Letters for the Week of March 11, 2015 

Readers sound off on dive bars, OUSD's seniority battle, and going tipless.

"Where to Get Your Drink On," Insider's Guide, 2/25

Here's to the Avenue!

The Avenue on Telegraph in Oakland is the best bar ever: a good place to drink, good mix of customers.

Judy Keating, Hayward

Baggy's, Sure, But You Missed Some Great Dive Bars

I lived a block from Baggy's by the Lake in the late Seventies. I've visited as recently as three years ago. Yeah, this is the ultimate dive. But what about that piano bar near the Grand Lake Theater? And don't forget Kip's in Berkeley, a Fifties student dive that's still diving.

Ted Friedman, Berkeley

"Oakland's Outdoor Art Exhibit," Insider's Guide, 2/25

There Are Lots More Murals

You could also check out (and add to) this immense list of murals on OaklandWiki — LocalWiki.org/Oakland/Murals. There are more than five hundred murals on here — all collected by members of the community. The majority of them are mapped: Click the map, a neighborhood, and go!

Lauren Briskin, Oakland

"The Battle Over Teachers' Seniority Rights," News, 2/25

Don't Change Article 12

Thank you so much for your column on Article 12 [of the Oakland teachers' union contract with the Oakland Unified School District]. I am an Oakland teacher and would like to add an additional reason that changing Article 12 [which would eliminate teacher seniority considerations in hiring in certain circumstances] would be a mistake.  Not only is there risk that outspoken teachers would be punished, but also an even greater possibility that higher-paid teachers would be replaced by newer less salaried teachers. Sites have greater budget flexibility and there is a financial incentive to hire inexperienced new teachers at a lower salary in order to balance your site budget.

Donald Carter, Oakland

Yes, Change Article 12

Our kids deserve the best teachers we can find, and who better to choose them than school communities and school leaders? Also, can you imagine working in a job in which your boss and community didn't want you there? Sounds terrible for everyone involved.

Andrew H. Garland, Oakland

No Free Labor

Can we please stop saying that teachers are only working "minimum hours?" Under work-to-rule, they are only working their paid hours. No free labor.

Jill Guerra, Berkeley

Changing Seniority Shouldn't Be on the Table

I appreciate Sam Levin's thoughtful and well fact-checked article. I want to emphasize one aspect of this piece: OUSD hired at least 470 new educators this year. School communities and principals got to say who was hired in all of those cases.

Seniority only plays a significant role in placement when an educator is displaced due to no fault of their own. Unless there are significant numbers of school closures planned, it plays a relatively minor role in placing educators in assignments ­— but is very important for those individuals who are forced from school communities they know and care for.

Hundreds of educators leave Oakland every year — but OUSD wants to focus on this relatively small number of displaced employees as a way of spinning their proposal. Which do you think is the larger problem?

Doug Appel of the California Teachers Association, Oakland

"A Place at the Table," Dining Review, 2/25

Michele Rocks

I can't wait to try Michele LeProhn's new venture, Communite Table. I have had the opportunity to sample her delicious food at Poulet and the former Gulf Coast Oyster Bar, and her cooking rocks!

Alison Negrin, Alamo

"Paradise Lost," Art, 2/25

It's Fitting

No question, what happened to the folks at the Albany Bulb should be memorialized. Shame on the perpetrators who attacked the homeless for committing the "crime" of living on a dump.

Charles T. Smith, Richmond

"The Tipping Point," Feature, 2/18

Here's to No Tipping!

During a tip-free trip to Japan last year, I was amazed at how much more I enjoyed restaurant meals when they didn't end with the time-stressed, judgmental, arithmetic-quiz exercise of tipping. It was so much more relaxing that way! And of course the assumption there is that service should always be excellent (which it was), which nixes the whole rationale for tipping anyway. So I am all for Oakland leading the way to abolish tipping. I will happily accept reset price points as long as they seem fair. If any of this leads to happier restaurant staff front and back, please trumpet that and add momentum to this movement.

Russell Yee, Oakland

Fabulous Job

No matter how one views Oakland's or any other city's new minimum wage rules, this is a fabulous article. Well done, Express: This was a very well-balanced, thoughtful case study. I hope economic analysts across California will include it when they do their respective analyses of possible impacts stemming from and business responses to the new wage rules.

Tony Daysog, Alameda city councilmember

Goodbye to Chain Stores and Restaurants

I am still thinking that one of the unintended consequences of this ordinance will be to keep your average chain store or chain restaurant that typically pays minimum wage from setting foot in Oakland. You want to go to a Chick-Fil-A or Macy's? Better head to Walnut Creek. I hope people will support all the cool new Oakland local-owned restaurants, bars, stores, etc., at the new higher prices, so the staff gets higher wages and we all live happily ever after. But time will tell.



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