Letters for November 4 

Readers sound off on cuts to community colleges, the lost runner, and EBMUD.

"Cuts Threaten the Mission of Community Colleges," Raising the Bar, 9/23

Not Just a College

My name is Jennifer Wood, and I am a student at Berkeley City College. I read your article a couple of weeks ago about cuts to communitycolleges. I think it's vital for people to understand the importance of community colleges in the lives of women, minorities, older students, and workers. In addition to this, many students have families and also us the community college as a place people pass through on their way to university. It's important for people to think of the community college as a hub which so many other parts of the community are involved in. This being understood, I and some fellow students from the Global Studies Club at my school have begun organizing Bay Area community colleges to act against these cuts. We have been coordinating efforts to make cuts information easy to understand, and plan on having a Bay-wide community college teach-in on Nov. 7 at BCC. If you would be interested in hearing more about this I will happily keep you posted. I hope you continue writing about budget cuts on community colleges. Your story almost lacked hope in the end, and I think we really need to give people a way to fight back. The community colleges are a beautiful thing, and now more than ever we need to band together with all forms of public education and fight back.

Jennifer Wood, Berkeley

"The Lost Runner," Feature, 10/7

Tips for the Lost

In the closing paragraph of your story, "The Lost Runner," John Mintz confirmed what was going through my mind during the article: he's either arrogant or an idiot, or both. Following his rescue after a harrowing week spent lost while running in the wilderness, he heads out for another run into the woods as darkness approaches, saying, "some people just like to play with fire a little bit." Just so your readers don't confuse this guy's actions with heroics, allow me to share a few basic tips about what to do when lost — things Mr. Mintz either ignores or hasn't bothered to learn:

1)       To begin with, always let someone know when and where you are going.

2)       Always carry a basic (fanny-pack size will do) emergency survival kit including a portable water filter or purification tablets, a water container, a map and compass (GPS batteries do die!), a waterproof space blanket, waterproof matches, a knife, fifty feet of nylon cord, a small flashlight, some trail snacks, and a whistle.

3)       If you become lost, start by calming yourself, see if you can get your bearings or retrace your route. Stay put if you're still lost and wait for help. (Moving can make you even more lost and be exhausting.)

Anyone can become lost at any time for a variety of reasons. I'm an experienced outdoorsman, and I've been lost several times. Luck had very little to do with becoming "found" again. It's easy for anyone to take a class about basic survival skills or at least read a book about it.  Not making simple preparations when entering remote or unfamiliar areas can lead to a serious dose of fear and discomfort, injury, exposure, or much worse. Along with the personal dangers of being lost, there are the financial costs and dangers of mounting a search and rescue party to consider, as well as the emotional costs endured by loved ones. I think basic emergency survival should be a part of every kid's education, regardless of where they live.

 If Mr. Mintz wants to "play with fire" again, let him do it at his own expense, or let him stay lost.

Eric Burkhart, Berkeley


"The Legal Battle Against the Dam," Eco Watch, 10/21

I Was Exasperated

Director Katz is a really good friend of the environment, and of the EBMUD rate payers. His efforts to improve the Water Supply Management Plan came at the end of a very long day and at the end of a very complicated and frustrating board discussion.

The bottom line is that a bare majority of the board voted to continue a destructive plan to kill a living river. Andy Katz, Doug Linney, and Lesa McIntosh deserve our gratitude for their efforts to reverse that direction.

My comment to Director Katz was out of line, and born of exasperation with the board majority's stubborn adherence to 19th century solutions for 21st century challenges.

David Nesmith, Sierra Club and the Environmental Water Caucus


In our October 28 article "Manipulating the Vote," we stated that Steven Hill of the New America Foundation said his organization would sue if the Oakland City Council tried to delay implementation of ranked-choice voting or if California Secretary of State Debra Bowen denies certification of Alameda County's software and hardware system. But in a follow-up interview, Hill said he was merely predicting that lawsuits would be filed, not that his organization would file them.


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