Letters for January 26 

Readers sound off on organic labeling, OONA, and Steep Hill labs.

Page 6 of 7

There were times I thought Mr. Gammon had a death wish — he walked a thin line at times to let the people know what is going on.

He is truly an investagative reporter. I wish him well.

Carolyn Mixon, Oakland

Editor's Note

Co-Editor Robert Gammon plans to continue being a reporter, but on a less frequent basis.

"Oakland Funds Ballpark Study," Seven Days, 12/29

A Waste of Money

Thank Oakland City Council member Jane Brunner and her cronies for wasting $750,000 to fund an environmental study on a ballpark for the A's. And this from a city that can barely pay for basic services, is losing police, has a huge deficit. This is supposed to somehow send a message to the A's that we are serious? The A's will do what the A's want to, and that's that. The A's might be more willing to stay if Oakland spent that money on police and schools. Then let the A's fund their own environmental study and let the A's pay for their own ballpark as well.

Andrew Berna-Hicks, Oakland

"From Disease to Green," Eco Watch, 12/29

So Not Green

Technology to burn the biosphere is so not green. Biofuels from non-recycled products are essentially profiteering. Thank you for the industry perspective. Yay localism! Yay science!

Paul Anderson, Oakland

"Fight to Feelmore," Culture Spy, 1/5

Feel Great

This is a really great article. I could become a fan of both Ms. Joiner and of writer Rachel Swan. Good work!

Martin A. David, Oakland


In our January 5 Culture Spy, "The Flap Over Feelmore," we misspelled the name of Fred Brown and his store, Rocsil's.

In our January 19 cover story, "Parks in Peril," we listed the wrong members of Oakland's Public Works Committee. It consists of city councilmembers Libby Schaaf, Larry Reid, Rebecca Kaplan, and Nancy Nadel.

Miscellaneous Letters

A New Progressive Strategy for California

The Republicans have made the "No New Taxes" mantra an article of faith, and they can supposedly impose their will on the Democratic majority because of the two-thirds rule for revenue increases. There is, however, a secret weapon that is now available to the majority, if they decide to use it. The last election has now made it possible for a simple majority to pass a budget, even though two-thirds are still required to approve revenue increases. In other words, the taxophobic minority can decide how big the pie is, but now the majority gets to decide how the pie is divided. This means the majority can say to the minority, "You don't want to pay for government? Then no government for you." In other words, not a dime from Sacramento goes to any district whose representative refuses to vote for revenue increases. No public-funded building projects, no libraries, no convention centers. Jerry Brown has plans that will increase his power to use Sacramento money as carrots. He wants to transfer more responsibilities to the states, and then send revenue to the individual cities and counties to perform what were formerly state government duties. There is, however, an opportunity for using sticks as well as carrots. Transfer the responsibilities to every county and/or city, but only send money to areas whose representatives are willing to vote for revenue increases. Let the Republican districts pay for these responsibilities with local tax increases, or do without.

There are two possible outcomes that can arise from this action:

1) The Republican districts stoically tighten their belts and deteriorate into little western approximations of Somalia, with little or no functioning government. I don't think this is very likely, but even if this happens the rest of us will still be able to use the extra revenue to keep our parks and schools open.

2) The people in those districts will protest that they are being unfairly treated, and demand their services back. The rest of us then say, "Write to your representative and state senator and tell him or her to vote for revenue increases. If they refuse, replace them next term with someone who will take a realistic approach to revenue issues. Until you do this, the fairest place to make government service cuts is to those who think that government is unnecessary."

I can regretfully understand why President Obama has been forced to compromise with the new Republican majority in Congress. Governor Brown, however, is under no such pressure. California withstood the nationwide Republican onslaught by electing no Republicans to statewide office, and electing fewer Republicans to the statehouse. It is absurd and unjust that a minority perspective that has been decisively defeated at the polls should continue to maintain a stranglehold because of the two-thirds rule. In a recent poll, California voters were asked if we should "increase state funding for California's community colleges and public universities." Eighty-two percent said yes! To call this approval "overwhelming" is an understatement. Those extremists who have repeatedly cut state funding for public colleges are clearly out of sync with the rest of the public. They have forced their will on us for decades because of the old budget rules. Now that the majority controls the budget, we can take back the power of self-government. They have never compromised with us, and now there is no need to compromise with them. It is time to play hardball.


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