Letters for the week of December 30-January 5 

Readers sound off on the best movies of the year, Oakland's proposed affordable housing fee, and voting in Hayward

Page 2 of 6

Shirley Kirsten, Berkeley


"It's Time for Brown to Break Silence on Coal," Seven Days, 12/23

Same Old, Same Old

Once again people, what has to happen before you get it? Jerry Brown is all about Jerry Brown. He has a business relationship with [developer Phil] Tagami and will never publicly comment on the coal issue. He has not gone after fracking, oil companies, or coal.

All of a sudden [according to Brown], it's a "national policy" issue? As I recall, when he wanted to push his 10K agenda [to attract 10,000 people to downtown Oakland by 2001] as mayor of Oakland, his biggest tool in the basket was redevelopment financing. But when he became governor, he eliminated redevelopment statewide and kept the money to balance his own state budget.

He sacrificed a new Oakland A's stadium project [in Uptown] so that his developer friends (at Forest City) could build apartments on the site.

He recently had state employees collecting data on his private family property in order to make a decision about potential future development. This guy talks out of both sides of his head at the same time and sees no problem. This is not new behavior.

Gary Patton, Hayward

The Council Can Stop Coal

Robert Gammon's article points out the influence that Jerry Brown could use to stop the threat of coal exports through Oakland. The No Coal in Oakland campaign has been working on several fronts to press Brown to intervene with his associate, Phil Tagami.

However, the article minimizes the power the city council has to block coal exports through a facility on city-owned property. The development agreement clearly sets out the necessary steps to do this: a public hearing, which was held on September 21, and a finding by the city council of substantial evidence of the danger to community health and safety.

The opponents of coal exports have amply fulfilled the requirement to produce substantial evidence, and the city staff is currently reviewing the extensive documentation presented to them. Furthermore, courts defer to local governments' finding of substantial evidence, even where there might be contradictory evidence. Based on the evidence submitted, the city has full authority to ban coal.

On February 16, the city council will consider a possible ordinance to ban coal. Oakland residents who want to block coal can contact their council members in the meanwhile and urge them to vote for a ban. A large number of people are expected to turnout on February 16 to reinforce to the council that the extensive scientific evidence against coal is matched by intense community opposition to this toxic commodity.

Margaret Rossoff, Oakland


"The Police Body Camera Wars," News, 12/16

Video Is Not Enough

Video is only as good as the people evaluating the recording and the context of the recorded events and the unrecorded events before and after. The people have to be independent in background, attitude, training, and funding from politically powerful police unions.

Chicago, for example, has had an "independent police review authority" since 2007 but rarely finds any officer guilty of anything. Its "civilian" administrators are mostly all retired police officers, and 40 percent of its investigators are ex-police also.

Len Raphael, Oakland


"Berkeley's Win-Win," Seven Days, 12/16

It's Bad for Berkeley

What land will be left in Berkeley to build affordable housing? A "shot in the arm" for downtown? Sure, if by "shot" you mean with a Howitzer. Shutting down the major steady economic draw to the downtown (Landmark Shattuck Cinemas) and tearing up downtown for two to four years at a major intersection in order to build a level of expensive housing the majority of local downtown workers cannot afford (forcing longer and longer commutes to get to that low-wage job — not very green) is not going to give Berkeley any kind of positive boost — particularly when this is just the linchpin for similar downtown projects to move forward. Berkeley will be unnavigable and downtown businesses will suffer as a result.

Jai Jai Noire, Berkeley

Overpopulation Is the Problem

I am outraged and highly offended, on behalf of us true environmentalists and on behalf of the Earth and all that lives here, by Robert Gammon's ludicrous statement that "true" environmentalists support so-called "smart" development in order to combat suburban sprawl, and those of us who oppose this development are not true environmentalists. This assertion is dead wrong.

An environmentalist is someone who prioritizes the environment over other issues. True environmentalism, as Mr. Gammon would put it, is all about priorities. Only a psychopath would not like natural views, plants and animals, or clean air and water. What makes one an environmentalist is that we prioritize the environment enough to advocate for it when it comes into conflict with other issues.

Next we must identify the true environmental issues here. We all agree that suburban sprawl is environmentally destructive. Our disagreement is the causes of it and the solutions to it. Any true environmentalist recognizes that human overpopulation and unceasing growth is the cause of sprawl, and any problems with lack of housing are merely byproducts of overpopulation. As I realized when I was fourteen years old and have been saying ever since, human population is the biggest and most important problem on our planet. Along with overconsumption (which includes consuming things we should not be, like fossil fuels), overpopulation is the root cause of all environmental problems, including sprawl. If we don't stop increasing our population, we will never stop sprawl or any other true environmental problem.

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