Letters to the Editor 

Week of June 15, 2001

New, Not Necessarily Improved
TO THE EDITOR: Pro-business, pro-military, "new Democrat" Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (Walnut Creek) is nothing more than an old Republican. ("Madam Middle," June 8.)

Thank you for highlighting Tauscher's fiscal conservatism. Indeed, as Democrats become more fiscally conservative, it matters less and less whether they favor gun control and abortion, or get high scores from the Sierra Club. Fiscal conservatism is the harbinger of social conservatism. Today's fiscal conservatives become tomorrow's union-busting, police-state segregationists.

The truly new democrats are not Democrats at all, but activists who are joining the Labor Party, Green Party, EarthFirst!, and Los Angeles' Bus Riders Union. These new, small "d" democrats, enlivened by the spirit of Seattle, are reinvigorating American politics.

Indeed, the Seattle protesters will still be in the history books when multimillionaire Ellen Tauscher and her pro-business Republicrat colleagues have been long-forgotten as just another bunch of unenlightened, old-fashioned, self-interested politicians.
Christopher Cherney

One Bore Too Many
TO THE EDITOR: Jennifer Barrios' excellent story on the Caldecott Tunnel ("Cityside," June 1), should help commuters understand why traffic is only getting worse--and why some who deal regularly with MTC joke that the initials stand for "More Traffic Congestion."

The article pointed out a glaring fact that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Contra Costa transportation leaders know, but are unwilling to admit: a fourth bore will do nothing for the vast majority of Contra Costa commuters, but instead will actually increase traffic into Contra Costa at peak commute times.

Further, the new tunnel will discourage use of BART and other public transit at times when BART is running well below capacity in the direction in which the fourth bore will add highway capacity.

When many Contra Costa and other Bay Area commuters lose well over an hour every day because of traffic gridlock and lack of adequate public transit, and when the Bay Area is out of attainment for both state and federal air quality standards, MTC is pushing for hundreds of millions of dollars for a project that will make traffic worse. This is transportation planning mismanagement that borders on malpractice.

As Berkeley Councilmember Armstrong pointed out, MTC made sure in its work on the Caldecott Tunnel that planning, traffic projections and transportation priorities took a back seat to politics. Well placed Contra Costa politicians want the tunnel, so the project goes forward.

They and MTC seem to take the attitude that if and when the fourth bore ever gets finished, and traffic is worse rather than better, it will be someone else's problem. Most likely they will use that fact to push for more transportation spending to fix the problems they have ignored--or, in this case, created.
Kathleen Nimr, Chair Transportation and Compact Growth Committee
Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter


She Doesn't Know Pupu
TO THE EDITOR: In response to Michelle Turner's article titled "Tahitian Sundown" (May 18), I don't think a newbie foodie-type reviewer who is cutting her teeth and trying to make her mark on the town is the best choice to review one of the East Bay's most historic landmark restaurants.

While Miss Turner's review was amusing (and I won't even question her ability to comment on the quality of food, though somebody should), I think it misses the mark on a few points:

First off, Trader Vic's drinks are not "capped by little umbrellas" nor does Vic's sell "paper umbrellas" at the display counter. Vic's stopped using umbrellas before Miss Turner was born. She has never seen umbrellas there and it is an insult to associate Vic's with the Spring Break/ Bourbon Street party bars that she obviously frequents where she samples "umbrella" drinks. (See "The Straight Dope" for the real story at www.straightdope.com./ columns/001117.html.)

Secondly, Trader Vic's does not sell "powdered Mai Tai" mix at the restaurant or anywhere else. There is a bottle Mai Tai mix but the real recipe, the one served from behind the bar, does not use this mix. Only novices use this mix. (Michelle, is that you?)

Michelle's ignorance is further exhibited by the fact that she does not know that a new Trader Vic's is scheduled to open in the Bay Area (she cites Cairo and Fukuoka as future sites yet fails to mention Palo Alto). She believes that people of Tahiti and Hawaii "walk around all day clad in only a thong" (only the tourists do that, Michelle). And she believes that patrons of Trader Vic's drink kamikazes and piña coladas. Nothing could be further from the truth. People flock to Vic's for his original, classic cocktail creations and the fact that they are made true to the classic recipes. Much the same way martini lovers frequent Bix and other establishments that adhere to traditions. While we are on the topic, why even bother going to Trader Vic's if you do not feel like tasting rum? That is what made the place famous and is still an undeniable attraction.

I have no problem with East Bay Express reviewers trying to objectively review food as it is served to them, but I can't help but feel that Michelle's inaccuracies not only reflect poor research but a biased opinion. I have eaten at Vic's several times and found the food to be quite good.
Otto von Stroheim
Tiki News

TO THE EDITOR: So the Roosevelts, père et fils, went a-hunting for pandas with "38-millimeter automatics in armpit holsters" ("The Great Oakland Panda Hunt," June 1). Wow! That is an inch-and-a-half bore. They must have had some armpits.
Kevin McFarren


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