Letters for November 7, 2007 

Readers sound off about East Bay crime, reporters' own free speech rights, and more on Native-American sites in the East Bay

"Same Bat Channel," Apprehension, 10/3

They Learned it at School

What in the heck is going on at Berkeley High if young thugs walk around carrying baseball bats? Is beating and robbing a Berkeley sport? Ipod robberies are common in Berkeley and on a recent national TV program, we saw Berkeley High students steal an Ipod off the dash of a car in the front of Berkeley High. The TV program followed the student to his home in Hercules of all places. We learned that the same Berkeley High student then had his stolen Ipod stolen from his Berkeley High locker: Poetic Justice. I believe that Berkeley High administrators and parents who look the other way at out of district kids attending Berkeley High are sending a message to kids that it is okay to lie to get what you want. Too many of the kids think it is also okay to beat and rob to get what they want.

Robin Wright, Berkeley

"New OUSD Security Policy," Water Cooler, 10/3

Just Another Disconnect

Thank you for the article on the fingerprint requirement for volunteers in Oakland schools. Our principal at Crocker Highlands was one who elected to err on the side of caution and require all volunteers to be fingerprinted if they are engaged in unsupervised activities with students. This ranges from chaperoning fourth and fifth grade overnight trips, working with a student or students in small groups outside the classroom but on the school site — in the hallway or in the library — and driving on "day" field trips (among other activities). While a number of downtown suits have said that the district has not required "day" field trip drivers to be fingerprinted, I am told it is left to the discretion of the school's principal to decide to require it or not. My daughter's fifth grade overnight is from October 17-19. At this point I do not know whether I can pick up my child and several classmates in Occidental and drive them back to Oakland on Friday without being fingerprinted first. This is my eighth year at Crocker Highlands. I served as PTA President for two years. I have volunteered in many different capacities at Crocker Highlands. I have never seen anything that would warrant such a blanket policy especially when one considers the cost and the lack of procedures to safeguard confidential information. Just another example of the disconnect between the classroom and Second Avenue.

Judy Ganley, Oakland

Burning Brightly

Initially I thought that what I saw was a short term aberration. Now I am convinced that you believe the south arm of the bay is now landfill below the Oakland border. Your title, East Bay Express, does not express your coverage. I suggest you retitle the rag North Alameda Country Declare. I do note that some of the SF based rags to cover the south country in several ways. Their vision seems to be broader based. Otherwise your rag makes just as good fireplace goods as the others.

Robert Wister, Hayward

"A Misdirected Missive," Full Disclosure, 10/10

Speech vs. Action

As a journalist who has been politically active over the years, I generally support the right of reporters to express themselves as they choose in their personal lives, so long as they don't cloud the issue by writing a story on a matter which they have already taken an advocative stance. So, I have no problem with the Merc's tech writer working openly for Oakland's do-nothing mayor, Ron Dellums, to step down.

 But those who criticize the Chronicle for firing Henry Norr appear often misinformed as to why Editor Phil Bronstein severed Norr from the paper. Yes, Norr was active in the anti-war movement. No problem there. But it was also well known that Norr was a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, an organization London's Telegraph newspaper termed "the 'peace group' that embraces violence."

 The ISM, while calling themselves non-violent, have openly justified the most vicious Palestinian acts of violence. Indeed, as was reported in Mother Jones (September, 2003), the ISM harbored two terrorists who were participants in a deadly suicide bombing in Tel Aviv a few days after, as the British Guardian said, posing in Gaza as ISM "peace advocates." Moreover, about a month prior to this act of murder, the Israeli army apprehended Islamic Jihad suicide planner Shadi Sukiya while he was taking refuge in ISM's Jenin office.

So Norr was more than simply a political advocate. When the Chronicle learned he was a member of an organization which aided and abetted terrorism, the paper realized it would be anything but ethical to keep Norr on the publication's staff. In sum, while a reporter should have a reasonable right to political expression, participation as member of a pro-terrorist organization is appropriate grounds for termination.

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