Letters for the week of May 17-23, 2006 

You are diligent and impressive. You are beautiful but hurtful. You are shameless and loose. You are excellent and dependable.

"Dirty Deeds," Feature, 3/29 and 4/5

This just in!
So, are you all one month ahead of the Chron, or are they one month behind you?

Yet another reminder of the need for strong, local independent media, the sort which sees news coming and can get underneath a story, showed up on the Chron Web site today. About a month ago, I was thoroughly impressed by your superb two-part feature "Dirty Deeds." So today it made me chuckle, and then sigh, to find a "breaking news" story posted on SFGate.com reporting an alarming spike in the number of home mortgage foreclosures. Of course, the story offered nothing by way of explanation or investigation into what might be responsible for the sad trend. I trust there will be similar meaningful coverage to look forward to on the local news tonight.

Thought I'd pass along congratulations on another job done better. Keep it up.
Andy Bouvier-Brown, Berkeley

"I Am Infuriating," On Food, 4/5

I am earnest
I am a server at Cafe Gratitude and I am writing to you today for two reasons: First, I'd like to thank you for an article that was (while titled otherwise) actually overwhelmingly positive. I'm really glad that you have enjoyed the food at our restaurant. We work hard to provide a beautiful place where delicious organic vegan fare is available, and your article is an expression of gratitude to everyone who took part in putting the food on your plate — from the farmers and laborers to the delivery drivers to Cafe Gratitude's 24-hour main kitchen staff to (yes!) the staff at our new restaurant in Berkeley. In turn, we thank you for being our customer, and we hope you come back again and again.

Secondly, while I admit to our mistakes, I ask that next time you come into our restaurant, you open yourself up to what we are REALLY doing — creating a new paradigm within the realm of conscious business. We are committed to bringing organic raw vegan food to as many people as we can. We are committed to transforming our customers' experience into one of being abundance. And while it may seem trite or "cloying" to you, to most people it feels pretty good when your server sets down your coffee and a fabulous piece of vegan lemon meringue pie and says, "You are courageous and amazing" — and really means it. And while your article was hurtful, I'll just remember the time that I looked an 87-year-old man in the eye and said, "You are beautiful and perfect in every way," and he looked back at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Do you have any idea how many years it's been since someone has said those things to me?"

And still, we practice every day being better at what we do so that every customer feels honored and cared for in the best possible way.
Amanda Sayre Caskey, Berkeley

"Good Sausage, But Don't Ask What's in It," City of Warts, 4/12

What's your price?
So what are you getting for your shameless and uncritical pandering to mayoral wannabe Ignacio De La Fuente? Chris Thompson takes every opportunity to pour on the PR on how he's Oakland's only hope. Compared to the Express, the Oakland hills real-estate rag the Montclarion looks absolutely fair and impartial. So what does the Express get out of the deal: real-estate advertising, maybe a "development grant" from Phil Tagami? Will Chris Thompson be Mayor De La Fuente's new "spin and win" communications expert?

In the interest of women, youth, minorities, and working people who might go to your publication for actual information, let's point out some of the glaring logical inconsistencies in De La Fuente's campaign and Chris' critical thinking. Ignacio has wallpapered his office and his campaign literature with pictures of Cesar Chavez. Ignacio started his career as a union representative, like Chavez. Yet if you read his Web site he refers to starting his career in "labor relations." FYI: "labor relations" is the boss, the other side of the negotiating table, the enemy! Chavez was a union organizer and labor leader, not a "labor relations specialist."

Ignacio says that working hand in hand with greedy developers he can make Oakland better for immigrants. Improving rent control, not home ownership, helps immigrants. You have a huge population of people who can't get drivers' licenses, and you expect them to be able to buy homes in the East Bay real-estate market? At the point that Ignacio designates fifty units in the new Oak Street to Ninth development to undocumented immigrants and the chronically mentally ill, then I'll endorse him myself. As it stands, though, Ignacio De La Fuente is the man who will do the most for Montclair, and the Express is the rag that's doing the most to help him.

Chris Thompson, you slut!
Ann Nomura, Oakland

"We're Outta Here!," Feature, 4/12

Going, going, gone
Is Robert Gammon on steroids as he hits another long home run way out of the park with "We're Outta Here," backing up the long homer he hit with "Welcome to Pombo Country"?

"We're Outta Here" hit the news stand before Senator Perata announced his $30-billion-plus "pork barrel" bond issue to allow legislators to take care of their favorite friends if the voters approve the bond issue. Gammon's article sure changed my attitude toward the proposed infrastructure repair bond issue. Had the legislators not raided gas tax money, which was supposed to be used exclusively for road repair, we wouldn't need an "infrastructure bond issue" to backfill money legislators spent on other things. So why do we want to bail the legislature out of their misspending?
Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek

Ed DeSilva, consider your legacy
Robert Gammon's "We're Outta Here!" makes a point that environmental activists might want to express more often. The real tragedy in these situations is not the relatively small number of birds and animals that are directly affected, but the very large number of people who are indirectly affected. Even those of us who never hike these majestic hills gain something from simply knowing they are out there — from appreciating the fact that wild eagles and elk roam free. But, apparently, not much longer.

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