Letters for the week of August 9-15, 2006 

Playing in good faith. Paying to play downtown. Braying about downtown. Misportraying downtown.

"Bribery Grande," Bottom Feeder, 6/28

It's the clerk
A few things need clarification in regards to the 34 families facing eviction from Lockwood Gardens in Oakland. Those are not "illegitimate" tenants, as mentioned in Will Harper's piece. The 34 families submitted photo IDs, Social Security cards, birth certificates, and income verification to the Housing Authority, and all families involved signed contracts and other lease agreements countersigned by authority managers. Oakland Housing Authority officials originally claimed that the families were "illegal occupants" who never signed a lease, and that files on those families did not exist, which turned out to be a pack of lies.

During mid-May, Superior Court Judge Winifred Y. Smith made two rulings in opposition to the evictions. Whatever the tenants are being accused of at this point, let's keep in mind that the tenants did everything that was asked of them. It was the clerk at the Housing Authority who stole nearly $11,000 from the families and committed 34 acts of fraud and theft. Judge Smith had it right by ruling against the evictions.
Lynda Carson, Oakland

"Meet Downtown Oakland," Feature, 6/28

It's just Oakland
Thank you, Rachel Swan, for saying what needed to be said, and what those pimps, the local realtors and developers, don't want us to know. Oh, yes, let's not leave out their whores, the City Council, and the Planning Commission; without them, all those half-baked "development" scams could never take place.

To all those bourgeois yuppies planning to move here: "Caveat Emptor" is an expression very apt to buying Oakland property. To those already here: Are you sniveling? What did you expect in a poor, destabilized minority town with many displaced people? You were stupid, and you got what you deserve.
James Fenton, Oakland

It's not Moraga
I'd just like to respond to your cover piece and the opinions of resident Kathy Lemmon: Maybe you SHOULD move out. There is some brainlessness going on, on the part of Oakland planner/politician people, who claim to want a sophisticated, upscale, New York City vibe without everything else that built the New York we know and love: crazy culture, drag queens, drug use, public urination, dancing, sweating, and an insane mix of people, cultures, and classes. If New Yorkers want tranquil lawns and homogenous neighborhoods, they move to New Jersey. Otherwise, they act street-smart, treat their neighbors respectfully (and honestly), and chalk the rest up to city life.

Crime shouldn't be tolerated, but neither should anal-retentiveness. This is Oakland, the birthplace of the Black Panthers, Too $hort, and Digital Underground! This will never be Moraga, or even Berkeley. I've been to Mingles, and it's not exactly my cup of tea, but I'm happy the hyphy kids have somewhere safe to go. Mingles is a family-run business owned by Oakland natives, another thing we need more of. Development becomes fake when it ignores the real needs and history of local residents. Ultimately, those fake money-driven urban developments lose money, because visitors want authenticity. For examples, see SF's Japantown or New York's Times Square. Let's not let Oakland go that route!
Nina Kahori Fallenbaum, Oakland

It's not correct
There were many facts left out of Rachel Swan's article regarding Mingles and the conflict with the community. One fact that arose from Ivey's cabaret hearing is that Oakland police have four to six officers at overtime pay assigned to Mingles every Friday and Saturday night. The entire city of Oakland only has an average of sixty officers working the same shift. On top of that, the club has never, nor have they been asked to, paid a single dime for their own private police force on the public's dime. Swan describes Ivey as the king of downtown, but walk around Broadway and what you see is the boarded-up wreckage of a trail he's left behind. When he's been shut down at one location he just pops up a block away.

The crime and danger Mingles attracts to the neighborhood is very real. Three shot in less than three months? I also found Swan's portrayal of the community, Kathy in particular, to be both racist and homophobic. You try to make the community complaints sound out to be just another crazy white lesbian yuppie who shops at IKEA trying to deny the clubgoers their right to trash her home. And Ivey's going to boast in your article about how he only hired hot white females to tend in his clubs? Isn't that illegal? Apparently, nothing's illegal if committed by St. John. I hoped your piece would be less slanted. Too bad.
Donald Schlemmer, Oakland

"Carlito's Play," Bottom Feeder, 7/5

It's the system
Very interesting article. I work in the Tidewater area and have been trying for several weeks to get a de facto dump site cleaned up on Tidewater. I had no luck with any city agencies, so I sent an e-mail to De La Fuente, who immediately referred me to his aide Plazola. Plazola never returned my call, and De La Fuente ignored my follow-up e-mail. After reading your article, it all makes sense: The two of them have no interest in cleaning up the area. If they allow an area currently zoned industrial to go to pot, they will only strengthen the case to have the area rezoned as residential and further their own personal positions. I guess some things in Oakland never change.
Tom Kincaid, Oakland

In our June 7 This Week item "Oaktown Deco Blues," the frequency of the City of Oakland's Uptown tours should have been stated as monthly.

"Carlito's Play," Bottom Feeder, 7/5

It's the politicians
Why do we care what a staff member is doing? Take a good hard look at the elected politicians. "Him without sin, cast the first stone." I hope you fall under this scripture.
Rhonda Autry, Montclair

"Doctors Buck the Insurance System," Cityside, 6/28

It's time
I would really like to know where UHC spokesman Tyler Mason gets his info that contracting is going "extremely well" and that 95 percent of providers have given their seal of approval. And UHC expects 98 percent compliance?! They need to get a reality check. If there was EVER a time for doctors to come together and protest, this is it.
Sandie Becker, San Jose

"One Bite at a Time," Food Fetish, 7/12

Losing spiritual weight
You know, not all people in OA are fat (or thin because they're bulimic), the same way not all people in AA are still drinking. Some of us have found some measure of recovery and have lost some weight. I've lost 250 pounds and kept it off for two years. While that's a miracle in itself, the real miracle is that I have a more fit spiritual life.
Don H, Novato

"Shreddin' Librarian Barbarians," Press Play, 7/26

Reading comprehension si!
This story should have been on the FRONT PAGE, for god's sake! So that we all could have been there to support these people and each other. Berkeley is supposed to be a cell of Terrorist Readers: "The Revolution will NOT be televised!" (Gil Scott-Heron). Reading Comprehension Si!; American Anomie No!
Donna Crichton-Harmony, Berkeley-Kensington

Letters, 7/26

Give city workers a break
I read the angry letters about Berkeley Bowl and Cody's bookstore. The letters accused city workers of profiteering, corruption, malicious incompetence, to name a few things. Really? What evidence do you have of this?

I have lived and/or worked in Berkeley for fifteen years, and have had the opportunity to meet a number of elected officials, the city manager, and his staff, as well as a number of department officials. Although I have not always agreed with their actions, I have found them to be intelligent, dedicated, honest, hard working. This small city, due to the hard efforts of its bureaucrats, runs a full-service mental-health department and a housing authority, and administers a successful national housing program for disabled formerly homeless people, to name a few things. Counties normally administer these programs, but Berkeley city officials have managed to secure these resources for Berkeley residents.

Despite their best efforts, they go to public meetings to be yelled at, read the papers that only point out the programmatic problems, and have to endure very mean-spirited and unsubstantiated comments by residents who write hostile letters to local newspapers. Really, if the location of Cody's and Berkeley Bowl are your greatest complaint, send a thank-you letter to your elected officials.
Theresa Traynor, Oakland

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