Letters for the Week of March 11, 2015 

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

Page 2 of 4

Clive Scullion, Oakland


"Berkeley's Anti-Union Shift," News, 2/18

Why Do We Need Security Guards?

Beyond the question of union or non-union, I still find the presence of security people to be a questionable expense for any business or government. As common sense might indicate, it's the lawyers and the insurance companies that require their presence. It is my general feeling that the presence of such guards does very little to provide any actual security, other than low hourly wages for people with minimal skills.

That's something, I suppose, but still — unless someone could actually show some evidence that security guards actually improve security or safety at their places of employ — it seems like another mandated expense from companies fearful of getting lawsuits from patrons who might experience harm on their premises because there wasn't a security person. On reflection, the "security" they provide is merely another layer of proper accountability against lawsuits. What a world.

Chris Juricich, Berkeley


"Just Desserts," Culture Spy, 2/11

Yay for the Radical Brownies!

I think this is absolutely brilliant. I am not black, but I told my granddaughter about this troupe and she wants to be a Radical Brownie, too.

Sharon Jackson, Duncan, British Columbia, Canada

Right On!

This is awesome! Much needed!

John Blaze, Oakland

What About the 23rd Oaklanders?

Scouting in the United States has a lot to atone for. I certainly welcome alternative scouting movements like the Radical Brownies that break with the past. I understand the idea behind this approach, but prefer a traditional scouting program that is inclusive and co-ed. Gender-segregated scouting is increasingly rare around the world, and should be here as well. The Express should do a profile of the 23rd Oaklanders scout group, the biggest/strongest BPSA [Baden-Powell Service Association] group in California.

Ethan Jewett, Portland, Oregon


"OPD's War on the Poor Needs to End," Seven Days, 2/11

You're Ignoring the Victims

About twice a month I get notices on the neighborhood electronic bulletin board of robberies. In this polyglot burg (the erstwhile city of "Brooklyn") the fear that dominates daily life is of the young men who target elderly Asian-American folks or women homebodies. We've had a string of daytime break-ins and our share of auto thefts. The victims generally report two or three men in their late teens or early twenties who point guns at unsuspecting pedestrians or, more frightening, burst into homes while the residents are there.

There is one detail that seems always to be a part of the description: "The men fled in a late model American car with a cracked windshield and busted tail light." "Robbers got away in a blue sedan with rusted paint job and no license plates." The men who terrorize this area invariably drive old clunkers with enough defects to shout: "Criminal at work here." I guess robbery doesn't pay well enough to allow them to afford a new Mercedes.

Robert Gammon reports that Oakland cops stop a disproportionate number of poor people, often African-Americans, for minor infractions – no tail light, expired registration, that sort of thing. He says this harassment alienates the OPD from African-American residents. And I'm sure he is correct. I've noticed the same thing just driving around town. Most of the low-income Oaklanders I've talked to regard the OPD as an occupying army of mostly white racist suburban interlopers.

I've read Mr. Gammon's work for long enough to know that he is a very smart guy. So I assume he knows (though his piece never explicitly says this) that the OPD isn't stopping these folks to prevent accidents. Anyone with common sense assumes that these pull-overs are the cops' excuse for checking out drivers who look suspicious. If they find burglary tools or somebody violating probation I'm fairly sure the fuzz feel they've done a public service. One more bad guy off the streets, one more old Asian lady in my neighborhood who won't have a gun thrust in her face this week.

I know how poisonous it is that so many Oaklanders mistrust or hate the OPD. It's impossible for me to escape the intimation that I don't care about the innocent motorist on 88th Avenue victimized by arrogant Oakland cops. But I think it's worth remembering that when Mr. Gammon calls for a de-escalation of these traffic wars he is potentially harming another group of innocents who get little recognition on the pages of the Express

Jerry Heverly, Oakland


"Exploiting Inmates," Feature, 2/4

It's a Lose-Lose

Excellent story. The Federal Communications Commission's studies indicated that lack of a support system during and after incarceration is linked to increased recidivism. These high phone rates could be indirectly increasing state costs. Bad morally... and economically.

Erin Umberg, Berkeley


Miscellaneous Letters

It's Up to Governor Brown

It takes one man's decision to halt fracking in California, but it takes many people to ensure he makes that decision. As a resident of Oakland and climate justice advocate, I am inspired by the more than 150 leaders of various social, health, and environmental groups standing together to demand that Governor Jerry Brown protect our water from the dangers of oil drilling in California.

Our aquifers have been put into peril by the oil industry — illegal injections of poisonous wastewater into numerous drinking and irrigation water aquifers has been condoned by state officials, and ultimately by Governor Brown. California is in the midst of the most severe drought in its history with no relief in sight. We cannot let this dangerous industry continue to work this way. It is up to Governor Brown to halt fracking and other unconventional drilling methods that put our water and our health at risk, once and for all.

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