Letters 

"The role of subprime lending in urban neighborhoods is not a simple battle between good and evil."

The American Way

In his letter of September 19 ("Letters"), Jim Altenberg claims that it is important "...to anyone who cares about justice, that [Judi] Bari and [Darryl] Cherney's legal team obtains thorough and honest answers...."

Wrong. The courtroom is not a debating society. The showing of proof lies with the plaintiff, not the defendant. Now it's up to them to bring solid evidence of those charges. That's the American way -- like it or not. Otherwise, the case will be dismissed.

DNA tests of letters, and a purloined spoon, made in hopes of implicating Irv Sutely, instead exonerated him. Still, the Bari bunch continue to yammer about Sutely. Strange talk. Strange tactics.
Geronimo Jones, San Francisco

The 1,001 Arabian Slights

I was appalled by Katy St. Clair's and Tina Lucchesi's comments about Arab Americans in the October 3 issue of the Express ("Planet Clair"). As many know, Arab Americans have found themselves in increasing danger due to racist misconceptions in the past few weeks. I do not find it humorous to belittle a situation where Arab Americans have feared to leave their homes or send their children to school, and where Arab Americans have been attacked and killed.

Not only now, but in the past, Arab Americans have been misrepresented, stereotyped, and demonized in media, particularly film, but surely also in print and music. It is my hope that we as Americans can put an end to this misrepresentation and support our fellow Arab Americans in this difficult time.
Evelyn M. Kunkel, Oakland

All in Favor Flap Your Flippers

Just wanted to send a note of applause for Elizabeth Hollander's well-researched and well-written story on the harbor seals at Castro Rocks ("The Harbinger Seals of San Francisco Bay," October 3). We all need to be more conscious of the health of the bay, as well as our coasts and oceans, since our own health depends so heavily on it.

Thanks to you and to the East Bay Express for covering the story.
Gordon Firestein, Via the Internet

Business Is Brisk

I am writing in regard to Trena Cleland's response to Dan Savage's column about the HIV-positive HIV "educator" who practices unsafe sex ("Letters," September 26). I assumed that when Savage condemned HIV educators as smarmy, mealymouthed, prevaricating morons he was indulging in a little hyperbole, but after reading Cleland's letter I see he knew what he was talking about, and not shooting from the hip at all. Not only does this cretin defend someone who is willing to infect others with a deadly disease for their own sexual gratification, Cleland ridicules and attacks Savage's indignation!

She seems to be arguing that to be nonjudgmental is the course of responsibility. Nonjudgmentalness has its place, I'm sure, but that is carrying it to the extreme of imbecility. Good judgment is a rare virtue and Cleland's judgment is seriously out of whack. Turning poor judgment into a virtue is false piety, and the end of common sense. It is disastrous when stupid people get hold of subtle ideas, corrupt them, and create enclaves in which destructive behavior goes unchecked. I'm saddened to think the important role of HIV educator is contaminated with harmful ideology promulgated by useless twits like this Cleland. To watch her taking the high moral ground boggles the imagination.

Two other things in particular about this letter are strikingly self-serving: Cleland admits to not being perfect, occasionally making mistakes. Unless she accidentally shoots people from time to time, her mistakes are not on the order of infecting people with HIV. This is called a distinction, Trena. Also mentioned is a fear of "turning people off to our message." Your message is weak and counterproductive. And I have to ask if the fear of turning them off is that then you will have no one to preach to, and hence be out of a job? One thing seems certain: Your methods will ensure a steady stream of new clients to be educated.
Patrick Ridge, Oakland

Watch Out, Granny

I read Kara Platoni's article on Oakland's predatory lending ordinance ("Big Setback for Predatory Lenders," October 3) and wanted to let you know that there are nonpredators out there in the Oakland real estate and lending community who have concerns about this new law.

Like so many other issues, the role of subprime lending in urban neighborhoods is a complex one and not a simple battle between good and evil. Predatory lending is not about "the global finance system ripping off your grandmother in East Oakland." It is about a subset of subprime lenders who take advantage of people. Subprime lending, to turn Mr. Kettenring's sound bite on its head, is about the global finance system providing capital to borrowers who are shut out from traditional lending sources. There are plenty of subprime borrowers who could tell heartwarming stories about how one of these lenders helped them buy their first home, which has now doubled in value, allowing them to refinance and send their kids to college and so forth.I am not championing an individual's right to rip off old ladies. I am objecting to an ordinance, which as currently drafted does not distinguish between home equity and purchase money loans, and which sets a very low threshold for defining a high-cost mortgage. I would be happy to be proven an alarmist on this point, but I am concerned that the council, in its eagerness to protect certain communities in Oakland, may wind up hurting members of those communities who will now have a harder time getting mortgage financing to purchase homes.
Paul Staley, via the Internet

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