"Toxic Art," Feature, 3/23
Your Nose Knows
Great article, Kudos to you, Jessica [Carew Kraft]! What I have learned working in a lab with VOCs (volatile organic compounds) is don't ignore your nose — if it smells, stop using it. Also, if you can't cut out the toxins outright, it is easy to make yourself much safer — ventilate the room and get fresh air in, limit exposure, wear gloves, and wash hands before eating and drinking. You can even get a respirator with VOC cartridges for pretty cheap.
Joelle Tirindelli, San Francisco
"Has Community Policing Ended?" Full Disclosure, 3/23
Batts Is Right
1. The voters thought they were getting an even distribution of problem solving officers.
2. The reason the voters were promised an even distribution of problem solving officers was not that there is an even distribution of need for these officers. It was promised because politicians knew that voters in the hills, who vote and donate in higher numbers, would not support a tax that gave the flats more problem solving officers than the hills.
3. The flats have more problems than the hills, so sending more problem solving officers there makes sense. In the example [given in the story], one officer is tasked with the hills above Moraga Avenue, and two are tasked with the heart of West Oakland. Seems reasonable.
I live in the heart of West Oakland and we've had two vacant houses within a block of us taken over by heroin dealers. I've had a junkie try to beat me up with a 2x4. I've had to intervene when a man was kicking his kid's mom in the face while she was cowering on the sidewalk on the other end of my block. An 87-year-old woman who lived on my block was killed by her nephew who sodomized her with a 10-inch kitchen knife and set her house on fire.
I don't know what they have to deal with above Moraga Avenue, but it's not that.
So yeah, it looks like Batts is bending some rules. Does that bother me? Not so much.
Max Allstadt, Oakland
The Flats Need Cops
I lived in the flats in the Ghost Town area for about a decade, before recently finding a rental in the hills near Shepherd Canyon. It's shameful that we're criticizing putting twice the number of PSOs in West Oakland, instead of equally distributing them geographically. First off, I can tell you, there's no comparison between crime levels in the hills and the flats. If we were distributing them based on demand, I'd venture that a 10:1 ratio would be more appropriate than a 2:1, especially when we're talking about violent crime, and ongoing criminal issues. Fortunate people in the hills should rest peacefully knowing they don't "need" the kind of PSO force that West Oakland does.
Lars Soldahl, Oakland
"Losing Athletes and Scholars," News, 3/23
Save Cal Baseball
This is an excellent, well-written article demonstrating how athletic and academic excellence can be — and clearly are — intertwined at Cal for many bright, talented, and deserving students. I truly hope funding for Cal baseball comes through. Thank you, Mr. Gackle, for this thoughtful and thought-provoking article.
Paul Wichelmann, Berkeley
Kill Cal Baseball
Cal baseball is nothing more than what college baseball in general has turned out to be: a place for upper-middle-class white parents to see their kids play at Cal just like their dads did. If Cal was making the College World Series on a regular basis, Cal baseball would still be funded. With Title IX and the success of the Cal softball team, the Cal athletic director had no choice but to cut the baseball program.
I have been a coach in the highly successful Oakland Babe Ruth program under the leadership of Oakland Babe Ruth coach Eddie Abram. In 1998, Oakland Babe Ruth won the fifteen-year-old Babe Ruth World Series. Many have dubbed that team as one of the greatest fifteen-year-old teams in Babe Ruth history. Not one player from that team was recruited to play baseball at Cal.
Jerome Wiggins, Berkeley
"Going the Distance," Events and Attractions, 3/23
The Oakland 'Public Nuisance'
On the morning of Sunday, March 27, I left my home and walked to the local AC Transit bus stop near Madison and 11th streets to catch an eastbound 40-line to my place of employment. There, I met other people trying to get to their various destinations. There was a very ill-looking man in a wheelchair trying to get to the hospital; there were elderly people holding canes; there were well-dressed people clutching Bibles; there was a large number of non-English-speaking foreign nationals; there was a young woman from out of town trying to get to a family reunion; and there were people who, like me, had a job to go to.
The bus we waited for never came. There was little in the way of signage to tell anyone what was going on, and that was either vague or inaccurate. To make the situation worse, it was only in English, so that the many Asian, Hispanic, and Arabic people waiting could not read it. No firm schedule was posted at all. When I asked one of the many cops present what happened to the bus service, he said it was disrupted due to the "Oakland Marathon." So I asked him, "How can I catch the bus I need?" His response: He had no idea, since the person he needed to ask was "missing in action."