Letters for January 24-29, 2008 

Readers sound off about Robert Gammon, mountain biking on Jordan Trail, the purpose of Apprehension, John Russo, Don Perata, and more on Schilling Garden

"Meet Oakland's New Go-To Lobbyist," Full Disclosure, 1/9

Examinin' Gammon

Buel (editor of the Express) and Gammon, your attacks against me are so far-fetched that they're almost comical. I am a person who stands for what he believes in and speaks his mind. Buel, you kept your promise in your e-mail threat to me in December ("I know we've written about you in the past, and will no doubt do so again in the future") when I criticized your reporter's (Wendy Patterson's) disrespectful article of the East Oakland youth who attended the planning commission. And in response, I offer this:

Examinin' Gammon

In honor of an Irish mentor whose prose ring true,
I offer these words, like he might do.
Since they shoot at us to do us harm,
Then let this poem sound the alarm:

Lil Bobby Gammon seeks pleasure in discontent
Lambasting others, his temperament.
Was he the child so bullied in the yard,
That vengeance of his past, now his desired card?

What leads this boy to just waste his life,
Believing that undignified acts of an ink-filled knife
Can justify distortion, and smears, and lies?
In his slandering words, we hear his cries.

But pity we should have for him,
For his mission, like his work, is mildly dim:
To further his career and gain affect
And boost his ego, from his childhood wrecked.

I, the latest target of his pitiful ways,
Take comfort in knowing that in these days,
My work speaks for itself ... and for the curious some,
Learn more about us at www.terralindaservices.com

Carlos Plazola, Terra Linda Development Services, Oakland

"Then Suddenly He Punched Me in the Face!" Letters, 12/19

Where is the Hill Patrol?

Actually the letter about mountain bikes on the Strawberry Canyon fire trail (AKA Jordan Trail) was right on, although the writer may be slightly paranoid. There is an increased illegal presence of bikes and of single tracks, one of which goes down through the redwood grove. This compacts soil over the shallow roots of these trees and will lead to their demise. Bike ruts do lead to increased erosion. There are some nice fresh rutted tracks from the day after the recent heavy rains. Ninety-five percent of the cyclists when told they're not allowed on that trail have an attitude. The problem is partially the fault of UC who never replaced the metal no-bicycle signs (international symbol of a bike with a slash mark) at each entrance to the trail which had been torn down by mountain bikers years ago. Instead the "no bikes allowed" is written in with a whole litany of not-alloweds, which anyone speeding by on their bike isn't going to read.

The UC police department has a RAV4 with "Hill Patrol" written on the side. I've seen it in Piedmont but never on the trail. There is little enforcement. Someone put some red police tape and small limbs across the single track which within a week was torn down.

Judi Sierra, Oakland

"Rite in Front of My Face," Apprehension, 1/2

What's Your Plan?

For months I have tried to understand what benefit this weekly column serves. It's a police blotter with personality? And while Rufus proposes no strategies of her own to counter violence or crime in Oakland, she repeatedly seems to enjoy ridiculing the legitimate efforts of city departments and community groups.

Michael J. Hunt, Oakland, Deputy Communications Director for Mayor Ron Dellums

All We Are Saying ...

Your cheap shot directed at the Parks for Peace project is not what I would've expected from the Express. Planting a Peace Pole may be symbolic, but it gets the community together with the intention of doing more. Doing nothing at all would certainly not work. Thanks, at least, for publicizing the information about Project Mosaic.

Will you be following up on that with something other than sarcasm? I found it interesting that a few pages after your blurb was a full-page ad promoting peace sponsored by Yoko Ono. Would you have been willing to poke fun at that action as well?

Mike Hoey, Berkeley

"Book 'Em," Apprehension, 12/26

Come to Your Own Conclusion

This mugging came as no surprise to me. It's been happening there for two years. There are four ATMs located on that corner (Fruitvale and MacArthur) — WAMU, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank. I was robbed there on October 24, 2006, hit in the head with a lead pipe and robbed, and left unconscious in the street.

I notified Jean Quan and her Chief of Staff, Richard Cowan, that we had a serious problem. I posted on the listserv of the Dimond Improvement Association, and over a year later, nothing has changed, except the robberies are more blatant and occurring earlier in the evening, as soon as the armed guard at the Bank of America is off for the night, during the week at 5 p.m. I've never dealt with a more indifferent and ineffectual pair in my life. Jean Quan and Richard Cowan will only amaze you with their degree of indifference and lack of ability to address even the simplest problem.

Recently, there was a meeting at the Greek Orthodox Temple to address the armed robberies occurring in the hills next to the Mormon Temple. She started her same lame political speeches and told everyone, "We're strongly in favor of whistles." Hmm, whistles versus guns, now that's effective.

We, the residents of Oakland, are strongly in favor of Jean Quan's resignation. Quan and staff are fully aware that particular corner is plagued by robbery. Have they improved the lighting, increased police patrols, closed the ATMs at night?

None of the above. Come to your own conclusion. Close those ATMs at night. Gee, what a novel idea.

Jonathan Burrows, Oakland

"Spinmeister of the Year," 2007 Year in Review, 12/19

False Promises

Russo has no honor. His official comment on Measure Y in the 2004 ballot pamphlet said it would "hire 63 new sworn police officers." Voters bought the promise, but since then the City has actually had fewer officers than when Y was written. Russo responded to a lawsuit on this by insisting in a brief to the court, "The specific language of Measure Y, Section 4 is clear that minimal dollars must be appropriated, not minimal officers 'hired.'" For details, see ORPN.org/MeasureY.htm. If Russo knew that, why did he endorse the false promise made by councilmember Quan and others?

Charles Pine, Oakland

"Perata Probe Heats Up?" Full Disclosure, 12/26

No Wonder We're In Debt

Candy-apple red 2006 Dodge Charger with 22-inch rims, driven by a 62-year-old State Senator Pro Tem, that WE pay for just to stroke an inflated ego. MY GOD, no wonder we are so many BILLIONS in debt. And this fellow human wants to skirt term limits, and why not???? When was the last time he had to make payroll (on time)????? If he was working for a major private free market corporation in California, Mr. Perata's position would be going room to room with trash/recycling cans.

Frank Christensen, Oakland

"Friends in High Places," Water Cooler, 12/12

Reclaim the Park

It is always very disappointing to listen to project supporters and their apparent lack of interest or inclination to preserve this garden as part the natural environment and park system at Lake Merritt. Their drumbeat for economic development misses the mark here. They seem completely unaware of the explosion of development in downtown: by the City's own report in November, there are 36 separate housing projects with nearly 6,000 units being planned or built downtown.

If there were 36 other garden areas available downtown, I probably would not mind losing one or two, but there isn't. Schilling Gardens has the potential to be reclaimed as parkland, to then be daylighted and connected to Snow Park. Opportunities to create or reclaim parkland downtown or by the Lake are rare — this is what should be done with Schilling Gardens.

John Klein, Oakland

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