Letters for the week of Dec. 5 

"Your newspaper appears to be suffering once again from the 'white is right' version of progressivism."

Speaking of Racial Politics


It is unbelievable that your last article on the Oakland schools ("Brown vs. Board of Education," November 21) could appear in a "progressive" newspaper.

Among the issues addressed by the article:

1) Dan Siegel spearheaded a campaign to have the Oakland Police Department take over policing the Oakland schools. Hundreds of students rallied repeatedly to reject his proposal, because it would place them, 93 percent African-American, Latino, and Asian youngsters, in the hands of a police department that has already tacitly admitted to racial profiling. In addition to the students, the ACLU and dozens of other community organizations opposed the move. Siegel was adamantly in favor of the Oakland police; Paul Cobb agreed with the students. Your article paints Siegel as the "progressive" and Cobb as the "disrupter."

2) The school district moved dozens of teachers in flatlands schools out of their classrooms two months into the school year in order to save money. It is impossible to overestimate the damage to second- and third-grade children when their teacher is removed in October. Paul Cobb and Wilda White opposed this move; Dan Siegel and Kerry Hamill supported it. The article paints Siegel and Hamill as "progressives" and Cobb and White as "disrupters."

This is not Vermont, folks. Showing up at a peace rally does not make you a progressive. The only "progressive" stand in an urban school district is defending the rights of black and Latino children. I do not agree with Cobb and White on every issue, but they are absolutely right to protest the negative impact of these measures on the district's already disenfranchised children!

I opposed Measure D, which allows the mayor to appoint school board members. However, as it turns out, Brown's appointees have been far more independent than Hamill and Siegel, who are part of state Senator Don Perata's machine. If you were going to run a political ad for Perata's people, at least you should have made them sign the article and pay for it!

Your newspaper appears to be suffering once again from the "white is right" version of "progressivism." I strongly urge you to invite Paul Cobb and Wilda White to write a rebuttal to this horribly one-sided article.
Kitty Kelly Epsetin, via the Internet

Is This the Mayor's Idea of a Role Model?


When Mayor Brown's appointees voted against retaining Superintendent Chaconas, I was livid ("Brown vs. Board of Education," November 21). If these three board members were elected, I'd be working against their reelection right now.

It's time for Siegel and company to sponsor an anti-appointee initiative and put the school elections back in the hands of "we the people."

As for Paul Cobb, he's a sad case. From my home-viewing of school board meetings on KDOL Oakland cable TV-13, poor Cobb appears to be ill, medicated, or in an altered state of consciousness. He slumps, slurs his words, holds his head in his hand and leans out of his chair to ask his "homeboy" (another board member) how to vote. All on live TV. Is this the mayor's idea of a role model? Shame.

I like Wilda White. If she had been on the board during the ebonics fiasco, she would have caught the malapropism where board members inanely defended a "genetic" language instead of a "generic" language. But even Wilda needs to be elected.

The entire notion of extra board members was concocted by community groups before Gov. Brown ran for mayor. By the time Brown was elected, it was moot. The new school board replaced the old fools who had allowed corruption to masquerade as incompetence. There is no longer a need for these political appointees.

And as for writer Chris Thompson: Congratulations on an eloquently written, solidly researched hit piece, even if the front page headline -- the schools are "worse" -- contradicts the story. Oakland schools have improved dramatically under Chaconas, and I'll fight to keep the best superintendent I've seen here during the last 25 years.
Paul August, via the Internet

Finding the Party Line


It seems that the author of "Hip-Hop Disconnect" (November 21) hasn't been looking very hard for what's "missing" from hip-hop. Most of what you'll see on television and hear on the radio is more like hip-pop. It is no accident that, as the author said, "acts with an identifiable agenda have always been a tiny minority." If an artist has something important or subversive to say, he or she is rarely "accepted" by society, much less mainstream media. With Mr. Keast, the media clearly have accomplished their goal -- to market negative, empty, and apolitical images of hip-hop artists and to make audiences believe that there is nothing else out there. If Keast truly studies "hip-hop culture" like he says, he would be in the small clubs and house parties where the hip-hop is truly revolutionary. But are you ready for it?
Reva Kidd, via the Internet

There Is Another Viewpoint


Your lengthy article ("Head 'Em Up, Move 'Em Out!" November 14) makes it appear as if there are only two stakeholders involved in the parkland cattle grazing issue: ranchers and environmental activists. As a professional fire protection engineer, I was waiting to find some input from the fire protection community, but the only quote was from "one former firefighter in the EBRPD's own fire department who asked not to be identified," hardly a credible source. How long did (s)he work there? One week or thirty years? In what rank?

Considering the proximity of park district lands to built-up urban communities, as well as the history of catastrophic East Bay fires traveling from wildlands into adjacent cities, Elizabeth Hollander owes your readers a follow-up article for which she interviews at least Chief Dennis Rein of the EBRPD, but hopefully also engineering professors at UC Berkeley at the forefront of fire behavior research and representatives of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. I would be happy to provide her suitable leads.

At this point, I have no opinion as to how much, if any, cattle grazing should occur on EBRPD lands, since I have not studied the subject and your article has not enlightened me.
Gilbert G. Bendix, P.E., Kensington

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