Letters for the week of November 10-16, 2004 

Questioning Univision's commitment to policing its own airwaves, and UC Berkeley's commitment to racial diversity on campus.

"Latinos Warn of 'False' Credit Card," Cityside, 9/1

Univision shirks its responsibility
I, too, am one of the believers. I was in much need of repairing my credit and saw the commercial on a Spanish network, Univision. In the commercial it clearly and repeatedly claims that you can use this "credit card" anywhere. When I received the card after the COD payment of $249, I was very disappointed when I opened the envelope to see a catalogue and the card. I have not used it yet.

I tried to get on the Web site, and the Web site is "under maintenance." I tried calling the toll-free number, and guess what -- disconnected.

I have been ripped off by a so-called "helper of the Latino community." Let's inform the public. Doesn't Univision know what they are showing on their station? Why do they permit such commercials?
Lorena Rodriguez, La Quinta, California

"Ignacio Chapela's Last Stand," Cityside, 10/13

Race and science
Thanks for a great article on Chapela and the case. I am saddened to see that the university administration, which could have done the right thing, did not. In addition to what Ignacio's case tells us, the fact is that of the five junior professors of color that were hired in the ESPM department at the same time as Ignacio, none have received tenure, while all of the white junior faculty hired at the same time have. I believe that this speaks to a clear case of institutional racism at UCB, and the well-known trend that these big-name universities do not hire their junior faculty of color, but that they use those faculty to boost up the numbers of faculty of color so it doesn't look as racist a campus.
Diana Wu, Oakland

"He'll Be Back," Bottom Feeder, 10/6

Local 790 has given enough
I work for the City of Oakland and am an officer of Local 790. It was a disservice to your readers and our cause to not include vital information regarding our fight with the city over these layoffs. There was no clarity as to what Ignacio was not "compromising" about during the budget talks in the story. It almost seemed sympathetic to Ignacio -- as if Local 790 was the one being obstinate and stubborn. So far, nobody seems interested in getting the complete picture.

To set the record straight, Local 790 is being "targeted" for layoffs because Ignacio and friends want us to cough up ANOTHER 3 percent of our salaries. We have been giving an extra 3 percent to the city toward our retirement since last July (plus mystery money that neither the union nor the city can or will fully explain). Members are not typically the highest-paid workers in the city, so that extra 3 percent plus "mystery moola" really strained many of us and changed our way of life. When this was put up for vote, many of us were not informed and very angry that even after we won in arbitration (against the city forcing mandatory days off) we still gave in instead of pressing forward.

What further mucked this whole deal up, and is probably the catalyst behind all these actions, is the fact that Local 21 made a deal with Ignacio and friends to give up another 3 percent IF local 790 does! Basically, we were stabbed in the back with this deal, and it shouldn't have been made in the first place because Local 21 has no influence on us whatsoever. You can make what you want out of this, but it looks like the city is trying to bully us so they can get that total of 6 percent, not just get us to pay an extra 3 percent. There's a lot of money to be saved here, but the city's disrespect for the "line workers" won't allow them to play nice with us. It wasn't necessary to attack us, but the city came at us the wrong way.

Ignacio and friends have been stonewalling us about the extra money in reserve, even flat out refusing to use it to preserve jobs. They would like to make it look like it is our "stubbornness" that caused them to lay off those people, but it was the city's decision. There are all kinds of exempt and unfilled positions they could have cut. They could have cut positions across the whole spectrum of employees, instead of picking on Local 790 workers exclusively.

There is also the recent news that we will have to start paying more toward our health plans. Without explaining the exact numbers, dental is going up about 500 percent, vision is doubling, and HMO payments are tripling (unless you choose the cheapest plan). I don't see how I'm supposed to financially survive with an extra $150 or so coming out PLUS another 3 percent of my salary! Personally, I'm straining to pay rent and bills as it is.

So are we saying no to 3 percent? No, we are already giving that. We are saying no to giving up 6 percent of our salaries. We are saying, enough already! We are doing our part. Making us pay to work for the city is not going to save Oakland from its "financial crisis."

I must commend Mayor Jerry Brown for at least talking with us, and I do appreciate the fact that there was some story on this issue (finally). But I do hope my little 1.5 cents sheds a little more light on this, and helps you get a better understanding of our side of the story. Maybe next time you will consider talking to us before you start writing.
Name withheld, Oakland

"Teachers Can Only Blame Themselves," City of Warts, 9/29

Corporate funding is the solution
Chris Thompson says Ward "may be an SOB, but he's our SOB." This was FDR's description of the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza. The parallel is apt: Somoza starved his citizens, kept them illiterate, and bombed his own cities to keep power. That's what Randy Ward has in store for Oakland's youth.

Thompson says Ward is striking "at the heart of Oakland's deplorable record of educating poor black and Latino children." But Ward's so-called "results-based" budgeting actually increases educational inequality. By making each school's money depend on attendance, RBB gives schools in the poor parts of Oakland fewer resources: less for remedial reading, English, math, toilet paper, etc. "Results-based" budgets force each school to choose: teachers or custodians, counselors or food service workers, filthy overcrowded classrooms or closed libraries.

Whose agent is Ward? Democrat State Education Superintendent O'Connell's and The Broad Foundation's. Billionaire builder Eli Broad has set up a foundation that runs charter schools, finances anti-union school board candidates, and "trains" ex-military and business executives to run schools. Ward is a Broad graduate. So is Bush's Education Secretary, Rodney Paige, the man who called teachers "terrorists." The Bush/Kerry No Child Left Behind Law first makes it impossible for schools to succeed; then when they "fail" for four years, it provides for private management. Ward's job is to ensure failure and turn over the keys. The Parcel Tax was meant to retain teachers.

Our union (OEA) refused to support the tax because we knew Ward would misuse the money, as he is. By forcing schools to cut their own throats on rationed funds, Ward guarantees the failures necessary for privatization.

OEA did vote "no confidence" in Chaconas. But in the same motion we voted to strongly oppose a state takeover. The corporate media didn't report this position -- and Thompson follows suit. Had the school board fired Chaconas, perhaps the takeover would not have occurred. But instead, the board issued over a thousand teacher layoff notices! This shows that local control, while essential, isn't sufficient. The other key is funding: not just to pay off the "debt" but to ensure good teaching and learning conditions. Oakland teachers, low and high seniority, work anywhere in the city. But, unfortunately, both low- and high-seniority teachers will continue to flee the district until conditions improve.

In the 1960s, major civil rights demonstrations forced the Oakland Tribune and Jack London Square to end segregation in hiring. The OEA is working with other unions, parents, and community groups to begin a similar movement to force corporate Oakland to pay for our youth's education.
Bob Mandel, member, OEA executive board, Alameda

In last week's Take Out, fictitious business names Liquid Logistics and Exit Strategies were said to have been registered by Nick Peralta. Actually, it was Nick Perata, whose father, Don, is boss of the state Senate. The Don has taken flak in the past for his ethically dubious funneling of campaign cash into Exit Strategies, ostensibly for political consulting, whereupon the son would pay a portion of the money back to his father as rent. The aforementioned error originated in identical typos in the East Bay Business Times "New Fictitious Business Names" classifieds. But given the sketchy history, local conspiracy theorists are likely asking: Were they really typos?


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