes off as nothing more than an editorial feature set up to express the author's obvious dislike for one man and his work.

Please explain how an artist changing his name (or dropping his last name) and creating a stage name for himself amounts to dishonesty? Prince? Marilyn Monroe? Madonna? Please explain how financial instability and foreclosures mean that Mr. Diallo is a liar. In today's economic climate, who isn't having financial difficulties?

Then the reader is told that Mr. Diallo lived "part-time on Park Boulevard." Big deal! Again, please explain what this has to do with your original point challenging the honesty of Marcel Diallo and the fraud issue at hand? Or explain how receiving help from a "white developer from Emeryville" is relevant to Internet fraud? From what I know, receiving monetary help is called a "bailout;" except this is one bailout that is actually helping the community.

And what does the condition of the Black New World have to do with anything? Dear Mr. Gammon, the rust and corrugated metal you speak of are actually a part of the aesthetics of the building and wouldn't the hole you speak of point to even more reason for it to qualify for an upgrade.

And if it's true that an activist works "for the people" and not against them, then it would seem that Mr. Diallo — with his support from a white millionaire, a white city council member, a white environmental group, and a following of many other Black, Asian, White, Latino, and Native people — would be more the activist than Mr. Allstadt — who, by your own words, came to challenge (i.e., replace) the power structures of the people within the neighborhood that he just "recently" moved into.

Journalism 101 — State your point and then bring forth the evidence to prove your point.

It seems you have confused yourself and the readers! You've tried to inform the reader of Internet fraud when in reality, you've only succeeded at emphasizing issues that point to the difficulties many nonprofits face during recession and non-recession times.

Now if the Internet fraud claim is found true in a court of law, I'm sure Mr. Diallo will have learned a valuable lesson. However, Mr. Gammon, rather than trying to disparage Mr. Diallo and make us aware of Mr. Allstadt — what you have really done is disparage yourself and your work as a journalist.

This article, were one to read it without the irrelevant side talk, would read as nothing more as a questionable, yet common practice among bloggers. So, East Bay Express and Mr. Gammon, I challenge you to present an article to your readership devoid of any of the sensationalism or gossip-mongering pervasive in to many of today's so-called media outlets.

Aishah Bashir, Oakland

Outsider Reporting

As I'm sure Max Allstadt did not deserve the alarming e-mail event in his name, I am deeply disturbed with the extremely superficial portrayal of the Black Dot Artists Community, to the point of worried.  I am a local urban planner and have friends who are part of that grassroots community who do in fact put on cultural events and community development in the name of enriching their community. The only balanced investigative journalism shown in the article was Robert Gammon's ability to drive-by The Black New World and criticize its facade structure. Gentrification is a very complex force in West Oakland and to treat it so superficially, one-sided, while disregarding the older community living there who is working to build up their cultural district without a phony or corporate sponsored tone should be commended not misunderstood by a determined under-informed outsider journalist. I expect more from the East Bay Express

For starters, you could check out a new book on the neighborhood produced by Ecocity Builders and the Village Bottoms neighborhood.http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/609951/d3ef72c2b657a3e92fd306fb3a75a903

Gabriella Condie, Oakland

Thanks for the Write-Up

I'd like to thank Robert Gammon for being willing to write about my ordeal. Given my sometimes sarcastic criticism of some (though not all) of his articles, it was big of him to help me get the truth out.  

That said, I have some minor qualms regarding the tone of the article. The choice to take a dismissive voice about Black Dot Artists' venue, the Black New World, was unwise.  Mr. Diallo's enterprises, though failing, have a small and loyal following. Until it was shut down for safety and permit violations last year, the Black New World was known for hosting well-attended events. Also, I think the photo the Express chose of Mr. Diallo was unnecessarily goofy. Combined, these issues made it easier for Mr. Diallo's followers to see the article as slanted, even though the facts presented are all well sourced and could have stood on their own.

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