Letters for the week of March 8-14, 2006 

Nihilism in the neighborhood, death in Dublin, baiting in Berkeley, and outsiders in Oklahoma.

Page 2 of 3

"About that flier," Letters, 2/22

What about the conspiracy actualists?
Eliza Strickland responds to Rebecca Medcalf with the statement that her letter and flier "imply that the US government was complicit in the intentional destruction of the WTC." Exactly the point, Eliza, but only the beginning. Why not suspend your immediate disbelief and educate yourself? Why not be a journalist and investigate the implication? It's much easier to stay in your comfortable world and write us all off as "conspiracy theorists," isn't it? How convenient for the "conspiracy actualists" in power!
Steve Keightley, Oakland

Good recovery
Much praise for Becky Medcalf for her excellent rebuttal to the facile and ignorant dismissal of the only decent research I've seen on the fall of the three buildings in the WTC. The Express deserves great credit for publishing it, especially in its entirety. Granted, the review of Perkins' book/talk and the kneejerk dismissal of Becky's flier were bad, but everyone makes misteaks, and the Express has shown a level of integrity far above the norm in giving Becky her say. Thanks again for having the guts to take some uncomfortable feedback.
Ed Rippy, Concord

"Leave My Mother Out of This!" Bottom Feeder, 2/8

Good cop, bad cop
I read with great interest Will Harper's account in the February 8 Express of Elliot Cohen being intimidated and threatened by Officer Marianne Jamison. Some Berkeley police officers are notorious for trying to bait innocent bystanders who assert their First Amendment rights. The account is timely given the recent articles in the San Francisco Chronicle about police misconduct and the inability of the San Francisco Police Department to track, identify, reform, or let go wayward officers. The problem at the City of Berkeley is just as big, if not bigger. The attempt by some Berkeley police officers to characterize as unstable those of us who are asserting our constitutional rights and wish to observe police or misconduct is simply a ruse to intimidate or use force to shut down an otherwise legal activity.

Don't get me wrong: I believe police officers have one of the most difficult jobs in the country. We expect a lot out of police officers because of the position of trust that we place them in. Consequently, they have to be able to rise above the crowd in difficult situations and use extremely good judgment. Many officers do rise to this challenge in a dignified way. Some do not. We need to ensure that we reward and honor those who meet the challenge. For those who do not, we need to ensure that there are mechanisms in place to provide the appropriate training and counseling for them to meet the challenge. For those that continually fail, we need to have publicly accountable mechanisms to ensure that they are not placed in positions of trust and are dismissed. Sadly, we are not there.
Anonymous, Oakland

"Identity Theft," Feature, 1/25

Identity leasing
As an Indian recently arrived from Oklahoma, I thought I would tell you about the white intrusion into Indian gambling. The Oklahoma Seminole, Citizen Pottawatomie, and others have an Indian at the head of the organization which owns a gambling house, but the corporation that owns the building and/or the corporation is part of the gaming industry.

Although tribes are independent entities and questions are always met with resistance, my experience in Oklahoma suggests there are non-Indian members of the gaming industry who are receiving large profits and controlling the gaming. I suggest your inquiries will always be met with a response that the information of ownership is that of an Indian. Further inquiries will be met with issues of confidentiality. The tribal governor is usually bought off by the members of the gaming industry, so the problem is larger than the tribe.
Jack Hohenstein, Concord

"Schoolchildren Will Be the Losers," City of Warts, 2/15

Pay or benefits
Thank you for your recent article. I am one of many Oakland public school parents who are gravely concerned about the possibility of a strike. I do have to say, however, that it's not solely OEA that's holding up this deal -- it was Ward that walked away from negotiations and has refused to return.

Also, I don't think it's fair to ding OEA for requesting a 7 percent increase -- the teachers have been without a contract for almost two years; they will close these negotiations only to return immediately back to the table to begin hashing out the next contract. Also, Oakland teachers have one of the lowest pay scales statewide, in large part because they have consistently chosen full benefit coverage over larger pay increases. If Oakland teachers have to start paying for health care, they should have pay comparable with other districts.
Jean Parker, Oakland

GOP journalism
Concerning Chris Thompson's article on the pending teachers' strike, I find it disingenuous for him to snivel about the educational fate of working-class/minority children when he has been an advocate for "redevelopment." Redevelopment is just a code word for "gentrification," which does more to hurt the working class and minorities (of any age) than any teachers' strike ever would.

Frankly, Thompson's political rhetoric reads very like that of a corporate union buster. Has the Express now put Republicans (or their sympathizers) as primary journalists on its staff? To be sure, I am not the only one asking this question.
James J. Fenton, Oakland

"Blood Business," Movies, 2/8

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