Letters for the Week of December 14, 2011 

Readers sound off on polyamory, Marcie Hodge, and the Salvation Army.

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I see this lifestyle as a liberal offshoot for upscale recreational fetishists — how terrible. I will love unconditionally but will not share other people's genitals. This is sacred property.

Lastly, I'll add: If I were at a Target, and saw a sexy, attractive, and hunky man shopping with his toddler, and told him I wanted to fuck him, I really wonder if I'd be called a psycho or get a black eye. What are my chances are of this really happening? This practice is so far from mainstream.

Catherine Shores, Los Angeles

"Marcie Hodge Loses, Again," 11/30

Dodging Hodge

I very much enjoyed your understated piece about Marcie Hodge. Reading between the lines, one wonders what exactly is going on with this "candidate," and I'm pleased that the Express was not unduly harmed by her frivolous suit.

Long live the free press.

Lincoln Cushing, Berkeley

Miscellaneous Letters

The Four-Sentence Paper

Ever since the Express became an Oaklandish hipster-immigrant rag, I've read it primarily for the food and entertainment reviews, and the various ads for local businesses. Larger issues are addressed better by other media. I could save you a lot of page space by writing pithy articles of only a few words. Here's a few I did from the November 30 issue: "Occupy: The Party's Over." "Cannabis: Big Profits from Pot Smokers." "Bankruptcy: Why the Hell Did You Borrow So Much?" "Polyamory: Fucking Around."

Now where are those movie reviews?

Brian O'Neil, El Cerrito

Not-so-Sweet Charity

I was very disappointed to see the Express email promoting the anti-gay Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army has a history of active discrimination against gays and lesbians. While you might think you're helping the hungry and homeless by dropping a few dollars in the bright red buckets, or shopping their stores, not everyone can share in the donations. Many LGBT people are rejected by the evangelical charity because they're "sexually impure."

The church claims it holds "a positive view of human sexuality" — but then clarifies that "sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage." The Salvation Army doesn't believe that gays and lesbians should know the intimacy of any loving relationship, instead teaching that "Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life."

On its website, the group claims that "the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation." While the words are nice, the charity's actions speak volumes. It blatantly ignores the position statement and denies LGBT people services unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services "open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army's doctrine and discipline."

As the holidays approach, the Salvation Army bell ringers are out in front of stores dunning shoppers for donations. If you care about gay rights, you'll skip their bucket in favor of a charity that doesn't actively discriminate against the LGBT community.

Rob Petitpas, Oakland

City Hall Plaza Flooding

I have sent copies of the following letter to the mayor and city council because I feel this is a critical issue demanding urgent attention: Flooding in Oscar Grant Plaza is killing our historic live oak tree. It is unconscionable that those involved in deciding to flood the plaza would sacrifice the health of this symbolic tree in order to limit public access to a public park and to suppress freedom of expression.

Saturated soil conditions are deadly to California Coast Live Oak trees (Quercus agrifolia). This is an evergreen species that requires good drainage. Unlike deciduous trees that can handle seasonal flooding by dropping leaves during the wet season, evergreen trees cannot. Flooding the surrounding soil eliminates oxygen, which leads to the inability of roots to uptake water and nutrients. Such soil conditions also provide a hospitable environment for pathogenic fungi, which can infest roots and bring about an earlier demise for the tree.

Though an exploratory investigation into the location of the oak roots has not been undertaken, anyone who believes that roots only exist within the circular planter is wrong. It should be noted, however, that the tree is planted at a lower elevation than the flooded area above, and therefore water is more likely to move inside of the cement wall and possibly inundate the roots within.

The value of the tree is likely more than $200,000 and possibly invaluable to the city, as it cannot be replaced.

The over-irrigation should cease immediately, and the soil profile should be examined for signs of anaerobic conditions. The tree deserves a full investigation to determine where the roots are, what the level of soil compaction is, as well as what nutritional supplementation is required so that health mitigation treatments can be appropriately prescribed to ensure the tree can remain for another 200 years or more.

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