Letters for the Week of October 9 

Readers sound off on BART workers' wages, CEQA reform, and Bill Aboudi bashing.

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Mary Eisenhart, Oakland

Nothing Wrong with NIMBYs

There is nothing wrong with NIMBYs in our ever increasing statist reality, where normal everyday citizens have less and less voice about what goes on around them in their communities. NIMBYs have always served a significant purpose. Normally if they were wrong they would lose their actions against new projects. But NIMBYs routinely have challenged projects that would only enrich favored, connected developers, like, for example, those who might be linked up with [state Senate leader Darrell] Steinberg on his new bill. Also, NIMBYs are usually dealing with growth issues that might change their immediate environment and their lives, and they were there first, or they wouldn't be NIMBYs, would they? If I were in an expensive condo and smart growth advocates started circling like sharks and they wanted to build another condo alongside mine that would block my views that I already paid for, I would fight, too. Absolutely! Smart growth is important but not every smart growth project is smart! Not even close. Your article is clearly biased and I wonder if you might be sleeping with operatives of the growth lobby, maybe the same ones Steinberg is sleeping with?

Kenneth White, West Sonoma County

"The Five Best Cups of Coffee Right Now," Taste, 9/25

Wasted On My Palate

This was moderately helpful for me, a longtime Peet's drinker, and yes, ex-Peet's barista as well. I don't really have a well-developed palate for coffee, and when fruitiness or certain flavors are described with nuance, I just roll my eyes and think, "it's coffee."

I'm aware that this third wave of roasters is approaching coffee roasting differently, not roasting as big a quantity for a shorter time and with what might be called "medium" roasting, purportedly allowing the flavor of each individual bean variety to shine more.

Sorry, wasted on my palate. The coffee is either bitter or palatable, and I'm not able to discern nuances. In any case, I'm going to try the third wavers like Bicycle, Four Barrel, and Verve and see what's what. I'm guessing that it's all just going to taste like reasonably good coffee.

Chris Juricich, Berkeley

"Oakland to Spend $1.5 Million to Help Influential Contractor," Full Disclosure, 9/18

Below-the-Belt Aboudi Bashing

I guess the reason that I and so many others in West Oakland are having a hard time with the below-the-belt Bill [Aboudi]-bashing that's going on — the constant musical chairs, finger-pointing, and finger-giving game out at the army base — is because those community members who have voted consistently in favor of retaining Oakland Maritime Support Services, Pacific Coast Container, and several other of the longtime ancillary maritime services that we know to be critical for efficient port operation feel shortchanged by the disregard and backhands that those worthwhile businesses appear to be receiving in Oakland's ostensibly community-friendly base reuse process.

Those of us who serve on the congressionally authorized West Oakland Community Advisory Group (WOCAG) wish, as always throughout this process, to honor the truckers and other maritime ancillary support businesses that have unfailingly bent over backward to accommodate the community's needs with respect to pollution, truck routes, overnight street parking, and all the other difficulties that we've had to deal with being next to the fourth or fifth largest port on the West Coast, or whatever lesser rank the Port of Oakland has been consigned to these days. Since 1996, WOCAG has wanted to see Oakland's local businesses be the first on the base, not run out of town, edged out by big business interests, city shenanigans, and unfair competition.

Yet here we are, after nearly two decades of due deliberation, regular monthly meetings, and official WOCAG recommendations to the East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment Commission, Oakland Base Reuse Authority, Community & Economic Development Agency, and a whole host of other interloping agencies, and what have we got? Big business squeezing small business off the base, even to the point of pushing many of the original support companies out of business, and meanwhile everyone's supposed to be satisfied that the priorities of the Base Closure Act have been satisfied? Or that all those years spent by longtime WOCAG members weren't spent in vain? Or is it that the usual smoke-and-mirrors game that nearly every governmental body on the planet plays with its citizens is just the way of things, so we should now all shut up and write off those years of trying to make the base a job-generating, environment friendly, port-supporting, economy-building project just because one union or another has a gripe with Bill Aboudi?

I wish I could believe that claims of pollution filed by the out-of-town, out-of-area, outer space group were justified or sincere and not simply self-serving. If these same predators were out there suing everyone at the base, port included, for what they purport to believe are violations, then maybe they'd have some credibility in their actions. But attacking Bill alone of all the operators at the base naturally makes almost anyone think that something else must be afoot here. To paraphrase Oscar Levant, beneath the phony baloney lies the real baloney. 


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