Letters for July 1 

Readers sound off on EBMUD, lobbying, the anti gold digger, and illegal garage sales.

"Sierra Water Grab," Feature, 4/29

Linney Is Deluding Himself

People in civilized society are governed by ethical as well as legal standards. Counsel for EBMUD has opined that Linney has no legal conflict of interest though Linney works for a developer whose sole goal is to profit by tapping into the limited water supplies available for existing EBMUD users. That is unethical but may explain why lawyers have their own reputation to defend.

Linney should not vote on nor participate in the discussions of increasing water supplies by any means whether by joining with COCO in its Los Vaqueros Reservoir, or the Mokelumne dam proposal. Simply because we cannot distinguish between Linney the employee of SunCal and Linney the elected official.

As this article clearly points out, we are not being told the truth by EBMUD. And the process is suffering. We are in a time of downsizing and limiting what governments can do based on sheer economics. Why should EBMUD counsel and directors spend valuable time defending a biased and prejudiced evaluation of water expansion options with the obvious "I am not a crook" line. Human nature is such that voters will never believe Linney can separate his two roles. He is deluding himself if he thinks he can.

Barbara Thomas, Alameda

"The Importance of the Oakland Cop Layoff Plan," Full Disclosure, 5/13

The Ethics Commission and the Artful Dodge

One of the key issues which the Ethics Commission did not address was the fact that the four individuals named in the complaint were, while claiming to be volunteer board members of a nonprofit organization, at the same time also officers and directors or salaried employees of corporations as defined in the law. Even though the lobbying law in Oakland requires officers and directors to disclose this, the Ethics Commission ignored it in this instance.

The closest the Ethics Commission got to dealing with this were a couple of soft-ball comments about "hats" and who decides which hat a lobbyist is wearing when they meet in private with elected officials? The Commission never really attempted to answer this question.

To be clear, the individuals named had more than one "hat" on when they lobbied, but only declared one "hat" in making their defense. I call it an "artful dodge," which was successful.

The issue of lobbyist who are concurrently volunteer members of nonprofits and also officers and directors of their own private for profit corporations is something the Ethics Commission will need to address.

John Klein, Oakland

"The Anti Gold Digger," News, 5/20

Leech, Not Gold Digger

The article about "Eve," the woman who is not full of herself, was very offending. Her statement that she is not a gold digger is totally true, she is a leech. Most likely preying on older, lonely, and damaged men. Any younger man would see right through this ruse. I have more respect for a prostitute who at least provides a service other than her "wonderful" company. There is absolutely no excuse for her actions. The exact reason relationships mean nothing is due to what she is doing. She may not be someone else's "ladder," but all these "sponsors" are certainly hers. What kind of example is she setting for her child? She is purveying an endless cycle of irresponsible parenting by non-contribution to society. Take off the mask Eve, and deal with your "man" issues!

Jeremy Loos, Hayward

"Where the Garage Sale Never Ends," News, 5/20

Where's the Controversy?

What is the point of the article, "Where the Garage Sale Never Ends"? Vickie's garage sale is near my home. Neighbors agree that she is an asset to the neighborhood, both for the occasional good deal and because she provides eyes on the street, keeping us all safer. Her operation is financially marginal — it's really a hobby. Cassie Harwood's article is full of misleading implications (the sidewalk in front of Vickie's garage is tidy) and poor writing (the relationship a person or neighborhood could have with a garage sale could be said to be "symbiotic," but a garage sale cannot be said to be symbiotic).

The point of Ms. Harwood's article appears to be the legal standing of these garage sales. If they are not a problem for the neighborhood and do not generate enough money to be eligible for taxes, why does she care? In a city rife with corruption, incompetence, and illegal activity on the part of city officials, large corporations, and developers, Ms. Harwood is exploiting the vulnerable to get herself a story. I don't know why anyone would care about what she is writing about if no controversy exists regarding the garage sales. I care that the East Bay Express appears to lack the moral compass and writing standards I have come to expect from the paper.

Seth Katz, Oakland

"Prisoner of the Cosco Busan," Feature, 5/27

It Was a Paid Vacation

Just read the article about the COSCO Busan oil spill, which occurred in thick fog after striking the Bay Bridge. This was the article about the crew members from China who were forced to stay in SF during their testimony, legal statements, etc. At the outcome of the article the reader was left with the afterthought: Cota, the pilot only has to serve ten months jail sentence while the crew, though innocent of any crimes, remained in SF for the duration of legal proceedings which lasted longer than Cota's sentence. Well let me begin by saying I read the entire article and, though long, it was well written and informative. I also want to say that while 60,000 gallons is a lot of fuel — in a body of water the size of the SF Bay it is pretty insignificant. I don't want you to think that the amount spilled being small voids any responsibility on behalf of the bar pilot but this factor must be considered. Let's face it, the spill could have been worse. True the pilot was plastered from prescription drugs and completely incompetent and 100 percent to blame for his mistakes but he did, through his quick response, prevent the disaster from being worse. This said I think it is warranted that he receive some kind of punishment for his actions. Ten months! Sure, why not, no one was hurt and the spill was small. The Chinese crew got paid to stay in SF, aren't in trouble for any reason and had free room and board — a paid vacation! Great! Why not? Bottom line is Cota is gonna be in prison for some time and that's a little different than roaming SF without restrictions (other than having to stay there). I just think that Cota got what he deserves, though maybe they should bill him for the repairs to the ship and the cleanup costs. The crew got a paid vacation.

Adam Morse, Berkeley

"Berkeley's Islamic Awakening," Feature, 6/3

Where's the Moderation?

Don Lattin may characterize Yamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir, founders of the new Islamic Zaytuna College as moderate and "inclusive." However, like most "moderate Muslims," Yusuf and Shakir are not what one might call "inclusive" when it comes to recognizing the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Then again, it can be said that few moderate Islamic leaders do recognize Israel as a legitimate nation.

Perhaps more disturbing is Zaytuna College's most prominent adviser, UC Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian. Professor Bazian supports a single state combining Israel and Palestine, whose resultant Palestinian majority would, of course, mean the end of Israel. As for his attitude toward the US, in April, 2004, before thousands of anti-Iraq war protesters, Bazian famously called for an intifada in America.

In sum, Bazian's radical perspective on the US and Israel does not bode well for the establishment in Berkeley of an allegedly more moderate Islamic institution of higher learning.

Dan Spitzer, Berkeley


In the June 24 Culture Spy article on the Naz 8, we misstated the first post-strike Bollywood movie. It was Kal Kissne Dekha, not New York.


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