Letters for October 21 

Readers sound off on the Lost Runner, Oakland parking, the BART connector, community colleges, and more.

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Singapore has about the best transportation system in the world. The reason is they manage to integrate their transit, road system, and land developments. To do this, they have combined their land planning with transportation into a single agency. Through this coordination they have: integrated land use, town and transportation planning, developed a comprehensive road network, applied various technologies into its planning, controlled the number of cars in use, and instituted congestion pricing. Through this they have developed a world-class integrated transportation system, envied by land and transportation planners throughout the world.

Roy Nakadegawa, former director, BART and AC Transit, Berkeley

"The Death of Energy at 92.7," Culture Spy, 9/23

Energy 92.7, R.I.P.

The radio industry is going through a lot of changes in the past few years. With increased competition from the Internet, satellite radio, iPods and other mediums, the radio industry is facing so many challenges. Radio stations are being bought out by major media companies and when we are turning on the radio these days, we listen to the same thing. 

The Bay Area is a place with a well-established history in radio and has become a part of our culture. The first radio station started right here in the Bay Area (KCBS) in 1909. Energy 92.7 (KNGY) was one of the great radio stations. It had a weak 5,000-watt transmitter but thousands of listeners [throughout] the bay and America. In 2009, Energy won top dance radio station in the United States. Energy literally had energy and it had a loyal niche of listeners. Many of the listeners were young and a part of the gay and lesbian community of the Bay Area. Even with the listeners and the success, Energy was not able to make money and was sold in early September. Now, we are now stuck with another generic Top 40 radio station that plays the same songs all day long. This is the face of the modern radio station. The owner of the new KREV fired all of the old KNGY staff and streams all of the music from Las Vegas from their sister station in Las Vegas. This is the "brilliant" idea from KREV to reduce overhead cost to none. In my opinion, this station will last about six months and will fall like KNGY, but with no dignity. What the media giants don't get about the Bay Area is we want locally hosted radio shows like KGO. We want a radio station with its own culture like KFOG and KOIT. We want radio stations that play locally made and produced music like KMEL. What these new radio stations offer listeners [is] nothing. The music from these new radio stations is like someone plugged their iPod into a radio tower and decided to call it a radio station. 

The new KREV represents the new face of radio. Now when you turn on the radio, you can listen to the same song from the top 10 list from over five different radio stations. Radio now has no personality, no culture, and no soul. We will miss KNGY and the music it has brought, and try to find other places to listen. 

Donald Sakiyama, Castro Valley

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

They Just Keep Coming

At the California community college where I have been a full-time professor for the last ten years, morale is low. Classified staff is getting laid off. Faculty openings are going unfilled. At least four divisions do not have deans; these positions are being manned by various administrators, who stop by sporadically. Last week, when I asked for campus police presence by one of my classrooms in which there had been an altercation, I was told by the police chief that there was only one officer on duty, and he would come over if he had the time, after he oversaw another class that had also had an altercation.

Meanwhile, there has been something like an 11 percent leap in enrollment — just in time for the grave cuts to basic skills and other classes required for transfer. I've heard of a counselor at one of the state universities telling his students that they should consider attending college out-of-state, for, if they stay within the California system, it will take them seven years to garner all their credits for a bachelor's degree. If community college students' stresses are historically high (in one of my classes, there are three pregnant girls under twenty), you can imagine just how off-the-charts those stresses are now. It makes me want to jump ship. Yet they're still coming — even as they lament the difficulties (as they should). Community college students have been fighting against odds for so long that, perhaps, they might be the ones to push through the best.

Michelle Blair, Oakland

"The Lost Runner," Feature, 10/7

Give Him a Darwin Award

Everyone loves a missing persons story that ends happily with that person being found alive and well. Rachel Swan's article made me wonder why we should be happy for John Mintz. The man has no regard for himself much less his family or society at large. His nihilistic tendancies will certainly result in his demise ultimately. I wonder why your publication wasted a cover and six pages of ink covering this narcissist. He is obviously an obsessive compulsive with a death wish. No wonder his marriage didn't last. Look at how many times he wanders off into wilderness areas without any preparation for the elements and no attempt at understanding basic survival techniques. You would think in his other crazy quest to visit every library in California that he would spend a little time reading backwoods trail guides and glean some tips for living like notify people of our whereabouts, carry a GPS beacon, and a reasonable supply of food and water. In the end, nature will get this fool. In the meantime, I hope he finds help with his problem from a qualified mental health professional but I doubt it. You don't run into many good shrinks in the wilderness in the middle of the night when you really need one. For Mr. Mintz it will be too late.

Gus Sinks, San Bruno

What's the Cause?

Over the past year I have read several good books on survival, most notably Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales and The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood. So your article about the lost runner, John Mintz immediately caught my attention. At the end I was perplexed by Mr. Mintz' behavior and began connecting the behavioral dots. My hunch is that he suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder which accounts for his odd behavior.


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