"To show my feelings, I won't vote against Barbara Lee, but I won't cast a vote for her either."

Richmond Confidential

Thanks for a good article about dirty Richmond politics ("The White Shadow," October 24). There's a bunch more I'd love to add, but it would not fit into your letter-to-the editor length limit. Any chance of you doing a sequel or two?

There are two main issues: Reese is just a good example, but West County United (I prefer to call them the Hidden Cafe crowd) used similarly dirty techniques. Not just hit pieces. As a taxpayer, I find it hard to differentiate between illegal payoffs and "legal" payoffs in unneeded consulting, brokerage, and similar fees. What upset the few El Cerritans who follow these things was when they exported dirty politics to our town in the last election. It saddened us "left-of-center" types when people like George Miller, Dion Aroner, and John Dalrymple of the Central Labor Coalition hover in the background. Dirt is dirt, whoever shovels it around.

Obviously, the best way to limit the political/economic payoff muck is a free and aggressive press, and that is nonexistent in West Contra Costa County. The WC Times and the Journal have always had a tendency to be City Hall mouthpieces. It's hard to tell to what extent it's due to reporters just picking up official copy rather than doing their own digging, and to what extent it's a matter of editorial policy, to rattle neither the power structure nor advertisers, both dominated by real-estate and construction interests. Maybe they just believe that local political filth is best hidden under the carpet.

The Times' editorial masthead quotes Jefferson about the importance of a free press, but the three "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" monkeys would be more appropriate for them.

If the Express is ready to pursue these issues a bit further maybe this could shame them to get more involved. Even better, could the Express expand its more regular coverage to East Bay North?
Peter Loubal, El Cerrito

No soul in the new machine

I enjoyed Will Harper's article about Darrell Reese ("The White Shadow," October 24). I was a friend of Bert Coffey and knew of his control of the Democratic machine in Contra Costa. But at least Bert had some decent principles and politics; Reese apparently does not.
Malcolm Burnstein, Via the Internet

Silent Service

Congratulations on your revamped paper. It's getting better every week.

Regarding "7 Days" (October 24) "Red, White, Blue, and Green," I take exception to the statement that Audi Bock "was the pride of the East Bay left."

As a regular voting Democrat, I think that many of us voted for her strictly as a ploy to finally get rid of Eliwho? and his free chicken dinner mob! I doubt that many believed that Ms. Bock would serve a second term. And, when the estimable Wilma Chan came on the scene, this question was easily resolved.

As a retired military veteran, I was disappointed in Congresswoman Lee's no vote. However, we have always known where she stands, and sticks to what she believes is right.

I know that I will not vote for Bock, the opportunist. And to show my feelings, I won't vote against Lee, but I won't cast a vote for her either.
Wayne Kirchoffer, Oakland

Dispatch from Planet Berkeley

What has happened to our small-town leftist publication? I was mortified reading the condescending, right-wing, conservative smear piece in "7 Days" (October 24) about the "goofy statement" crafted by Dona Spring against the terrorist attacks. Earth to Express: You are writing for a progressive, peace-loving population. Let your new bosses in Arizona know that if you continue to publish conservative trash your circulation will plummet -- if it hasn't already. If you can't handle writing for peaceniks, please feel free to relocate your paper to Walnut Creek.
Stacy Taylor, El Cerrito

Disregard Uranus

Ralfee Finn's "Aquarium Age" column, October 24; and I quote: "It's as if we're stumbling through the marshes of Mordor, and each step through the putrid terrain awakens another terrifying ghost. Those humble hobbits saw the grim and noble faces of orcs, elves, and men trapped in the dark mirror of that noxious swamp. And though the stagnant waters filled them with dread, they moved forward..." I just moved to Berkeley, but I have apparently stumbled into Middle Earth unawares. Is this your paper's idea of a good horoscope? Are you familiar with the term "flaky bullshit"?

I can see Finn now, sitting at his desk with a ruffled shirt and a codpiece, adjusting his stargazer to the tune of Jethro Tull's Tea for the Tillerman. This is why this area is the laughingstock of the rest of the country.

You people need to get off your fucking uni-cycles and join the rest of the human race. "While it's hard being brave in the face of so much fear," continues Finn, "just as Frodo and Sam summoned the strength to go on, we too must accept the challenge of courage." Hey, Ursula: You suck! We ain't traipsing through the mire in search of the lost city of Atlantis! It's hard enough finding a parking place! The only good line in this column is "Uranus thrives on surprise," but I don't think he meant it as a joke. Get a you-know-what.
Nick Prepratta, Berkeley


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