Letters for the Week of August 27, 2014 

Readers sound off on Kaiser, advertising in the Express and the appeal of Oakland

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Now, let's look at the national statistics. Oakland was recently ranked third in the country for violent crime and first for armed robbery! The police department is one of the most dysfunctional in the state, and is endlessly being slapped for civil rights violations and excessive force. The public schools are inferior to those found in the Deep South.

Furthermore, if there has been an improvement recently concerning crime, it is because the city government has an unspoken agenda of pushing poor blacks, Latinos, and other indigent persons out of the area instead of providing them with the education, counseling, and decent-paying jobs they require and deserve.

Tell me, Mr. Gonsalves, what developer is paying you through the back door to spin the truth? Are you planning to try flipping houses here? Or do you have title to an expensive condo you want to unload on a gullible yuppie? Tell you what, move yourself and your family into a neighborhood in deep East Oakland (around 90th Avenue and International Boulevard would be good) and then stay there for sixteen years. Then you get to tell me how "cool" Oakland is. As the "brothers" say, "You be talkin' shit."

James J. Fenton, Oakland

"The High Cost of Justice," News, 8/13

Online Court Fees Are Unfair

Beth Winegarner touches on an important issue of a "paperless society." The prevailing wisdom is that society is better off as we move toward cloud computing and paperless workplaces. However, as Winegarner's article capably points out, people's access to documents in the electronic sphere is not unfettered. Paywalls and access fees proliferate across data houses. These fees negatively impact economically disadvantaged persons. I'm disheartened to see that Alameda County is gouging impoverished and/or working people (both plaintiffs and journalists) with exorbitant online case access fees. These fees bear no relation to the actual cost of maintaining the electronic records system, and is another example of one being rewarded with access to the court system based on ability to pay. 

Rob Craven, Berkeley

"Caltrans Still Obsessed with Road-Building," Eco Watch, 8/13

Keep the Spotlight on Caltrans

Thanks for the coverage of this pernicious threat to our precious redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park and the scenic Smith River. We who have been battling the Caltrans Willits bypass appreciate your mention of this behemoth of a boondoggle. Unfortunately, it's not true that lawsuits have stopped it, though they have helped slow it down. Destructive work on the precious wetlands on the project's north end was stopped for eleven days last summer when a protester occupied a large crane tower. It was also stopped when the US Army Corps of Engineers suspended its permit this past June for three weeks due to Caltrans' failures to comply with the permit conditions. Small, rural North Coast communities are easy victims of Caltrans' roughshod treatment and rip-off projects. The leadership and management lie, cheat, and steal to keep it that way. Please keep the spotlight on them.

Naomi Wagner, Willits

"Water Bond Measure Is a Bad Idea," Seven Days, 8/13

Your Viewpoint Is too Narrow

While the author admits that the 2014 Water Bond doesn't include any direct funding for Governor Jerry Brown's tunneling project, he makes a valiant effort to link the two. Further, Robert Gammon addresses only $2.5 billion (now $2.7 billion) of what is now a legislature-approved $7.5 billion water bond, in essence leaving out a whopping $5 billion that will go toward watershed protection, groundwater cleanup, water recycling, and cleaning up of small communities' water supplies. By judging this water bond so narrowly, the author seemingly discredits any of the environmental benefits that go along with it. Seeing as the water bond would have been dead on arrival without any funding for storage projects, I believe the current, bipartisan-approved bond is one that the voters can and should confidently approve in November. It's not perfect, but in reality what really is in this day and age?

Alex Size, Oakland

"The Groove and How to Find It," Movies, 8/13

Do Your Research

As a fan of Lois Lowry's 1993 young adult novel The Giver, I wanted to respond to Kelly Vance's review of the new film. While I completely agree that most aspects of the film look like the creators were attempting to evoke Hunger Games Lite, I thought Vance was slightly remiss in not including a sentence or two on the pedigree of Lowry's source material. In the early Nineties, there was no concept of dystopic fiction for children and young adults. For middle school kids like me who wanted something lighter than 1984The Giver was what there was. Vance is absolutely correct that the core concepts evoke some of the same collectivist fears that appeared in 1984 and Brave New World, but calling this story derivative of The Hunger Games points to a reviewer who hasn't done his research. 

Hannah Emery, Pinole

"Living on the Streets of Oakland," Feature, 8/6


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