Letters for the Week of September 10, 2014 

Readers sound off on life, death and hash browns


"Transparency's Unlikely Foe," News, 8/27

Unions Are Just Another Special Interest

Unions, in general, have long been considered a force for progress, but they are becoming just another special interest group. They support dumb, wasteful projects like the Central Subway in San Francisco and the high-speed rail project just because they provide jobs for their members, not because they are good way to invest taxpayers' money. And they will also abuse CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) when they think it serves their interests.

Rob Anderson, San Francisco


"Deadly Delays Part Two: Gambling with Children," Feature, 8/20

It's About Life and Death

When are people who don't practice at the bedside going to realize this is not about money or politics? It is about life and death.

Pat Tomasello, Vallejo


"Alameda County Public Defender Stands Up for Immigrants," News, 8/20

We Need More Jorjanis

As the tide of immigration policies turns in this nation, I truly appreciate the article published about the Alameda County Public Defender's Office and Raha Jorjani, highlighting the dire need for excellent public defenders in immigration court such as her.

Bahar Mirhosseini, New York City


"Broken Promises of Oakland Foods Co," News, 8/20

Unionization Is Not the Answer

Sounds like the store is not very prosperous. Unionization will not save a failing store, only raise the prices. There is a reason that part of town has lacked good stores over the decades.

Gary Baker, San Leandro


"All You Can Handle," Food Review, 8/20

Ah, the Hash Browns

I detest fast food and fast food restaurants, but I have a secret passion for McDonald's hash browns. It's embarrassing, but now I don't feel quite so bad.

Michele Nelson, Oakland


"The High Cost of Justice," News, 8/13

The Law Library Is the Go-To Place

The article focused on the cost of accessing court records as a component of justice — or more broadly "access to justice." Access to justice requires not only access to court records but also access to the laws and the expertise to explain and apply those laws. For the many individuals unable — or unwilling — to hire an attorney, the Alameda County Law Library is the go-to place in Alameda County. They use the law library to find the legal information they need to participate in the legal system, resolve legal disputes, engage in commerce, tend to personal affairs, or conduct academic research. In the words of one library user: "I used the law library to obtain current legal info for numerous legal issues, concerns, and court cases. This law library provides an invaluable and much needed service. Thank you!"

The law library is the go-to place for attorneys, too. The library offers resources many solo practitioners cannot afford: books and database subscriptions, plus trained law librarians to guide them to the best resources for their particular research project. As an attorney user recently said, he came to the library to "research and find labor arbitration decisions for a brief ... that will help an employee of 26 years with no prior discipline record get his job back." The Alameda County Law Library receives no money from the state budget; 95 percent of the law library revenue comes from a portion of the filing fee for a new civil case. However, the number of cases filed — and thus the revenue the law library receives — has plummeted 25 percent since 2009. Compounding the effects of that lost income is that the cost of legal materials has increased 75 percent. Access to all of that information remains available at no charge to library users. Still, like the court, this local agency has had to take steps to partially offset that drop in income. As part of its revenue diversification, the law library seeks grants and donations; offers education programs for attorneys and the public for a modest registration fee; rents conference rooms; and charges for photocopying and printing. Read more about the Alameda County Law Library at our website, www.ACGov.org/law.

Mark Estes, Oakland


Miscellaneous Letters

Oakland Needs to Do Better

I know there are folks in town who believe that our current mayor, Jean Quan, provides us with the best opportunity to make Oakland safer and more prosperous, with cleaner streets and an expanding economy benefiting everyone. To my mind, this is unfortunate and an embodiment of all the dysfunction that afflicts our town. 

Complacency, disinterest, laziness and profound naiveté have in large part contributed to why this town underperforms, notwithstanding the outrageous taxation. We have to do better!

To my mind, anyone is better than who we have right now. A town with a mayor who often speaks unintelligibly and has a seemingly incurable predilection for exaggeration needs to do better, if for no other reason than to elevate our town and restore a semblance of collective self-respect with a determination to confront reality squarely and not resort to insipid platitudes and absurd, embarrassing declarations that do not comport with reality. 

We have a real shot at dramatically elevating our town. Joe Tuman and Courtney Ruby are two exceptionally smart, highly organized candidates; either of them would be an enormous improvement over what we have today. People need to take a hard look at these folks. They are smart, with excellent platforms and comprehensive, reality-based plans to make our town safe. Absent public safety, all of the pie-in-the-sky plans and projects are diminished.

I hope our town is smart enough to elect somebody who has real qualifications, a tough-minded determination, and an innate ability to articulate a plan that actually makes sense.

Jonathan C. Breault, Oakland

Save the Oakland School Board

Pray that Oakland voters save their school board from itself by voting No on Measure N. Measure N's language hides the fact that corporate charter high schools will benefit from the proposed $120 parcel tax. The word "ALL" in caps in the measure title "The Oakland College & Career Readiness For ALL Fund," is the first clue that charter school students are included. This tax levy also excludes my Oakland properties because I am over 65 years of age. A tax loophole for Oaklanders who are wealthy and over 65?

Hiding Measure N charter schools benefit and excluding property owners over 65 to avoid wealthy opposition makes it looks like Measure N was written by a political consultant.

By making charter schools part of Measure N, the school board created an incentive for those making a decision on where to locate their charter school. The State of California provides funding for all charter schools across the state, but if Measure N passes, Oakland will be unique and provide additional funding for locating in Oakland. Does Oakland need to attract even more charter schools? Remember, Oakland has a higher percentage of charter schools than any city of any size in the state. Incentives for charter schools need to be distributed equally across the state by the state legislature.

Save the Oakland school board from itself. Vote No on Measure N on November 4.

Jim Mordecai, Oakland

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