Letters for the Week of July 21 

Readers sound off on Oakland police, the Berkeley Bowl, Mandela Foods Co-op, and that cover.

Page 4 of 5

As even in this downturn Berkeley has the second lowest aggregate vacancy rate for manufacturing and warehouse space (lower than office) among the seven cities from Richmond to Fremont, and as we still have over 320 PDR companies providing close to 7000 family-wage jobs in West Berkeley, the effort here is centered on expanding and keeping what we have while at the same time assuring adequate space for new, clean tech R&D, particularly Lawrence Berkeley Lab spin-offs. To accommodate these hoped-for uses, WEBAIC has proposed opening up protections on at least 28 acres to provide millions of square feet for R&D, while keeping protections on land outside these large sites where most companies with green and blue collar jobs now live. This balanced proposal facilitates both green-tech and green-collar, fulfilling the mission of the Green Corridor and assuring space for the "cradle-to-scale" strategy described by Green Corridor director Carla Din in the Express article.

Forces within Berkeley City government together with developers seek to limit this capacity by opening up not just large sites, but all West Berkeley industrially-protected land to uses able to pay much more for space than protected uses. This radical proposal that would displace long-contributing companies and important jobs, particularly for those who've taken the brunt of regressive federal economic policies over the last several decades, would strike a blow against our City's and region's economic and ethnic diversity and would set back efforts to create a truly sustainable, local serving economy.

WEBAIC believes that ultimately the citizenry and decision-makers will see the folly of this approach and take the hopeful path forward laid out in the Express article.

John Curl, WEBAIC chair; Rick Auerbach WEBAIC staff; Berkeley

Miscellaneous Letters

A Mother's Plea for Justice

By Ellen Hoeft-Edenfield

On May 13, 2010 my only child, Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield, was found guilty of second-degree murder for the tragic death of a UC student in a trial that shattered my belief in the fairness of our court system. To begin with, the DA put me on her witness list, which kept me out of the courtroom, but then she never called me. This manipulation barred me from attending my own son's trial.

Two years before this verdict, on May 3, 2008, Christopher Wooten, a fraternity member at Sigma Pi, was killed while engaged in a violent brawl on frat row near U.C. Berkeley.

My son Andrew was then a student at Berkeley City College and working part-time at Jamba Juice. It was simply unimaginable to those who know him, that Andrew, who had no criminal record whatsoever, could be involved in this tragedy.

The morning after this nightmarish night, I found Andrew at the police station with a battered and bruised body. His elbow was shredded and it looked like half of his kneecap was gone; there were shoe prints on his back where he was kicked and stomped. His head was full of multiple bloody cuts and welts where he had been kicked in the head. My son's friend had also been badly beaten. None of the frat boys were arrested for the assault. Chris sustained only one stab wound.

That night Andrew had been at a birthday party down the street from the university's fraternity row. After he and one of his friends left the party, they walked in front of Sigma Pi. One fraternity member testified that he decided my son was a troublemaker because he wore baggy clothes and had an earring. Inflammatory words were exchanged, and another fraternity member testified that my son and his friend left the scene.

Sigma Pi fraternity members then chased Andrew and his friend up the street and into a parking lot. Several frat members involved admitted on the witness stand that they intended to challenge Andrew. Other testimony indicated that ten to fifteen Sigma Pi members and their friends formed a circle around Andrew and his friend. Anyone would have been terrified.

During the trial, instead of focusing on the facts of what happened that night, the district attorney was allowed to present irrelevancies such as my son's ninth-grade backpack, on which he'd scrawled "thug life," the title of a popular Tupac Shakur album, claiming this indicated my son had a "thug mentality." She also brought in school records from elementary school that said he'd thrown rocks at cars when he was 11½.

That my son was a Boy Scout for many years and was very close to becoming an Eagle Scout was not allowed as evidence. His scout leader wanted to testify about my son's days in scouting, but this too was not allowed. At Andrew's bail hearing we had ten character witnesses at the hearing who were also not allowed to testify on my son's behalf. One of the witnesses was a previous employer who planned to offer Andrew a job if he was allowed out on bail.

More recent, serious and pertinent evidence about Chris's background was excluded, including that the fact that he'd been in a very similar fight just six months before. Chris had also had been thrown out of Kips, a local bar, for aggressive behavior. We had a witness who'd had his hair pulled out of his scalp and both of his arms broken by frats. The judge would not allow him to testify either.

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