Letters for October 22 

Readers sound off on Oakland ID cards, East Bay children's museums, scams from all over the globe, leadership in Oakland, and more.

"Coalition Seeks Oakland ID Card," News, 9/17

I'll Be Over Soon

In your recent article on the plan to have Oakland pay for IDs for everyone in the city, you quote Maria Dominguez as saying: "If you live in Oakland, you should have the right to be called an Oakland citizen." I'm not going to discuss Locke, Adam Smith, and the Federalist Papers on rights and citizenship, and won't put too much emphasis on President Lincoln's observation that calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one. If Ms. Dominguez sincerely believes that living in a place confers the right to consume its resources, please publish her address so that people can break in her windows and insist that she feed them and provide them with free health care.

David Altschul, Berkeley

It Must be the Water

I have a great idea. Why not let ICE hand out the new IDs and anyone in this country illegally be put on the big white bus and sent home, at once! Where do these people get off aiding and abetting criminals. The feds should immediately remove all federal funding from any city, county, or state that promotes this kind of behavior. I bet then you would see our laws being enforced. Idiots! Is there something in the water in California that is causing people to become bleeding-heart liberals that don't know the difference between legal and illegal? For crying out loud, grab a dictionary and look it up!

Bobbie McLaughlin, Myrtle Beach, SC 

"The Science of Play," Ideopolis, 9/24

You Don't Have Kids, Do You?

Susan Kuchinskas used an interview with Stevanne "Dr. Toy" Auerbach for the following excerpt: "Auerbach thinks it's a shame that there are more than two hundred children's museums in the country, but none in the East Bay. She dreams of a venue like the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, which is less about looking at exhibits and more about hands-on science and art projects, cultural festivals and performances."

MOCHA, Museum of Children's Art, located in downtown Oakland is not only committed to ensuring that the arts are a fundamental part of lives of all children, but additionally, MOCHA is getting ready to celebrate its 20th-anniversary serving Bay Area children.

Since 1989, MOCHA has encouraged hands-on learning in the arts and has promoted art as a way to help children of all backgrounds develop as healthy, resourceful, and involved citizens. More than 20,000 Bay Area children participate in MOCHA programs annually, ranging in ages from eighteen months to eighteen years, from all economic and ethnic backgrounds. MOCHA has been recognized both locally and nationally for our program excellence and has established a reputation for quality, sustainability, and dedication. MOCHA is one of many outstanding East Bay children's museums, and we welcome the opportunity to introduce your readers to the programs offered in our dynamic, Old Oakland studios. (www.mocha.org)

Jessica Yarris, Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Museum of Children's Art, Oakland

Not Even One, Huh?

I'm sure it was an oversight that your reporter failed to mention Habitot Children's Museum (Berkeley), the East Bay's ten-year-old discovery museum that recently won "Best Museum for Little Kids in the Bay Area (2008)" by Nickelodeon's ParentsConnect.com. Dr. Toy (Stevanne Auerbach) has also served on Habitot's Advisory Board for years. Over 750,000 people have visited Habitot, which celebrates unstructured play for children with hands-on exhibits, lots of loose parts and art materials in an interactive space. A core part of the museum's mission is to engage parents and other other adults in playfulness with their children. In fact, Habitot cosponsored the January 2008 "Play Around the Bay" Symposium which attracted almost a hundred play leaders, recreation planners, museum people, educators, and others who are working to address this issue. In fact, the issue of children's play may be one of the most overlooked aspects of our disintegrating social structure. I've heard of professors at prestigious engineering schools who bemoan the incoming graduate students because they have never held a screwdriver or taken anything apart. The creativity and ingenuity of the US, once our longest and strongest suit, is in decline because this kind of open-ended play is now so rare. Incidentally, Habitot has been seeking a larger and more accessible facility, with parking and outdoor space, for several years, and is eager to work with any community group in any East Bay city eager to make this happen.

Gina Moreland, Founder & Director, Habitot Children's Museum

A Plea for Play

I couldn't agree more with you, Dr. Toy. Not only are kids scheduled from dusk till dawn, many parents, especially working parents, share the same fast-paced lifestyle. Oftentimes parents involve their kids in activities in which the kids have no interest, however it consumes those free-time hours out of the day in which the parent knows their child is being watched.

The unfortunate net result is the fact that children are not being forced to use their imaginations and creativity. Recognizing the problem is one thing, bringing a solution is quite another. Unfortunately, I don't have an answer, but whatever it takes to force children to use their own minds rather than simply following along I'm all for!

Steve Cohen, partner, ZinkoTek Toy System, Scottsdale, Arizona

"Peralta's Nigerian Scam," Full Disclosure, 9/24

Cute But Offensive

At one point or another, we've all opened a news publication to find stereotypical, demeaning, and culturally insensitive material. Last week it was in your pages. Although your use of "Nigerian scam" to draw our attention to Peralta's alleged scamming of a Nigerian gentleman was somewhat cute, it was outright offensive and condescending to Nigerians and Africans in general.

I don't know if it has been definitively established that the e-mail scams you spoke of have their origins in Nigeria, but even if you were correct, it would be unfair to call the fraud Nigerian. There are people from other countries who engage in similar scams. Two years ago in Nairobi, Kenya, I sat in an Internet cafe behind a man composing one of those e-mails. He had $15 million worth of gold stuck in Kenya and was looking for help smuggling it out. And long before the "Nigerian scam," American senior citizens were sending out their life savings after being deceived to think they had won millions of dollars in sweepstakes.

Nigeria is a nation of 150 million people and most of them are honest people. You don't believe me? Look in universities across America and you will find that some of the most distinguished professors hail from that country. To associate these exceptionally intelligent people with fraudulent schemes run by a minority of their countrymen exhibits inter-cultural incompetence of the highest order — the kind we expect from mainstream media.

Edwin O. Okong'o, Alameda

Domestic Scamming

Not only are they SCAMMING the Nigerians, they are scamming the American students as well, especially those in the Registered Nursing Progam at Merritt College! They are misusing specific grant money as well as state funding that is geared toward retaining students and decreasing the attrition rates at their institution! The chancellor is responsible for overseeing that the grant money is spent accordingly to the agreement of the grants which are specificially designed to increase student success! The current attrition rate for the first year students of fall 2008 is 70 percent!

Janessa Barnave, San Leandro

Editor's Note

See this week's news story.

"Meet the Mayor," Feature, 9/17

Leadership, Not Reform

Yeah, term limits, there's the answer. After all, inexperience and ideological "maniacism" have nothing to do with the state budget crisis.

If you put in term limits, the only people that will know how to run the city's policy functions will be the council aides and the lobbyists, not the folks who will be held accountable by the vote. The idea that the more experience you have as a politician, the less qualified you should be to hold office is one of the most ridiculous myths of the neo-reform movement.


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