Letters for the week of September 6-12, 2006 

Kudos for our story about the ouster of Randy Ward. Horror for our story about the death of Simon Kinsella.

"The Plot to Oust Randy Ward," Feature, 8/16

Our poor schools
Thank you so much for the great exposé on the ouster of Randy Ward and on the general corruption of the Perata machine. It is truly refreshing to read the work of someone willing to do the research necessary to understand a complex situation, and who is not afraid to tell the truth.

While the activists in the teachers' union seem to be more interested in establishing their credentials as Trotskyites, Maoists, or anarchists by yelling insults at any and all figures of authority, "by any means necessary," than in providing well-reasoned analysis of, or solutions to, the district's dilemmas, the members of Oakland's political establishment are only interested in seeing who can bury their nose the deepest in the nether regions of Don Perata's behind. Seeing your in-depth analysis of the situation in the Oakland school district presented in black and white in the pages of your publication shows me that a glimmer of hope remains that this school district may someday get its "stuff" together, in spite of the efforts of the Perata machine to limit the role of the district to that of a political football.
Anonymous teacher, Oakland

Vote TerraMark
A good article, but a little late to save Ward's job. I only hope that the Oakland school board reads the recommendation by Robert Gammon and takes the TerraMark deal.
Anonymous parent, Oakland

"Methadone: Not Just for Junkies Anymore," Feature, 8/9

My heart breaks
I am in shock and full of disgust reading the recent article by Lauren Gard. I've read and reread it, trying to figure out what, exactly, her point was. Not only was it an example of poor writing skills, but the element of trash was amazing to me. Was this an article about a young man she called a friend, or was this about the dangers of meth? Hard to tell. She went from telling private details of a "friend's" life to throwing in some statistics for good measure, then back again to private details.

Is your publication working on becoming a local smut mag? I can understand, and even appreciate, the desire to tell a story in order to show people the horrors of drugs, but to ruin the reputation of a friend, to share intimate and private details of a man's life to get attention, isn't that the stuff of tabloids?

And what of this "source," Frances? Are we to feel sorry for a woman who abused intense drugs while she was raising a small child? Are we to actually believe she's a credible source? Shame on Ms. Gard for writing the story the way she did, shame on her for calling herself his friend, and shame on your editor for printing the story. I know Simon wrote for your publication in the past, and I'm sickened to know this is how you would treat those you have worked with. My heart breaks for his family and friends who may have to read this trash one day. I can only imagine if they do, your publication and Ms. Gard will hear from them as well as their legal counsel.
Victoria Zeppi, Bradenton, Florida

Using the right dose
I was very impressed with the content of your article concerning Simon, Frances, and the methadone issues of today. I for one was not the least bit aware of this growing problem, nor was I aware of methadone's potential as a legal painkiller. Since July of 2002, I've undergone three ten-level spinal surgeries/fusions. I'm a recovering alcoholic with a history of heavy Vicodin, Soma, Xanax abuse as well. Since the first surgery, I've been using OxyContin as my primary painkiller. The doses have increased with each surgery, only to decrease as I healed. It has been explained to me that when a person NEEDS the meds rather than simply "wants" them, the correct results come to pass.
Warren H., Chico

"The Quick and the Dead," Feature, 7/26

Motorcyclists, pay attention
Great, great article. Thanks for sharing your personal experience as well as informative and interesting information on street racing. While reading it I couldn't help but think about motorcyclists. I attended Moto GP at Laguna Seca for the first time recently — INCREDIBLE what superbikes can do on a track! It was quite a sight and experience to be on the road (and I am a motorcyclist), with hundreds of motorcyclists pumped up from having just seen some great races at Laguna Seca returning home using the freeway as a racetrack, all while fighting return home weekend traffic. Often, I can see why motorists either don't like motorcyclists or deliberately stay IN the way of them.

Your concluding sentence in Guillermo Estrada's story, "It's hard for either of us to escape the sad conclusion that some people value a fast car more than a human life" — can also ring true for a motorcyclist in two ways. Some motorists value being one more car ahead than a human life on a motorcycle. Some motorcyclists value being faster and just ahead of one more car than a human life — either their own life or someone else's.
Kennedy Menendez, Berkeley

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