Letters for the week of October 16-22, 2002 

Why didn't astrologers find Pluto? Where are the jobs for Oaklanders? Who knew what lecturers endure? What was Chris Thompson thinking?

Clarify your position. Is it page 7 or page 91?
I enjoyed your ridiculing of the astrologer's attempt to predict the performance of the Oakland A's as they make their way into the playoffs (7 Days, October 2). It is amazing that in Berkeley, the academic center of the East Bay, so many people believe in this garbage. Repeated investigations have shown that there is absolutely no correlation between one's zodiac sign and athletic ability, artistic ability, personality characteristics, marital compatibility, or any other field of human activity about which the astrologers write so confidently.

Even in their own field, astrologers have shown complete ignorance. They were unaware of the three outermost planets, Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus, until after the scientists discovered them. Of course, it is always possible to dig up isolated examples to prove a nonexistent relationship. As they say, a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

All of which raises the question: Why does the Express devote half a page to perpetuating this asinine nonsense? It merely confirms the nonastrological prediction of the late P.T. Barnum: "There's a sucker born every minute."
Marion Syrek, Oakland

Local residents got squat from city loan program
I live around the corner from the Brooks-Hamilton building -- I can see the building from my window. When the big news event occurred ("One-Stop Capital Flop," August 21), I was at work and missed out. The promise of jobs never materialized. It's pretty much been a ghost operation. Mr. Brooks-Hamilton is hard to talk with. He's not from West Oakland. Money given to another outsider, and we are held accountable for his actions. It's sad you compare him to others who got loans -- totally different. City Hall is a hard place to do business -- so much insider business. Locals lose out.
A.L. Brown, Oakland

Knowledge can be taxing
I am a former UC Berkeley student. Since graduation, I've taken several courses at UC Berkeley through the concurrent enrollment program. Many of these were taught by non-tenure-track faculty whose excellent lectures were nothing short of inspiring.

Thanks to your excellent article ("The New University Underclass," August 28), I now have a better knowledge of how these lecturers, to whom I owe so much, are sometimes given a raw deal. I hope that other UC alumni will step up and advocate that these dedicated, talented individuals be given more support so that they will continue to share their gift for teaching. If this means paying higher taxes, then so be it. The state of California is a wonderful place to live, partly because of its excellent educational system. If higher taxes are what's needed to support it, then I'd happily contribute.
Ann Loraine, El Cerrito

Eden's labor relations are the real issue
Eden Medical Center doesn't have a technology problem ("Big Mother Is Watching You," October 2). It suffers from piss-poor labor relations. Cassandra Phelps lets it all hang out when she refers to a union official as an outside agitator. That official is an elected representative of the nurses.

I'm an old engineer and onetime manager, and I learned early in my career that introducing change works smoothly if the employees and their union are made stakeholders from the start. I found that the union business rep can be management's best friend. When I wanted to introduce some new safety gear, but was concerned about workers' resistance to wearing it (it was more cumbersome than Eden's badges), I started out with a talk with the business rep, who took the information to the union meeting. Next, there was a letter from the union demanding that management protect the workers with the gear in question. Believe me, after that nobody complained, much less refused to wear it.

Technology is going to happen. Under competent management, there will be no labor problem. In 1960, the Pacific Management Association had competent leadership that offered the ILWU a package that allayed their fears, and the change from bulk cargo to containers was peacefully achieved. Unfortunately, the current PMA has not learned from its ancestors.

I don't know whether it's too late to rescue Eden's communication system, but I know its best chance of doing so will require talking with that outside agitator.
Gilbert G. Bendix, Kensington

Nursing is about people
Your article about Eden Medical Center's nurse-monitor devices was concise and told a balanced and truthful view of the issues. As an Eden Medical Center nurse, I know how to prioritize my nursing duties without the use of a tracking device to guide me through my shift. All patients in the hospital still utilize a call light, which alerts me when my patients need my help. Many of my very sick patients are unable to use a call light, so I go into their room much more often. The bottom line is that we are dealing with people who need my personal attention. I am acutely aware of my surroundings and the needs of my patients without the need to be monitored. I personally feel the monitors degrade the nursing profession. The intimate relationships that nurses develop with their patients will be compromised by this "technological advancement."
Lisa Abplanalp, RN, Alameda

Chris Thompson has crossed the line
What kind of person is Chris Thompson? How can he class Donna Warren's expression of grief over the murder of her son with off-the-wall statements about pay toilets? Faced with the murder of her son, Ms. Warren was outraged enough to run for office to try to change the system by working within it. I don't see anything funny about that. Whether you agree with Donna Warren or not, her constructive response to a personal tragedy deserves our admiration, not our ridicule. Chris Thompson has crossed the line and owes Ms. Warren an apology.
David Sheidlower, Insurance Commissioner Candidate, Green Party of California

Chris Thompson replies:
It was never my intent to ridicule Donna Warren's personal tragedy and I regret if I created that impression. What I found amusing was her seamless segue from an account of her son's death to a recitation of her auditing credentials. But let's talk about that tragedy. When Donna Warren recounted this murder as her primary reason to run for lieutenant governor, she employed a convenient and cynical strategy. The horror we all feel about such senseless loss of life serves to shield her from vigorous public criticism. Frankly, such tactics are unseemly.

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